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.