For the last few years, Dublin City has hosted the Bram Stoker Festival. This is a week long festival that runs right before Halloween and celebrates everything about Bram Stoker and books like Dracula. As time has gone on, the festival has rolled into a week long celebration of Creepyness, horror, Vampires, and anything to do with Halloween and spooky Samhain tales. The best part of the festival is that most events are free.
This year, there was a parade that started from 3 different locations in the city center, all converging on Wolf Tone Square, behind the Church Bar & restaurant in the city center. Each segment of the parade included a different giant animated “puppet” on wheels, a band / musicians, and a following of the watchers from the segment of the Parade. The parade spectacle (puppets) are owned by Macnas – an Irish performance company out of Galway. When I saw the preview, I thought:
Who doesn’t love puppets?
and Had to go. From their website at: http://www.bramstokerfestival.com/event/macnas/
The Macnas were designed to tell a story – of “Danu, Goddess of the Divine and Dark: brutal and beautiful, warrior and mother, hallowed and holy, she protects and provokes, takes flight and goes underground.
Mummers and drummers follow and seek. Demons and angels love and loathe, the dead dance and the living transform. Men become gods, fools become Kings, souls are sanctified, reptiles are rarefied and the city streets transform as the journey unfolds.”
Thus it was that B and I left work, took the bus to town and then proceeded down Mary Street in the pouring rain. After waiting nearly 1.5 hours (ok we did go shopping to pass the time) we were quite soaked (even with our umbrellas, as you can see above) but filled with excitement as we could hear the pops and bangs of the fireworks, feel the drumbeat and marching from up the street… and then… to our delight, the festivities began. Closer and closer they came…
Perched at the T junction, we were in the perfect spot. First came the giant Raven (Never more!) flapping his wings and moving his head… and accompanied by a blaring brass band in a cage. Below them were people dressed as various creepy characters like lizards and chameleons… all dancing to the music.
As they passed and turned to go into the square, we looked to our left to discover the next segment of the parade was headed our way…. The Giant Stag… was coming up, followed by gnomes, witches and ghouls!
Finally, from the third point up Mary Street came the sound of drummers *thud* *thud* *thud* and out of the crowd appeared a giant Wolf and the Devine Danu, a nearly 4 story tall female puppet whose head turned, hands and feet moved, and eyes blinked to survey the swirling crowd around her.
We followed Danu and the Stag into the square (the weather still being bleak and rainy) over puddles and muddy packed dirt and up onto some benches where we could see the party begin. Dancers with fire lit torches swirled, The lizard and chameleon costumed individuals pulsated around the crow, and the gnomes and witches made wise cracks next to the giant horned Stag.
Gnomes and Witches
As the music reached a cacophony of sound and colored flashing lights moved with the party spectacle suddenly there was a pause… A flare was lit… and then….
From the top of the buildings in the square, a series of white fireworks shot into the sky to the oohs and ahhs and cheers of the crowd. Halloween week in Dublin has begun!
*Special thanks to the Bram Stoker Festival for sponsoring the free event, and Macnas performance company for really making the spectacle special!*