Ellie O’Byrne picks her top eight events for Halloween
Samhain Tours and Tales at Croke Park
Ireland’s ancient Samhain festival inspires our modern-day Halloween. This year, Croke Park’s GAA Museum celebrates Samhain with treasure hunts, storytelling from renowned seanchaí, Eddie Lenihan, and a harvest-inspired menu.
GAA fans can hunt their way through Croker’s pitch and dressing rooms for Seamus the Samhain Scarecrow, and Lenihan will regale his listeners with tall tales of hurling with the Faerie Folk. The Blackthorn Café will serve up a seasonal menu, including spiced pumpkin soup, hay-torched roast chicken, and sabbat beef stew.
Hourly ‘Samhain Tours and Tales’ performances at 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm, from Saturday, October 28 to Wednesday November 1. For booking and ticket prices: crokepark.ie/halloween
A bigger Nightmare than ever…
For those of a strong constitution, the Nightmare Realm is back in Cork, and three times as terrifying. The popular, annual walk-through gore-fest has moved to a huge warehouse on Kennedy Quay, where horror fans can now be scared silly in three areas, or ‘haunts’, filled with Hollywood-quality props. There’s also a new ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ paintballing zone.
Headed up by demonic clown, Charlie Chop, a host of nightmarish characters will scare you witless. For the faint of heart, ‘Zombie Insurance’ can be purchased at the ticket desk: this special wristband makes actors back off, so more timid punters can check out the atmosphere without the adrenaline.
Happy Friday 13th. We hope you walk under ladders, break mirrors and spill salt. pic.twitter.com/bYGjXE6l8H— The Nightmare Realm (@nightmarerealm) October 13, 2017
This event is not suitable for under-13s.
The Nightmare Realm Cork opens each evening, except Mondays, between Friday, October 6 and Saturday, November 4. For bookings and information: www.thenightmarerealm.ie
Grymm and bear it
Age-appropriate spookiness is the order of the day at Cuskinny Court, in Cobh, where two Halloween-themed live theatrical experiences, for older and younger children, explore the darker side of classic Brothers Grimm fairytales.
‘Grymm Tales’ is aimed at age 9+, while ‘Bippity-Bobbity-Boo’ is suitable for ages 5-10. Both events turn fairy-tales on their heads to present a spooky look at some well-known favourite characters, such as the Mad Hatter and Rumpelstiltskin, in what the production team describe as a ‘Halloween pantomime.’
Grymm Tales and Bippity-Bobbity-Boo are on at Cuskinny Court, Cobh Great Island, from October 21 to October 31. Advance booking is essential: www.ghoulsleysmanor.com
Spooky Aillwee Caves
Who’s afraid of the dark? There’s nowhere darker than deep underground in the Aillwee Caves in Ballvaughan, Co Clare. The Old Ground Hotel, in Ennis, is offering a weekend accommodation package to let families make the most of the stunning Burren scenery and famous network of limestone caves. The spooky fun will include face-painting, as well as the usual cave tour.
The Old Ground Hotel’s accommodation package: two nights’ B&B and one evening meal, from Saturday, October 28 to Monday, October 30, for €149 per person sharing and a €10 supplement per child. Admission cost to Aillwee not included. Information: www.flynnhotels.com/Old_Ground_Hotel_Ennis
“Hook”ed on Halloween
The 800-year-old Hook Head Lighthouse, in Co Wexford, is laden with atmosphere and history. Celebrate a traditional Samhain festival at the landmark: the weekend starts with a guided sunset tour, complete with Irish mead, Prosecco, and canapés, overlooking the ocean.
Join druids sharing Samhain tales at blazing fire baskets, take a lantern-lit tour overlooking the graveyard of 1,000 ships, or join in some art and pumpkin-carving workshops. The Lighthouse café will serve up colcannon, barm brack and apple crumble.
Feile Samhain at Hook Lighthouse from October 28 to 31. The Sunset Tour has limited availability; book on: 051-397055. All other information: www.hookheritage.ie.
Enter the Dragon
The Dragon of Shandon is Cork city’s only night-time parade. An impressive community turn-out of 500 participants last year cemented the atmospheric, after-dark street spectacular as an annual favourite. Eerily-lit floats, undead marching bands, and winged harpies wend their way through the streets, as the air thickens with whoops and screams.
The parade is a tremendous feat of community engagement: 20 groups, including Enable Ireland, the National Learning Network, and the High Hopes Men’s choir, participate.
The Dragon of Shandon Samhain parade is at 7pm on October 31. Route and more information: www.dragonofshandon.com
Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival
There’s plenty to sink your teeth into in the capital this Halloween, and the Bram Stoker Festival is a veritable one-stop-shop for all your otherworldly needs. Dedicated to the Clontarf-born author of Dracula, possibly one of the most influential gothic horrors of all time, there’s plenty on for all ages in the packed programme.
Highlights will include the Supernatural Choir, gruesomely funny street theatre from Morbid & Sons, and, right before the closing parade, from award-winning street theatre company, Macnas, a Dracula’s Disco.
Bram Stoker Festival runs from October 27 to 30 at city venues. Fancy dress for the whole family is encouraged. A full programme at: www.bramstokerfestival.com
Youghal was the site of one of Ireland’s most prominent 17th century real-life witch trials, that of Florence Newton, who was sentenced to death for using sorcery to kill two victims.
Another local legend tells how An Bhean Uisce, a denizen of the underworld, emerges from the sea in the medieval town to walk the Earth, gathering the hopes and dreams of the living and return with them when Halloween is over.
All weekend, a host of events will take place in the town, and the festival is bookended by a genuine ceremony conducted on the beach by Celtic witches to summon and banish An Bhean Uisce.
Youghaloween runs from Friday, October 27 to Sunday, October 29. Information on events and times via Facebook Page: Youghaloween Spooktacular
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