Paranormal Review Of 2020
2020 in general was like a year out of a science fiction movie, as an unprecedented global pandemic changed every aspect of our lives, but aside from the outbreak there was also lots of weird news stories, strange happenings, ghostly sightings, and great paranormal entertainment for us to sink our teeth into.
The Paranormal World Paid Tribute To Derek Acorah
The year started with a bold claim by a British Astronaut that aliens exist and they could already be on Earth, and a much-debated video that appeared to show the strange phenomenon of ball lightning went viral online.
But the thing that brought the paranormal world together in January was the sad passing of television medium, Derek Acorah. The nation's favourite psychic medium passed away aged 69 after a short illness.
Derek was best known as the resident spiritual medium on the British ghost hunting show, 'Most Haunted', appearing in a total of 93 episodes of the show between 2001 and 2005. Working along side his spirit guide Sam.
Tributes and condolences flooded in from former colleagues, friends, and fans of Derek. So many in fact that the star's name was the biggest trending topic on Twitter in the UK within minutes of the news breaking.
Storm Dennis Stirred Up The Spooks
In February the second series of the British paranormal show 'Help! My House Is Haunted' came to an end and left us with an intimate knowledge of paranormal phenomena including walk-ins, animal spirits, imps, pixies and demons.
However, the most memorable thing that happened in February was that it rained - a lot. With nearly 120 flood warnings and months' worth of rainfall hitting parts of the UK in just a few days, the paranormal world was left wondering whether Storm Dennis could have actually encouraged ghosts to come out.
There are some paranormal theories that suggest that precipitation could cause us to experience more supernatural activity.
One theory that could be relevant is that ghosts are attracted to water and that locations that are close to a source of water are more likely to be haunted - properties next to a well or near a static body of water, for example. However, it's flowing water that is said to be a major conductor of spiritual energy, so a property next to a river or with water flowing beneath it has a very high haunting potential.
The rain may have dampened our spirits in February, but little did we know that something much worse was about to hit the UK in March.
A Third Of The World's Population Locked Down At Home
March, a month we'll never forget. Coronavirus spread across the globe resulting in lockdowns in countless countries around the world, including the US and here in the UK - perhaps it was something to do with the 13th falling on a Friday in March 2020?
You don't need to be told what a massive impact COVID-19 has had on all of us. It not only affected the way we shop and travel, but changed our daily lives, the way we work and how we socialise. If you're interested in all things weird, then one of the things we had to get used to missing this year was our fix of the paranormal.
Of course the first sacrifice we were asked to make to help limit the spread of the virus was to stop public gatherings and non-essential travel.
Worldwide, gatherings and events were cancelled on an unprecedented scale, including such huge events as the Eurovision song contest and Glastonbury Festival - even the Olympics have been postponed. Of course this also had an immediate effect on ghost hunting event companies, many of which are small businesses, who were forced to cancel their public events.
Then the virus started affecting more of the things we love. In mid-March the streaming giant Netflix shut down production of all scripted shows and films currently in production. Sadly, this affected the hit supernatural series, 'Stranger Things', which is currently in the pre-production stage.
This was followed by an announcement from Sony Pictures that the latest movie in the Ghostbusters franchise will be postponed too. The release of 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' was pushed back from July 10th 2020 to March 5th 2021.
As the COVID-19 restrictions tightened, the paranormal community was once again squeezed. Now it wasn't just mass gatherings and large companies being affected, but the paranormal investigators behind smaller and independent teams were now being asked to stay at home. This forced those who stream live investigations on Facebook or who create paranormal content for YouTube to cease their adventures and stay at home.
Throughout the year we heard heartwarming tales of communities coming together, and clapped aloud from our windows with our neighbours in support of our nation's health service. In the paranormal community, people have also come together to help each other in their own little ways.
Many prominent paranormal investigators and teams have been trying to find new ways to connect with their fans and followers and keep them entertained while adhering to social distancing rules.
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Can Science Explain The Existence Of Ghosts?
With the global coronavirus lockdown still keeping us away from the paranormal in April, it was a very quiet month for weird news and supernatural entertainment, but it did leave us with plenty of time to think about the paranormal.
We wondered what it would take for the scientific community to accept ghosts exist, and we set out to find out if science can explain the existence of ghosts. We put our questions to a PhD student researching quantum physics at the University of Bristol.
When it comes to harmonising science and the paranormal, the biggest problem is the many contradictions, especially when you try to build a picture of what a ghost might be made of. The most obvious of these contradictions is that ghosts can walk through a wall, yet they're able to walk on the floor and even make audible footsteps.
But, it turns out that there are a couple of possible scenarios that could explain how a spook achieve this. However, it seems for every question answered about ghosts, another is raised. If ghosts don't fall through the floor because gravity doesn't affect them, this would create another contradiction, they wouldn't be able to move any objects or make any sounds. This creates a problem for poltergeist cases, in which mischievous entities are said to move and even throw objects around.
The Paranormal Community Come Together For A Virtual Convention
In May, lockdown restrictions were eased but life was far from normal and for many ghost hunts were still out of the question, which led us to explore ways to research the paranormal from the safety of home, capturing EVPs while in lockdown seemed like the easiest option.
The most memorable moment in the paranormal world in May saw the community come together for a free virtual paranormal convention. The online event gave those locked down at home around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic the chance to get a much-needed paranormal fix.
The 12-hour-long free online event brought together a huge list of paranormal experts, ghost hunters and prominent figures from the community in a series of live video streams, interviews and Q&As on Facebook.
The Paranormal Day Paracon was the brainchild of Courtney Mroch, who runs the website Haunt Jaunts and was made possible by Haunted Magazine and the Haunted Antiques Paranormal Research Centre (HAPRC).
With more than 20 guests and speakers from the paranormal world both from Great Britain and the United States, there were plenty of interesting facts and revelations shared as part of the virtual event.
Summer Solstice Streamed Live From Stonehenge
In June we all celebrated here at Higgypop HQ as our YouTube channel passed 100k subscribers, meanwhile the Osbournes reunited during lockdown for a 'Portals To Hell' watch party, but the biggest watch party of the year took place over the longest day of the year.
It wasn't the first time that English Heritage, who manage Stonehenge, have streamed the summer solstice live on social media, but this year the virtual coverage of the celebration was more vital than ever as the landmark was closed to visitors due to the global coronavirus crisis.
Almost two million people watched the sun rise over the ancient monument during the free event, which was streamed on English Heritage's official YouTube channel and on Facebook.
The prehistoric World Heritage Site in Wiltshire was closed to visitors over the summer, including on the solstice itself, a time when normally the site becomes a mecca for thousands of people who go there to watch the most significant sunrise of the year.
Zak Bagans Opened His Dybbuk Box During Lockdown
The world famous San Diego Comic Con found a temporary new home online in July, when the iconic pop culture event was forced to stream its panels online, one of which is well worth a watch was a session with paranormal's leading women, Katrina Weidman, Amy Bruni, Chelsea Laden and Cindy Kaza.
Meanwhile, The Haunted Hunts embarked on one of their darkest investigations to date in an explosive two-hour special which saw Danny Moss and his team tackle the paranormal activity at the infamous Codnor Castle Farmhouse.
But the big news in July was that 'Ghost Adventures' star Zak Bagans finally opened his cursed dybbuk box in the finale of a new four-part spin-off series filmed during lockdown.
'Ghost Adventures: Quarantine' was filmed over 12 days from the end of March while self-isolating at Zak's own Haunted Museum during the global coronavirus lockdown.
The dybbuk box originally belonged to a woman who made and sealed the it after World War II. The box is said to contain a dybbuk, which in Jewish folklore is a restless, usually malicious, spirit believed to be able to haunt and even possess the living. Zak paid tens of thousands of dollars to obtain the haunted artefact from its previous owner and now has it on display in his museum.
During the episode, Zak tentatively opened the box, a tense moment that he described as "profound". For us viewers it was perhaps a little anticlimactic. Zak simply swung the two doors open with no obvious consequence, despite warnings throughout the episode about how dangerous the box could be.
Zak seemed to feel the same way. He said, "when I open the doors I'm expecting something to attack me right away." He likens his expectations to the famous face melting scene in the movie 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', but he says "instead I'm feeling a strong psychological shift. Something is putting images and thoughts in my head that aren't my own."
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'Host' The Terrifying Horror Film That Spawned During Lockdown
In August we questioned whether Pluckley in Kent is still the most haunted village in England, we also revealed our annual list of the 100 most haunted places in the UK based on longevity of the haunting, numbers of reports, the type of paranormal activity and credibility of witnesses.
Elsewhere, the mobile app Randonautica had users trying to track down paranormal activity at random locations, and panic spread across social media thanks to a false rumour that Annabelle, the real-life haunted doll at the centre of 'The Conjuring' movies had escaped her glass case at the Warren's occult museum.
The biggest talking point in the paranormal world in August was the horror movie, 'Host'. After 2020 we wouldn't blame you if you weren't too keen to jump on another Zoom call for a while, but a new breed of lockdown horror movies might have sent those who watched it running from their laptops for good.
The movie was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic by the cast who operated their own cameras and tells the story of a group of friends who hire a medium to conduct a remote séance using video conferencing software during lockdown.
However for the group of friends, a virtual séance proves to be the worst thing that they could have done as things quickly start going wrong after an evil spirit invades their homes forcing the gang to fight to survive the night. The story unfolds through the video chat itself in a similar style to the 2014 movie, 'Unfriended', that falls into a new horror sub-genre that's being called "desktop horror".
Ghost Hunting With The ParaPod's Barry Dodds
By September we were watching the ITV Drama 'Des', which had scenes filmed at haunted Shepton Mallet Prison and life had returned to some sort of partial normality, but ghost hunting events and paranormal investigation was still being hampered by the rule of six, one of the government's many confusing attempts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Paranormal historian, Richard Felix, was also out and about again. He host one of his famous 'execution days', a day of crime, punishment and execution at the historic Derby Gaol, with demonstrations of hangings, beheadings and lots of dark history. We went along and it was brutal.
We also made the most of a bit of freedom and went on a socially-distanced ghost hunt with Barry Dodds, star of the podcast-turned-movie, 'The ParaPod'.
To find out if Barry's faith in things that go bump in the night is still as strong after his spooky road trip across the UK shooting 'The ParaPod Movie', we returned with Barry to one of the locations that features in the film, a former school in Derbyshire that is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK and home to the ghost of Mr Morris.
Find out what happened as we searched for spooks with the podcaster here.
Poundland Branded "Irresponsible" For Selling Ouija Boards
October 2020 was the first time since 1944 that there had been a full moon on Halloween, but while the moon was full, our diaries weren't.
October is normally the busiest month in any ghost hunter's calendar, but this year it was much harder to get out and about, or even trick-or-treat for Halloween, so the month became more about the great paranormal entertainment on offer.
British paranormal teams 'Are You Haunted...?' and 'The Haunted Hunts' both brought fans new content for Halloween. Danny and his team released a new series exploring the hauntings around the legendary Pendle Hill, while Phil and Sara Whyman and their team investigated Tutbury Castle in their Halloween special.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's comedy-horror ghost hunting series, 'Truth Seekers' premiered on Amazon Prime, Netflix brought us more hidden ghosts in 'The Haunting Of Bly Manor', and British television channel Really set a new world record for the world's largest séance.
Some called the channel irresponsible for attempting what they said was a dangerous stunt, while others were more concerned by the Halloween decorations on sale in a British discount store.
Poundland, that sells most items for just £1, stirred up trouble when they put a Ouija board on sale as part of their Halloween range. The Creepy Town branded spirit board could be picked up alongside items like fake spider webs, light up ghosts and glow in the dark skeletons in some of their stores across the UK.
Although the item may seem like harmless fun and a perfect fit for Halloween, many in the paranormal community have called the retail chain's decision to sell the occult item "irresponsible and potentially dangerous."
Those concerned about the board's inclusion in the discount store's range are most worried that the spirit board seem to be being marketed at kids.
Paranormal Entertainment Awards Winners Announced
In November a British singer-songwriter released an eerie music video filmed at the infamous haunted 30 East Drive, celebrity ghost hunter Zak Bagans hit one million followers on Twitter, and the winners of the 2020 Paranormal Entertainment Awards were announced.
The online award ceremony was hosted by Higgypop.com for a third year to honour the best entertainment from the paranormal world from the last 12 months.
Our readers voted 75,000 times in our 15 awards categories, not just beating last year's record, but beating it in half the time. As well as our main categories, which recognise all forms of content created for traditional broadcast, online streaming, social and print, we also had two special categories, the Coronavirus Community Spirit Award and the Paranormal Unsung Hero. Readers didn't get to vote in these two categories, but the winners are picked from the public's nominations.
There were wins for Chris Fleming who picked up the gold in the podcast category for a second year in a row, Haunted Magazine who picked up their third gold award, and Most Haunted Experience who won a gold as the Best Paranormal Events Team.
Giovanna Fletcher Named Queen Of The Haunted Castle In 'I'm A Celeb'
Photo: © Ognyan Petrov
In December it was revealed that Zak Bagans paid $11k for one of the original Chucky doll props from 'Child's Play' and the 'Paranormal Captured' Christmas special aired at the team headed to two haunted hotspots in Cornwall for 'The Dead Of Winter'.
But the paranormal hotspot getting the most attention in December was Gwrych Castle in North Wales. For two weeks the haunted castle played host to 12 contestants in this year's 'I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' after its temporary move from the jungle due to the pandemic.
According to local paranormal investigators and the castle's staff, the ruins are very haunted with reports of disembodied footsteps, the sound of rattling chains, and sightings of the ghost of a White Woman believed to be the spirit of a former owner, the Countess of Dundonald.
The castle is also allegedly haunted by a Lady in Red who is said to have been killed during a fox hunt, and the spirit of a servant girl who died following an accident while horse riding in the grounds.
Podcast host, Giovanna Fletcher, went on to win the series with Vernon Kay and Jordan North voted runners up by the show's viewers.
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