Top Things To Do This Halloween
All Hallow’s Eve. The night when the veil between the past and the present drops, and those long departed to the next world can mix in the world of the living. A night when witches and wizards create potions and spells, as the fairies and little people get up to their naughty old tricks. Halloween, is the shortened version of its original name for October 31st. All Hallow’s Eve, - or its Christian interpretation of All Saints Eve - falls the night before All Souls Day on November 1st.
GETTING BACK TO PAGAN ROOTS
We may have to look to times past to see where the tradition of celebrating Halloween comes from. It’s linked to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Sa-wen), a festival which took place at the same time of the year and probably had pagan origins. Samhain marked the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark time. In other words, it was a festival which happened at the end of the plentiful harvest from the long days of summer, to mark the onset of winter. Samhain was one of two big Irish Celtic festivals of the year, the other being Bealtaine which is celebrated on the first of May and welcomes summer. Both festivals were observed with huge respect for the superstitions associated with them.
The Celts believed winter was a time for the dead and their ghosts. Probably because days were short, the sun had lost its strength of summer, nights were long and dark and very little grew. Samhain reflects the Celtic idea of having times and spaces which ‘crossed over’ at certain places. In turn, this led to the belief that on Samhain night, the dead could walk in a mutual space with the living, as two worlds overlapped. The ghosts of long departed family members were once again welcomed into the home, often with a place set at the table for the Samhain feast. But it was also a time to ward off evil spirits which were also believed to be able to enter a home on the night of Samhain.
These days, Halloween is all about dressing up as ghouls and ghosts and following the American tradition of ‘Trick and Treating’ in the neighbourhood. Kids will knock on doors in the hope of getting a treat, but they may play a trick on the householders if they don’t! Pumpkins are carved into scary faces and lit with tea lights so their bright orange glow can be seen by all. Potions of punch are brewed to warm cold hands after the tour round the neighbourhood.
In Irish towns and cities, Halloween festivals take place, to coincide with the kids mid term break from school. Some of our members also offer great Halloween fun for families.
Here’s a quick look at a few good events and mid-term breaks happening this Halloween.
Cork City Gaol Halloween Mid-Term break
Cork City Gaol has its own spooky stories to tell. Add to that face painting, Black Cat Treasure Hunt, Balloon Making and story telling and you’ve got a heap of family fun! Happening during the mid-term break from Oct 30th – 3rd November.
The Dragon of Shandon Samhain Parade
The 31st October 2017 marks the 11th year of this famous parade in the Shandon area of Cork city. Every year, thousands of people walk the streets of the city’s northside, in a homage to the meeting of the worlds of the living and the dead. Its an amazing sight and the dragon will be accompanied by ghouls, ghosts and various creatures from the underworld. Lots of opportunity to dress up and follow the dragon on its route, and to get involved and support this Cork Community Art Link project if you wish. More details on the Dragon of Shandon website. Parade starts at 7pm, when darkness has fallen…
Check out our Cork City Good Food Ireland members – always waiting to warm the cockles of your heart with some fantastic local food during your Halloween and mid term celebrations. A hot chocolate on The Terrace at the River Lee or Afternoon Tea at Hayfield Manor are two treats in store close to the city centre. Also check out the members of the English Market for great takaway foods, or enjoy a traditional lunch at Farmgate Café upstairs.
Halloween at Airfield Estate
The wonderful farm to fork food experience at Airfield Estate is legendary. At Halloween, this private estate and organic farm in Dundrum, Dublin becomes a playground for kids. Airfield’s Halloween Camps are perfect for the explorers and chefs in your family.
Fearsome Forest Camp for 5-8 year olds harks back to traditions of foraging foods for winter storage, and making weather resistant shelters for the cold months. Kids will learn to be prepared for life in the wild, spending time in the great outdoors to experience the changes in the forest, farm and gardens this time of year.
Halloween Young Chef Camp gives 5-8 year olds essential kitchen skills to master the fundamentals of cooking. Kids will use fresh ingredeints harvested from the Airfield food gardens, learning how food is grown, where milk comes from and how to forage in the woodlands. What a great way to get back to nature at this beautiful time of year.
Both four day camps run from 31st October to 3rd November, priced €115 for the first child and €105 for siblings. Booking essential.
Halloween Workshops at Airfield Estate include Halloween Wreaths and Decorations where kids can make bats, spider’s webs or the Wicked Witch of the West decorations for your home (Oct 28th 5-8 yer olds 10am-12pm) The Halloween Creatures and Dia del Los Muertos workshop gets creative kids making ghoulish creatures and the monstrous Halloween masks of the dead! (31st October 5-8 year olds 10am-12pm) Sounds like fun to us!
Scarefest Halloween Festival
Scarefest at Shankill Castle in October and November is what the owners describe as ‘not for the fainthearted!’ Ghost tours for adult groups, younger kids and teens are all available during mid-term week. Wand and Quill Making workshops also avaialble. Booking essential for all the events. There is a warning about the tours – they’re described as ‘genuinely frightening’ and not suitable for very young children, the infirm or anyone with health-related concerns. So be warned and be prepared to be scared out of your wits! Tours and events bookable on the Scarefest at Shankhill Castle website.
Halloween at ‘Haunter’s Yard’ at Mount Juliet
Hunters Yard at Mount Juliet becomes ‘Haunter’s Yard’ this Halloween season! A wonderful well planned two-night mid-term break in the new Hunter’s Yard rooms includes:
Dinner for two on one evening of your stay in The Hound restaurant at Hunter’s Yard, while the kids can take part in Mount Juliet Juniors Club which includes high tea and supervised activities from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
For the Children – Spooky Halloween Trail, Pumpkin Carving, Halloween High Tea and Ghostly Movie, outdoor playground and leisure club.
The Mount Juliet Juniors Club is available and includes dinner and supervised activities from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
Children must be over 4 years to attend Mount Juliet Juniors and parents must remain on the premises.
• Full buffet breakfast each morning
• Three-course dinner in The Hound on one evening for two adults
• Mount Juliet Juniors Club on one evening for two children
• Full use of the Health & Fitness Club
• Complimentary car parking
• Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel
• Dinner reservations are required in advance of your arrival date
• Maximum of two children up to 12 years old share free with breakfast included
• Children 12 years and over sharing incur a €35.00 supplement each for Bed & Breakfast per night. Interconnecting rooms available for families with more than two children at an additional cost.
Galway Aboo Halloween Festival 2017
Taking place from 28th to 31st October, Galway Aboo Halloween Festival is the largest Halloween festival in the country. The City of Tribes will come alive with activities and fun in the Latin Quarter. The Galway Aboo Halloween Festival Parade by Macnas takes place Sunday 29th October at 5.30pm. As darkness descends, this street theatre group will put on what’s described as a ‘traffic stopping street party’ with giants, bespoke costumes, performances and live music for the theme ‘The Song of the Spirits’. Sounds like you gotta be there.
Mid-term breaks at Renvyle House
The cosy welcome of Renvyle House on the Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Galway beckons this mid-term. Some great deals for overnight stays during midweek. Midweek One Night Bed, Breakfast and Dinner Special includes a cot or camp bed on request and teens can stay in a separate room at €75 per night for B&B.
Mid-term Two Night Break with Dinner on One Night includes camp bed or cot on request, Quiz Night, Theatre Performance Night, and Visit to Kylemore Abbey and Victoria Gardens. Check the Renvyle House website for details of all mid-term and autumn breaks.
Halloween at Ballycross Apple Farm
The folks at Ballycross Apple Farm go all out for Halloween. While apples are the main show the majority of the year at Ballycross, during October this gives way somewhat to Halloween and Pumpkin Picking. Each year Chris Von Engelbrechtan and his dedicated team transform their farm into a world of spooky wonders that will guarantee much family fun.
Each weekend from early October, families from all over the region come to get the genuine Halloween experience.
If your visiting Ballycross this Halloween, make sure to hitch a ride on the Punpkin Picking tractor and trailor where you can pick you're very own pumpkin right from the soil for pumpkin carving wen you return home later on. For those who are brave enough, why not take a stroll to the neighbouring Witches village and take in all the sights. Worn out from all the excitment? Make sure to sit back and relax with a glass of Ballycross' delicious aple juice in an asortment of flavours. Just the thing after a busy afternoon of pumpkin picking!