Ireland’s Puca Festival to Celebrate the Birthplace of Halloween

Ireland is embracing it’s hallowed history with the Puca Festival, celebrating the origins of Samhain and aiming to position the country internationally as the “Home of Halloween”.

Rooted in the country’s ancient traditions, the Púca Festival will take place this year in Ireland’s Ancient East from October 31st through November 2nd, and it is expected that visitors from around the world will come and celebrate Ireland as the birthplace of Halloween, with a full program of events centered around the counties of Meath and Louth.

As HDN readers are likely well aware, according to Irish folklore and more recent archaeological evidence, Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain, which means “Summer’s end” in old Irish. It marked the end of the Celtic Year and the start of a new one, and was believed to be a time of transition, when the spirits of all those who had passed away since the previous Oíche Shamhna (October 31st) moved onto the next life. Samhain was the last great gathering before winter, a time of feasting, remembering what had passed, and preparing for what was to come.

“Púca”, a character from Celtic folklore often associated with Samhain, was chosen as the name for the festival following consumer research in key markets. At Halloween, the Púca comes alive, changing the fortunes of those that cross it and immersing them in the true spirit of the holiday.

A spectacular festival of music and light complemented by rich harvest-inspired food experiences, Púca 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.

Speaking about the new festival, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said, “Festivals play an important role in delivering brilliant visitor experiences, giving overseas visitors to Ireland a unique opportunity to experience the very best of our culture, people and places. Halloween is a globally recognized holiday and Fáilte Ireland’s new festival Púca is an excellent opportunity to promote Ireland as the place where it all began.”

Making the announcement, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin said, “I’m delighted to announce Fáilte Ireland’s new festival, Púca. The Government is committed to investing in the development of new and compelling reasons for visitors to choose Ireland as a destination. I am confident that Púca is well-positioned to attract visitors from around the world to come and celebrate our ancient traditions.”

Head of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, Orla Carroll, said, “The development of tourism festivals is part of Fáilte Ireland’s strategy to attract domestic and international visitors to areas outside traditional tourism hotspots and peak times. Our market research tells us that overseas visitors are motivated to visit Ireland to attend the Púca Festival. Over the next three years, we are investing €1.5million to develop Púca as a world class festival that positions Ireland as the home of Halloween internationally. We believe it has the potential to motivate 100,000 overseas visitors to come to Ireland and generate €12m in revenue for the local region.”

The festival is being funded by Fáilte Ireland, Meath County Council and Louth County Council. It will be delivered by arts-led creative production company, Curated Place, overseen by a Steering Group made up of representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Meath County Council, Louth County Council, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Office of Public Works and Boyne Valley Tourism.

Jackie Maguire, Chief Executive of Meath County Council, stated, “Meath and the Boyne Valley are steeped in rich history and we are delighted to work with Fáilte Ireland to develop the existing Halloween festivals in the area to attract more international visitors, in turn creating more revenue and employment for local communities.”

Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth County Council, added, “Púca is an excellent opportunity to showcase all that Louth and the Boyne Valley have to offer to a global audience and we look forward to an amazing line-up of events to celebrate the area’s mythical past.”

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

If the Puca Festival continues and grows as planned, I can see this becoming the ultimate bucket list Mecca destination for Halloween enthusiasts around the world.

Puca Festival (photo by Myles Shelly)
Puca Festival (photo by Myles Shelly)

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Ireland’s Puca Festival to Celebrate the Birthplace of Halloween