As the darker evenings draw in and autumn leaves begin to fall, it is time to embrace the spooky season and enjoy the wide array of eerie entertainment on offer for families across Northern Ireland this Halloween.
For families with young children looking for traditional Halloween fun, there are plenty of Instagram worthy pumpkin patches scattered through NI where your little monsters can design their own spooky jack-o’-lanterns or take part in fun seasonal games.
And for the older kids who are feeling brave and fancy something a little more spook-tacular, why not explore a haunted woodland in search of ghostly beings, or listen to spine-tingling tales on a scary storytelling trail?
There is so much to choose from, but fear not, as Discover Northern Ireland has rounded up a list of fang-tastic activities to sink your teeth into and help you plan your perfect family-focused Halloween adventure.
One of Europe’s largest Halloween parties is set to return to Derry~Londonderry this year, as the city gears up for a thrilling extravaganza of outdoor events.
The ‘Awakening the Walled City’ programme, which runs over three evenings from Friday 29th October – Sunday 31st October, will feature illuminations, animation and installations across key locations stretching beyond the city’s historic walls, guaranteed to bewitch and enthral.
Taking place over an extended area this year to create a safe and welcoming environment for visitors, the celebrations will spill over into four worlds, in Derry~Londonderry, Strabane and Donegal, each featuring a cast of creepily curious characters here to recapture the spirit of Samhain.
Prepare to be scared as the apparitions of the underworld return, with appearances by the chilling Cailleach, the mischievous shape-shifting goddess Morrígan, the fearsome Red Branch Knight, and of course Walter the Skeleton from Derry’s own coat of arms.
Some of the other highlights visitors can enjoy include a food and drinks trail, tours in spooky locations around the city, live music, a fun fair and a fireworks display over the River Foyle to cap off the festival.
Antrim Castle Gardens, Co Antrim
Explore haunted historic places in the dark this Halloween, as you take part in spine tingling walking tours in the grounds of Antrim Castle Gardens. Storytellers will guide you on an eerie and bone-chilling journey through the past, with tales of ghosts, supernatural sightings and horrors from history. Tours are family friendly but the provider recommends young people taking part should be aged 12 or over, however this is at parent’s discretion. To help chase away any shivers, warming refreshments will be available after your walk and a hot drink is included in the ticket price.
Jungle NI, Co Londonderry
Some spectacularly spooky activities await young kids and their families at Jungle NI, Magherafelt this Halloween. The popular ‘Hallowee’uns’ event returns, filled with wicked, weird and wonderful activities. Little monsters can enjoy some pumpkin picking and carving, a haunting haycart ride with a wicked witch who will tell spooky stories along the way, and a mysterious trek around the Maize Maze, among a host of other adventure activities. Prizes for the best costumes are also up for grabs. This event will run every day from Monday October 25 – Saturday October 30 from 11am -3pm.
Ulster American Folk Park, Co Tyrone
Enjoy some ghoulish tales and learn about some fascinating folklore at the Ulster America Folk Park’s Jack O’Lantern Halloween Festival. Meet the creepy characters like the ship’s captain cleaning the decks, and the last emigrants who survived the arduous journey across the Atlantic to the New World of frontier America. Have your fortune told, take part in seasonal games, and taste some apple tart, pumpkin pie or fresh soda bread straight from the open fire griddle.
Don’t miss the chilling torchlit tours. Visit the wake of ole Ma MacMaster, the local fortune teller, and hear her terrifying tales of evil fairies and banshees.
Visitors can also check out the beautiful display of traditional handmade dolls made from apples and pieces of leftover fabric, and hear all about turnip lanterns which would have been carved in times gone by, long before pumpkins.
Streamvale Farm, Co Down
Family fun for the little and big kids! Come collect your mini wheelbarrow and pick your very own pumpkin, with thousands to choose from. Then let the experts design your spooky lantern before you carve it out. Visitors can also enjoy barrel and tractor rides, animal shows, a Broomtastic disco and – if you are feeling brave – follow the Spooky Trail and meet real life characters.
Fermanagh Fun Farm, Co Fermanagh
The popular Pumpkin Carving Festival is back for another year. This interactive experience offers an array of fun activities for all the family. Hop on board the beautifully decorated ghost train, which will take you out to the field to choose your own pumpkin. Bring it back to the carving marquee and come up with your own creative design. Then its time to grab a treasure map and seek out the ghosts that lurk on the grounds. Check out every dark corner of the farm, if you dare, and you could be in with a chance to win a great prize. And don’t forget to feed and pet some of the farm animals before you go.
Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast
Come and explore the child friendly Halloween tour around Crumlin Road Gaol. Encounter the friendly ghost and ghouls telling stories of their time at the Gaol. Followed by a search for the perfect pumpkin at the outdoor Pumpkin patch before bringing it to the carving station to create a one of a kind masterpiece.
Galgorm Fairy Trail & Halloween, Co Antrim
Situated on the grounds of Galgorm Castle, adventure awaits as the Fairy Trail is transformed into a Halloween Spooktacular, with ghosts and ghouls returning to the woodland area surrounding the castle. Fun for everyone, this experience is available for both daytime and evening thrill seekers, booking is essential as there is limited availability.
For more information on great places to visit and for things to see and do this Halloween – check out www.discovernorthernireland.com.