The ancient Celts believed that the seasonal changeover from light to dark created a portal where spirits, banshees and pukas could easily transgress the boundaries of the living and dead. During the festival of Samhain, bonfires were lit and disguises worn as measures to ward off evil spirits. Halloween in Ireland is still loaded with tradition, with tales of eerie hauntings and a genuine willingness to be spooked. All of this makes it an excellent time to travel to Ireland or to visit different parts of the country steeped in ancient stories and intrigue. Halloween enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice with a myriad of unique festivals, both from a family friendly perspective but also in terms of truly terrifying tours and paranormal investigations for those brave enough. If this year’s Halloween season feels too close to book a visit, it could make an ideal future trip. Here are a few of our Halloween favourite picks with a mix of horror, folklore and history.
The Horror Expo Ireland
Dublin City, Oct 30th.
This festival occurs within the intriguing setting of the Freemasons Grand Lodge. Ifthe location itself, does not sell this event to you, picture the lure of a candle‐litmidnight screening of Robert Wiene’s 1920 expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set to a live musical accompaniment. A truly unique event.
Dublin City, Oct 28 – 31st.
The Bram Stoker festival is full of interesting and thought provoking events and there is every chance you will leave an expert on the Irish born author of Dracula. The festival includes a puppet show for the under 6’s in the stunning location of Marsh’s library and the creation of an actual “Stokerland” in St Patrick’s Park in Dublin 8.
Co Dublin & Co Meath, Oct 26 ‐ 31st.
The meeting point for a Halloween walk with hidden Dublin walks is at St. Audeon’s Church from where you will be transported to a horror farm at Grove Gardens in Kells, County Meath. With promises of terror in the cornfields this Halloween Haunted Spooktacular Event is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Co Meath, Oct 14 – Nov 6th.
Another County Meath based event is The Spirits of Meath Halloween. This occasion is more of a nod to the Celtic festival of Samhain and is an opportunity to experience more traditionally inspired celebrations such as a festival of fire, spooky walks and an opportunity to pluck your own pumpkin.
Co Kilkenny, Oct 24 – Nov 2nd.
Clomantagh Castle in Kilkenny is an Irish Landmark Trust property where guests experience a very comfortable atmosphere in a medieval towerhouse. If ever the castle felt too peaceful or too restful, a fun Halloween opportunity awaits at Scarefest at Shankill castle in Paulstown, County Kilkenny. On this tour, a member of the resident Cope family will be your guide to all things ghostly as you tour this three hundred year old castle. There is also a day‐time tour by candlelight advertised as more suitable for children and possibly a suitable opt out opportunity for not so brave adults.
Halloween Paranormal Investigation and tours
Co Wicklow, Oct 29 – 31st.
Imagine the combination of experiences in staying in our lighthouse in County Wicklow, coupled with the opportunity to visit ‘Ireland’s most haunted building’ just down the road in Wicklow Gaol. The most extreme tour for Halloween is conducted alongside a paranormal investigation team as they patrol the building from 9pm until 3 am. This event is already sold out for 2016 but there are still nightly tours of the Gaol available and spooky Halloween games for children on October 30th from 1pm until 3pm.
Northern Ireland, Oct 29 – 31st.
Northern Ireland knows how to celebrate Halloween in style. This Banks of the Foyle event was voted best Halloween destination in the World by USA Today readers. This annual event could be a wonderful part of a trip of Northern Ireland.
Co Down, Oct 28th.
Firework celebrations and eerie Halloween entertainment will be taking place inBanbridge, close to Tullymurry House in County Down.
Co Fermanagh, Oct 31st
This is a family friendly event with Halloween games, fireworks, costumes and haunted forest walks taking place in Lisnaskea. This is within driving distance from our Irish Landmark Trust accommodation in the very picturesque Triumphal Arch Lodge in Colebrook, County Fermanagh.