A popular event in Longford Town in recent years, the Dead of Night festival is set to make its highly-anticipated return next week.
The festivities will begin at 6pm, when wizards, witches, animals, superheroes, monsters, ghosts, ghouls and more will assemble at St Mel’s College to take part in the annual parade. Local groups will display their carefully crafted floats and costumes, while lanterns created by school children will be proudly carried right through to the parade’s destination - the Market Square - before the festival gets underway.
The Market Square will come alive for Halloween night, with a huge variety of amazing events lined up, including; Ireland’s largest inflatable slide, carnival booths and a bucking bronco. There will also be a DJ on the night, and, for the first time ever, an entertainment dome.
There is, however, more to the festival than entertainment.
Aside from celebrating the holiday, the Dead of Night festival also provides a safe alternative for the people of Longford. Halloween is often thought of in a negative way - associated with injuries and anti-social behaviour. A project created by the HSE Midland Area Health Promotion Service, Longford Town Council, Longford County Council, An Garda Síochána and the Attic Youth Cafe, the Dead of Night has positively impacted many negative aspects, including; burns-related A&E admissions, anti-social behaviour and damage to commercial and residential property.
Speaking about the event, Eddie Ward, Project Manager with the Health Promotion Service says that it’s a positive, vibrant event. He adds that the people of Longford have made it their own, tapping into their creativity and sense of fun.
For those involved, the key theme is prevention and promotion, which is carried out by means of workshops and competitions for schools throughout the country. This, Eddie explains, gets the children involved in the fun of Halloween, while teaching them a valuable lesson about safety, and the problems that can arise at this time of year.
As to what we can expect, Eddie laughs; “A lot of colour on a very drab winter’s night!”
Not even the weather can hinder the festival spirit, as locals of all ages gather each year despite wind and rain. This year looks set to be even bigger and better than ever, with the festival moving into town. Looking forward to next Thursday, Eddie concludes; “Come along, enjoy it, get yourself into the party mood and have a great time!”