Fangtastic fun: loads to do with kids this Halloween
Are We There Yet? Spooky events for boos and ghouls over the mid-term break
Spooky fun for Halloween. Photograph: iStock
I’m old enough to remember when an elaborate Halloween costume meant a black plastic sack with a hole cut out for your head. Your witch’s hat was made from cereal boxes that you painted black and stapled together. At the end of the night, as well as singed hands from dodgy sparklers, you’d have a mouldy bag of apples and monkey nuts and – if you were very lucky – penny sweets.
They were memorable, magical times.
All is changed utterly now. Costume-wise, the kids are in a different league. Last year I saw a boy dressed in a very scary costume that involved an ill-fitting suit, a long red tie and a preposterous blonde wig. (Shudder).
And standing around a damp squib of a bonfire just won’t cut it for entertainment anymore. In Dublin and around the country there’s an extensive array of spooky events including a free programme of happenings in the capital. Fang you very much, Dublin City Council!
Spooky events and attractions in Dublin and around the country
Dockers & Demons festival
The second Dockers & Demons festival takes place again this year in the Irishtown/Ringsend/Docklands area. Choose from the curious cabaret, a zombie teen disco, freaky funhouse, seniors’Halloween monster’s ball and loads more. The festival ends with the Dockers & Demons Parade and Street Party which takes place on Thorncastle Street from 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Halloween night. (Warning: watch out for the Banshee). Wednesday October 31st dockersanddemons.com
Ballymun Otherworld Festival
Channel their inner zombie at this year’s Otherworld Festival in Ballymun, with lots of spooky stuff including a circus, funfair rides and an arts and crafts tent. Witches Brew cafe will serve up ghoulish cakes, tea and coffee and Muck & Magic soup stall will offer deadly good homemade soup from vegetables grown on a local community patch. The parade starts at the Virgin Mary National School, Shangan Road at 4.45pm and the festival starts on the plaza at 6pm. Wednesday October 31st
Sandymount Halloween Pumpkin & Scarecrow Festival
The festival takes place on Sandymount Green in Dublin 4 with a special prizegiving and awards night on Friday October 26th in Christchurch Hall from 5 - 7pm. For more details, check out Sandymount’s Tidy Towns Facebook Page. Until Wednesday October 31st
The Cauldron of Smithfield
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. The Cauldron of Smithfield event is back again this year with even more thrills. Expect fangtastic activities at Smithfield Square including the 1,000ft zip line and a 150ft-high bungee jump. New this year: Cirque Du Freak Scare Tent, Climbing Wall and “Lost Souls” Parade. (Cirque Du Freak Scare Tent opening times: 4:30-5:30pm; 5:45-6:45pm; 7-7:30pm. Arrive early to secure your place in the pot. Smithfield Square, Dublin, Wednesday October 31st
Bram Stoker Spooktacular
The annual Bram Stoker Spooktacular event means that, for one night only, you will be transported into Dracula’s lair. There is an interactive light and sound show with music and special effects. (All children must be accompanied by an adult). Marino Crescent/Bram Stoker Park, Tuesday October 30th, 6-8pm
Halloween costume competition: Send us your scary snaps
Liberties Halloween Monster Bash
The Monster Bash is full of spooktacular activities including a Haunted House, Spooky Storytelling Room, face painting, Halloween games, scary movie film screening and devilish piñatas. Digital Court, Rainsford Street, Dublin 8, Wednesday October 31st, 4-6pm.
The Haunted House in Rialto
The F2 Centre in Rialto will be transformed for Halloween. Are you brave enough to face the ghost of Mrs Nugent in the basement of the Haunted House or enter the Bride of Chucky room? If that wasn’t heart-stopping enough, there’s a graveyard with musical and dance performances among the graves. Free entry. Number 3 Reuben Plaza, Rialto, Dublin , Wednesday 31st October, 3pm - 5pm
Pumpkin Party in Ballyfermot
A Pumpkin party including train rides and pumpkin carving. Markievicz Park, Ballyfermot, Wednesday October 31st, 11 am.
Half Light at The Ark
Bombinate Theatre present an engaging and heartwarming show for ages 8+ this midterm. ‘Imagine this: you’re walking up a mountain, through a forest of pine trees, and you’re trying to find your Dad. He’s been taken by a monster.’ Meet Robin, a ten-year-old boy travelling through the magical woodland of his father’s storybook. A tale which is as true as it is untrue. I’t half dark and half light. The Ark, Temple Bar, Dublin, Thursday November 1st to Saturday November 3rd, 2pm, €12.50/€9.50 (20 per cent off for Ark members) ark.ie/events/view/half-light
Bram Stoker Festival
This October Bank Holiday weekend, Dublin gets gloriously Gothic for the Bram Stoker Festival, which takes place from Friday, October 26th to Monday October 29th. bramstokerfestival.com
Dracula’s Disco returns to Meeting House Square with DJ Will Softly on The Ark’s outdoor stage, complete with confetti cannons to inspire some seriously deadly dancing. This fun-packed and energetic DJ set will be perfect for young ghosties, ghouls and music-loving little monsters. Free entry on a first-come basis. Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Monday October 29th, 2-4pm Adm free
This pop-up Victorian fun park for children and the eternally young will open its Gothic gates in one of Dublin’s most beautiful green spaces, St Patrick’s Park. This ghoulish gathering will present street theatre, a performance tent, free face-painting, macabre thrills and ghoulish games for everyone to enjoy, complete with a food village, storytelling, macabre theatre for children, fairground rides and more. Fancy dress encouraged. St Patrick’s Park, Dublin, Saturday October 27th/Sunday October 28th, 11am-4.30pm
The Haunted Library
Ireland’s oldest public library, located on Saint Patrick’s Close on the edge of the Cathedral graveyard, Marsh’s Library aka the Haunted Library invites guests to wander the darkened galleries, where books of witchcraft and heresy are to be found. Once inside, visitors will be regaled with bizarre tales from the past by a series of strange characters ready to teach those willing to learn and terrify those who come unprepared. Marsh’s Library, St Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8, Saturday October 27th, 10am-5pm, Adm free
I have it on good authority that – and excuse the block capitals but this is important – THE CURSE OF THE PURPLE PUMPKIN HAS HIT EAST CORK. That is to say Cuskinny Court in east Cork has been hit by a 200-year-old curse, unleashing mischief and turning the estate home into a murky manor.
“We’ve never seen anything quite like the Curse of the Purple Pumpkin in east Cork,” says Caitriona Johansson of Cuskinny Court Activity and Adventure Centre. “It’s quite spooky and funny to see the Curse take hold, and we are inviting children to come and experience this imaginative, interactive Halloween experience this October.”
Ghoulsley’s Manor has built up quite a terrifying reputation for Halloween festivities. Children from the ages of four to 14 years get to immerse themselves in truly spellbinding theatrical performances by a creative and fun-loving acting crew from east Cork. Cuskinny Court, Cobh, Co Cork, until October 31st, €15 ghoulsleysmanor.com
Tayto Park Terrors
The theme park has announced its brand new attractions for Halloween: Scary Tales for children and Tayto Park Terrors for teenagers and adults.
By day, parents and children can immerse themselves in Scary Tales. Step inside a world you thought you knew and discover what happens when an ancient curse is broken. With a ghostly guide telling stories to solve a series of clues to gain entry into the next room, children and parents will not expect a happily ever after at the end of this creepy tale.
Visitors will meet a number of fairytale characters along the way, escaping the witch, saving the prince and discovering passageways with a torch before seeking out the mystery behind the ancient broken curse.
Children can also enjoy free face-painting, the zoo and other attractions around the park before taking part in Halloween arts and crafts. The World of Raptors, Tayto Park’s new birds of prey arena show, is also open and has daily shows at 2.30pm. taytopark.ie/events