27 Sep 2017
For a haunting Halloween full of festivals, frights and freaky sights head to Ireland, where it all began.
The Irish know a thing or two about Halloween – they’ve been celebrating it for thousands of years.
In Ireland, before it was Halloween (a Christian festival) it was known as Samhain, a pagan festival that marked the end of summer and the night that the door between the living and the dead opened.
To guide friendly spirits from ‘the other side’ the Celts lit bonfires, and to scare evil away they wore costumes and masks, customs still familiar in today’s Halloween celebrations.
Nowadays however, Halloween in Ireland is more about high spirits than evil spirits and across the island festivals and fun-filled events abound.
One of the biggest and brightest is the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival in Derry~ Londonderry, which has been named the world’s best Halloween destination.
Highlights of the fantastic four-day festival (28–31 October) include Awakening the Walls, in which light, fire, sculpture and performance create a supernatural animation trail around the City Walls, and the largest Halloween carnival parade in Europe, involving over 2,000 participants and 40,000 spectators.
In Dublin, ghoulish goings-on get underway in the run-up to Halloween with the Bram Stoker Festival (27–30 October).
Inspired by the heritage of Dublin-born author Bram Stoker and his notorious novel Dracula,
the Bram Stoker Festival celebrates the gothic and the mysterious with a packed programme of events. These include family-friendly adventures, late-night antics, large-scale spectacles, intimate performances, arts, literature, drama, dance and, of course, the unexpected.
The Spirits of Meath Festival (13 October–6 November), in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, harks back to the origins of Halloween while at the same time providing an extensive programme of spooky family fun and scary adult events.
The centerpiece of the festival, on Halloween night, is the Samhain Festival of Fire at Tlachtga which re-enacts the ritual lighting of the sacred bonfire that marked the Samhain New Year.
If making contact with the ‘other side’ is top of your Halloween to do list, there are numerous tours of haunted houses, castles, graveyards and streets across the island, enabling you to get up close to the wandering spirits.
Ireland at Halloween is a cauldron of carnivals, costumes and enough craic to raise the dead.
Where else would you go?
Need more resources? View our images and videos from across Ireland