Tricks, treats and sick beats transformed a Cornish theme park into the ultimate playground for creatures of the night over the Halloween weekend.
With 3,500 tickets sold out in record time, expectations were high when Masked Ball Promotions announced they would be staging their biannual all-nighter at the family-friendly Flambards visitor attraction in Helston – and their Mexican-inspired ‘Day of the Dead Experience’ delivered in style.
The hordes of revellers, who as always went to extraordinary lengths with their weird and wonderful costumes and gruesomely ghoulish face paint and prosthetics, were taken on a journey of macabre mayhem as soon as they entered the site.
Flambards’ famous Victorian scenes were brought to life with a menagerie of mad, mysterious and malevolent characters, who assaulted Ball goers’ senses as they edged their way through the dimly lit cobbled streets, before eventually arriving at the Island of the Dolls – one of the main venues and home to the live bands, such as the incredible Slamboree whose folk rave madness, with dancers, acrobats and fire jugglers, was one of the highlights of the event.
The venue itself was another highlight – a huge dome, filled with mutilated dolls and a huge crystal skull, which took a team of eight people four days to cover it with mirrors, glowering down on the seething mass of ‘Ballers’ who bounced the night away beneath it.
This central hub acted as a portal into the rest of the park, which rewarded those brave enough to explore its maze-like depths with a dozen different venues and more surprises around every twist and turn.
Down by the El Horneto rollercoaster, which treated revellers to a white-knuckle ride into the darkness, The Asylum saw clubbers don medical gowns to rock out to the likes Snatch the Wax and Lee John pumping out some prime beats and bass in one of the smaller venues, which utilised some of the parks existing infrastructure.
Heading back into the dark heart of Flambards the now iconic Masked Ball sign provided an obligatory photo opportunity for any selfie-respecting Baller, before they tested their head for heights on The Throbber and the strength of their stomachs on the Chunderbolt.
Those that survived could find a stiff drink to settle their nerves at the Ghost Ship Inn, with its grandstand views of the Lords of Lightning’s three electrifying performances, which seared the dark night sky with blinding bursts and bolts of cackling energy.
From here, it was a short stroll to the Jelly Jazz-hosted Carnival of the Damned, which transformed another Flambards building into riotously colourful celebration of Mexican culture, and festival-goers got their groove on to the likes of Bone Book Bang and a three-way Beastie Boys mash-up from Moneyshot.
Meanwhile, the neighbouring Bar Los Gatos rocked out to the likes of Pete Isaac and Luke Vibert, and the nearby Meats and Beats and Hells Kitchen kept the crowds well nourished with a hot food and drinks, and a winding dark alley led to the purpose built Voodooshack, which hosted the likes of King Louis, Dave Spenceley and a dirty dub ragga vibe.
As revellers milled through this area, they passed an eerie hanging tree, where a gang of Mexican Banditos had met their end via a noose and rope, and into the other half of the site, which contained several other key venues. First up was the Aztec Arena, with its Skull entrance and huge canopy, where Opitmo, Drums of Death and Riton churned out tunes to the writhing masses from a Mayan temple.
Next stop was the Double Drop, hosted by Loose People, which took over Flambards’ Demon Drop slide – and was entered via a long slide onto the side of the dancefloor packed tight by Loose People DJs.
A short bunny hop from here was Gus Honeybun’s underground retirement home, which led people to the final collection of venues. First up was the Future Garden-hosted Discoteca Diabolo where the likes of Felix Dickinson pumped out filthy New York disco bangers. Those brave enough then crept through a cemetery where David Guetta’s career apparently now rests in peace, to discover the Raveyard where John Harris and Jinal turned up the bpm with banging techno and The Morgue saw New York Transit authority wake the dead.
With the tour of the site now complete, most ravers would be as drenched with sweat as they were by the heavy rain that poured down on the site in the early parts of the night, but thankfully didn’t create the mudbath which caused major traffic issues at last year’s Halloween event and forced the Masked Ball team to find a new site that could handle the worst the Cornish weather can throw at it – and allow them to carry on throwing the biggest, baddest Halloween parties to be found this side of the River Styx, and raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process.
Ball director Kelvin Batt said: “It was fantastic for us to be able to have the event at Flambards, although putting on an event over such a large area was a real challenge.
“It was a whole new experience for all of us I’d like to say a big thanks to all our friend and family that help make it what it is”
Early bird tickets for the Summer Ball in May went on the sale the day after the Halloween bash, with around 500 being snapped up in just a few hours by bleary-eyed revellers still recovering the last one. That’s dedication.