Halloween lanterns
Halloween lanterns

Things that go bump in the night in Northern Ireland

Halloween celebrations return to Northern Ireland after a three-year gap.

Restrictions. Masks. Not being able to leave the house. Zoom calls. Well, if that doesn’t sound like a scary movie, we don’t know what does. Although that was the life we all lead for a time, we all came through it together. And sticking together will always see you survive any scary dilemma. Northern Ireland is thriving and continues to be open for business, and when it comes to October, we are open for a scare too. It’s time to go full Halloween!

A spooky past

Northern Ireland has always had a strong affiliation with Halloween. We love a terrifying tale. The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the 2,000-year-old Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland, Halloween is heavily influenced by the Autumn Equinox and the changing of the season as summer ends and autumn begins, with the changing of the leaves and harvest festivals.

A few things have changed since then, but the scares and the jumps are still here. Not to mention the classic plastic masks and stealing your mum's makeup to create the perfect homemade costume. Sorry, mum. We also love a good turnip lantern and there's no better time to start carving than Halloween. And it wouldn’t be a proper fright night without some indoor fireworks. Who doesn't love a good sparkler or Bengal Matches? Just be sure an adult is there to supervise.

Derry Scary

The Halloween celebrations will soon begin to kick off across Northern Ireland. We are officially back in business. It’s time to get spooky across the country and stir up some community SPIRITS. It's going to be very scary. Or is that Derry Scary?

The Derry Halloween festival is a four-day event taking place between the 28th and 31st of October. We are proud to say it is Europe’s largest Halloween festival and is sure to have something for all the family. This year's theme is aptly titled ‘Awakening the Walled City’. It’s been a long 2 years, so we are ready to start the celebrations good and proper.

Our Walled City comes to life with ancient spirits inviting you to join us in our Awakening. Fill your days with folklore, feasting, and festivity as Derry reopens the paths of past Halloween visitors. Remember to disguise yourself to keep them at bay. 

This Halloween, Derry's famous Carnival Parade will also return. Hundreds of local performers from schools, clubs, and groups from all over the city will take part in Europe's spookiest, scariest, and most colourful parade. A timely return that will contribute to the preservation of the community spirit that has always been at the heart of Derry's world-class celebrations.

BelfAHHHHHst Calling

This year, Belfast will host a full Halloween programme of events for the whole family.

The first stop is Boo at the Zoo. Dress to impress (or scare) and grab your little terrors for a weekend packed full of fun and a few screams at Belfast Zoo. There will be pumpkin carving, freaky face-painting, slime-making, and animals. Lots and lots of animals!

The Spooktacular Gaol Tour, the Pumpkin Puffer Train Ride, and the main attraction, The Pumpkin Patch, are all part of Crumlin Road Gaol's Halloween Extravaganza.  But your thrilling adventure doesn’t stop there. You can meet Larry the Alpaca, Lexi the miniature cow, Pappa the pig, and all their farmyard friends at their Petting Farm before finishing your fun-filled day at Crumlin's Live Interactive Halloween Musicals, where the West End comes to North Belfast.

Cinemagic will be returning this Halloween, so why not treat the family to popcorn and a classic Halloween Movie? We promise it won't be that scary! Dress to impress and no hiding behind the chairs!

And for all you adults out there who are scared of kids, don’t panic, we have something for you too. There are a large number of spooky tours and events throughout the city like the tour of Clifton Street Cemetery. This is one tour that will leave you shaking in your fancy boots. There is also a number of ‘not for kids’ Halloween Classic movies for a few jumps, or if you’re looking to throw your hands up in the air, Clubland Halloween at the SSE Arena will be right up your Nightmare on Elm Street.

And there's more

The National Trust will also be holding a number of events across Northern Ireland. Scarecrow Fest and Pumpkin Trail at Florence Court, as well as fantastic trails at Mount Stewart, are just some of the highlights.
 

Northern Ireland loves to put on a show. Northern Ireland loves a festival. And Northern Ireland loves seeing you here. If you want to experience the best Halloween, then experience it with us. Get ready for a scare and a festival you will never forget. It’s time to pay a visit. Embrace the culture. Get dressed up. And always, trick or treat.

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