Festival celebrating the role of Dublin in the 'Gothic horror' literary genre, as birthplace of key exemplars of the genre like Stoker, Le Fanu and Maturin

Poster for stage production of 'Dracula' in USA

This Festival was established in 2010 to celebrate the horror genre (especially so-called 'Gothic horror') in film, literature, theatre and other art forms, with special focus on the literary works of Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, Charles Maturin and other Dublin-born writers in that genre and on the literature, cinema, theatre and visual art inspired by their literary creations such as Count Dracula and sundry vampires like Carmilla. 


Bela Lugosi as Dracula 2


The inaugural CINE-CAFE Dublin Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors was held in October/November 2010 and was largely made up of film screenings and literary readings in venues around Temple Bar (Dublin's cultural quarter) and in Rathmines and Ranelagh (both just across the Grand Canal in Dublin 6, on the cusp between the city perimeter and the start of the southside suburbs), while also including a literary walking tour of related historic landmarks around the city centre. The second edition of what it was always hoped would become an annual netherworld-class festival began in late October 2011, carrying on through the Hallowe'en Weekend and continuing well into November taking in All Souls Day, the feast of Samhain and most of the ancient mi na marbh ('the month of the dead').  Bram Stoker died in April 1912 so we hoped that both the inaugural festival of 2010 and the second festival in 2011 would help to generate considerable discussion of ways our city might mark that significant centenary as it approached. 









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This festival is held in association with CINE-CAFE, the showcase for Irish indie short films that was established in June 2008 in Temple Bar as an offshoot of PictureShow (aka Pint&Pic, est February 2008 in Ranelagh D6).  For more information, please continue reading the following few paragraphs (added in May 2012 and supplemented in late October 2012 and subsequently) or contact us by sending an e-mail to cine-cafe@live.com     

Dublin’s third Hallowe’en Festival of Gothic Horrors 

Dublin's Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors started in 2010, as stated above.  Our inaugural festival was held over a period of three weeks or so, commencing in the week leading up to the Hallowe'en weekend in late October of that year and continuing until the 21st of November.  Its principal purpose was to focus attention on the major contribution made by a number of Dublin-born authors (of whom Charles Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker are just the best-known) to the ‘Gothic literary tradition’ of horror stories and ghostly tales - subsequently adapted early in the last century for the new medium of cinema, which borrowed its icons for the screen - as we approached significant anniversaries such as the centenary of Stoker's death (he died on 20th April in 1912) and the then-looming bicentenary of the birth of Sheridan Le Fanu (he was born on 28th August 1814), so that any related celebrations could be used to help local tourism eg by attracting back here the English visitors who were until quite recently a mainstay of our local hospitality industry. 

Potential benefits to Dublin

There are potential benefits that this literary, theatrical and cinematic association could bring to Dublin if it was properly developed and marketed and if we don’t act quickly to do so soon then other cities elsewhere may well step in to do so in our stead. The huge influx of tourists that arrived in London from around the globe for the 2012 Olympic Games offered a golden opportunity to market Dublin as a ‘mecca' for horror enthusiasts through a low-cost advertising campaign targeting all the 'Dracula' fans and vampirologists among them, to let them know that we're just a short flight away and thus an ideal destination to visit for a quick island-hopping break before their long-haul homeward flights (a visit which could easily be combined with a trip to the just-opened 'Titanic' exhibition in Belfast - only 2 hours and 10 minutes from Dublin by train - and/or to the similarly-themed exhibition at Cobh in Cork, the last port of call of the ill-fated liner); or alternatively they might tell family, friends and colleagues about it on their return home, some of whom might be tempted to make a visit for a holiday in years to come.  Ditto with those who came for the associated Paralympic Games, held in London later that same year (from the end of August through early September 2012).                                                                                                                                                                                                                      









Programme of events in the inaugural Festival described 

This inaugural 'horrorsfest' was held under the auspices of CINE-CAFÉ (the showcasing event for Irish short films that chalked up its sixth year of existence in June 2014) and it was located primarily in venues around Temple Bar in Dublin 2: particularly in the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street, the Exchange-Dublin Arts Centre on Exchange Street Upper and the Vat House bar of Blooms Hotel on Anglesea Street; apart from literary readings it also included a literary walking tour of relevant landmarks around the city centre (called the ‘Gothic literary ramble’), numerous film screenings (mostly of shorts but also including a small number of feature films such as Ivan Kavanagh's award-winning 'Tin Can Man') which were mostly Irish-made.  A small number of literary readings and screenings were also held just across the Grand Canal that marks the perimeter of the city's south side, in Rathmines and in Ranelagh in Dublin 6 (where the PictureShow – CINE-CAFÉ's slightly older sister showcase - had first begun screening films on 4th February 2008).

The 2011 festival

The second edition of what it was hoped would soon become established as an annual event in the calendar of yearly festivals began during the final week of October 2011 and carried on over the Hallowe'en Weekend period to continue well into the second half of November (taking in the Christian feast of All Souls, the Celtic feast of Samhain and the ancient mi na marbh - a Gaelic term meaning 'month of the dead' which in pagan times was regarded as the beginning of the 'dark side' of the year). It came to an end on the evening of Sunday 27th November in 2011 with a literary event in the Library Bar of the Central Hotel, having run for one full calendar month ie more than four weeks – one week longer than the inaugural 2010 festival. 

The final event was a reading of 'Crooken Sands', one of nine short stories penned by Bram Stoker that were  published posthumously as a collection in 1914 under the title 'Dracula's Guest and other Supernatural Tales', on the initiative of his widow Florence (the same woman who before their marriage had been a girlfriend of Oscar Wilde, who had also contributed to the Gothic literary genre in his time by writing several ghost stories of note: Dublin was a very small world, in those days...).  We had held a reading at this hotel of a different story from the collection on each of the last nine nights of our 2011 horrorsfest and it was fitting that this particular reading was the final event of its final day, as it's the final story in the collection.

3rd Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors ended late in 2012

The third festival got underway in time for Hallowe'en Night at the very end of October 2012.  We had already announced details of the programme for this third Festival on the 17th October in Temple Bar, in an event held as part of Dublin City Council's InnovationDublin 2012 and publicised by a notice in their online calendar of ID2012 events. The commencement date of the actual 2012 GothicHorrorsFest itself was held back slightly that year so as not to compete for attention or publicity with newer celebrations and with the start-times of other events/festivals that had similar or related themes but were built purely around the Hallowe'en weekend festivities or the run-up thereto (and in some cases may have been intended as 'one-offs' just for the Stoker centenary year).  The more the merrier, in our view - and we hope the 'powers that be' at municipal and/or State level note the growing public interest in these celebrations and see their future potential benefits for the city (esp if their development is encouraged and aided).   Our own third HorrorsFest went on throughout the whole month of November and continued over the first weekend of December before coming to a definite end on the Monday (3rd December 2012), after over five weeks of events.  


Dublin's 4th Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors  

We had been planning the 2013 edition of our HorrorsFest for several months and we felt our preparatory work was vindicated when Dublin's 4th Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors was another success. (We had created some advance publicity for that 2013 HorrorsFest early in the year, by holding some events around the 7th February to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the death of Sheridan Le Fanu on that day in 1873).



Invisible Ghost (1941) 1



                                                                                                Dublin's 5th Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors... 

...commenced late in October 2014, just in time for Hallowe'en Night. We had given a little preview of it two months earlier,during several events we held over the three days from 27-29th August last year in order to commemorate the bicentenary of Sheridan Le Fanu's birth (he was born on 28th August 1814, so last August we were able to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth). 




Le Fanu Gothic Horrors mini-festival ran from 5th to 7th February 2015

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu died on 7th February 1873 so the 142nd anniversary of his death is now upon us. Once again we've organised some literary and film events that focus on this leading Dublin-born gothic writer, just as we held events late last August to mark the bicentenary of his birth (on August 28th 1814) including a couple of readings in the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 and at the Creative Space in The Bleeding Horse on Upper Camden Street, Dublin 2. 



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 JS Le Fanu Gothic Horrors Mini-fest ran at end of August 2015


Le Fanu was born on the 28th August in 1814 so we celebrated the 201st anniversary of his birth over the last four days of August 2015.



  Dublin's 6th Hallowe'en Festival was held in Oct/Nov 2015...

The Central Hotel was as usual a principal venue and The Bleeding Horse Creative Space was also on board again.  The usual low-key literary events (readings and/or discussions) were held at these two venues during the bulk of the HorrorsFest, while 'Thank GOTH it's Friday!', our (by now) traditional showcase of short films with ghostly/horror themes, was screened on the Friday afternoon as another regular part of it.


 Le Fanu Gothic Horrors Mini-Fest: from 5th to 8th February 2016


Our JS Le Fanu GOTHIC HORRORS Mini-Fest took place over four consecutive days during the first weekend in February 2016 to mark the 143rd anniversary of Le Fanu's death (he died in Dublin on 7th February in 1873).  Events were scheduled in three venues - the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street, D2; The Bleeding Horse public house on Camden Street D2 and The Mountpleasant Inn (Corrigans) on Lower Mount Pleasant Avenue D6 - between Friday 5th and Monday 8th February.



In late August 2016 we marked, once again, the anniversary of the birth in Dublin (on 28th August 1814) of J Sheridan Le Fanu with a four day 'mini-fest' over the last weekend of the summer. August 1814.


 The seventh edition of Dublin's Hallowe'en Festival of Gothic Horrors is approaching...   As usual, it will commence in late October and continue well into November. Watch out for announcements in the coming days.




We're also on Facebook...  To obtain a flavour of the usual format of our GothicHorrorsFest so far, we suggest you consult the 'events' section of our official facebook page (you can use the link provided on this website) on which the various events of the 2015 festival were posted on a regular basis over its duration.  And if you continue scrolling down that Events page you'll be able to view the listing entries for most of the events in the previous years' editions of our festival (2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011in particular).  In this way you will gain an overview of the format of the little GothicHorrorsFest as it has developed so far.  

 If you have any suggestions as to how we could improve our little festival for this and future years, please e-mail Festival Director Howard Linnane at cine-cafe@live.com to communicate your thoughts.