Halloween has become one of the biggest festivals of the year rivalled only by Christmas in the thrill-factor for the kids. And for supermarkets and chain stores it's become a hard sell to persuade us to purchase costumes, sweets and ever more elaborate house decorations.
There's plenty of cheap dressing-up options as supermarkets and pound shops have been selling full costumes from as little as €4.99 each.
Buying multipurpose garments like capes and black tunics – which can be got for as little as €2 in discount stores – are a good buy as your child can use them for a variety of costumes from witch to vampire or ghost. This allows you and your child to have fun designing a costume – and you can keep the garments to fashion a different outfit next year.
With the kids off school for midterm next week it can be a pricey business to keep them amused so Smart Consumer took a look at some options for a scary day out with both free and pay-in attractions celebrating the annual spookfest.
* Samhain Haunted Forest Walk
Marlay Park in Dublin's Rathfarnham hosts a haunted 1.5km walk through a forest alive with fog, spiders, creepy eyeballs and pumpkins, skeletons, witches and wizards with festoon lighting, sound effects and smoke.
The fancy-dress event takes place on Sunday between 3.30pm and 8.30pm and entrance is free – but only with a special wristband which can be collected this Saturday from 11am at the Coco market in Marlay Park.
* Host a party
Temple Street Children's Hospital is urging families, businesses and individuals to sign up to host a fundraising party for Halloween – a very important fundraising occasion for them – but get your skates on as the deadline to register is tomorrow.
Once you do, you'll be sent a toolkit for hosting a party with witch's hats, balloons, banners, posters and more – and you can ask guests or their parents to make a contribution to charity. Visit www.trickortreat. templestreet.ie for more information and to register.
Early Childhood Ireland has some tips for traditional games which kids love – and recommends getting the grandparents involved for more ideas.
– Apple bobbing, which involves floating some apples in a basin of water and children fish them out using their teeth.
– Snap apple, where you hang an apple by a string from a door frame and children are required to bite it with their hands behind their back.
* Spirits of Meath Halloween festival
Halloween is believed to have originated here as Samhain over 2,000 years ago and there is a huge range of events from PookaSpooka at Causey Farm, House of Horrors at Tayto Park, Zombie Paintball at Boyne Valley in Trim, to drive-in movies with horror happenings at Tattersalls country house in Ratoath. Prices vary but there's also free events such as arts and crafts.
* The Nightmare Realm, Cork
Described as an "asylum of the damned" featuring zombies, serial killers and ghosts, this walk-through house/show, which has been in business since 2009, is not recommended for children under 13. Runs until November 2. Price €12-€18. www.thenightmarerealm.ie
* Virginia Pumpkin Festival, Co Cavan
Now in its seventh year, this festival runs from tomorrow, with action this weekend featuring fireworks, Ireland's largest fancy dress ball, a spectacular illuminated parade, haunted forest walk, children's costume-making workshops and giant pumpkin growing competitions.
Some events are free, others cost €5-€10 per person.
The Carlow garden centre has become famed for its Santa visits and this year it launches a special Halloween train featuring fairies, goblins, an Enchanted Tree, Bridge of Invisibility and a free pumpkin for every child . Cost €10 per adult and €5 per child.
* Galway Abooo Halloween Festival
This takes place in Galway's Latin Quarter from tomorrow to Sunday.
It is the country's largest Halloween Festival, playing host to a number of activities and free events.
Festivities commence tomorrow night with the 'The Dead Arise' where unsavoury supernaturals emerge and take over the nearby streets and windows of the Latin Quarter.
On Saturday there's a Halloween carnival party, and the highlight of the festival will be the Macnas Parade on Sunday leaving from Fisheries Field at 4.45pm.