From home-grown hocus pocus to overseas frights, there are spellbinding adventures aplenty
If you’re still wondering what to do with the kids during the impending mid-term break, the good news is that there are some great offers around the country and further afield to keep everyone happy. With Halloween taking place at the beginning of the week, there is plenty of frightastic fun to be had at festivals and themed events.
Here are some supernatural offers designed to bring some hocus pocus into your family break.
1 Lurid larks in Limerick
Samhain: Limerick’s Halloween Festival takes place in the city from October 27-29 and has fun events for children. Stay at the Strand Hotel, which is going all out with Halloween arts and crafts for kids, who will also receive a welcome pack that includes spooky edible treats.
Each family receives complimentary access to the hotel’s Energize Leisure Centre, and discounted entry to King John’s Castle and Bunratty Castle.
A two-night stay with breakfast costs from €378 for two adults. Children under 12 can stay free, and they get a main course free with every adult main course purchased in the River Bar & Restaurant. strandlimerick.ie
2 Devilish days in Dublin
Fearless families may want to visit the capital to check out the Hellfire Club – said to be one of the most haunted places in Ireland. Castleknock Hotel is offering a Family Fun stay, where guests have full use of its Tonic Health Club, swimming pool and children’s playground.
Kids receive a ‘welcome bag’ that includes Phoenix the Giraffe and a colouring book, while their parents get a – probably much-needed – bottle of wine.
Family Fun costs from €783 for a three-night stay, based on two adults and two children (3-15) sharing. Breakfast is included plus one three-course evening meal in 22 Bar & Restaurant. castleknockhotel.com
3 Creepy capers in Cork
Wandering the wings of Cork City Gaol is a suitably eerie thing to do, as you’ll hear the sounds of inmates’ shuffling feet and the jingle of warders’ keys. Stay at the Kingsley hotel close to Fitzgerald’s Park – the kids will love the playground with its castle and sunken pirate ship structures.
The hotel has a pool with dedicated children’s swim times, and if you feel like venturing out, it’s half an hour by car to Fota Wildlife Park (family ticket €52 online).
An overnight stay at The Kingsley based on two adults and two children sharing starts from €234 B&B. thekingsley.ie
4 Ghoulish goings-on in Galway
Visitors to Galway should head to Macnas HQ at Fisheries Field on October 29 and 30 from noon until 8pm. Con Mór, The Giant, will emerge for the first time on the banks of the River Corrib, and there’ll be pop-up performances on site (macnas.com).
Stay at Galway Bay Hotel, which has a two-night family package from October 28 to November 3. A family room for four costs from €508 and includes a full Irish breakfast and access to the pool. Adults get one two-course evening meal, and children aged 4-12 can dine at the evening Kids Adventure Club, where they can also avail of Halloween-themed fun and games. galwaybayhotel.net
5 Wicked wanders in Westmeath
Kids will love solving the puzzles and meeting the characters in costume at the Halloween Trail at Belvedere House Gardens & Park from October 29-31 (admission €8; belvedere-house.ie).
Stay at Hodson Bay Hotel, where a two-night stay for two adults and two children with breakfast costs from €625. An evening meal for the adults is included, and guests can use the pool. You’ll also receive complimentary access to Yew Point at Hodson Point, with its 140 acres of unspoiled meadows and woodlands. Enjoy the forest walks and a peaceful stroll around the 3.5km loop along the lake, as well as a fairy trail. hodsonbayhotel.com
6 Wound-up in Wexford
The Halloween trail event at Johnstown Castle takes place in its Irish Agricultural Museum from October 29-31. Join some creepy characters as you follow the witches’ trail around the museum in the quest for clues to solve the mystery. Each guest will receive a Halloween treat and dressing in costume is highly recommended (family ticket €24; johnstowncastle.ie).
Stay at the nearby Ferrycarrig Hotel, which has Halloween Family Fun packages from October 22 until November 1. It’s located beside the Irish National Heritage Park, which takes visitors back to 9000BC and has a replica Viking longship.
Families can also explore the Ferrycarrig outdoor playground. A two-night stay for two adults and two children costs from €400, and includes full breakfast and use of the health club and 20m pool. ferrycarrighotel.ie
7 Loathsome lols in Laois
Head to Castleview Open Farm in Cullohill from October 23-24 and 27-31 for its pumpkin-carving event. (entrance €8pp plus €4.50 per pumpkin; castleviewopenfarm.ie).
Stay at The Heritage in Killenard, where children receive an activity pack upon arrival with treats, puzzles and a cuddly bear. Guests can use the playground and leisure centre, and children’s movies play in the hotel’s cinema daily. You can hop on complimentary bikes to explore the grounds, and receive discounted entry to the Irish National Stud & Gardens and Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park.
Heritage Heroes costs from €658 for two adults and two children under 12 with breakfast, plus a family dinner at Blake’s Restaurant on one evening. theheritage.com
8 Scary slots in Sligo
If your kids enjoy a good fright, then the ATU Haunting event takes place between 8pm and 10.30pm on October 31 and November 1.
The corridors of ATU Campus will be filled with 150 scary zombies and ghoulish creatures, but the 8-8.30pm slot is targeted at children under eight and the creatures will be friendly (€50 per family of four; northsligoac.ie).
After you’ve been scared witless, return to the safety of Sligo Park Hotel, which offers kids’ activities, a welcome pack on arrival, movie nights with popcorn and juice, pool games with a fun inflatable float, hot chocolate and cookie vouchers and a fairy trail. Guests also receive complimentary access to the leisure club and pool.
A two-night stay with breakfast daily and one dinner for two adults and two children under 12 is available from €549. sligoparkhotel.com
9 Spine-chilled in Cavan
Cavan Burren Park is hosting Spooky Science Workshops on October 30 and 31, where children make their own glow-in-the-dark slime and take part in a host of other creepy activities (€3.50; cavanburrenpark.ie).
They can hang out in the Russell Rangers Kids Club at the Slieve Russell Hotel, which runs from 3.30pm to 10pm for children aged 4-12 years.
Guests receive a complimentary round of adventure golf, access to the pool and gym and use of the games and soft play rooms.
A two-night family break for two adults and up to three children under 15 costs €575, and includes breakfast each morning and dinner on one evening. slieverussell.ie
10 Repelled in Roscommon
The cave of Oweynagat is the birthplace of Samhain and is reputed to be Ireland’s gate to Hell.
If you dare to go there, a special seasonal Origins of Samhain Tour runs from Rathcroghan Visitor Centre from October 24 until November 4 at 3pm daily (€12; rathcroghan.ie).
Athlone Springs Hotel has smart TVs in the room, so you can have a movie night in with the kids. There’s access to the leisure centre with its adult pool and children’s’ pools, and Glendeer Pet Farm is a 10-minute drive from the hotel.
A two-night break costs from €428 for two adults and two children, and includes breakfast daily and an evening meal for adults. athlonespringshotel.com
11 Kreeped out in Kildare
Arts and crafts workshops, circus shows and storytelling sessions form part of the Irish National Stud & Gardens’ Halloween Spooktacular from October 29 until November 2. You can also visit the Irish Racehorse Experience and take the fairy trail route or meet some horses in their paddock (family ticket €31.50; irishnationalstud.ie).
Children on the ‘Halloween Sleepover’ package at Killashee Hotel get a spooky treat in their bedroom on arrival, plus a goodie bag containing a big hunt kit, nature activity book and butterfly treasure trail map.
You’ll have full use of the leisure centre and pool, and there’s an outdoor playground with a zipline and playing field – family games are available from reception.
A two-night stay in a family room for two adults and up to three children is available from €622, including breakfast daily and a three-course meal one evening. killasheehotel.com
12 Alarmed in Antrim
The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney are so strangely weird and beautiful, they were used as The King’s Road in Game of Thrones. They’re free to visit and are located 20 minutes from The Giant’s Causeway, which can also be visited for free.
It’s the most popular attraction in Northern Ireland, with its 40,000 basalt columns appealing to visitors of all ages.
Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is another popular activity for families, but must be booked online in advance (family ticket £32.50/€36.20; nationaltrust.org.uk). Stay at Dunsilly Hotel, where you can book two rooms for a family of four for €450, including breakfast. dunsillyhotel.com
13 Mysterious moments in Meath
Meath is the home of Púca Festival 2022, which takes place from October 28-31 and celebrates Halloween through folklore, food and music.
Among the myriad events on offer is the free, self-guided Púca Treasure Hunt around Trim and Athboy. There’s great family fun to be had following the clues and collecting information while piecing together tales of folklore, Halloween and reported hauntings (pucafestival.com).
If you plan to take in the festival, Knightsbrook Hotel has a two-night family break for two adults and two children from €509.
It includes breakfast, a two-course evening meal and a family pizza night. There’s a pool and gym to keep everyone entertained and Tayto Park is 25 minutes away by car. knightsbrook.com
14 Darkness in Donegal
Donegal’s Railway Centre’s Halloween Fun Day takes place on October 29, with a children’s ride-on ghost train, games and family activities. As its museum is said to be haunted, you might even catch a glimpse of the resident ghost (adults €5, children €8).
Stay at the family-friendly Jackson’s Hotel, located along the banks of the River Finn. There are walking and fairy trails in Drumboe Woods behind the hotel, which has a pool and gym facilities.
A two-night stay in a family room with breakfast costs from €258. Kids dine free with a main course from the children’s menu when an accompanying adult dines from an evening menu. jacksonshotel.ie
15 Killing it in Kilkenny
If you relish a scare, head to Kilkenny, which was the site of this country’s first-ever witch trial in 1324. It was named one of the top five most haunted places in Europe by US publication Travel + Leisure.
The Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel is located in the city centre, close to the Medieval Mile Museum, and Kilkenny Castle which is reported to be haunted.
Guests receive access to the 21m pool and children’s pool and a supply of children’s DVDs is available. The hotel will give little ones complimentary food to feed the ducks in Kilkenny Castle Park.
A two-night family break with breakfast daily and one evening meal costs from €446 for two adults and two children under 12. kilkennyormonde.com
16 Demon days in Derry
The Little Horrors Family Programme for children takes place from October 28-31 as part of Derry Halloween, Europe’s biggest Halloween festival.
It is spread out around 14 locations in the city, and includes Awakening the Walled City, with guided tours through the centre of Derry, animated projections, street performances and dressed up characters.
Embark on The Forest of Shadows Trail, a 2km walk over Derry’s Peace Bridge and through St Columb’s Park, where demons and creatures “emerge from the underworld”. There’s a carnival parade on October 31, as well as a fireworks display.
With hotel availability limited, why not stay at Benone Getaways luxury glamping pods in Derry. They’re available for a two-night stay for €575 through booking.com for two adults and two children. benonegetaways.co.uk
17 Terror nights in Torremolinos
Torremolinos in Spain goes all out for Halloween each year, with parades, live music, performances and storytelling. Head to Parque de la Batería on October 30, where attractions include face painting, a scary mask competition and live music.
A one-bedroom self-catering apartment at the Sol Timor Apartments is available from Cassidy Travel, departing on October 28 for seven nights. It costs €1,775 for two adults and one child, including Ryanair flights and a 10kg bag each. cassidytravel.ie
18 Astonished in the Algarve
There are plenty of creepy activities taking place in the Algarve for Halloween. Check out the strange Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) at Faro, where the walls are lined with ancient skulls and bones.
Dano’s at The Campus in Quinta do Lago Resort is hosting a spooky parade of monsters, ghosts and ghouls on October 29 with entertainment and prizes for the best costumes.
A stay in two twin rooms with breakfast at Hotel Vila Gale Marina for two adults and two children costs €2,708 departing October 29. The hotel overlooks Vilamoura’s marina, plus there’s a free shuttle to the area’s golf courses. tuiholidays.ie
19 Get wicked in Wales
If your family are fans of ghostly goings-on, head to the historic Gwydir Castle in Snowdonia, North Wales. It is said to be one of the most haunted places in the UK due to regular reports of paranormal activity.
Guided tours take place on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (adults £7.50/€8.37, children £3/€3.35) and it’s within walking distance of the market town of Llanrwst.
Instead of ghouls, guests are greeted by the castle’s peacocks parading on the lawn of its fabulous gardens.
If you don’t scare easily, you might like to sleep at Gwydir, but children under 12 are not permitted. Rooms for two start at £125 (€139) per night and include breakfast – any nocturnal noises are thrown in for free. gwydircastle.co.uk
20 Frightful fun in Sherwood Forest
The Myths & Legends Trail will see families dress in costume and embark on a woodland adventure with a forest ranger at Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, this Halloween. You get to toast marshmallows and uncover tales of local myths and legends huddled around a cosy campfire, with the spooky sounds of the forest by night (£8.95/€10pp).
A three-night stay in a two-bedroom log cabin in the forest is available for £800 (€892) excluding flights, and includes a free pumpkin and carving kit. forestholidays.co.uk