Bram Stoker Festival: 10 spooktacular events for Halloween week

From a live-action Dracula radio play, to outdoor talks and tours of Stoker’s Dublin

Claes Bang as Dracula. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/Hartwood Films

Claes Bang as Dracula. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/Hartwood Films

 

A  new Dracula is one of the highlight s of this year’s Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin over the October bank holiday weekend (October 25th-28th), the annual four-day celebration of the Irish writer, combined with a sometimes irreverent gothic-inspired programme, from family-friendly to late-night action.

Sounds of Wood on Muscle: A Modern Radio Dracula

The makers of Orson Welles’s 1938 live radio play Dracula cracked a hammer into a watermelon to create the sound for a wooden stake impaling a beating human heart. Matt Smyth and Eoghan Quinn of Collapsing Horse Theatre Co reckon they can do better with the entirety of modern technology behind them for Sounds of Wood on Muscle: A Modern Radio Dracula (Friday, October 25th, Saturday 26th, €18). Their live-action treatment of Welles’s radio play warps and twists the original for the world premiere – part tongue-in-cheek lecture, part live podcast, and part contemporary theatre – on the altar where Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe in Dublin’s St Ann’s Church, Dawson Street.

Sounds of Wood on Muscle will take place at St Ann’s Church on Dawson Street, where Bram Stoker was married
Sounds of Wood on Muscle will take place at St Ann’s Church on Dawson Street, where Bram Stoker was married

Night Watch

Outdoor spectacle Night Watch is set in Grand Canal Dock, from dusk over all four days. Described as a water-borne theatrical installation (created by the Lantern Company from Liverpool), it involves a ghostly ship summoned from the dark, swathed in fog and foreboding lights, accompanied by an eerie, maritime forest of beings arising from the depths.

Séance 

This takes place in total darkness in a sealed shipping container on Wolfe Tone Square, formerly a graveyard. The 20-minute immersive experience has played worldwide and promises to blur the boundaries between our world and the dead. October 25th-28th, from 1pm, €13

Live horror movies

There are several doses of film horror at Meeting House Square (€16), including The Craft (October 25th), An American Werewolf in London (October 26th) and Lost Boys (October 27th).

Dracula: Behind the Scenes

Over at the Light House cinema writers and producers of the upcoming BBC/Netflix mini-series Dracula – Danish actor Claes Bang (Dracula), creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and executive producer Sue Vertue – join Patrick Freyne of this parish for a behind-the-scenes teaser (October 27th 1pm €11).

Walking tour

Bite of Dublin Walking Tour (October 28th, 3pm, €40) is led by horror scholar Valeria Cavalli, and great grand-nephew of Bram, Dacre Stoker presents an audio-visual Stoker on Stoker: The Mysteries Behind the Writing of Dracula (October 26th, 3pm, €11).

Séance takes place in total darkness in a sealed shipping container on Wolfe Tone Square, formerly a graveyard
Séance takes place in total darkness in a sealed shipping container on Wolfe Tone Square, formerly a graveyard

Events for children

The family-friendly Stokerland turns St Patrick’s Park into a Victorian playground (October 26th-27th, free), with Joyful Noise (October 27th, 2:25pm) community music project performing classic Halloween jams. At the 300-year-old Marsh’s Library there’s Spooky Stories (October 25th, 26th, free) for little monsters, or for bigger monsters an after-hours tour, Bram Stoker and the Haunting of Marsh’s Library (October 25th. 6.30pm, €16.87).

While the Bram Stoker Festival is the four-day-long big cheese backed by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland (bramstokerfestival.com), there’s a 10-day Halloween community festival dedicated to Stoker in the north-east inner city.

From left, Nathan McCabe (9, Cabra, Dublin 7); Eric Moore (7, Rialto, Dublin 8); Fiadh Mae Walsh (7, Phibsboro, Dublin 7) and Sienna Castro Darcy (7, The Liberties Dublin 8) at St Patrick’s Park Becomes Gothic Playground for Bram Stoker Festival. Photograph: Julien Behan Photography
From left, Nathan McCabe (9, Cabra, Dublin 7); Eric Moore (7, Rialto, Dublin 8); Fiadh Mae Walsh (7, Phibsboro, Dublin 7) and Sienna Castro Darcy (7, The Liberties Dublin 8) at St Patrick’s Park Becomes Gothic Playground for Bram Stoker Festival. Photograph: Julien Behan Photography

The Big Scream marks the fact that Bram Stoker lived on Buckingham Street for longer than any other place in Dublin. New research by local historian Hugo McGuinness makes a case that many building blocks for Stoker’s Dracula are rooted in the area and that he was influenced by what he saw and heard for six years living in the area.

The festival launches Bram Stoker in the North Inner City, a self-guided walking tour with a booklet by McGuinness (illustrations by John D Ruddy), drawing together of disparate records as well as new research. Other Big Scream highlights include Irish actor, Patrick Bergin (who played Dracula in a mini-series) interviewing Dacre Stoker in Dublin’s oldest operating library, Charleville Mall (October 25th, 7pm). There’s also an attempt to create a World Record for gathering the largest group of people dressed as vampires, and a Halloween night carnival on Seán McDermott Street (bigscream.ie).

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