What can you do with children this bank holiday weekend?
(Sc)are We There Yet? Creepy clowns, Macnas mayhem and deadly dancing. Halloween is coming ...
Deadly dancing at Dracula’s Disco in Meeting House Square, Dublin, on Monday, October 30th
BC (Before Children) we used to borrow OPC (Other People’s Children) around Halloween time so we had an excuse to dress up and knock on doors for treats. Begging, is another way of describing it. Look, some rituals from childhood are just too good to leave behind.
The OPC we borrowed were of very high quality in that they had a few things going for them:
1: Their parents were more than happy to abdicate the “trick or treating” task. I’m not judging their parenting commitment, it’s not for everyone, this begging business.
2: They were generous children who shared their spoils and not just the sugar-free snacks and Kombucha. (We are talking D6, obviously.)
3: The borrowed children lived close to Eamon Dunphy, so it meant we had an annual chance to knock on his door hassling him for treats. It’s a well known fact that famous types are very generous at Halloween for fear of being labelled misers. (My friend lives near Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman and happily confirms this every Halloween.)
Bloody butcher’s aprons
Those borrowed children are older now but luckily we have our own two Halloween obsessed eight-year-olds to accompany around the neighbourhood. This year they have chosen to dress up as a doctor and a dentist pairing, a twin combo that involves bloody butcher’s aprons, giant cleavers and eyeball necklaces. Medical ethics bedamned.
When we are knocking on doors, I force the children to sing a song because that turns it into begging with a small b. You can borrow the song if you like, any tune will do: “Trick or treat, trick or treat, give us something nice to eat, not too big, not too small, just the size of Donegal”.
We are also lucky enough to have (adult) neighbours who love the witching season so much they’ve visited Salem in America and lugged home impressive props.
Their front yard becomes a full-on graveyard and their front door creaks like a coffin opening. There will be blood. And bobbing for apples. We can’t wait.
Here are this week’s recommendations ...
Dracula’s Disco, The Ark, Dublin
On Bank Holiday Monday, get into the spooky spirit with Dracula’s own DJ spinning the decks for this outdoor family music and dance party for ages five and over. Due to popular demand, this year Dracula’s Disco is going outside to Meeting House Square, where DJ Will Softly will be playing all the latest hits and firing confetti cannons to go with all that deadly dancing. Come along in costume and make up your own graveyard dance moves.
Organisers say that places will be allocated on the day based on availability. During busy periods some waiting may be required and kids must be accompanied by an adult. The disco is part of the Bram Stoker Festival and takes place on Monday, October 30th, 2-4pm. It’s free and on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out about this and other events this weekend on ark.ie
Tayto Park, near Ashbourne, Co Meath
We’ve been badgered for what seems like a century to bring our daughters and their friends to Tayto Park – a crisps-themed amusement park half an hour outside Dublin, in case you haven’t heard – and last weekend it finally happened.
The highlights? Braver adults and children had repeated goes on Cuchulainn, a massive rollercoaster made from what look like lollipop sticks, while we all loved Viking, a more watery but less terrifying ride.
At this time of year the Halloween-themed additions were a big hit. In the CarnEVIL, creepy clowns and jilted jesters terrorised the children (in a good way), while the mysterious goings on in the spooky abandoned Ghost Hunters mansion (it turns into a Morbid Manor for over 14s after dark), gave us all a proper fright. A six minute 5D movie – Fun House Express – also provided laughs and chills.
Overall, we were impressed by the genuinely friendly young staff at the park and by the fact that even with a couple of attractions closed, there was enough to keep us all amused from opening time (10am) till the park closed at 5pm.
It’s not the cheapest day out, but it will be one of the most memorable if you manage it over the midterm break. Entry to the park is €15, but wristbands with unlimited access to the rides are €28 online and €30 at the park. For more information and to book tickets, see taytopark.ie
Sea Harts, Lahinch, Co Clare
We came across this amazing arty hideaway in Saddle Lane, Lahinch on holidays last summer. When the children got fed up surfing or eating ice-cream – it did happen occasionally – they’d hole up in Sea Harts creating beautiful art with driftwood, shells and stones.
There’ll be plenty of Halloween-themed art to create this weekend because the talented women who run the place have been busy beachcombing for materials to create everything from witches brooms to masks. Book in advance by phoning Michelle on 087 905 5759. Two-hour Halloween workshops this weekend and during the mid-term-break are €16 per child. One-hour sessions cost €9.
Macnas Parade, Galway and Dublin
On Sunday, October 29th, a couple of days before the big day, the world-famous Macnas parade returns to the streets of Galway. Expect giants and otherworldly performers to descend on the city for a night of mischief and mayhem, from 5.30pm. Dubliners can get in on the spooky fun the following night when the Macnas crew bring the parade to the northside of the capital, closing out the Bram Stoker Festival. Gather on Henry Street in Dublin from 5.30pm, Monday October 30th.
Creepytown, Celbridge, Co Kildare
Family-friendly Halloween fun doesn’t get better than this interactive experience taking place in the grounds of Castletown House, in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Designed with young families in mind – the fear factor has been dialled down several notches – this Creepy Town trail lasts around half an hour.
Children complete a Scare Pass throughout the adventure, which features spooky visual effects, creepy dance performances and goodies galore. It’s an outdoor and indoor event, so get everyone to wrap up well. Tickets €10. Book online at creepytown.ie. From Saturday October 28th to Tuesday October 31st. Noon-7pm.
After Dark, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Following the success of last year’s After Dark concert, organist Stuart Nicholson and his wife guitarist Victoria Green join narrator Morgan Crowley on Halloween night for a candlelit recital of chilling music: Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas, Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens.
Expect music from Pirates of the Caribbean and the Addams Family and some musical meddling from Harry Potter.
Suitable for all ages, they tell me, but not for the faint-hearted. Fancy dress costume encouraged. 6.15pm, Tuesday, October 31st. Tickets are free but must be reserved by emailing email@example.com. There are also family workshops, scavenger hunts and other activities running in the cathedral all week. For more see stpatrickscathedral.ie
Email with tips about upcoming family-friendly events and things to do with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews or ones you’ve borrowed to firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @roisiningle.