Bram Stoker Festival

Jordan Murphy examines the life and times of one of our national treasures, Bram Stoker, and also gives a brief overview of what events to look out for at the Bram Stoker Festival.

Born on the 8th of November 1847, Bram Stoker was a notoriously elusive character and beyond speculations about the exact nature of his relationship with Oscar Wilde, and his alleged membership with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an organisation renowned for its dealings with the supernatural, very little detail is known about his personal life. Like Wilde, he was a former student at Trinity College Dublin, before going on to become a civil servant, and after years of diligent work was inspired to write his first book: The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. 

In an attempt to increase his income, Stoker wrote eighteen books, penning and releasing his magnum opus Dracula, in 1897.  His novel was believed to have been inspired by the fifteenth century ruler of Transylvania, Prince Vlad Tepes, or as he was also known: “Vlad Dracula”. Despite its reputation today, Dracula was received with mixed reviews upon its initial release,  with some stating that it was foolish for Stoker to fill an entire book with such gruesome horror, and others wishing that a warning for the faint-hearted had been administered with each copy. Surprisingly, the book hardly ever receives mention in Stoker’s obituaries, lumped in with the rest of his many novels. Stoker was also a drama critic for the Dublin Evening Mail Newspaper and was well-known for his management of the late-Victorian actor Henry Irving. Stoker would go on to suffer from a stroke later in life, and many bouts of ill-health before his death in April 1912, the cause of which was rumoured to be syphilis. 

Perhaps now that you know a little more about the man, you’d like to hear about his festival.  A gothic extravaganza inspired by his most famous work, the Bram Stoker festival kicks off on the witching hour, October 25th: 

Night Watch                                                                                                                                                                                                October 25th -28th, Grand Canal.                                                                                                                                                        Dublin’s Grand Canal will be lit up with by a spooky ghost ship and other spectacles, on display all day throughout the festival but best enjoyed after sunset, if you dare...

Séance:                                                                                                                                                                                                               October 25th-31st, 1-10pm, Wolf Tone Square.   

Do spirits live on? Do they linger around us? Is there one watching you now? The Bram Stoker séance plunges you into darkness for a simulated encounter with the spirit world. Available all day this immersive experience is not to be missed! 

Library Tour                                                                                                                                                                                               October 25th-26th, 6:30-7:45pm, St Patrick’s Close.

Perhaps after the séance you can rest your fearful hearts wandering around Saint Patrick’s close, the very same library that a young Bram Stoker haunted throughout 1866. Some of his best loved books are on display for all to see, while festival goers will also be treated to entrancing tales as they wander the halls of the library.

Stokerland                                                                                                                                                                                                  October 26th-27th, 11-4:30pm, St Patrick’s Park.

Stokerland pops up for family friendly fun, with Victorian fun fair rides and other gothic themed amusements for all ages to enjoy. 

Abe’s Story                                                                                                                                                                                                        October 26th, 1pm, Dublin Castle.

Film buffs must be sure to check out Abe’s Story in the Chapel Royal, an exciting tale, reminiscent of the life of Bram Stoker, Abe’s Story tells the tale of a theatre director trying to finish a horror novel that he believes will change his life. 

Dracula’s Disco                                                                                                                                                                                            October 28th, 2-4pm, Temple Bar.

Dracula’s Disco, returns in Temple bar, featuring DJ Will Softly playing all the latest hits, suitable for all ages, fancy dress is encouraged! 

Bite of Dublin                                                                                                                                                                                   October 28th, 3-6pm, Dublin Castle.

If you’re up for a wander, head down to Dublin Castle on the 28th at 3pm, where a walking tour of Dublin begins with some spooky treats inspired by some of Stoker’s works of art. Led by scholar Valeria Cavalli, this tour takes you all around the city, passing through Stoker’s most famous haunts, and sampling some foods inspired by his life and works along the way. 

Instaterror                                                                                                                                                                                            October 28th-31st.

If you can’t make it out to Dublin for all seven days of the festival, you can still enjoy it from home. The 2019 Bram Stoker festival features “Instaterror”, where you can be chilled by a haunting tale told through your smartphone. Further information can be found closer to the date through their social media.