Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival came to a close on Monday, Oct. 28, after a three-day event that put the author and his most famous book, Dracula, in the spotlight. Over 20,000 visitors filled the city streets, wearing masks and capes and other costumes, celebrating frightful sights and sounds as the world’s most famous vampire joined in the Halloween fun. With 42 events scheduled throughout the city, there was something for the little ones and adults, eerie or scary, historic or fictional, daytime or night.
A city-wide “Vampire Hunt” combined the Dublin of Bram Stoker’s time with a search for the elusive Count Dracula. Participants got a tour of the city while finding clues of vampire sightings. Dublin Castle both terrified and awed guests as bursts of light lured them closer into Dracula’s lair.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisin Quinn, said that this festival was one “for the books. We could not have asked for a more successful event. All of Dublin really got into the Dracula spirit!”
That “spirit” had captivated Stoker at an early age. As an Irishman, and a native of Dublin, he grew up amid stories of the “Otherworld.” Faeries and leprechauns, banshees and vampires provided a foundation for his interest in the supernatural. This ultimately resulted in his gothic masterpiece, Dracula.
This second annual Bram Stoker Festival was made possible by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland. It was an all-in-one tribute to Stoker, Count Dracula, various performing arts and a great big Halloween party. Event manager, Susan Kirby, said everyone was delighted at Dublin’s transformation “into a blood red celebration of all things Stoker” and that those involved “embraced the spirit of that celebration so enthusiastically.”
Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Market Development, John Concannon, said the festival was “perfectly positioned” in light of the renewed interest in vampire fiction to “lure overseas visitors to ‘get their teeth’ into Dublin” over the three-day weekend of Ireland’s October bank holiday. The festival is already part of Dublin’s autumn calendar of events.
This festival had the support of numerous organizations and area businesses. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht oversees the arts and culture of Ireland including the performing arts, natural and constructed history. It also promotes the preservation of the Irish language. Additional history related organizations include Temple Bar Cultural Trust (one of the oldest sections of Dublin), Temple Bar Company, Dublin Castle and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.
Festival planning and public relations groups included Dublin City Business Improvement District, Office of Public Works, Dublin Festival Season, Entertainment.ie (Ireland) website and 98FM radio. Transportation support was provided by Dublin Bus and LUAS (Ireland’s Light Rail Tram System).
Historical accuracies about Bram Stoker, his life in Dublin and the writing of Dracula were supplied by the Bram Stoker Estate. Members of the family continue to collect and share information about the author through speaking engagements, traveling exhibits, and new books.
Stoker’s Count Dracula set the bar for which all other vampires are judged. He is erudite and elusive, gentlemanly and dangerous, hypnotic and frightening. He is part of a deeper legacy from long ago, during the ancient times of the Druids, when the veil separating the world of the living and the “Otherworld” was at its thinnest. The belief was that since some spirits would come back at that time to haunt the living, people wore costumes to confuse these phantom visitors.
Dublin will host another Bram Stoker Festival next year. Ghosts and goblins and little vampires will once again roam through the streets, squealing and shrieking; wondering if Count Dracula is hiding somewhere in Dublin Castle.
By Cynthia Collins
Roisin Furlong, Limelight Communications (Dublin), email correspondence, Oct. 29, 2013
All photos used by permission from the Bram Stoker Festival
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Temple Bar Cultural Trust