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Scarily good fun on offer around Ireland this October

With Halloween just around the corner, there’s no shortage of events to get you in the mood for spooky season, writes John Daly

Scream dreams at The Nightmare Realm

Everyone likes a chilling jolt every now and then – they say it’s good for the heart. Well, the folks at The Nightmare Realm have taken this a thrilling step further with a universe of haunted horrors that will test every fibre of fear you’ve got.

The nightmares began in 2009 in the town of Tralee, Co Kerry, where the fledgling enterprise found a willing audience for terrors in the dark like nothing before. As its popularity grew, these masters of the macabre transferred from Kerry to Cork to accommodate the crowds. Eventually the hordes queuing for this seasonal madness and mayhem prompted the organisers into a move to a specially designed site in the ghostly Big Smoke of Dublin. Fast-forward to 2023, and the Nightmare Realm is celebrating its 14th year of shock and awe, and its 8th year open in the capital.

Winning Best Scream Park Event – Europe at ScareCON 2023 for their show Urban Horror only further pushed the creators of the realm to bring more to the people of Ireland. The Nightmare Realm also took home the titles of‘Most Entertaining Indoor Scream Park 2022, Most Entertaining Horror Experience 2021, ‘Best Independent European Haunt 2019 and No 1 Haunt in the World, so it’s easy to see why they’re the best in the business of fear and trembling.

“Each year is different from the last,” the event’s creators promise. “We redesign haunt themes and mazes, switch up characters and bring something new to the table, updating our most infamous rooms as well as bringing completely new rooms each year. We pride ourselves on our innovation, our dedication and our hard work, in order to continually give people greater entertainment year on year.”



Devilry at Derry Halloween festival

Be part of Europe’s largest Halloween festival as the walled city of Derry welcomes the spirit of Samhain through its historic gates for a festival like no other. For four nights, the worlds of past and present collide to bring a dazzling street celebration of all things spooky in the official home of Halloween.

Follow the Awakening the Walled City trail and find out more about the folklore, history and heritage that makes this place so special. The story of Halloween is brought to life through illumination, aerial performance, pyrotechnics and music, as the spirits cross over to join the festivities, bringing magic and mischief to the streets.

“Nobody does Halloween like Derry,” said performer Michelle Lake at last year’s event. “Everyone is just mad for it here and it’s great to see so many people dressing up for it.”


Petrified at Púca

Púca is out to make mischief this Halloween. The Púca festival returns to the hubs of Trim and Athboy from October 27th to 31st.

When light turns to dark and the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead thins, the creatures of Samhain, Ireland’s ancient Halloween tradition, come to life. Roaming the darkness like a shadowy spectre, the shape-shifting spirit of Púca comes alive – changing the fortunes of all who cross her path as she transforms the night into a colourful playground of hallowed celebration, folklore, myth and music.

Ancient manuscripts inform us that Tlachtga, or the Hill of Ward, was a site of great Samhain gathering. As the sun sets and the ceremonial fire is lit on Halloween night, visitors will gather at the Fair Green in Athboy to view the closing ceremony, An Lasadh Suas (the lighting-up) – a symbolic event connecting the local landscapes to a central Púca flame, laden with messages to our ancestors.

As the flames ignite, the stage will be set and a night of music and celebration will ensue.


Full-on fear at Farmaphobia

Meath’s most tormented and twisted minds have been working overtime to ensure that Farmaphobia’s return for Halloween 2023 will be the most harrowing night of the year.

With five terrifying haunts spread over 100 acres of fear, The Children of the Forest have been hoping you make a wrong turn along the trail. If you see them through the trees, it’s already too late. Prepare to be sacrificed.

Or perhaps your thing is Clown Town – an entire town filled with clowns is surely the happiest place on Earth? Don’t let the high murder rate discourage you; Clown Town is the place to be. In fact, you’ll like it so much ... you might never leave.

Or how about Momma’s Murder Maze – the Baker Family have been waiting for some fresh meat all year, and Momma’s cooking is to die for.


Medieval madness on Kilkenny’s cobbled lanes

Kilkenny’s narrow cobbled lanes and mystic charm ensure this ancient city is bursting with tales of the paranormal.

Kilkenny’s ghostly tales all have one very important element in common: all are based around fact and arise from genuine historic tragedies, making the Kilkenny Ghost Tours experience as informative as it is entertaining.

Since the city is the home of the first ever witch burning, visitors wear a witch’s hat and cape to ensure their safe passage through the narrow cobbled lanes, also carrying lanterns to protect them as they flit through the medieval city.

Visitors will experience the trial of the notorious Dame Alice Kyteler along with her accomplices, Petronella and Basilia. As if that’s not enough drama, the walking tour includes a pit stop at Kilkenny Castle, where visitors may encounter the white lady or even hear the screams of the Banshee herself.


Chills and thrills in Cork

The people behind Cork Ghost Tour are guided by a single aim – to fright and delight.

Expect hilarious, horrible histories, local tales, ghost stories and hysterical shenanigans on this trip through time into old Cork from the 1700s, taking in the sights and waking the dead.

A genuinely local experience – interactive, factual and comic – with an original slant on Cork’s diverse and dark history. A sample of the tourist reviews indicate just how good this pure Cork experience really is.

“This was the best ghost tour I’ve ever been on,” says one. “The storytelling, humour and hidden surprises made it immersive and can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Another writes: “A good mix of history, creepy stories, humour – definitely a must-do while in Cork. There are some great surprises that await on this tour.”