IT’S that time of year again when young and not so young get into the Halloween spirit and enter into the creepy and crawly world of the Hallowtides Festival.
This year there will be major celebrations in Newcastle and Downpatrick and it all goes bump in the night from Monday 15 October in Newcastle.
The atmosphere for two weeks of malevolent mahem kicks off with a Super Slimey Shop Window Coastbusters Display in Newcastle where local retailers dress up their shop fronts. The first big event is the Fancy Dress Monsters’ Ball which takes place in Quinn’s Bar in Newcastle’s Main Street. There will be prizes for the best dressed.
Gozey’s Treasure Hunt is a family event and like many in the Hallowtides Festival it is free. This will definitely be a dangerous outing in the dark with all sorts of creatures lurking in the shadows!
But no Coastbusting festival would be complete without the Ghostbuster marshmallow men. Six of these are hidden away in the haunted shop windows in Newcastle. Come along and find them! A great family event.
On Wednesday 31 October the big bonfire will be lit and this event is supported by Greenhill YMCA and the new Down Policing and Community Partnership. If you want to enjoy a really scary evening in the dark come along to the Enchanted trail in Tollymore Forest Park – guaranteed to scare the living daylights out of you… and the kids!
But it is not all terrifying stuff! The annual Tramps Ball take place in Quinn’s Bar and this is usually a very popular fancy dress event with great music.
On Thursday 1 November there will be plenty fun for the children when the Hallowtides Halloween Workshop runs which is a fun arts and crafts session followed by some spine chilling ghost stories from the Mournes.
On Saturday too there is a Witches and Warlocks quiz night in the Harbour House Inn for the zombies with plenty of active grey matter and in the Anchor Bar there will be the third annual candlelit jam session evening.
The fun continues on Saturday 3 November with the Hallowtides Children’s Fancy Dress Party in the Newcastle Centre. Later on the Creatures and Crazies fancy dress competition which has a prize fund of £1000 will draw a large crowd to the promenade.
The ever popular Dark Order of the Fallen Angels on stilts will also be making an appearance scaring the living daylights out of innocent bystanders as usual with their silent antics.
The ghouls and ghosties in the Legions of Doom will then parade up the Main Street with the bedazzling floats. The atmosphere on the Saturday will be whipped up by the Cool FM Roadshow and the winners of the competitions will be announced on stage. Then the countdown to the spooktacular fireworks display takes place and the Newcastle harbour skyline is lit up in a kaleidoscope of explosions and colour once again.
Downpatrick Hallowtides 22 – 31 October
The fun starts in Downpatrick with the Pumpkin carving competition supported by the Eclipse Cinema. Bring your pumpkin along for judging and you could win a free ticket to see a selection of great seasonal films. And in Denvir’s Hotel there will also be a pumpkin competition and Halloween quiz with prizes for the best entry.
Why not come along and learn about the ghostly and gruesome experiences in the old County Gaol now the Museum – a blood curdling evening, only suitable for those over seven years old! There will also be a number of special guided walks around Downpatrick and you can learn about the darker side of the County town.
If you would like an evening in the theatre on a very seasonal note, why not come along and enjoy a play in the Down Arts Centre called “The Scarlet WWWeb – the life on the line and life online.”
But no day out in Downpatrick would be complete without a ghostly train trip at Downpatrick and County Down Railway. Enjoy a family day out and trip on the ghost train. Will Merlin the Magician make an appearance once again?
There will be a screening of Caspar the Friendly Ghost too in the St Patrick Centre to add to the Halloween fun.
On Wednesday 31 October the Bonfire Beacon will be lit in St Patrick’s Square in Downpatrick and the large crowds will again soak up the Halloween atmosphere.
Check out the festival programme on for full details : www.facebook.com/DownFestivals