Feel the fear: Things to do this mid-term

We gave the world Hal­loween — and much of the mod­ern vam­pire myth — so no won­der Ire­land is the place to be this Hal­loween mid-term. Here are our sug­ges­tions for some of the best fam­ily-friendly things to do and places to be and see, writes Emily Houri­can

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BIG STORY -

HAL­LOWEEN has a magic all of its own. With­out the pres­sure and some­times crush­ing de­mands of Christ­mas, still with the pos­si­bil­ity of good weather and days out­doors to be had, there is a free­dom and ex­u­ber­ance to the au­tum­nal midterm that is very be­guil­ing. That said, there are still days to be filled, chil­dren to en­ter­tain, and the feel­ing of hav­ing ‘made the most of it’ to chase. What you want is a mix of the in­door, out­door, cul­tural and pure en­ter­tain­ment; brisk walks, wood­land hikes, fancy dress fun, the odd cin­ema day, and a bit of his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge all in the mix to­gether. Here are our sug­ges­tions of how to get the per­fect bal­ance. ÷ Air­field Es­tate does a good au­tumn, with plenty of sea­sonal charm. Un­til next Sun­day, they are also of­fer­ing a spooky-sound­ing Hal­loween Crea­tures and Dia del Los Meur­tos work­shop on Tues­day, and Hansel & Gre­tel Into The Woods (free with ad­mis­sion ticket or mem­ber­ship), a self-guided wood­land walk that in­volves var­i­ous fear­some fairy tales and fright­en­ing finds (frankly, even the name is enough…). † www.air­field.ie

÷ It is al­ways a good time to ex­plore the coun­try’s an­cient past, but Hal­loween per­haps more than any other, given the con­nec­tion with death, burial and re­newal. There are places in Ire­land that pre-date the pyra­mids and Stone­henge, and can be seen pretty much with­out fuss, even free. Bru Na Boinne, in Co Meath, over 5,000 years old, is the site of New­grange, Knowth and Dowth. There’s Mount San­del Mesolithic site, be­side the River Bann in Col­eraine, said to date back some 9,000 years, and the Iron Age Mount San­del Fort (free). The Hill of Tara in Co Meath, along with the Mound of Hostages, a small Ne­olithic pas­sage tomb thought to date back as far as 3,000 BC, and the re­mark­able pro­lif­er­a­tion of me­galithic tombs at Car­row­more in Co Sligo, along with the old­est largest me­galithic ceme­tery in Europe, dat­ing back to around 4,000BC. On a good day — quiet, still, dry — it is per­fectly pos­si­ble to imag­ine your­self just a thin veil away from that other world. † www.me­galithi­cire­land.com

÷ Check out the glo­ri­ous dis­play of pump­kins, gourds, squashes and var­i­ous other au­tumn plants at the Botanic Gar­den Hal­loween Har­vest Dis­play. The re­sults of a guess-the- weight com­pe­ti­tion fea­tur­ing a gi­ant pumpkin will be an­nounced next Sun­day. † www.botan­ic­gar­dens.ie ÷ For younger kids, Hal­loween art and a lit­tle light cos­tume mak­ing will al­ways work, so bite the bul­let, put news­pa­per ev­ery­where, and get busy. From dec­o­rat­ing pump­kins to mak­ing spooky cakes — spi­der, bat, ghost, pumpkin are all per­fectly pos­si­ble with a few sim­ple in­struc­tions and a lot of pli­able frost­ing — this is the per­fect way to spend an af­ter­noon. Try cup­cakes drip­ping ‘ blood’ and coated in spi­der’s ‘web’, and don’t for­get to use all that pumpkin flesh to whip up pies and even cheese­cake. There is no end of recipes on­line. See Rachel’s recipe in LIFE and www.coun­tryliv­ing.com for this sort of thing.

÷ Make Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions — at their very sim­plest, a big pack of stick-on ‘spooky eyes’ from a craft shop will pretty much trans­form ev­ery lamp­shade, glass and pot plant in the house. † www.diynet­work.com

÷ Masks are even eas­ier than full cos­tumes. Try card or felt, and while cats, bats, even wolves are per­fectly do-able, steer them to­wards gi­ant emoji faces for the eas­i­est of all. † Good tu­to­ri­als can be found at www.ohmy­hand­made.com ÷ It’s not all about the lit­tle ones — teens need a thrill at this time of year too. And for a proper, chill­ing one, look no fur­ther than Farma- pho­bia. We con­fess to hav­ing been a bit scep­ti­cal about this ini­tially, but after a re­cent visit dur­ing which even the nearly-grown-ups were full-on ter­ri­fied, we’re in! The Field of Screams, Mu­ta­tion Morgue, Vam­po­rium and the House of Dolls and Dead & Break­fast might all sound a bit schlocky, un­til you get there… † www.farma­pho­bia.ie

÷ For some­thing more cere­bral, the Bram Stoker Fes­ti­val, un­til to­mor­row, has a full pro­gramme of events, day and night, around Dublin city. Check out We Are The Mon­sters, 9pm at D-light Stu­dios, an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence about the mon­ster within us all. † www.bram­stok­er­fes­ti­val.com

÷ Here’s a neat idea. Part of the Bram Stoker Fes­ti­val is the Bram au­dio tour of Dublin, avail­able to down­load for €5 and avail­able un­til to­mor­row. The tour will guide you through the streets of Dublin, start­ing in the city cen­tre and lead­ing deep into the un­known. Put your head­phones on, and you will be sped on your way by a se­ries of creepy tales and twists from Stoker him­self that will show you the city in an un­fa­mil­iar, and mys­te­ri­ous, light. For ages 12+ (un­der-18s should be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult). † www.bram­stok­er­fes­ti­val.com/ event/bram-au­dio-ghost-ex­pe­ri­ence

÷ It’s the per­fect time of year for a trip up to the Hell­fire Club, long associated with Satanic cults and devil­ish do­ings. Go on your own time, or join a Hid­den Dublin Walks tour. These de­part at the suit­ably witch­ing hour of 7pm through­out the week from Mer­chant’s Quay, and will fill you in on any bits of ghoul­ish his­tory you missed. † www.hid­den­dublin­walks.com

÷ Spooky cas­tle tours come into their own at this time of year, with Malahide Cas­tle, Ardg­illen, Birr Cas­tle, West­port House and oth­ers, all of­fer­ing Hal­loween-themed evenings. Par­tic­u­larly chill­ing is Hunt­ing­ton Cas­tle in Car­low, ap-

Hunt­ing­ton Cas­tle

Fresh air and for­est walks

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