Fall under Ireland’s Halloween spell; take part to the festival

Halloween is Ireland’s most ancient festival, a potion of pagan and Christian meanings, lore and legend. The earliest form was an end-of-summer festival, ‘Samhain’, often known as the Celtic New Year, to mark the beginning of the long winter nights. Today, we banish the banshees and murky mists with music, ‘craic’ and a welcome sure to light up dark nights and warm the chilliest ghost.

Spirits of Meath Festival
The story of Halloween begins in County Meath, Ireland’s early base of spiritual and political power. High Kings ruled from the Hill of Tara and the surrounding landscape is still full of mysterious standing stones and ruins of pre-Christian vintage. Newgrange, an immense 5,000-year-old burial monument, still amazes visitors today. The Spirits of Meath Festival engulfs the county in Halloween hysteria from 17 October to 2 November. There are tricks for all: crafty witches, spooks and spells, enchanted landscapes, mad scientists, creepy cuisine, candlelit tours, haunted houses, banshees, storytelling, pumpkin carving and fancy dress. Fun by day and fright by night, the Spirits of Meath Festival makes for an electrifying display of Halloween horrors.

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival
Derry-Londonderry is the ultimate Halloween headquarters. It throws the biggest annual bash anywhere, and Northern Ireland’s historic second city provides a fiendishly perfect setting for after dark larks. The Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival is set to break all records, spanning 29 October to 2 November. Imagine Halloween with a global dimension, as celebrated by cultures worldwide. A massive parade will meld local and global traditions in sumptuous performance and pageantry. As always Derry extends its Halloween welcome to everyone, from this world and the next. The only rules: get in the spirit and don’t come as you are. Donning a costume is the best way to be part of one of Europe’s most authentic Halloween fests, where the entire population takes to the streets in fancy dress. Here, costume is an art form, the people-watching alone is out of this world.

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Bram Stoker Festival
Bram Stoker was a Dubliner. Dracula’s creator worked in Dublin Castle as a clerk, married Oscar Wilde’s ex-girlfriend in St Anne’s church on Dawson Street, and grew up in the Dublin seaside town of Clontarf (where he has a hotel named after him). The Bram Stoker Festival, October 24 to 27, celebrates the man behind the fangs with films, talks, readings and a scare or three.

Halloween Fest at Westport House 
Have a howl of a Hallowe’en in 2014 at Westport House’s annual Hallowe’en Fest, which runs from October 25 to 31, 2014. Have a hauntingly good time as you experience the thrills ‘n’ chills of the Pirate Adventure Park – you will board the eerie Westport House Express train ride, get into high ‘spirits’ on the swinging ship and the pedal Go Karts and take the plunge to death on the log flume water ride.

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