I’ve just returned from a fun trip to the Dublin area where I was given such welcome that my belt buckle is significantly tighter than it was when I left. It’s true what they say about Irish hospitality! I also sampled a drink or 2 despite the very early drive back to the airport the next morning. Just glad that I started on lighter beer and not the usual Stella! Eight pints of that would have killed me!
While in County Meath, I visited the hill of Ward which is also knows as Tlachtga. It is believed to be the Home of Halloween as ancient celts believed that this sacred hill was the closest portal between this world and the otherworld. During medieval times it was the site of great festivals, including one at which winter fires were lit at Samhain, which is the precursor of our modern Halloween.
The Samhain celebrations have survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the harvest and the dead. In Ireland and Scotland the 'festival of the dead' always took place on Samhain.
The night of Samhain, in Irish and Scots Gaelic, is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and falls on October 31. The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the evil spirits or placate them. In Scotland the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white. Candle lanterns, carved from turnips were part of the traditional festival. Large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces, placed in windows to ward off evil spirits.
As the Samhain celebrations spread , Guisers - men in disguise, were prevalent in the 16th century. Children going door to door "guising" in costumes and masks carrying turnip lanterns, offering entertainment of various sorts in return for food or coins, was traditional in 19th century, and continued well into 20th century. At this time, the mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration popularized Halloween in North America, introducing the more modern concepts such as trick or treating, dressing up and of course scaring people.
Now it would seem that everything’s gone full circle and halloween has come back to County Meath. In such a small area, there all manner of halloween attractions for people of all ages including Farmaphobia at Causey Farm, Haunted Spooktacular at Grove Open Farm and Phantom Funtasia at Funtasia water park. Add in themed events all across the area and County Meath is definitely the place to go for the full halloween experience.
Well it seems that hardly a day goes by without a new scare attraction crawling out of the woodwork, with the associated call for more actors. This time its Adventure Island in Southend on Sea who have just revealed some basic plans for Fright Fantastic – a new style of scare that should be unique in the UK!
I also know personally of at least another 3 or 4 unannounced other projects around the UK, that will soon also be calling for staff. But where are all these actors coming from? The UK hardly had a glut of scare actors sitting around doing nothing and as more and more events are created, those who are good kept snapped up quickly.
Does this mean we are creating an ever increasing pool of experience that we can all draw on in the future or will be finally reach saturation point due to the fact that for 50 odd weeks of the year the demand is negligible? It will an interesting development to follow over the next few years.
And talking of developments – what’s going on over in Ireland? Ireland has been under our radar for a while then all of a sudden like the proverbial bus, 3 attractions (2 proven, 1 new) are all vying for our attention.
The first off and classiest looking is Farmaphobia in Navan, near Dublin. This 2+hour attraction looks very atmospheric and has a creepy and eerie website. Next up is the Haunted Spooktacular (virtually next door). This event is appealing to the older teenage and adult market and it should be easy to squeeze the two neighbouring attractions in at the same time. Finally Funtasia Frightfest at the Funtasia water park in nearby Drogheda is another new attraction from AtmosFEAR.
So I wonder if Ireland will have a problem locating actors as well?
We’re looking to be in the area of these attractions round about Halloween time so if anyone is interested in meeting up lets us know – in the mean time – watch this space for dates etc
Well September is here and the countdown has begun. There are a load of new attractions being launched for the halloween season with a number of existing ones shaking off the cobwebs and getting ready to scare
It looks like it could be a record year with some very exciting new projects including the barnd new Dr Frights and Project X (join us on Oct 29 th!). There's also Hybrid X in Yorkshire from the twisted guys behind Deranged. AtmosFEAR! have launched a record number of projects across the country and of course the usual favorites such as Alton, Tulleys, Broadditch and Thorpe all have devious things up there sleeves!
And it doesnt stop there - there are still a number of new attractions which are just being finalised and will be announced very soon!
So its not too - late - if there's any where exciting that you want us to visit or review , then please let me know.
Many of you will know me already. My name is Michael Bolton and I am passionate about Scare Attractions and being scared. I have been visiting and reviewing attractions since 2002. Why not come along on one of our trips and have a scream?