20 of the funniest events and activities to do with kids this Halloween
Spooky season is well and truly upon us, and if you’re looking to keep the kids busy over the half-term holidays, here’s a range of events and activities to keep everyone happy.
1. Pumpkin patch
Halloween isn’t just about scares, and a visit to a pumpkin patch replaces scares with scarecrows, with plenty of opportunities for a wholesome photo op. On the scenic Castletaylor Estate in Ardrahan, Galway Pumpkin Patch is a fun day out for the whole family, open for four weekends from October 8.
At Ballycross Apple Farm in Wexford, visitors can roam the witches’ village to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Tickets start at €7.50 and children under two are free.
2. Cut and roast
Once you’ve chosen the perfect pumpkin and brought it home, the designing can begin. Whether you choose to carve spooky faces into the pumpkin itself, or play it safe and use paint or marker to design the exterior, be sure not to throw away the innards.
Pumpkin seeds make a great snack when roasted, which only takes 15 minutes in the oven (200C/180C fan/gas 6) with just a little olive oil and your seasoning of choice.
3. Tayto Park
If you’re looking for something spookier than crisp-tasting Cadbury’s, head to Tayto Park for thrills that even the youngest members of your group can enjoy. The theme park hosts a series of events throughout October, with Tayto After Dark allowing visitors to ride their favorite attractions at night. It’s worth noting that this is a “fearless” event, so if you’re looking for creepy clowns, ghosts, and zombies (oh my!) you won’t find them here. Tickets start at €16.
The Tricky Trail, however, is included in all ticket prices and is an unforgettable day out for all ages. The Scavenger Hunt is a spooky, interactive adventure through the park, with plenty of surprises to discover. The trail is open October 22, 23, and 29 through November 2. taytopark.ie/events
4. Hit the hay
In Cork, Leahy’s Farm hosts the Boo!! Experience, which encourages disguises for young and old alike. Embark on a haunted cart ride, help a shrunken witch brew a potion, and shake off the cobwebs with a farm visit, which is included in the ticket price (from €5). For an extra €5 you can choose and carve a scary pumpkin to take home.
5. The magic of cinema
The scariest part of any movie these days is the price you pay to bring a family to the cinema, so beat the queues and the cost with the retro drive-in cinema in Leopardstown. From October 21, you can watch cult classics like Gremlins, Hocus Pocus, Ghostbusters and even the first two Harry Potter movies. Entry starts at €35 for a five-seater car. retrodrivein.fr
6. Galway Aboo
The Galway Aboo Halloween Festival takes place on the Saturday and Sunday of the October bank holiday weekend, turning the city and surrounding area into a Halloweentown scene.
While the Macnas Parade has sadly been cancelled, there are still plenty of scares to be found, from spooky orienteering in Wildlands (ticket holders get free entry, €5 otherwise) to scavenger hunts in Bridget’s garden. See galwaytourism.ie/event/galway-aboo-halloween-festival/ for more information.
7. Costume designs
Gone are the days of the trash bag outfit that was an elementary school Halloween staple, but there’s still fun to be had with DIY costume design. Have a brainstorming session to see which TV or movie character is this week’s favorite and dive into forgotten corners of their wardrobe to see what fits.
Sometimes the wackier the better, and even the weirdest outfits can be considered abstract.
8. Heartlands Hullabaloo
In Ireland’s Haunted Heartlands, the Hullabaloo children’s arts festival returns with a packed program of music, theatre, performances and workshops. The event takes place from November 2-5 at Birr, Clara, Edenderry and Offaly Libraries, and its aim is to introduce children to different areas of the arts.
Head north to Belfast’s Let’s Go Hydro, where the water temperature is usually pretty scary! Just two hours from Dublin by car, the water park will be transformed for a Halloween festival. They shut off the water for a wicked display of bouncy pumpkins, witches, ghosts, and goblins, and visitors can enjoy everything from ghost stories to wagon rides and s’mores.
On Halloween night, the “best dressed”, the “funniest costume” and the “scariest” will be crowned and rewarded with exclusive prizes, and there will be a fireworks display at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for October 31 are priced at £8 (€9) per adult and £5 (€5.70) per child. letgohydro.com/halloween
10. Harvest Moonshine at Marina Market
Cork’s Marina Market is already a popular attraction, but its Halloween offering is even more magical. Harvest Moonshine takes place over three time slots on Saturday, October 15. The immersive show tells the enchanting story of the Good Witch and the Pumpkin Fairies, with interactive theater, song and dance performances, and a pair of fairy wings, harvest wreath and wand for each child in the audience.
The event is ideal for children aged 3-7 and their designated adult, the only rule being that you believe in fairies. Tickets cost €25 for children and €5 for adults. eventbrite.ie/e/harvest-moonshine
11. Lights, Camera, Action
Pulling on sheets to frolic in the garden is a TikTok trend that hasn’t been abandoned in 2021. If you have a foggy and dreary October afternoon and you have children to look after – grab some old sheets, your phone and a pair of sunglasses to make a suitably sweet or scary video.
12. Puca Party
The Celtic New Year rings in the Púca Festival, which takes place in Ireland’s Ancient East (or, as we know it, Trim in Meath). Púca, meaning ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’ like Gailgecelebrates the spooky ancient traditions of an old Ireland.
The packed program of music, humour, art and food spans four days (October 28-31), with events for the whole family and a wide range of budgets. See pucafestival.com/all-ages/ for events not just for adults.
13. Pooka Spooka
While only a fearless few can handle Causey Farm’s Farmaphobia, their Pooka Spooka event is the family equivalent for all ages. Find yourself in the mirror maze, get lost in the corn maze, try your hand at limb throwing, or try a broom ride. The event takes place the last three weekends of October and is suitable for children aged 2 to 12. Tickets cost €14 and children under 2 are free. causey.ie/halloween
14. Traditional Games
Whether you’re staying home on Halloween night or hosting a party, traditional Halloween games are sure to please. Make a mound of flour with a grape on top and have each player slice portions of the flour with a knife, without dropping the grape.
Whoever fails must retrieve the grape using only their mouth, which gives them a gruesome face and a laugh for everyone else.
15. Story Time
Perhaps one of the simplest and oldest Halloween traditions, gathering in the dark to swap stories doesn’t have to be nightmarish. Set up the stage with lights off and torches on, take turns telling scary stories (age appropriate).
Check with your local library to see if they have spooky storytelling events, or lend a Goose bumps romance to keep you up at night.
The Dublin Rediscovery Center is hosting two Halloween workshops for children on October 29th. There, the educational team will guide children through fun and educational Halloween-themed activities, games, arts and crafts. The event is suitable for ages 6-12 and tickets start at €10. rediscovery center.ie
17. Creepy Spleodar
Spleodar (the Irish word for exuberance) is an arts festival in Nenagh that takes place every Halloween and returns for its 22nd year in October. Lantern making, costume design and art workshops are available for €5. There is even a sensory screening of Clifford the big red dog October 29.
The event will culminate with the Halloween Parade, leading revelers to Nenagh Prison for a spooky performance. spleodar.ie
Every evening as part of Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival, which runs from October 28-31, the Northern Lights will make an appearance in the upper courtyard of Dublin Castle. The free event will light up the same sky that Bram Stoker would have watched from his office in the castle building.
BOREALIS is a mesmerizing light and sound installation by Swiss artist Dan Acher, and will bring the natural phenomenon one step closer to home. The conditions of participation will be revealed at the beginning of October. www.bramstokerfestival.com
19. Catch a show
At the infamous Mermaid Arts Center in Wexford on November 1, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will come to life on stage with a mix of performances from two talented actors, puppets and children in the audience.
The show is suitable for children aged 5 to 10 and tickets cost €35 for a family of four. mermaidartscentre.ie
20. Trick or treat?
It seems like an obvious choice, but given the past two years, faking or processing is just one of many activities that may look a little different post-pandemic. Last year the government gave the go-ahead to the grisly door knocking, and this year looks set to be the first year the beloved tradition is back in full force. So put on your best costume and hit the streets for an evening of scares, fun, and an awfully laden bag of candy.