Not everybody knows that this commercialised holiday, celebrated by millions all over the world, was originally based on an ancient Celtic festival. Originally called ‘Samhain’, Halloween was the time of year when pagans honoured their gods and remembered their dead. It also served to divide the year, marking the end of the bright period (summer) and the beginning of the dark period (winter).
Today, the pagans are gone, but the spirits and atmosphere remain in various form all over Ireland. Here are some of the best things to do in Ireland at Halloween.
10. Night Tours of Wicklow’s Historic Gaol, Co. Wicklow: (Adults Only)
Wicklow’s Historic Gaol is an atmospheric jail museum experience giving visitors the opportunity to see what life was like behind for Irish prisoners in the 18th century. Throughout the Gaol’s long history, inmates were subject to torture, starvation and death for even the most benign of crimes. This offers the perfect setting for the museum’s eerie night tours, where visitors can brave mingling with ghosts in one of Ireland’s most haunted buildings.
9. Virginia Pumpkin Festival, Co. Cavan
Virginia Pumpkin Festival is an annual weekend-long event that takes place at the end of October. Recent elements of the festival include a pumpkin maze, holiday parade and Irelands Largest Fancy Dress Party. It is a fun-filled event for the whole family to enjoy, with a firework display and pumpkin carving competition being a regular spectacular feature.
8. Halloween at Lullymore Heritage Park, Co. Kildare
This weeklong event of ‘Halloween Happenings’ in Kildare mixes terror and fun for a spine-tingling and joy-filled experience. Bringing out the ghouls and treats over this week are Haunted Holograms, Terror Train Trips, Treasure Hunts and even zombie attacks. For kids, there are both indoor and outdoor play areas along with Halloween fun and games.
7. Samhain Tours at the GAA Museum, Co. Dublin
The GAA Museum in Croke Park marks the ancient Irish festival of Samhain with specially themed tours and tales. Samhain usually marked the end of the harvest season in Celtic tradition, and with this in mind, the GAA Museum invites families to take part in stadium treasure hunts and to listen to Ireland’s leading storytellers. Food will also still be available to buy during the evening of fun.
6. Halloween at Greenan Maze, Co. Wicklow
Greenan Maze hosts ‘The Haunted Maze’ Halloween event each year. In addition to Greenan Museum’s ‘Nightmare at the Museum’. This successful fun-day is frequently a sell-out, as tours for all the family are available. Aside from the activities, the grounds themselves are superb, including tea rooms, farm animals and scenic wild nature walks.
5. Belfast Halloween Monster Mash and Fireworks Display
Belfast’s biggest and best Halloween event and fireworks display promise city-goers plenty of weird and wonderful activities and events at locations like The Slipways and Titanic Belfast with a cast of thousands!
The entertainment line-up will feature an array of street theatre and walkabouts, wicked arts and crafts workshops, fairground rides, and a range of hot food, drinks, sweets and Halloween tasty treats. The evening draws to a close with the largest fireworks display in the city.
4. Festina Lente Crafts and Horse Camp for Kids, Co. Wicklow
For kids during the October-November mid-term break, Festina Lente offer of interesting and fun activities from arts and crafts, to pony riding lessons and pumpkin carving workshops. Visitors also get the chance to learn how to groom a pony as part of this mid-term camp experience. This is certainly one of the best ways to spend a week, surrounded by gardens and autumnal woodland.
3. Dare to Scare Tour at Wells House, Co. Wexford
Hear the whispers of the past as you take a tour of the darkness in Wells House. This family-friendly activity is made even more exciting by the presence of a werewolf that is known to roam the woods around the house. You can join the Hunter on his mission his mission to track down his prey, but watch out, because the werewolf might get to you first!
2. Derry Halloween Under the Samhain, Derry
Join the fun with this four-day Halloween party. Events include Music, sculptures, performances and much more to keep you in the celebratory mood. Then you can follow the Derry Halloween Carnival Parade as it makes its way through the city centre. And finally, catch a glimpse of the fireworks over the river Foyle in the Spooktacular Fireworks Display, at the end of Europe’s largest Halloween street carnival and costume party!
1. Spooktacular Boo at Dublin Zoo, Co. Dublin
This perfect Halloween experience offers families the chance to partake in creepy arts and crafts, spine-chilling keeper talks, spooky face painting, as well music themed for the occasion on the Great Lawn. All this and even more can be done at Dublin zoo at Halloween, so no family member will leave disappointed, or without a major sense of satisfaction in a day well spent.