Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Spooktacular Halloween weekend for Northern Ireland

Witching hour this Halloween weekend as the clocks go back an hour. This means an extra hour in bed for the parents and an extra hour trick or treating for the children on Halloween night
Eoin (7) and Patrick Hunt (13) are pictured at the Raising Spirits haunted house in Ballycastle
It takes several months to grow the fruit but amazingly just two hours for artist Ray Villafane to sculpt these petrifyingly detailed portraits out of pumpkin.The American model designer and former art teacher uses spoons and a scalpel to carve the innocent orange gourds into Halloween horrors in double quick time.As you might expect Villafane, who has worked for D.C and Marvel comics, is very particular about his pumpkins.'Not all pumpkins will look good and the most important thing about a pumpkin is its weight,' he says.'You need to pick the meatiest pumpkin.'Sometimes I pick up a beautifully shaped pumpkin but when I do I realise that it is not heavy enough. Its wall is just not thick enough for the carving rigours.'I also like a pumpkin with character. One with nobly ridges is good, so that I can utilise that in the carving procedure, like with sculpting noses.'Villafane, 41, has become a minor celebrity in the States and his weird and wonderful work has featured on a range of TV programmes.

Thousands of revellers will descend on the streets of Northern Ireland this weekend to take part in spooky Halloween party fun.

From 2pm tomorrow Belfast’s Halloween Metro Monster Mash offers entertainment at the Odyssey for the whole family.

The annual spooktacular includes music and dance performances, street theatre, puppetry, fire shows, face-painting and wacky workshops.

The family fun and ghoulish behaviour ends at 6pm with the biggest fireworks display in Northern Ireland lighting up the skies.

Online forums indicate Chilean miners are a popular choice for fancy dress and managing director of Elliott’s in Belfast, James Elliott, said this year’s popular costumes are “quite peculiar”.

“There have been queues out the door for the last nine days, with people leaving Halloween preparations later than usual.

“Quite peculiar things are popular this year. There has been a massive demand for crayon costumes with groups of friends choosing which colour they would like to be.

“Surprisingly for an old show, Sesame Street characters such as Big Bird and the Cookie Monster have been very popular, alongside Mr Blobby inflatables and animal suits,” he said. Today Larne hosts its Halloween in the park activities, featuring Knights of the Damned jousting at 5pm.

Omagh Leisure Centre, Co Tyrone, is the venue for family fun and fireworks from 6.30pm today.

Tomorrow Cockle Row Cottages in Groomsport will be open for a day of spooky fun between 11.30am and 5.30pm.

And at Florencecourt in Co Fermanagh magicians, live music and pumpkin carving is on offer between 12pm and 5pm. As ever, Londonderry has a lively programme of events planned, with the city's official Halloween parade, the Carnival of Light, featuring eight large scale light sculptures created specially for the event by the Greater Shantallow Community Arts group.

The Guildhall Square crowd will be wowed by giant flying bats and ‘whizzer witches', the brainchild of London-based circus theatre company Circo Rum Ba Ba. Ghostly going-ons will culminate in a spectacular fireworks display on the banks of the Foyle tomorrow evening.

Mayor of Derry Colum Eastwood, who has had a sneak preview of the sculptures, said: “The pieces are stunning and are set to be one of the key attractions at this Sunday's carnival.”

For further details contact your local council or visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/halloween.

Are you dressing up? Click here

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