A TRIP TO GET YOUR TEETH INTO
FESTIVAL-GOERS are normally ready to pack their wellies and hunker down in a tent as they prepare for several days away enjoying themselves.
But far from the lush fields of Green Man or the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury is a very different festival run by two Welshmen where attendees can spend the night in a coffin.
The pair have set up their own vampire festival, known as Vampfest, in the spooky surroundings of Transylvania.
Craig Hooper, 46, first had the idea for what became the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival (IVFAF) when he was on a road trip with his son.
Journalism lecturer Craig said: “We like to go on interesting holidays and we were in Transylvania in Romania.
“We were at a place called Sighisoara. It has a fantastic citadel, it is self-contained and it is unspoilt.
“It is where the character of Dracula was based and I thought it was a great venue for a festival.”
When Craig returned he spoke to his friend Peter Phillips about his idea. Peter was an old hand at running festivals.
Craig said: “One of my friends is Peter Phillips, who runs the Elvis Festival in Porthcawl. I told him about my idea and within a few weeks he had spoken to the Romanian embassy.”
The first ever Vampfest ran in the summer last year and it was so popular it ran again this year.
Next year’s event will run from June 7-10. Vampire fans will travel from all over the world and there is plenty for them to sink their teeth into.
One of the biggest attractions is a huge range of vampire films with last year seeing dozens of screenings over the weekend.
“One of the main things we do is films,” said Craig. “We show films, some of which are premieres. We also have the filmmakers come and talk about their work.”
Apart from films there is also a huge range of vampire literature.
According to Craig, the festival caters for all vampire fans – including the more highbrow children of the night.
These people can head to the Vampire Academic Conference.
Craig said: “We have professors and people from across the world to present research on vampire literature, films, and history.
“Some of them are considered groundbreaking in the field if you are interested in that sort of thing.”
The academic side of the conference was previously done in conjunction with the University of South Wales but next year will be run with Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania.
The highlight of a trip to IVFAF is the parties – after dark of course. Food and drink flow and there are dress codes that people must follow.
Craig said: “We have a lot of parties. There is the Vampire Ball that starts at midnight. We are also doing an exclusive party for the crowd funders.
“They will get to go to the Banquet of Blood inside Bran Castle.
“We have hired it out. When Bram Stoker was researching Dracula he saw a picture of the castle and knew it was a place for his villain.
“The dress code for the banquet is ‘Vamp it up’.”
Some vampire fans pay to sleep in a luxury coffin under a castle.
“We have some people who have really bought into the idea of vampires,” he said.
“We find that most people who come like the genuinely scary vampire stories. We don’t get many of the Twilight fans but everyone is welcome.”
Craig, from Rhoose, and Peter, from Creigiau, have built what is now Transylvania’s only vampire festival.
It is not something Craig expected when he first picked up a copy of Dracula aged 14.
He said: “I remember I was in my nan’s house. It had a picture of Christopher Lee as Dracula on it and I was really scared of it but when I was older I read it – it was amazing.”
For more information www.ivfaf.com visit
Christopher Lee, the most famous incarnation of Dracula on film
Dracula’s castle, which dates back to the 14th century, in Transylvania