Púca Festival promises showstopping opening and closing ceremonies to draw Halloween fans to Meath
Ireland’s most authentic Halloween festival, Púca Festival, is set to draw the crowds once more as it unveils plans today for its all-new show stopping Opening Procession and Closing Ceremony, officially launched today.
Returning to Trim and Athboy in County Meath, from Friday 27th to Tuesday 31st October 2023, Púca is the place to be this October bank holiday weekend with a feast of entertainment on offer. Developed by Fáilte Ireland (the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland), in partnership with Meath County Council, Púca celebrates Ireland as the birthplace of Halloween, telling the origin story of Samhain or ‘Summer’s End’.
With over 36,000 visitors attracted to the festival in 2022, which drove over €3m in economic value for the local and national economy, organisers are busy planning the biggest and best Púca Festival yet.
Reimagined spectacles, contemporary entertainment, and a host of talks, workshops, games, events, and a Harvest Market, all inspired by themes of identity, landscape and language, will help to connect visitors to the ancient past at this year’s uniquely Irish Púca Festival.
Samhain is a festival in ancient Celtic traditions marking the change in season as we move into the darker, colder winter months, celebrating community support, togetherness, and the fire light needed to welcome, and not fear, the coming dark. Historically a time of celebration, involving lighting fires, feasting on the crops of the harvest, music, gathering, and storytelling, during Samhain, the otherworld took centre stage, and the possibilities of a supernatural encounter ran high. A familiar character in Ireland's narrative of Halloween, Púca (pronounced poo-kuh) is the shape-shifting character from Celtic folklore that lends its name to the festival, coming alive at ancient new year to roam the night and change the fortunes of those that cross it.
NEW Opening Procession: 'Samhain Night Between The Years', Trim (Saturday, 28th October 2023)Visitors to the festival can expect to be enthralled as the traditional story of the veil between worlds is creatively told during the new opening procession ‘Samhain Night Between The Years'.
This all-new procession will blend outdoor theatre, street performance, and traditional music in a wild celebration of Samhain lore, nature, ancestry, and the looming darkness.
The theme of wild nature, divilment, and merrymaking will captivate spectators, beginning with end of harvest festivities, music, and revelry in celebration of the end of season. As light turns to darkness and the veil thins, so too will the visions of otherworldly, shape-shifting spirits on their journey through the original home of Halloween. A traditional Irish music score will bring the procession to life, featuring the supreme talents of local Meath musicians playing along live, including musicians, sean-nós singers, ancient horns and a chorus of singers walking with the wild; the Púca otherworldly portal of wild trad musicians and primal dancers.
Organisers are inviting spectators to come dressed in a disguise of nature foraged locally, and to bring along a hag stone (a stone with naturally occurring holes, to view mystical creatures), to safely see who is Púca and who is not.
Following the procession, celebrations will continue at the Barbican Gate, of Trim Castle, where Candlelit Tales and Aindrias De Staic will perform ‘A Story of Samhain’, followed by the return of the ever-popular Pyro Collective for a stunning fire display.
NEW Closing ceremony: ‘An Lasadh Suas’, Athboy (Tuesday, 31st October 2023)Athboy is an important hub of Halloween tradition, with ancient manuscripts telling us that Tlachtga (pronounced Clackda) or The Hill of Ward was a site of great Samhain gathering. As the sun sets and the ceremonial fire is lit at Tlachtga on Halloween night, festival goers will gather at the Fair Green in Athboy. The flame procession, led by a specially invited master of ceremonies, will carry the honorary Tlachtga flame, the fire to light us up through the dark season ahead.
Here begins ‘An Lasadh Suas’,
(pronounced ‘on losa suis’ meaning ‘To Light Up’) a symbolic event to set the Púca flames alight. The newly created ‘Lasadh Suas’ sculpture, laden with messages to our ancestors, will be surrounded by fire sculptures, each one representing the connecting landscapes of Tara, Loughcrew, Tailteann, and Uisneach.
Each of the connecting landscape fire signs will be lit one by one, with stories from each landscape to share. Finally, ‘An Lasadh Suas’ is lit, as a symbol of ancestral connection, a celebration of bountiful harvest and providing symbolic light to guide us through the winter. With the Púca flame lit and the stage set, the music and revelry ensue. The central flame of Samhain is like a pebble in a pond, rippling and pulsing divilment around the globe, calling all Irish diaspora and friends to come play - Ar aghaidh linn (let’s get going)!
NEW additional acts:
Irish five-piece band Hermitage Green have just been confirmed to join the line up playing support to headliners The Charlatans on Saturday, 28th October, Fin Furey will support The Waterboys and Damien Demsey on Monday, 30th October, while Rory’s Stories will join Niall Breslin (Bressie) as a guest for his live podcast ‘Where is my mind?’ on Friday, 27th October.
Púca Festival was devised to encourage more international visitors to visit Ireland during October and November, and to encourage domestic visitors to explore different regions of Ireland.
Welcoming the programme launch, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., said, “I am very pleased to welcome the return of Fáilte Ireland’s Púca festival for 2023, an important festival in our tourism calendar with a very exciting programme for this year. With projected revenue of €3million and more than 30,000 visitors expected this year, Púca Festival serves as a key economic driver for local communities and businesses across the Meath region. Halloween is a globally recognised holiday and Púca Festival is an excellent platform to promote Ireland as the place where it all began while offering a unique opportunity for both domestic and international visitors to experience the vibrancy and culture of Meath and the surrounding areas.”
Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland said: “Fáilte Ireland is pleased to officially launch this year’s Púca Festival today, celebrating Ireland as the birthplace of Halloween. Festivals are crucial to the tourism sector, motivating over 200,000 overseas visitors to Ireland and contributing €108million to the economy every year. Our partnership with Meath County Council, local tourism and hospitality businesses in our festival hubs of Trim and Athboy continues to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to welcoming domestic and international visitors alike to experience Púca Festival 2023 and everything Meath and the wider Ireland’s Ancient East region has to offer."
"As a major destination event in the tourism calendar over the coming years, we aim to motivate overseas visitors to travel to Ireland at off-peak times and disperse visitors to areas outside of traditional tourism hotspots, making a positive economic contribution to Trim, Athboy and surrounding areas of Co. Meath.”
Fiona Lawless, Meath County Council, Chief Executive added: “Meath County Council is delighted to support the Púca Festival again this year with a very exciting programme of events. I’m excited to see our unique folklore and Samhain heritage brought to life in new ways, and to continue working with Fáilte Ireland, the Púca team and local businesses to build on the success of previous festivals to support the tourism economy of County Meath. The local communities in Trim, Athboy, and surrounding areas are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors once more on what promises to be one of the biggest and busiest weekends of the year for Meath.”
Martin Nolan, Púca Festival Director
and Founder of MPI Artists said: “This is MPI Artists’ second year rolling out Púca festival and we’re delighted with how the programme has come together. There’s been huge interest from music artists, comedians and creatives who feel as strongly about the Festival as we do. It’s great to welcome international artists such as Macy Gray, The Waterboys and The Charlatans, as well as home-grown talent such as Damien Dempsey, Sharon Shannon and Jason Byrne to entertain the masses. This year’s opening and closing ceremonies are steeped in the authentic origins of Halloween in Ireland, and will guarantee spectacle and awe. Given the fantastic feedback from over 36,000 visitors in 2022, we’re looking forward to entertaining even more international and domestic visitors this October."
Visit PucaFestival.com, a portal to another realm, for all event information and to purchase tickets.
Slán go fóill.