Halloween Hotlist 2018: Six spook-tacular things to do in Ireland
From Dracula's Dublin to ghost rooms on the Causeway Coast, here are this year's terrifying travel tips...
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.
2. Creepy Carlow
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.
3. Dracula’s Dublin
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.
4. Spirits of Meath
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
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.
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