18 spooktacular things to keep your little monsters busy over midterm

The season outside may be frightful but there is lots to do that is delightful this Halloween

The evenings are getting shorter, the trees a lot barer and there’s a notable nip in the air. As the ghosts and ghouls get ready for their time to shine, thoughts turn to keeping our own little (and not so little) zombies and demons occupied this midterm.

Lú Festival of Light

The Lú Festival of Light kicks off this weekend, running until November 5th. The urban animation show will regale popular myths and legends including Lú and The Salmon of Knowledge through spectacular lighting shows, narrated by Mystical Ireland author Anthony Murphy. Face painters, stilt walkers and ghost tours (for the over 12s) will also be on offer at the free event. lufestivaloflight.com

Púca Festival

Four supernatural nights of music, comedy and Halloween spectacle are promised for the Púca Festival, taking place in Trim and Athboy this weekend. Headline acts include Block Rockin’ Beats, King Kong Company, Joanne McNally and Neil Delamare. Visitors can feast on local produce from the Boyne Valley at the Food and Craft markets, and for kids, there’s Banshee Bingo, a Púca treasure hunt, the Celtic Voyage Circus and a range of other activities. pucafestical.com

Tricky Trail at Tayto Park

The Halloween Tricky Trail is back at Tayto Park until November 2nd. Children can enjoy a treasure hunt filled with spooky stories, spell casting, magical performances, and fun. Spot the scary scarecrow, visit a vampire, trek through the freaky forest and navigate the meandering maze. Find the missing items on the treasure hunt map and there’ll be a goody bag in store at the end. Entrance to the Tricky Trail is included in ticket price for Tayto Park. taytopark.ie



At the Luggwoods Spooky Enchanted Forest in the Dublin Mountains, you can dress up and take a stroll through Troll Town or a walk up Strange Street, before choosing a pumpkin to take home. Along the way, be prepared to dance, laugh and help the Crazy Scientist find all the ingredients needed to prepare the Luggwood witch’s potion. Until October 31st. tickets.luggwoods.ie

Jurassic Newpark

For dinosaur lovers out there, Jurassic Newpark in Kilkenny is the place to be. Featuring five life-size moving dinosaurs, you can hear the roar of the Tyrannosaurus, witness the sheer size of the Brachiosaurus, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may even see the lesser spotted Tractor-saurus. There’s also a fairy trail, go-karts, a prehistoric playground and some modern-day farm animals to meet. jurassicnewpark.com

Nightmare Realm

This year, The Nightmare Realm at Mary’s Lane in Dublin has doubled in size with five new Halloween mazes, including The Haunted Orphanage, The Sewers, Cannibals Playground, Attack of the Clowns, and Death Row. There’s also a new Halloween Town Festival and food zone. With animatronics, special effects, secret rooms and surprises along the way, the fear factor is full on. One for the teens (and the braver adults!). Until November 2nd. thenightmarerealm.ie

Bram Stoker Festival

Dublin’s vampire community are gathering in Dublin this weekend for the Bram Stoker Festival, running until Monday. With movie screenings, light shows, readings in the dark, and haunted libraries. There’s a deadly adventure in store for all ages. bramstokerfestival.com

Wild Lights

With an estimated one million plant and animal species now threatened with extinction, the theme of this year’s Wild Lights show at Dublin Zoo is The Magic of Life, highlighting the importance of biodiversity. This year’s theme is The Magic of Life: Giant bees, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly and the skilled co-operation of an ant colony are just some of the minute creatures blown up to a gigantic scale in this year’s display. To ensure Wild Lights can operate without the national energy supply, it will be taken off the energy grid and powered by hydrotreated vegetable oil derived from renewable raw materials. Until January 9th. dublinzoo.ie

Hook Lighthouse

A free Féile Samhain celebration takes place at Hook Lighthouse this weekend, with Halloween games including pumpkin tossing, tug-o-war, and a Halloween treasure quest. For adults and the over 12s, ghastly and ghoulish lantern-led devil tours of the 800-year-old tower take place in the evenings, at a cost of €10 per person. Come in fancy dress — there will be daily prizes for the best costume. hookheritage.ie

Wild Encounter

Wild Encounters Mini Zoo in Limerick is celebrating Halloween with some creepy crawly fun on their small exotic farm. Children can handle some of the creepy crawlies this weekend, or meet-and-greet the reptiles, and there’ll be face painting, temporary tattoos, and treats for every child who turns up in costume. wildencounters.ie/halloween

Hurl-o-ween Tours at Croke Park

The Hurloween Tour series runs until November 4th at the GAA museum at Croke Park. Visitors can go pitchside, see the players dressingrooms, visit the GAA Museum, enjoy a Warriors and Hurlers Workshop and learn all about the story of Setanta, a master hurler who according to legend used his sliotar and camán to slay the hound of Chulainn and receive the new name Cú Chulainn. There’s an interactive games zone where children can test their own hurling and football skills and learn new tricks, and hear about the history and skills of hurling and camogie. crokepark.ie/halloween

Derry Halloween Festival

Haunting animated audio shows and projections, spectacular street performances and creepy walkabout characters are ready to give you a fright around every corner in the Walled City this weekend, as 14 locations play host to events for the Derry Halloween Festival. The Little Horrors Family Programme has lots to offer for the kids, with live music throughout the weekend culminating with a carnival parade and fireworks display on Monday. derryhalloween.com

Halloween Haunting Event

The Time Travel Theatre will haunt the Atlantic Technological University Campus in Sligo on Monday and Tuesday, with 10 themed scare zones located throughout the campus with a host of monsters, ghouls and goblins. facebook.com/ATUHaunting

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland has organised a range of tours, performances, workshops, lectures, and online events across its four sites over the coming months, catering to a wide variety of ages and interests, all of which are free. From a Samhain Creepy Crawl through the woods in Mayo, to tours discussing the chills, ills and kills in Collins Barracks, there’s lots to keep the family occupied this midterm and beyond. museum.ie

National Circus Festival

Discover your inner clown at the National Circus Festival, which returns to Tralee in Co Kerry from November 3rd to 6th. With acrobatics, comedy, contemporary variety performances, professional circus masterclasses and workshops for kids, as well as shows in the festival big top, there’s plenty of fun in store. circusfestival.ie

Secret Valley Wildlife Park

Until November 6th, Secret Valley Wildlife Park in Wexford is getting spooky with creepy crawly handling, mystery adventure hunts, scarecrow competitions, a corn maze, tractor-trailer rides and fancy dress competitions, plus you can help feed the animals too. secretvalley.ie


Wonderlights returns to Malahide Castle from November 4th until January 3rd with a new “Night Sky” theme. The Night Sky route begins with a magical sensory light show in the sprawling woodlands. Continue the journey crossing astonishing frozen Arctic Forests before arriving at the Northern Lights, soaking up the enchantment with every footstep. As guests gaze skyward, they’ll experience fantastic night sky scenes, from meteor showers and the sprawling cosmos to those elusive shooting stars. wonderlights.ie

Marlhill Open Farm

At Marlhill Open Farm in Co Tipperary, children can enjoy arts and crafts and outdoor sports activities over the midterm break. With a soft indoor play area, toddler play area, outdoor playground and supervised animal petting, there’s lots for young children to do. There are dedicated slots for children with sensory needs. marlhillopenfarm.ie

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health and family