A TRIP TO GET YOUR TEETH INTO

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - WILL HAY­WARD Re­porter will.hay­ward@waleson­line.co.uk

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

GE­ORGE GREEN­WELL

Christo­pher Lee, the most fa­mous in­car­na­tion of Drac­ula on film

Drac­ula’s cas­tle, which dates back to the 14th cen­tury, in Tran­syl­va­nia

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