05 Oct 2021
Enjoy a spooktacular break in the birthplace of Halloween, where ancient chills meet modern thrills.
The world’s present-day Halloween celebrations are firmly rooted in Celtic customs and traditions of Samhain (summer's end), established in Ireland thousands of years ago. So it’s little wonder that everywhere you go in the birthplace of Halloween there will be an array of events marking the ancient festival in very contemporary ways.
From bewitching festivals and fright nights, to ghostly goings on, huge parades, haunted hotels and state-of-the-art pyrotechnics you simply can‘t go wrong taking a Halloween holiday somewhere on the island of Ireland.
Among the must-see events is Derry Halloween (29–31 October), Europe’s biggest Halloween party, which this year is creating a series of magical worlds filled with spirits across the Walled City of Derry~Londonderry and in the neighbouring towns of Strabane and Buncrana. The myths and mischief of the ancient spirit of Samhain will be interwoven throughout, and the festival will also feature delicious food trails, fabulous live music and amazing firework displays.
Look out too for the Púca Festival (23–30 October) event, named after a shape-shifting spirit from Celtic folklore. This spectacular, fun and otherworldly festival is offering amazing nights of music, fire, feasting and mischief in counties Meath and Louth in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Something spooktacular is also taking place on the Wild Atlantic Way this Halloween, with the highlight of the Galway Aboo festival (24 – 31 October) expected to be a fiendishly creative parade from internationally acclaimed spectacle theatre company Macnas. The narrative theme of this year’s parade is yet to be announced but you can be guaranteed it will include Macnas’ signature giant creations, sculptures, pyrotechnics, costumes and epic performances to live and original music.
For a truly different Halloween experience in Belfast, book into ‘The Grimm Hotel’, a walk-through theatre experience making its world premiere at the 2021 Belfast International Arts Festival (14 – 31 October). Guests brave enough to check in will be greeted by a Grimm Hotel bellhop and guided to a room of their choice through a series of spooky corridors. You could find yourself eating supper with a witch, lost in the woods, face to face with a greedy goblin, entertained with close-up magic or bewildered by high-tech illusions.
Púca Festival in Ireland's Ancient East
As usual on Halloween, Dublin will be jam-packed with ghoulish events. Prepare for a scare at places such as EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum and the Little Museum of Dublin, where there will be tours with a spooky twist. Marsh’s Library where Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula spent much time devouring books, is also planning some great events, and from ghost buses, to true crimes tours and drink and draw Halloween paint nights the city will be alive with fun and frolics.
Paranormal fans who dare can have a full night in Leap Castle in County Offaly, one of world’s most haunted buildings, while the haunting history of Hillsborough Castle in County Down can be experienced in after-hours ghost walks on the unique Friday Fright Night before Halloween.
Elsewhere, an Irish Halloween adventure can lead you to the Day of the Dead music festival in Glendalough House in County Wicklow or even to a quirky Witch and Warlock stand-up paddleboard and kayak on Mulroy Bay in County Donegal with Eco Atlantic Adventures.
Leap Castle, County Offaly
Fireworks in the Walled City
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