By Caitriona Murphy
Dracula is returning to Dublin this week and he is bringing with him every demon, devil and monster from the supernatural world that has ever haunted you in your sleep.
If you enjoy being spooked beyond words, if you relish the thoughts of being scared beyond your wits and if blood, guts, and gore make you squeal with excitement rather than squirm in disgust then maybe you’ll be able to face the monsters coming to our city this weekend.
If not, I suggest you stay home, clutch your crucifix, fill your bath with holy water and start making garlic necklaces because Dublin is reclaiming the night for the monster that it spawned many years ago.
Young or old, there’s no escaping the ghoulish fantasies that the Bram Stoker festival will bring to life this weekend. The festival organisers have set up something for all ages at every corner. The festival has grown far beyond events that pay homage to Bram Stoker and his gothic literary masterpiece Dracula, and as festival director Tom Lawlor says, “We’re interested in seeking out little known histories, playing with the idea of the supernatural and its place in modern society.”
The festival, inspired by the 18th century novelist, has taken on a life of its own. It will bring a pop-up Victorian park to Dublin and display nightmarish plants in the Botanic Gardens. Urban legends will come to life on the screens of the Lighthouse Cinema as well with their Monsters! Season film picks; including Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’.
As mentioned above, the pop-up Victorian park, Stokerland is one of the new additions to the festival. Suitable for all ages, St Patrick’s Park will open its gates for two days. Those who dare to enter will experience a fun child-friendly gothic gathering.
The festival has developed over the past five years to try appeal to people of all scare thresholds. As Mr Lawlor says, “What frightens one person might thrill or excite another.” Whether or not you are looking for a scare, the intrigue involved in these events is overwhelming and will draw you into an evening you won’t forget in a hurry.
Such spine-tingling events include Mother Stoker’s Sickly Stories where one will go to delve into the childhood of Bram Stoker, to listen to three stories told by the writers of Pygmankenstein Theatre Company and The Gremlin who promise an unsettling experience. Once you enter the gothic chambers of the Georgian mansion, “sight, sound and sanity blur in an atmospheric exploration of the haunted”, according to the festival organisers.
If you want to get even closer to the birthplace of one of the greatest creations in literature, Behind the Dark may be the event for you. Located deep in St. Anne’s Park, Clontarf, the homestead of Bram Stoker, it is one of the festival director’s top picks. “The stunningly beautiful aerial work by Loosysmokes at Behind the Dark in St Anne’s Park Clontarf will wow and haunt people in equal measure,” Mr Lawlor says.
Returning to the director’s concept of the supernatural in modern society, Bleedin’ Deadly is an event that encapsulates this idea. Hosted by the Space Cowboy, Bleedin’ Deadly brings the old-age tradition of freak shows to modern Ireland. Dublin may be an up-to-date city but our fascinations with the freaks of the world has not changed, as the festival brings to the stage an orchestra of oddities that Mr Lawlor assures “will deliver an utterly unique experience like no other”. The line up includes snake charmers and sword-swallowers, a burlesque reptile queen and 42 other horrifyingly thrilling acts.
Another modern twist on Stoker’s gothic ideas comes in the form of Guts magazine, who are making an edition for the festival entitled Young Blood, dedicated to everything bloody and “will look at the presence of blood through confessional writing and illustration,” according to the festival organisers. Free copies of Young Blood are going to be available in Dublin libraries and various other locations throughout the city.
One event that has to be mentioned, and was a key component of the festival last year, is Macnas. A procession through the streets of Dublin that will delight people of all ages as it combines the monsters that thrill us and the playfully spooky celebration of Samhain. Anyone can participate in this free event to help the master-storytellers and creators of Macnas to turn the streets of Dublin into a parade where dreams and nightmares come true, to capture the essence of Halloween.
For a full list of events and details of each event please go to http://www.bramstokerfestival.com/ including information on where to pick up a copy of Young Blood.