Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

All posts in Halloween

Spectres at Halloween at loftus Hall  Pic by Gerry Browne

Spectres at Halloween at Loftus Hall! Pic by Gerry Browne

Loftus Hall stirs Samhain spirits!

If you saw my article on the many events on for Halloween this year in Ireland, you saw me mention spooky all-year-round Loftus Hall. They’ve given me some more information on the spectral goings on, as well as the adult tours for Halloween at Loftus Hall. Check it out!

Spectral phenomena expected at Loftus Hall’s Halloween experience

Loftus Hall, in Co. Wexford, will celebrate Samhain, and as Ireland’s most haunted house, you can expect to experience some eerie encounters and hear some ghostly tales from Loftus Hall’s past.

For many of us, Halloween conjures up images of trick or treating, dressing in ghoulish costume, pumpkin carving or bobbing for apples.

However, these contemporary Halloween activities are based on practices dating back to the darker origins of Halloween, or Samhain.  Around 2,000 years ago in Celtic Ireland, Samhain was the division of the year between summer and winter.  During Samhain, the divide between this world and other domains was at its thinnest which gave spirits greater opportunity to pass through to this world.

Frightening goings-on at Loftus Hall, Ireland. Pic Gerry Browne

Frightening goings-on at Loftus Hall, Ireland. Pic Gerry Browne

Nestled on the Hook Peninsula in Co. Wexford in barren and austere surroundings, Loftus Hall’s heritage dates back 665 years to 1350. It is now a magnet for tourists, historians, and paranormal enthusiasts, who continue to document evidence of frequent paranormal activity in the house. Highlighting some of this activity, Loftus Hall will feature on TV3 this Halloween, with a fascinating account of an Irish Ghost Hunters Investigation.

According to Aidan Quigley, Owner of Loftus Hall, Loftus Hall is a very special, but unpredictable, place to be during Samhain. “We observe strange phenomena in the house throughout the year, but at Halloween, the house often surprises us.”

“At Loftus Hall, there is no need for overstated gory props or effects.  The house has a very twisted and tortured history, and so naturally speaks for itself. We have had reports from many ghost hunting groups and spectre seekers who recount rather unsettling results, such as significant temperature drops, particularly in the Chapel and Tapestry Room, and spikes in electro-magnetic fields, indicating an unseen energy source. Visitors to Loftus Hall continually experience and qualify these findings, and many encounter things that they can’t quite explain. ”

The Loftus Hall Samhain Tours open to the public from October 17th and visitors should expect some strange and inexplicable goings-on.

It’s not only ghost hunters who have documented ethereal activities at Loftus Hall.  Following last year’s viral “ghost photo” which hit the international headlines when tourist Thomas Beavis snapped what appeared to be a ghostly apparition in the porch way of the Hall, another visitor to Loftus Hall, Tara McMeel also captured some strange ghostly apparitions in a “selfie” shot.

The continuous visitor feedback regarding unnatural experiences, and tangible captures of evidence such as this, keeps world-wide curiosity rife about Loftus Hall and its ominous past.

Mr. Quigley revealed, “Without giving too much away about the newly designed family or adult Samhain tours, I can confirm they will both feature the re-enactment of the much heralded, infamous “dark stranger” episode. Charles Tottenham Loftus, the then custodian of the Hall in the 18th century, invited a stranger to play cards.  During the card game, as his daughter Anne who was captivated by this stranger, bent to retrieve a fallen playing card, she discovered that the invited guest had cloven hooves.  The stranger flew into a fiery rage, crashing through the roof leaving in his wake a smell of sulphur and brimstone, and the very same roof has been irreparable ever since. This Legend is synonymous with Loftus Hall, and is a fundamental part of the houses spectral history.”

If you want to experience Samhain in an authentic haunted house, Loftus Hall Hall’oween tours commence from October 17th with a range of family tours each day, adult night tours on October 24th, 25th, 30th and 31st, and the ultimate Halloween Paranormal Investigation Lockdown on the 7th November.

 

To find out more about the Daily Halloween Tours, Adult Night tours, or the Loftus Hall Halloween Lockdown at Loftus Hall visit www.loftushall.ie or call 051 397728

I’m going to a tour for Halloween at Loftus Hall myself on Saturday the 23rd, but it will be a daytime one, suitable for children & scardy cat adults! Will let you know how I fare. 😀 Keep an eye on my Twitter @VibrantIreland and Periscope @VibrantIreland


Don't look now, but Halloween ghosts are popping up all over! Ely in Dublin & more have events on this year. See article for more!

Don’t look now, but Halloween ghosts are popping up all over!

Ireland is the ancestral home of Halloween, so surely we should have some spooktacular events on!

Well, Halloween in Ireland hasn’t always been the massive event that it is in the US, but we *are* getting more into the spirit (ahem) of things each year. Ireland now has some ace Halloween festivals & fun, including one that was voted Europe’s BEST Independent Scare Attraction! Read on for 2015’s top Halloween events for adults and children in Ireland.

***UPDATED! Be sure to read all the added events- and there is one county in particular that you mustn’t miss! Read all the way to the end***

Halloween is on a Saturday night this year, so for sure many adults will be having the Halloween craic once the kiddies have conked out after their sugar high. If you are in Dublin, book in that babysitter if needs be, & head out to the ely bar & brasserie at the IFCI in the trendy, modern Docklands to enjoy food, brews, & grooves at Ely’s

Halloween House Party:

Ghoulish grog! Ely's Halloween night is grown-up fun! Read about what's on for Haloween for adults and kids.

Ghoulish grog! Ely’s Halloween night is grown-up fun!

Beats, Brews, Tastings & Trouble; Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble!

Come on down to ely bar & brasserie on Saturday 31st October for our spooktacular Halloween House Party.

We’ll have tastings of bewitching beverages including a craft beer table with pumpkin & seasonal beers, candy cocktails, w-eerie wine ‘n’ whiskey, ghoulish gin and more!
Nothing says Halloween like stuffing your face full of food. And fantastic food it is too. Think mini pumpkin pies, turkey legs, sweet potato fritters and of course, sweet treats – without the tricks.

You can also WIN BIG with a load of amazing prizes up for grabs! We’ll be awarding scariest costume, most original costume, best corporate crew costume and more.

Our Halloween House Party kicks off from 8pm with a devilish DJ from 10pm
ely bar & brasserie, IFSC, Dublin 1

Only €30pp

>> BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW <<

pumpkin-like halloween in ireland sunset

A ‘ Halloween pumpkin ‘ sunset!

Loftus Hall, known as Ireland’s most haunted house!

The devil himself once visited this house on Wexford’s wild Hook Head peninsula! Loftus Hall has several Halloween tours, handily broken down into 3 age groups: families with school age children (5-11) , families with over 12s, and tours for over 18s. The tours start 17 Oct and run until 1 November, Do you dare? I’ll be going myself, but on a day tour. *scaredy cat* 😉

“Halloween (Samhain) marks the change between “light” and the “darkness”. This change means there is a weakness in the connection between worlds, allowing ghostly spirits to pass into our world more easily.

Ancestors are welcomed, but harmful spirits are avoided and hidden from. Which will you meet on your Loftus Hall Samhain Tour? Let your guide, from the present, and the past, take you on a journey through the ground floor of Loftus Hall, sharing with you some of the most ghostly tales of Ireland’s Most Haunted House… And just in case you meet a harmful spirit, please note that dressing in costume is recommended to all to help keep you hidden from sinister spirits!”

 Find out more details on The Spectres & Halloween at Loftus Hall, here.

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Sure to delight both the young and the young at heart, the Virginia Pumpkin Festival returns on the 23rd through the 27th of October, 2015 in county Cavan. Cavan is a county well worth exploring, with lesser known gems like it’s very own Cavan Burren! Set aside a few days & enjoy the Pumpkin Festival and check out Cavan! (And perhaps treat yourself to one of my favorite Irish spa hotels!)

Irish Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

If scooping out a pumpkin and decorating it with a particularly menacing face is your favourite part of Halloween, then look no further than the Virginia Pumpkin Festival. Now in its 8th year, the festival takes place over Bank Holiday Weekend and is the pumpkin party of the year!

Gather all the family to this magical festival with its biggest and best programme ever this year.  Join in the frightful fun commencing with a  haunted forest walk on Friday,  The Kilkenny’s and a tribute to Luke Kelly to entertain you on the Saturday night in the Virginia Show Centre and a monster fancy dress ball on the Sunday night, this festival is an essential for everyone who loves Halloween.  There is a full programme of day time entertainment for all ages and tastes. Check out the picture for a daily rundown.

Plus, there are competitions to partake in: Pumpkin Pie competition and the Alternative Pumpkin Competition, are both taking place over the weekend.

OMG I LOVE PUMPKIN PIE! Can I be a judge?!!? YUM 😀

Details and more info at www.pumpkinfestival.ie

Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Castles are perfect for ghost hunting and Halloween in Ireland!

One of my favorite castles is Huntington Castle in the charming village of Clonegal in county Carlow. I’ve been a few times throughout the year, and totally recommend a visit any time.  Huntington is still owned by the family of the original builders, and they are absolutely passionate about it. Halloween is perfect for a visit- I loved their candlelit tour! It runs from 27 Oct to the 31st in 2015.

See www.huntingtoncastle.com 

 

Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

Another Irish Castle celebrating Halloween is Birr Castle in county Offaly. Along with their Haunted Woods and Castle tours for ages over 5, they are also offering a grown up evening that is very tempting!

The Twlight Hour – An evening of Gothic Music and Literature and Trickery with Nóirín Ní Riain & guests

Join us at Birr Castle for this very special evening with Noirin Ni Riain and guests. ‘Oiche Shamhna’ is a magical time with strong roots in ancient celtic Ireland. This evening will celebrate music and literature linked to All Hollows Eve exploring much loved traditions, songs, folklore, ghost stories, poetry and lots of haunted fun in the gothic castle.

Sunday 25th October at 20.00
Booking essential as places are limited. Pre-paid event with Tickets €25.00.
Adults only.

Click to see more on the Birr Castle Halloween events.

A third Halloween castle tour is to be found at Shankill Castle in Paulstown, co Kilkenny. I’ve not experienced this Halloween event myself, but it must be scary as they’ve a strong disclaimer!

The Scarefest Ghost Tour: A night-time, candle-lit tour led by the castle residents through the most haunted areas of the 300 year old castle and the 11th century church yard.  A member of the Cope family leads the tours and relays the tales of past residents, along with an account of the recently recorded paranormal experiences.

On Halloween night, there will be extra special tours, including one over Midnight, for those willing and daring enough.

Be prepared to run for your life. The ghost tour is not for the faint hearted, or for those under the age of 15. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Group bookings available on request.  Book Early bird tickets now, just €21.95 for a limited time.

WARNING: This tour is genuinely frightening and is not suitable for young children, the infirm, or those with health related concerns. The owners of Shankill Castle do not accept responsibility for the cause or aggravation of a health related issue as a result of their visit. Take this tour at your own risk. Unfortunately this venue is not wheelchair friendly. Should you wish to organise a wheelchair accessible tour please contact us.Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

More info: shankillcastle.com/scarefest2015/  

Too Scary? How about a gentle Halloween Spooktacular?

HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR 2015

Friday 23rd October – Sunday 1st November

Limerick Spooktacular viaHalloween events Ireland halloweenspooktacular.ie

Limerick Spooktacular via halloweenspooktacular.ie

Limerick’s very own Halloween ‘Spooktacular’ Family Festival at Arthur’s Quay on the banks of the River Shannon, join in for a hauntingly good time with attractions including an authentic international food market, Vintage carnival experience, live performances, games, competitions and more!

Vintage Carnival

Dare to hang 100 feet in the sky, whisk through the air and slide in circles?!? Limerick is proud to present an authentic Vintage Carnival as part of the Halloween Spooktacular. From “Galloping Horses” Carrousels, to Ferris wheels, and Helter Skelters, there is something to excite the imagination of children and adults alike.

Don’t miss the Halloween characters from Victorian Limerick, The Spooky Show –  will be coming along to bring some spooky surprises to the performance area at The Halloween Spooktacular. Make sure to join in for some spooky fun!

Why not enter one a Halloween competition… if you dare!

*Best Costume Competition *Spooky skeleton scavenger hunt* Apple peeling * Colouring competitions. Give it a go!

Find out more at: halloweenspooktacular.ie

More Children’s Fun at Halloween!

The Wexford Arts Centre has fun workshops on for the kids:

Children’s Halloween Workshops 
Booking fee: €15 per workshop
Ages: 4-6 years and 7-11 years


All Things Ghoulish….!
Friday 30th October / 11.00am-1.00pm / ages 4-6 years

To celebrate Halloween, younger artists will get to make scary handprint Vampire cards, peg zombies and crazy pumpkin and monster sun catchers. We will supply all the magical supplies, and the children will learn to make these spooky Halloween decorations which are sure to scare the bravest of trick or treaters!
Friday 30th October / 2.00pm-4.00pm / ages 7-11 years
Older artists will transform into powerful Witches and Wizards as they make their very own magic wands and decorate magical capes. Using a huge assortment of spooky, glittering materials older children will be casting spells and ready to collect bags of sweets on Halloween night!

Picture


DRACULA’S DUBLIN!

Bram Stoker Dracula Festival DublinI have to mention this is fangtastic festival ;-D even though you may already be well aware of it.

From 23rd – 26th October 2015, Dublin City will celebrate 4 Days of Living Stories & 4 Nights of Deadly Adventures!

Whether you’re a resident vampire or visiting from further afield, Bram Stoker Festival 2015 has something for everyone in its gothically inspired programme of events.”

See the full Bram Stoker Festival Halloween line-up here.

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland

 

DRAGONS!

Head to Ireland’s other capital, Cork and check out the Dragon of Shandon Festival running october 29-31st:

CCAL presents a Festival for all; Beasts, Visionaries, Ghouls, and Misfits come feast your eyes with wild spectacles as we ignite your imagination. For He is on his way. Emerging from the Underground. Hear his roar. The Dragon of Shandon calls you.

The renowned Dragon of Shandon returns for its 10th Year with a 3 day celebration of Samhain from the 29th to the 31st of Oct. Taking place in Cork’s Cultural Quarter, Shandon. For further information and Parade Route see www.dragonofshandon.com

The Dragon of Shandon began in 2006 as a street parade celebration of Samhain and creative partnership between artists and communities which has taken place on the night of October 31st in the heart of Shandon, Cork , Ireland for over 8 years.

Each year thousands take to the streets of Shandon on Cork ’s Northside to walk with the Dragon as it travels between worlds in a celebration of the living and the dead accompanied by an assortment of creatures from the underworld. 

The evening parade is the result of an extensive outreach and participatory programme that spans several months of workshops with youth groups, the community and voluntary sector, schools and voluntary participants.

A commitment to high standards of practice both in artistic and participatory engagement are at the core of each annual parade with groups collaborating on an annual basis with artists to create original work that is reflective of their experiences.

The centrepiece of each parade is the Dragon, 36ft in length and made entirely of tape. This spectacular giant puppet is animated by twelve puppeteers on the night who walk it through the streets of Shandon along with an array of illuminated props, lanterns and characters.

Treats for Adults! Halloween Food Tour

For tasty delights way beyond the tooth rotting trick or treat sweets from Lidl or Aldi, treat yourself to to a fantastic Halloween food tour in one of my favorite cities – Belfast! Caroline is a brilliant guide; I’ve done a tour with her & I know you’ll have fun as well as yum! Book quickly, it will fill up fast.

Halloween Food Tour – Friday 30th October 2015 10.30am

Location: Belfast City Centre at 10.30am

The foodie’s food tour of Belfast! What is the food of Belfast/ Northern Ireland and where are the best places to find it? Tastes. Experiences. Fun.

We visit up to 8 different foodie destinations around the city and get to eat/drink over 23 local foods and drinks! You don’t need breakfast or lunch and we suggest you don’t drive afterwards ;0)

Northern Ireland has lots of Halloween events, too many for me to list! One of the biggest is:

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry~Londonderry FREE event! 29 October – 1 November. Europe’s biggest and best Halloween festival returns with an even busier programme of events than ever before! It’s set to be a week awash with devilish activities for the whole family with terror-ific characters, mythical mayhem and a whole host of ghostly going culminating the carnival parade through the streets and the fireworks display.

Check out more Halloween events in Northern Ireland on Discover Northern Ireland’s Halloween listings. 

 

Dear readers, the county that is totally winning at Halloween has got to be county Meath! 

Haunted Spooktacular at Grove Gardens, Fordstown, County Meath prepare for the 2015 'Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival'.Now is in its 7th year it offers over 37 spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to 1st November. Some of the 25 Ôgruesome events for kidsÕ include ÔThe Gates of HellÕ at the Haunted Hotel, an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning is to be prepared for the totally unexpected. Tayto Park invites you into their ÔHouse or HorrorsÕ while ÔPooka SpookaÕ at Causey Farm promises a spine-tingling experience. A less scary ÔMonster High Family BuffetÕ is offered at the Pilo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ÔStorytelling and Song with the friendly witchÓ.For those adults wishing to be scared there are lots to choose from at the ÔSpirits of Meath Halloween FestivalÕ. Immerse yourself in the horror of FARMAPHOBIA, recently pronounced EuropeÕs Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the 'Oscars of the European Scare Industry'. New at Farmaphobia for 2015 is ÒSCARECUSÓ housing a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers, who invite you to join them for an eternal performance! A ÔMurder Mystery DinnerÕ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath. Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the ÒHaunted SpooktacularÓ HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, ChamberÕs Of Terror, Hillbilly HorrorÕs and Redneck Village. . Photo:Barry Cronin/www.barrycronin.com

Haunted Spooktacular at Grove Gardens County Meath. Halloween events in Ireland: 2015 ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival. Photo:Barry Cronin/www.barrycronin.com

Why? Well, 2 reasons: 1: Halloween began in County Meath over 2,000 years ago.  2: Meath has 36 different events on for Halloween!

Yep, that’s thirty and six spooky events– Meath is truly embracing being the  birthplace of Halloween / Samhain! Did you know:

The site of Tlachtga (aka Tlachta) on the Hill of Ward, in County Meath, Ireland is believed to have been the first site of the celebration of Samhain, the precursor to our modern Halloween.

The ringfort dates from around 200 AD but festivals and rituals at the site may have taken place as far back as 1000 BC.

Priests, augurs and druids used to assemble there to light the winter fires of the Great Fire Festival on Samhain eve.

Under penalty of law, all fires that were lit within the kingdom that night were to be kindled from the fire at Tlachtga.

Samhain was a festival celebrating the dead and it also marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

It was during this time that the Irish believed that the graves would open and their gods and spirits, who dwelt inside, would walk the earth again.

Now, on to Meath’s modern day Halloween events:

Halloween in Ireland- Spirits of Meath has lots of events throughout the county!

Halloween in Ireland- Spirits of Meath has lots of events throughout the county!

 

The Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival: A 16 day celebration of Halloween in the place where it began

Halloween began over 2,000 years ago in County Meath and each year the ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ re-creates that first Halloween with a Torchlit Procession and Samhain Festival of Fire, a re-enactment of the first Halloween fire from over 2,000 years ago. This takes place on the Hill of Tlachta, Athboy, Co. Meath and is just one of 37 other events that make up the scarily good ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’  Now in its 7th year, this festival offers spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to November 1st.

The scary events that are part of the ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ are categorised into Children’s ‘Fun by Day’ and Adult’s ‘Frights by Night’ events. Adults are invited to immerse themselves in the horror of ‘FARMAPHOBIA’, recently pronounced Europe’s Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the ‘Oscars of the European Scare Industry’. This frighteningly good attraction includes “SCARECUS” that houses a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers.  A ‘Murder Mystery Dinner’ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath.  Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the “Haunted Spooktacular” HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, Chamber’s Of Terror, Hillbilly Horror’s and Redneck Village.

SCARY CLOWN! Causey Farm, County Meath p, Irelandrepares for the 2015 'Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival'.Now is in its 7th year it offers over 37 spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to 1st November. Some of the 25 Ôgruesome events for kidsÕ include ÔThe Gates of HellÕ at the Haunted Hotel, an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning is to be prepared for the totally unexpected. Tayto Park invites you into their ÔHouse or HorrorsÕ while ÔPooka SpookaÕ at Causey Farm promises a spine-tingling experience. A less scary ÔMonster High Family BuffetÕ is offered at the Pilo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ÔStorytelling and Song with the friendly witchÓ.For those adults wishing to be scared there are lots to choose from at the ÔSpirits of Meath Halloween FestivalÕ. Immerse yourself in the horror of FARMAPHOBIA, recently pronounced EuropeÕs Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the 'Oscars of the European Scare Industry'. New at Farmaphobia for 2015 is ÒSCARECUSÓ housing a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers, who invite you to join them for an eternal performance! A ÔMurder Mystery DinnerÕ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath. Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the ÒHaunted SpooktacularÓ HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, ChamberÕs Of Terror, Hillbilly HorrorÕs and Redneck Village .Photo:Barry Cronin/www.barrycronin.com 087-9598549 info@barrycronin.com

SCARY CLOWN! Causey Farm, County Meath, Ireland prepares for the 2015 ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ Photo:Barry Cronin/www.barrycronin.com

Some of the gruesome events for kids include: a terrifying and spine tingling experience; ‘Pooka Spooka’ at Causey Farm that promises magical happenings including the Fairytale Corn Maze and broomstick rides; A less scary ‘Monster High Family Buffet’ is offered at the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ‘Storytelling and Songs with the friendly witch”.  You can also pick your own Pumpkin at Meath Pumpkin Farm, Summerhill and Alright Pumpkin Farm, Girley, Fordstown while Tayto Park once again open their ‘House or Horrors’, ‘Haunted Hotel’ at Lough Crew have a special event for families in an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning to be prepared for the totally unexpected.

The ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ full event programme offers 36 different events, and a downloadable Festival Brochure can be found on:  www.spiritsofmeath.ie   

I think a trip to Meath is in order!

***UPDATE! 😀 I’ll be there for Halloween Weekend! Follow along on Twitter @VibrantIreland and live videos on Periscope @vibrantireland***

Fancy going to one of the MANY non-Halloween-y festivals on in Ireland this October? Click!

Do you have any Halloween in Ireland events that shoudn’t be missed? Let me know– THANKS! 

 


Belfast fun events- having fun

Belfast is great fun!

Belfast is buzzing with events!

We LOVE Belfast, and though it’s under many people’s radar at the minute, that won’t last for long. Visit now and enjoy some fab Belfast events in October.

I’m confident you’ll enjoy a trip to Belfast at any time, but when there is a festival or event on (which is nearly always!) this just adds to your enjoyment. Terry & I’ve spent 2 weekends there this year, and even though we’ve done loads, there are still some Belfast attractions we haven’t yet seen. Crumlin Road Gaol is one still on our list, and it sounds like Oct 16 – 19 2014 is the time to go—IF YOU ARE BRAVE ENOUGH 😀

Crumlin Gaol Paranormal Tours: Halloween Special

Crumlin Road Gaol has been interconnected with Paranormal Activity since it closed its doors in 1996. There have been sightings, noises and unexplained happenings within the walls that have seen 17 men executed over its 150 year history.

This special edition 60 minute tour will take you to the various hot spots of the Gaol where Paranormal Activity has been reported and the guide will tell you off the harrowing stories associated with these areas. The places you will be taken include the condemned man’s cell, execution chamber, the tunnel and the flogging room. Paranormal Tours are carried out in low light conditions and are not for the faint hearted.

You must book ahead for these Halloween tours; times and more information can be found here.

From Bolshoi to Belfast on at Crumlin Gaol; costumesWhile you are at the Gaol,  you may like to check out From Bolshoi to Belfast – The Theatre of Costume, running 17 October to 13 December. It sounds quite interesting: ” The globally recognised Bolshoi has come together with the Russian Museum of Ethnography to curate a show that tells the story of how the traditional costumes of the people are reimaged in the famous 20th century ballet and opera designs. Combining costumes never seen before outside Russia with designs that have been showcased in the fashion capitals of Europe, this exhibition has been created especially for Belfast as part of UK Russia Year of Culture.” You can find out more, and book the £5 ticket online here.

Even if you are too faint-hearted for the Paranormal Tour, on Halloween itself the Metro Monster Mash down on the Titanic Slipways should be good fun. It runs from 5.30-8.30pm on 31 October, and if you haven’t been to the truly fascinating Titanic Museum yet, do go earlier in the day & visit! Even if you aren’t normally into museums or the Titanic you will be impressed! Another tip is to book yourself in for a Segway tour of the area with SegwayNI.

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Terry & I had the best craic on our Segways! They are a bit weird to ‘drive’ at first, because this is done by body weight & not via the handles, but after the first 15 minutes or so you’ll be zipping around no bother. I wonder if my Segway Selfie would qualify for the ‘Spooky Selfie’ contest mentioned below 😉

 Metro Monster Mash, Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

Come along for the a spooktacular Halloween evening of haunting street theatre, fire jugglers, music and the largest fireworks display in Northern Ireland!

The annual spectacle gets underway at The Slipways, Titanic Belfast with haunting street theatre featuring fire and glow performers, children’s rides and a performance by local band Peach on stage with Cool FM’s Pete Snodden and the Cool crew. The event will close with one of the biggest fireworks displays in Northern Ireland.

A free Metro Ghostbus will be operating to The Slipways leaving Chichester Street in the city centre at regular intervals from 5.15pm-8pm with return journeys until 9pm from Queen’s Road in the Titanic Quarter.

This year, the council is holding a special #spookyselfie campaign in the run up to the event where people can send in their ‘spooky selfies’ via the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages to be in with the chance to win a prize on the night as the audience vote for the spookiest photo. Deadline for entries is Monday 27 October.

Craving a good dollop of culture? Then the Belfast Festival at Queens on from 16 October – 1 November is for you! There looks to be an intriguing programme of works on offer. I know from our visit during Culture Night (amazing fun!) that Belfast folk enjoy culture of all varieties, and if you are a culture vulture like me, I recommend you keep your calendar open for Belfast cultural events. See the Special Short Breaks Offer on for the Belfast Festival here.

The Belfast Festival at Queen’s, 2014

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presents great and diverse works of art from home and abroad, bringing audiences something very special that they cannot see elsewhere, all combining to deliver one unique festival which runs throughout the city from 16 October – 1 November. The 2014 festival features performers from 18 different countries covering classical and contemporary music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts, many of which are EU, UK and Ireland premieres.

For the full programme go to belfastfestival.com

The MAC is a beautiful contemporary building you won’t forget in a hurry, especially if you lose your partner in it, as I did Terry! The MAC is full of nooks & crannies, so do pick up their map when you go in 🙂 During our last Belfast visit we went to a performance as well as the art exhibitions, and it is a fantastic space for both.

photographing inside Belfast's beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

Terry photographing in Belfast’s beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

The MAC was designed by local architects Hackett Hall McKnight & has won national and international architecture awards. It is chock full of uses, with 2 theatres, 3 art galleries, the Den for learning and participation programmes, the Family Room, 4 multi-purpose spaces designed for workshops, rehearsals and conferences and dance classes; offices for 4 resident companies; an artist-in-residence studio, and a café and bar. Emm, you can see how I/Terry got lost! From 31 October 2014 through 18 Jan 2015, The MAC will be running the MAC International:

The MAC International

The MAC will host a major exhibition in October following an international art prize competition, offering professional artists worldwide the opportunity to exhibit at the MAC.

The exhibition, which will run across all three MAC galleries from 31st October 2014 until 18th January 2015, will offer visitors the very best in contemporary visual art including sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation and performance. MAC International will build on the innovative visual art practice built up by the MAC and highlighted by the Turner Prize presence in Derry-Londonderry during 2013’s City of Culture.

The MAC is open 10am to late, 364 days a year, with the galleries open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week. 

Find out more on The MAC International here.

To help you plan ahead for your Summer holiday, I want to mention here that the Tall Ships Race will be coming to Belfast 2 to 5 July 2015. Having been to see the tall ships twice in Waterford, and having seen how well Belfast puts on festivals, I reckon this will be a winner even if you aren’t totally ship-mad.

The Tall Ships Races 2015

2 Jul 2015 – 5 Jul 2015
Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter

Here’s a video showing a bit of what’s in store for 2015, and for more information you can also have a look at Belfast City’s site here.

After all this discussion of fab Belfast events in October, I’m sad (sort of) to say I won’t be able to go to any because I will be in Greece at a travel blogging conference (and soaking up some culture, food, & sun!) So if you go to Belfast or any of these events, let us know! Share your photos with us on social media, we’d love to see & share. Have a great time in Belfast!

 

Click these to see: some Belfast tips  and 3 reasons why Belfast is brilliant and a taster of what was on at Culture Night— another great time to visit Belfast. And here is the article I wrote about Belfast over on the Discover Northern Ireland site.

Terry and I were kindly hosted on our trip by the Northern Ireland tourist board, but we love Belfast simply because it is a terrific place to visit!


Halloween in Ireland is special.

Halloween in Ireland is spooky!

Halloween in Ireland is spooky! This is Kilkenny Castle.

After all, Ireland is the home of the Halloween tradition. Samhain originated here, and Ireland is an exciting & spooky place to be during October- especially in one of the many ancient castles. You are spoiled for Halloween choice- so many places are haunted– castles, lighthouses, crannogs & more! There’s plenty on, and I’ll give you some highlights.

No matter what your age or how nervous your temperament, there’s probably something Halloween-y on that you’ll enjoy.

If you have the nerve, you could set yourself a fantastically spooky tour of the events & festivals listed here. Do you dare? If you do, let us know in the comments below; tell us YOUR favorite Halloween events/outings/tales/treats.

For the HUGE array of Halloween events for 2015, please click to the newest article here.

Candlelit Halloween Tours of Huntington Castle

One of the Halloween things we did last year was the nighttime candlelit adult tour of Huntington Castle in county Carlow. We loved it! Huntington is about 500 years old and is a castle full of stories; for example did you know it is home to the Temple of Isis? It also is home to lots of screams during the tour– I think mine are still echoing there 🙂 Thank fully there are also family tours for those with kids under 12, and the castle tearoom is open for a cheery restorative Halloween bun & coffee after your frightening experiences. Click Huntington Castle for all the details and to book.

 

Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Halloween at Rathwood

At the side of county Carlow (Wicklow border) you’ll find Rathwood. I’ve heard lots of good reports on Rathwood and their falconry centre, woodlands, garden centre, shops & more. Plus, The Chocolate Garden is next door. Now, that’s frightening — for those on a diet! 😉

Renowned for their magical Christmas train experience, this Halloween families can jump onboard the spooky delights of Rathwood’s Halloween train. Travel through the enchanted forest, magical fairy playground and meet some friendly ghoulish creatures. Children and adults alike can enjoy a pumpkin pick and pumpkin carving with Rathwood’s witches. All children will enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate after the Halloween adventure.

Babies (0-12months) go free, €5 per adult and €10 per child. Halloween trains running from October 19th to October 31st. 

For bookings visit rathwood.com

 

Halloween in Ireland Rathwood

Love this pic from Rathwood! The scary face the wee lad on the left is making 😀

 Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Head to county Cavan for the Pumpkin Festival, with events from 25-30 October. There’s the national giant pumpkins competition, Haunted Forest Walk, pumpkin pie contest, artisan food & craft fair, treasure hunt, fireworks, and musicmore happening as well. A great time for the whole family!

Unlike some of the next Halloween highlights- for adults only!

Loftus Hall- the Devil Visited!

Loftus Hall in county Wexford, where the devil is said to have visited, does have a children’s event listed, but it also has a tour for over 21’s only! How scary must that be? Too scary for me, that’s for sure. They also have an adult only murder mystery night running on Friday the 13th of December. Click the link above to find out more, if you dare…

Halloween in ireland: Loftus Hall

I’m not! Are YOU? Loftus Hall is spooky!

Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm

Another adult only Halloween event is the over 16’s only Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm in county Meath. I’m a big scardy-cat, so I’ve not been to this, but here’s a 30 second video of the scares. They do have a family friendly day on Oct 27th, Halloween Bank Holiday Monday…that may be more my speed 🙂

 Shankill Castle: Midnight Halloween Tour

Shankill Castle in county Kilkenny has events for both over 15’s– accompanied by an adult- and for families. The candlelit tours bring you through the most haunted parts of the castle, and also out into the graveyard. The tours start running 18 October, and there is to be an extra-special one at the witching hour of midnight on Halloween. They are also having 2 murder mystery nights, which include a 4 course meal as part of Savour Kilkenny. To find out more about all the events Shankill Castle is running, click here.

Children: Get ready for Halloween!

In Kilkenny City, the 16th century Rothe House is holding events for children ages 5-12 on Halloween day:

11.00 – 12.30:  Get creative, and make your Hallowe’en mask and lots more scary stuff.

12.30 – 1.00:  Break (bring your own lunch)

1.00 – 2.00:   Michael Moylan of Irish History Live brings past Hallowe’ens to life, with scary stories.

€6.00 each session (morning and afternoon), or €10 for both. To book: +353 56 7722893 or  info@rothehouse.com 

Thank goodness this sounds nice and non-heartstopping! I was getting the creeps just writing about all the very scary Halloween events. I’m sure there are others, but I’m too scared to write about any more 😉

Right; now all I have to do is go and suit up for the Vampire Hunt at the Bram Stoker Festival. Stake; check. Holy water; check. Garlic…uh oh…hubby cooked with it..  Find out more on the Vampire Hunt and the festival, here.

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

 


Dracula arrived at travel blogger conference TBEX to promote Bram Stoker Festival

Dracula invited all of us at travel blogger conference TBEX to the Bram Stoker Festival. He promised he wouldn’t bite..

As a city with over a 1,000 years of history, Dublin is of course full of ghosts and spooky tales. Did you know that Dublin is also home to Vampires?

Actually, Dublin is home to the most famous vampire of them all– DRACULA! Or, to be exact, his creator Bram Stoker, who wrote the original Dracula book, was a Dubliner.

To help celebrate this fact, on 26-28 October 2013 there is a very cool Bram Stoker Festival happening in Dublin. There will be films, street performances, Dracula’s Fire Garden, a Bram’s wild banquet in Christchurch Cathedral’s underground crypt, family events and loads more.

On Saturday the 26th of October, if you dare, you can take part in a  Vampire Hunt throughout the city. It’s free!  Here’s the scoop from the festival:

 

Vampire Hunt

Make your way through the streets of Dublin visiting some of its history-laden buildings, cultural treasures and venues to uncover these secrets and perhaps even discover a little more than you bargained for!

With chilling team tasks, bloodcurdling surprises and  fun you don’t want to miss the Vampire HuntBeat the clock to be the fastest team (4 people per team) to complete the hunt, or be voted the best costume, and you’ll win cool prizes.

 A special mini hunt is available to families with vampires in training.

One venue on the Vampire Hunt has an alcohol licence & participants who are over 18 will receive an alcoholic beverage. (This venue is not part of the mini Vampire Hunt)

10am–5pm. Hunts are apprx 1 hr 20 mins to complete the mini Vampire Hunt, and 1 hr 40 mins to complete the full Vampire Hunt.

Register on the day from 10am–1pm or pre-register here for no delay.

Another interesting thing happening in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Festival is a mini-exhibit at one of my favorite Dublin museums, the Little Museum of Dublin. If you haven’t been yet, this is an extra incentive. You will get such a feel for Dublin there, especially if you take the guided tour– do take it! Here’s the blurb on their Dracula installation, Life After Death:

Old Dracula cover. Not sure if is one at Bram Stoker Festival

Old Dracula cover. NOT a $75,000 first edition at my house 🙂 I’m not sure if this is one on display at the Bram Stoker Festival

Dracula: Life after Death

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a ground-breaking work of horror-fiction that has been translated into many languages, reprinted countless times and inspired many plays and movies. A new installation at the Little Museum of Dublin gives a rare insight into the circumstances surrounding the publication of one of the world’s most popular novels, as well as the illustrious life the book has enjoyed long after its creator’s death. With unique first editions, original promotional material and handwritten correspondence, the installation is a must-see for book-lovers.

Dracula: Life after Death runs at the Little Museum of Dublin from October 25th-November 25th, 2013.

€6, but €3 if purchased in advance online.  Open daily 9.30am-5pm, open until 8pm on Thursdays

And, wow– if YOU have a Dracula 1st edition, I hope it’s insured; I see there is one on sale at Abe books for $75,000!

 

Have fun at the Bram Stoker Festival, and be sure to bring your vampire hunting kit 😉

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?