HALLOWEEN FAMILY FESTIVAL
The scariest time of the year is upon us…Hallowe’en It’s the time of year when ghosts, ghouls and witches awaken to wreak havoc and instil fear among the living. Beware the Witching Hour, as this may well be the last hour you ever see. As darkness falls, the dead come to life and flesh-eating zombies walk the earth hungry for human flesh. Leave your homes at your peril…don’t say we didn’t warn you. Happy Halloween from the Halloween Family Festival Cultra 2018.
Ok, so the intro may be a little melodramatic but it is Halloween, and although the living dead don’t actually walk among us (although, Mummy in the mornings….yikes), Halloween is a time for fun, fancy dress, lotions, potions, vampire bats, black cats and witches hats. For Halloween 2018 we received an invitation from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to attend the Halloween Family Festival Cultra, which is situated just outside Belfast. An invite that we duly accepted. Lily-Belle brought her school friend Mia, and Matilda was just happy because she could dress up. Lily-Belle dressed as a Vampiress, Mia a witches black cat and Matilda became a witch for the day.
THE DEATH OF LORD KNOX
Our arrival at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum came after a 2 hour car journey. Fortunately we were extremely lucky (and surprised) to find a parking space right outside the main entrance. Other visitors had to park in the lower car park and use a free shuttle bus to the entrance. The Halloween Family Festival Cultra is a very popular event as the place was heaving. Thankfully entry queue times were less than 5 minutes and we were soon transported back in time. Upon entry we were handed a leaflet by a lady dressed in period costume. The leaflet contained information about the death of Lord Knox, a suspicious wedding to Elizabeth, his estranged son Lancelot and an invite to attend Lord Knox’s funeral at 15:00 in the church. As well as the funeral, Lord Knox’s killer would be revealed. Murder…mystery…suspense! Who would the killer be?
THE CHAMPION OF CHAMP
Our Halloween trip back through time began with a visit to one of the old terraced houses, the aroma of home cooked food wafting out of the front door. Boiled potatoes mashed with milk, melted butter, cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste…traditional Irish champ! Small portions were handed out to sample and what a tasty warm delight on such a cold Autumn day. Inside another house was offerings of freshly baked apple pies. Bang goes the diet! Continuing our journey into the unknown, we tread carefully as we walk past cackling witches, monsters, skeletons and superheroes! SUPERHEROES? That’s the great thing about the Halloween Family Festival Cultra, it gives young children (and adults) the opportunity to dress up however they see fit.
AS MAD AS A BOX OF FROGS
In the Dispensary Scientific Sue was demonstrating all kinds of ‘magic’ scientific tricks. This show was what the girls were most looking forward to at the Halloween Family Festival Cultra. Lily-Belle and I have met Scientific Sue before. On that occasion Lily-Belle had waist length hair and was plucked from the audience to help demonstrate static electricity. For today Scientific Sue used Lily-Belle to demonstrate chemical reactions to change the colour of water. There was also the use of dry ice to extinguish fire, and a demonstration on how to make slime (a firm favourite with the children) and other equally mesmerising experiments. Scientific Sue is amazing to watch but, if you ask me, she’s as mad as a box of frogs (in a good way). In all honesty we could watch Scientific Sue all day long, she is truly fascinating to watch.
IS THERE A DR IN THE HOUSE?
There certainly was. Dr Martin was making his rounds at the Halloween Family Festival Cultra. No doubt having to dress the neck wounds of those who had been bitten by vampires. He was more than vocal in expressing his views on the death of Lord Knox. The Dr was also very keen for all to attend Lord Knox’s funeral where he would be divulging who the killer was. Dressed to impress in his pinstripe suit, black bowler hat and carrying a brown leather medical bag, Dr Martin disappeared down a narrow lane between Cluan Place and Ballycultra Tearooms. Was Dr Martin the person who sealed Lord Knox’s fate? Did Dr Martin and Jimmy O’Neill, the proprietor of the Hardware Shop, meet to work on an alibi? Suspicious…and why was Dr Martin wearing black gloves?
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH DR MIKE SIMMS
SEEKING SANCTUARY AND SALVATION
Feeling fearful, we found sanctuary in the church at the Halloween Family Festival Cultra. A beautiful building dating back to the early 1900’s, the building was void of all things demonic. Although, we did see a Witch and a Vampiress deep in prayer! Maybe a turning point in their undead lives? Just across the village green the old Picture House was showing a horror film…not for the faint-hearted! Just a few doors down was Ballycultra tearooms so we took the opportunity to drop in for a feed. ‘Ghoul’ash for Daddy, Pork and L’eeeeek’ sausages for Mummy, a saucer of milk for the cat (Mia), a bag of Type X blood for the Vampire (Lily-Belle) and a cauldron of critters for the Witch (Matilda).
SENTENCED TO DEATH
Approaching the old Courthouse we saw a sinister figure lurking behind the wrought iron gates, a vampire, fangs sharpened and ready to ambush his next victim. The Courthouse gave us an insight into the history of law, cops, crime and capers at Ballycultra. In the chambers Lily-Belle and Mia pretended to be Judges and poor Matilda was sentenced to death! A tad harsh considering her only crime was ‘being grumpy’! I’d settle for her tidying her bedroom…far less paperwork! On to the Wicker Man who was sculpting a magnificent huge throne from willow. There was also the opportunity for the girls to wear wicker heads. Plenty of giggles at the Halloween Family Festival Cultra!
Throughout the course of the Halloween Family Festival Cultra there were lots of different activities for the children to enjoy. Not wanting to commercialise the Halloween event, the museum had traditional Halloween games such as apple bobbing, magic shows and craft activities. The girls were less than happy to participate in the apple-bobbing as they didn’t want to get their hair wet! Mantella had brought a fantastic assortment of animals including a very friendly boa constrictor, a Chilean rose hair tarantula, a scorpion with a definite sting in its tail and a giant gecko lizard. The children loved handling this array of weird and wonderful creatures….all in the name of education.
READ ALL ABOUT OUR VISIT TO SEE DIPPY ON TOUR
THE CLOCK STRUCK THREE
After our encounter with the critters of Mantella we visited a number of the old properties. Ulster Folk & Transport Museum is a charming place to spend the day and the attraction is steeped in history. I thought the children would get bored but no, they were more than content nipping in and out of the buildings. Bong…and the clock strikes three at the Halloween Family Festival Cultra, well…it struck three ten minutes ago. We’re late for the funeral of Lord Knox!
AND THE KILLER IS…
As the saying goes ‘you’ll be late for your own funeral’, that may be so, but we were definitely late for Lord Knox’s! This will come as no surprise to our regular readers as we are ALWAYS late! In the pulpit the Minister listened intently as Dr Martin read out excerpts from the late Lord Knox’s diary. Lady Knox, with a black veil covering her identity; paced erratically in front of Lord Knox’s coffin. The mourners sat silently, every now and then letting out gasps of disbelief at what Dr Martin read from the little black diary. Alas, the time had come to reveal Lord Knox’s killer. Have you guessed who it is? Watch our video as we reveal the name of Lord Alfred Charles Knox’s murderer…
Lord Knox’s killer was none other than Lady Elizabeth Knox, but not as you and I know her, Lady Knox was in fact…Isabel Sidegrave….a callous and cold hearted witch who haunts Ballycultra’s residents! Hysteria ensued and the Minister urged mourners to return home instantly and barricade their doors. Evil is truly among us!
What a magnificent drama to end our day at Halloween Family Festival Cultra 2018 – in a word, brilliant!
WOULD WE GO BACK
Of course. Although the Halloween family Festival Cultra isn’t very scary, it is a great event for children and adults. Lots of traditional games and activities for the children, and there’s also the historical aspect of the visit for the adults. A very worthy attraction to visit.
With a very special thank you to:
- Sinead Cunningham – Head of Marketing and PR at NMNI
- National Museums Northern Ireland – website
- Ulster Folk & Transport Museum – website
Thank you for making our visit fun, special and memorable! We look forward to seeing you all again in the not so distant future.
LILY-BELLE (age 9) SAYS
I was glad that my friend Mia could come with us. Seeing all of the animals from Mantella was my favourite part of the event.
MATILDA (age 3) SAYS
I liked my wiggly witch hat, but Mummy dropped it and broke it. The science lady was really funny and she made good slime.
Travel Itinerary and Costs
Date of visit: 31st October 2018
Disclaimer: we were working alongside NMNI for our visit to the UF&TM, entry was gratis and in return we have provided this write up of our experience. All experiences and opinions are our own.
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Anne Fraser17th November 2018 at 13:44
This sounds a very good way to make education fun for children. I am sure they will remember it for a long time.
aroundtheworldin18years17th November 2018 at 16:19
Indeed Anne, very educational and lots of fun, so win-win. We’re looking forward to returning. ❤️ 👍🏼 🌎