Halloween Hotlist 2018: Six spook-tacular things to do in Ireland

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Macnas on the streets of Dublin for Bram Stoker Festival. Photo: Allen Kiely / Olga Kuzmenko
Macnas on the streets of Dublin for Bram Stoker Festival. Photo: Allen Kiely / Olga Kuzmenko
The Bram Stoker festival kicked off last night
Ballygally Castle – At night. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland
Dublin Circus Project
Grand stairway in Loftus Hall
Bram Stoker (1845 – 1912) wrote the classic horror story ‘Dracula’ in 1897. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hill of Tara. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford. Photo: Aidan Quigley/Fáilte Ireland
Orlaith Kelly and David Smith from Corbally with Dr Lucretia Hardiman, pictured at the Launch of Spook-tacular Science at King John’s Castle, Limerick.
Pic. Brian Arthur
Pictured is Aidan Quigley, proprietor of Loftus Hall and Mrs Bennett. Picture: Patrick Browne

Pól Ó Conghaile

For me, the most frightening thing about the run-up to Halloween is the amount of time I spend talking about Christmas.

This week, I’ve left that to Nicola Brady (see her Top 10 Christmas Markets), freeing myself up for a preview… here are six Irish trips worth taking this Halloween.

1. Hook Head Horrors

Loftus Hall is said to be Ireland’s most haunted building (I even get shivers driving past in summer). Halloween season includes tours tailored for the Over-5s, Over-12s, Over-15s and adults-only. Paranormal lockdowns are sold out over Halloween, but a fresh date has been added on November 17… if you dare. loftushall.ie.

More: 666 years in the making, is this Ireland’s most haunted house?

2. Creepy Carlow

Dublin Circus Project (3).jpg
Dublin Circus Project

This October sees Carlow unveil its first Halloween festival. Scarefest includes a ‘Public Witch Trial’ at the courthouse on October 28… if found guilty, the ‘witch’ will be brought to the town hall and burned at the stake (in a fire show crafted by the Dublin Circus Project, thankfully). There are paranormal investigations at Duckett’s grove, too. scarefest.ie.

More: 10 of the world’s scariest travel destinations for Halloween

3. Dracula’s Dublin

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Bram Stoker (1845 – 1912) wrote the classic horror story ‘Dracula’ in 1897. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Author Bram Stoker cut his teeth in Dublin, and the Bram Stoker Festival offers several bloody good reasons to visit. ‘Creature Features’ sees Arachnaphobia, Little Shop of Horrors and Invasion of the Body Snatchers screening at the National Botanic Gardens, for example, while Victorian theme park ‘Stokerland’ returns to St Patrick’s Park, and a Macnas Parade leaves Moore Street at 7pm on October 28. bramstokerfestival.com.

More: Dracula’s Dublin: 10 terrifying tips for Bram Stoker’s city

4. Spirits of Meath

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Hill of Tara. Photo: Fáilte Ireland

The Boyne Valley can claim to be the  birthplace of Samhain, when the Celtic year ended and the dead passed between worlds. Spirits of Meath reboots the ancient festival with a host of events, including lantern-lit canoe trips on the River Boyne, a spooky tour of Slane Castle, and a Flame of Samhain festival on the Hill of Ward in Athboy. spiritsofmeath.ie.

5. Going bump at Bunratty

King Johns Halloween 09.jpg
Orlaith Kelly and David Smith from Corbally with Dr Lucretia Hardiman, pictured at the Launch of Spook-tacular Science at King John’s Castle, Limerick.
Pic. Brian Arthur

Sick of supermarket pumpkins? Bunratty Castle & Folk Park has a pumpkin-picking event on October 28, where you can pick and paint your fave, before taking it home to pop in the window. There are bank holiday shows and games, and a chance for older kids to explore the crypt, too. Shannon Heritage is also running a ‘Spook-tacular Science’ event at King John’s Castle in Limerick (above). shannonheritage.com.

6. Antrim’s Ghost Room

Lots of hotels are doing Halloween packages, but you can step up the scare factor at Ballygally Castle on the Causeway Coast. The hotel has a genuinely creepy ghost room in one of its old towers (reached via a spiral stone staircase). B&B starts from £65/€74pp, and it’s also got a Halloween-themed afternoon tea. hastingshotels.com.

More: The Causeway Coast in 12 Giant Steps: Our ultimate driving guide

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Ballygally Castle – At night. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland

 

PS. Today’s Travel Tip

Pricing a hotel break? Try Irish websites like originalirishhotels.com, inua.ie, flynnhotels.com or irelandhotels.com for direct booking rates.

Read more:

10 of the world’s scariest travel destinations for Halloween

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