Lonely Planet Writer

A new festival will celebrate Ireland as the birthplace of Halloween

If you plan to visit Ireland later this year, you may wish to check out its newest festival, which celebrates the country as the birthplace of Halloween.

Ireland’s new festival will celebrate its role as the birthplace of Halloween. Image by Myles Shelly

The Púca festival will take place this year in Ireland’s Ancient East from 31 October to 2 November. It will make Ireland the place to be this Halloween, and it is expected that visitors from around the world will come and celebrate the country’s ancient traditions. According to Irish folklore and more recent archaeological evidence, Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain. Samhain means ‘summer’s end’ in old Irish, and it marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new one.

The new festival will celebrate the pagan roots of Halloween. Image by Myles Shelly

It was believed to be a time of transition, where the spirits of those who had passed away since the previous Oíche Shamhna, or Halloween night, on 31 October moved onto the next life. It was the last great gathering before winter, and a time of feasting and remembering what had passed, while preparing people for what was to come.

The Samhain characters will add a new twist on Halloween. Image by Myles Shelly

The name for the festival was chosen because the Púca is a character from Celtic folklore that is often associated with Samhain. At Halloween, it comes alive, changing the fortunes of those who cross it and immersing them in the true spirit of the occasion.

The pagan roots of Halloween will be on show. Image by Myles Shelly

Púca’s programme of events will centre around the counties of Meath and Louth. The festival will be one of music and light, complemented by rich harvest-inspired food experiences. According to organisers, it will celebrate a time when “light turns to dark, the veil between realities draws thin, rules can be broken and the spirits move between worlds.”

Full programme details will be announced this summer, and further information will be posted on Fáilte Ireland’s website here.