As the air turns cold, the leaves turn brown and woolly hats and scarves are rooted from the depths of our wardrobes, the autumn winds carry with them, a sense of enchantment, of mystery and for most, a sense of nostalgia.
Everything about autumn screams Halloween and as the festival that once marked the end of the pagan year, it still signals a distinct shift to a more magical time, when every adult suddenly embraces their inner child. Remember Halloween as a little kid? You got to spend the entire month planning your costume, carving pumpkins and decorating your classroom, all in preparation for the one night of the year you got to wander around the neighbourhood and collect as many sweets as humanly possible.
With all this nostalgia, it’s no surprise that most students still want to celebrate the holiday. However, if your lecturer is unwilling to dedicate a class to pumpkin carving, how do you get in the mood for Halloween?
You get yourself spooked.
There are a number of events and activities across the country such as ‘Farmaphobia’ in Co. Meath and Field of Screams in Co. Derry specifically designed to get your heart pounding this Halloween. Located on Causey Farm in Co. Meath and now in its 10 th year, ‘Farmaphobia’ is Ireland’s only dedicated Scream Park and consists of five scare attractions and two escape rooms. From a zombie morgue plagued with malevolent mutants to a house filled with haunted dolls, each experience has its own theme and will test your nerve in a different way. ‘Farmaphobia’ will open on Friday 12th October and will run buses to and from Dublin on 21st and 28th .
Carrowmens’s ‘Field of Screams’ will return this year with six Haunting Nights in the Maize Maze. It takes place late at night in a 13-acre field, which becomes all the more difficult to navigate when a new scary creature appears at every turn. Field of Screams will open Friday 19th October and run until Monday 29 th October.
Podcasts such as ‘Haunted Places’ or ‘Knifepoint Horror’ are the modern day equivalent to telling ghost stories around a campfire. Most of the podcasts are short and so are ideal for listening to on the way to college. Playing them in your accommodation could be a great way to get your friends and housemates involved and if you really want to get in the spirit then the campfire is still an option.
Dressing up isn’t for everyone, but if you do decide to partake in this tradition then put some effort into your costume. Over the Halloween weekend, most bars and nightclubs will host costume parties with significant cash prizes for the best dressed. Avoid the stereotypical costumes and instead, take inspiration from pop culture, celebrities or events in your locality to give your costume that extra edge.
Movies are just as synonymous with Halloween as they are with Christmas, so prepare a night of cinematic horror to get everyone in the holiday spirit
While horrors and thrillers such as ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘The Shining’ are typically chosen for these ‘scareathons,’ Disney classics such as ‘Hocus Pocus’ and ‘Halloweentown’ are equally appropriate, especially if you want to sleep at night. If you’d rather not have to organise your movie night, then Lismore House in Co. Waterford will host its popular annual pizza and beer movie night with a screening of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ on October 28th .
When the spookiness of the season becomes all too much, then it’s time to find something less frightful and a little more fun to ensure you’re excited and not just scared for Halloween. Deerpark Outdoor Centre, Co. Clare, provides paintball, splatball and airsoft games and during Halloween encourages players to dress up by offering them 100 extra paintballs.
Halloween has a rich history in Irish Celtic culture and learning about it doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Every year, ‘Macnas Spectacle and Street Performance Company’, leave the people of Galway and Dublin awed and amazed, by their epic storytelling as they unleash creative chaos and invention on the streets.
This year’s production, ‘Out of the Wild Sky,’ celebrates transformation and performance in Galway on Sunday 28 October is the largest free event in the West of Ireland. On Monday 29 October, the spectacle is part of the Bram Stoker festival, which takes place across Dublin from the 26 th to the 29th of October.
Finally, on the night when the veil between the living and the dead thins, and spirits pass from one world to the other, it is the perfect time to explore your local haunted house. Loftus Hall in Co. Wexford is one of the most haunted buildings in the country. It opens for Halloween season from the 27th of October to 4th November and will hold four different tours of the house geared at different age groups as well as having a live stream with UK ghost hunters and a lockdown where over 18’s can spend the night in the hall.
If Halloween really isn’t your thing and all else fails to get you in the holiday spirit, then fill a big bucket with sweets and leave it in your student accommodation. After all, nothing says Halloween like candy.
Aoife O Brien
Image Credit: Public domain pictures