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Ghoulish holiday comes with a very scary bill for hard-pressed parents

By Claire McNeilly

Published 30/10/2015

Halloween comes a at a cost
Halloween comes a at a cost

The scariest thing about Halloween is the amount of money families are spending to mark the occasion.

That's because children today have high expectations and will not accept costumes made from black bin liners or white sheets, forcing parents to fork out around £20 on a suitably spooky outfit.

A survey carried out by a parenting website also found that mothers are prepared to spend an additional £29 on sweets and £24 on Halloween decorations.

It means that parents with three children can expect to shell out £120 over the next few days, according to Mummypages.ie. Meanwhile, other research has revealed that people in the UK are expected to spend £466m on decorations, fancy dress, food and entertainment this Halloween.

Ulster University retail expert Donald McFetridge said consumers in Northern Ireland have gone "Halloween crazy".

"We all know that retailing is cyclical and seasonal, and retailers are always glad to have a date or event to promote," he said.

"The last spin of the wheel before Christmas is Halloween, which has become an increasingly popular event in recent years.

"In my youth, it was a much smaller soiree, but nowadays parents are spending hundreds of pounds on special outfits, decorations, pumpkins, candles, fireworks and party food - much to the great glee and satisfaction of retailers keen to latch on to this phenomenon.

"It amazes me that, with Christmas just weeks away now, parents are still happy to spend so much money on one evening."

Halloween has been big business across the Atlantic for decades but spending in the UK around the annual spooky celebration hit a massive £442m in 2014.

However, research by Voucherbox.co.uk said UK retailers are expecting to do even better this year, with cash registers ringing to the tune of £466m this weekend.

Belfast teacher Emma Phoenix Kelly - who has a three-year-old daughter Amelia and a son Adam who's one - knowns only too well how easy it is to rack up a big bill for Halloween fun.

"I consider myself to be quite frugal and I've bought almost everything from the Pound Shop but I've managed to spend about £60 already," she said. "My children are only small; I dread to think what it's going to be like when they grow up a bit."

Emma (34) said that she and her 43-year-old husband Gerard, who works in Ikea, try to keep Halloween celebrations as homely as possible.

"I'll be baking an apple tart, like my mum used to for us, and we'll be face-painting and have some sparklers.

"We will try to keep it simple because it all adds up and it is crazy to go over budget for one day."

Fun-packed frights across the province

Co Antrim

The Dark, Dark Room, The Mac, Belfast, till-November 1. Halloween sound installation.

Halloween Monster Mash, Titanic Slipways, Belfast, tomorrow night, FREE event. Belfast's biggest Halloween celebration and fireworks.

Paranormal Tours at Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, tonight and tomorrow night. Sixty-minute tour of Paranormal Activity hotspots.

Broomstick Belle Steam Train, Belfast, tomorrow night. Steam trains from Belfast Central Station to Whitehead and back.

Co Armagh

Little Spooks at the Navan Centre, Armagh, till November 1. Have spooktacular fun at the witch's house in the woods.

Co Down

Hallowtides Festival, Newcastle, tomorrow night, FREE event. Jam-packed calendar of frightful events and fireworks display.

Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, every weekend throughout October. Pop along and enjoy some autumnal fun.

Halloween at the Outlet, Banbridge, tonight. Fun filled evening.

Scary Newry Halloween Festival, Newry, till November 1. Discover Newry's ghosts and grisly history with Newry City Tours.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, tomorrow night for the Halloween Family Festival.

Co Fermanagh

Share Halloween Howler, Lisnaskea, tonight and tomorrow night. Lots of frightful fun and activities.

Co Londonderry

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry, November 1. World famous event.

Co Tyrone

Halloween Torchlight Tours at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, tonight and tomorrow night.

Fright Night at the Courthouse, Cookstown, tomorrow night.

There are lots of places all over NI which are rumoured to be haunted and Tourism NI has put together a list of these below:

Ballygally Castle Hotel, Co Antrim.

The White Horse Hotel in Derry/Londonderry.

Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, Co Antrim.

Carrickfergus Castle and Dobbins Inn, both in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

For more information visit http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/events/

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