Who ya gonna call? Ghastly ghost hunts in North Wales this autumn

BodelwyddanCastleIn days gone by All Hallows Eve (31 October) was the night people felt closest to the spirits of the departed; it was believed you could even converse with them on this one special and spooky night. Halloween, as it’s better known today, has become the commercial highlight of the autumnal calendar and is the UK’s third biggest retail event after Christmas and Easter. For many people, however, Halloween is much more than trick-or-treating or bobbing for apples. As the weather begins to cool and the nights grow longer, fans of the supernatural venture out to try and make contact with those long departed, just like our ancestors.

Ghost hunting is big business in the UK and high profile investigations are held all year round but a ghost hunt at this time of year will always be that little bit creepier, thanks to autumn’s historic association with the paranormal. Factor in the ancient and mist-laden backdrop of North Wales and you have the makings of an unforgettable fright night – if you’re brave enough to stick around to the end!

Many of the big Halloween paranormal investigations are fully booked months in advance but, thanks to our historic surroundings, there’s no shortage of spooky venues to explore and events to attend throughout the autumn. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these events can be great fun and are a unique way of learning more about our historic buildings.

Here’s our roundup of paranormal events in North Wales this autumn. All need to be booked in advance and we recommend doing so, owing to their popularity. Leave it too late at your peril, you might get a nasty fright!

Ucheldre Centre – Holyhead

16-17 September (21:00-02:00)

Famous nationwide as a community arts venue, the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead occupies the site of a former convent school. But don’t be fooled by its gothic proportions; this building is young by ghosthunting standards, less than one hundred years old. Join a professional investigation team as they explore the nunnery in search of ghostly activity. No team has attempted to make contact with the other side at Ucheldre for over 5 years so here’s hoping the undead have plenty to say for themselves!

A unique opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of one of North Wales’s premier arts centres as well as a thrilling night of supernatural investigation – but hurry, tickets are strictly limited!

Plas Mawr – Conwy

24-25 September (20:00-02:00)

Conwy’s iconic Tudor mansion is the venue for a night guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. By day, this beautifully restored Elizabethan home is extremely popular with tourists but many are unaware of its dark side. As you explore the house you will visit rooms emblazoned with pentagrams to ward off a demonic presence – find out why on this fascinating tour given by the people who know Plas Mawr best, its custodians.

During the evening you will take part in a vigil and ‘make contact’ by table tipping and glass divination. Hunters will also have full use of Plas Mawr’s ghost hunting equipment.

Ruthin Gaol – Denbighshire

24-25 September (21:00- 03:00)

Ruthin Gaol incarcerated criminals between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries, so it’s had plenty of time to build up a morbid history and a scary reputation. As the only purpose-built Pentonville-style prison in the UK open to the public, the opportunity to investigate the shady inmates is both a unique and thrilling proposition!

Are you brave enough to enter the ‘dark cell’ or call forth sadistic goaler, William Kerr? Book your place to find out!

Penrhyn Old Hall – Llandudno

22-23 October (20:30-01:00)

This creepy 14th century baronial hall will be your base for a night that promises to be a fright fest of epic proportions. A lonely monk, a murdered child, a saddened soldier and a mischievous little boy are amongst the ghostly residents of this, one of the oldest buildings in the Llandudno area.

Join a team of professional paranormal investigators as they attempt to make contact with the other side but, beware, if you feel you are being watched… you probably are.

Family frights courtesy of CADW!

29 October (11:00-16:00)

National custodian of Welsh historic buildings, CADW, is running a series of ‘spooky days’ at venues across the region. Aimed at families (and the faint of heart!), these events are guaranteed to spook and scare – but not too much!

Taking place firmly in the light of day, visitors will follow a Halloween-themed trail around the sites, taking part in mask making, quizzes, spooky games and pumpkin carving along the way. Venues within easy reach of the Royal Victoria Hotel taking part include:

Winter’s Night Ghost Hunt – Bodelwyddan Castle

10-11 December (21:00-03:00)

Bodelwyddan Castle, stately home, World War One training camp, former school and now part-luxury hotel, has a fascinating history and boasts more than its fair share of ghostly residents. Over the years it’s been the site of numerous supernatural vigils, conducted by curious schoolgirls and celebrity ghost hunters alike. All agree, that after dark, this is one terrifying place!

After a tour of the castle, the lights will be dimmed and Bodelwyddan’s very own paranormal team will guide you in a thrilling investigation combining traditional divination techniques with the latest paranormal tech.

Image: Courtesy of Bodelwyddan Castle

Blasus! Food festivals in North Wales are on their way. Time to tuck in!

 

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It’s time for food festivals in North Wales! As the summer season draws to a close, North Wales gears up for the next busy period in the tourist calendar. As the steamy days of summer give way to misty autumn, North Wales turns up the heat of a different kind – now we’re cooking with gas!

Each autumn the region transforms into a hotpot of gastronomic delight for visitors as ‘food festival season’ gets into full swing with a banquet of lip-smacking events taking place right up to Christmas.


Blasus is the Welsh word for delicious – visit any one of of these fantastic foodie festivals and we guarantee you’ll be saying it again and again!

September

Beaumaris Food Festival, 10-11 September

With Beaumaris Castle in the background, this is one festival that may just catch some late-summer sun, making it an excellent way to round off your holiday season.

It also helps to raise funds for local beneficiaries, with nearly £25,000 paid to the local leisure centre last year, so you’re helping the community to thrive too.

For more information visit the website.

Conwy Honey Festival, 12-13 September

Running back-to-back with Beaumaris Food Festival, head to Conwy for this celebration of bees’ busy work, not only including edible honey, but also products like honey soap and beeswax candles.

You can meet the beekeepers in person, too, making this a great educational opportunity for inquisitive children and adults alike to find out more about the profession.

To plan your visit to Conwy’s Honey Fair visit the website.

The Good Life Experience, 16-18 September

This discovery weekend isn’t your ordinary food festival, but instead honours food and drink as part of an overall outdoor lifestyle, alongside crafts, entertainment, fairground rides, music and literary performances.

Again, organisers will be hoping the late-summer weather holds fair for the weekend, so all who attend can make the most of the open-air festivities.

Fancy a slice of the good life too? Visit the website for full details of the festival, including events and exhibitors.

Mold Food & Drink Festival, 17-18 September

Over 13,000 visitors are expected to attend Mold Food & Drink Festival, with stalls and displays from 120 local food and drink producers.

Celebrity chefs will be on hand to answer questions and carry out cooking demonstrations, with classes and workshops available too.

Find out more here.

October

Llangollen Food Festival, 15-16 October

The Llangollen Food Festival also goes by the shorter name of ‘Hamper 2016’, so look out for events under both names in mid-October.

Local produce from cheese to ice cream will be on show, so head along to any of the events and dig in for a delicious taste of Llangollen life over two days in early autumn.

Bring your own hamper and fill it with goodies! For more information visit the website here.

Gwledd Conwy Feast, 22-23 October

This food festival officially takes place over the weekend on the Saturday and Sunday, but those in the know will arrive on Friday.

Why? Because the event kicks off with a bang – quite literally – as a packed Friday evening itinerary is rounded off by a lavish firework display in the skies over Conwy.

There are music and arts events on the schedule too, turning this from a gastronomic weekend into a celebration of local culture.

You can engage with the organisers ahead of time via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and unlike many events, the 2015 website has been preserved in full, so you can remember your visit or take a look at what you missed out on.

Fancy munching your way along Conwy Quay too? For the full festival line up, visit the Gwledd website.

December

Portmeirion Food and Craft Fair, 3-4 December

There’s never a bad time to visit the famous village of Portmeirion, but early December is an especially good time to head there and sample some local delicacies.

Its late-season scheduling is an added bonus, as it’s not just one of the last chances in the year to attend a food fair – it’s also one of the earliest Christmas markets in the holiday period.

As such, the food stalls nestle in among craft stalls too, and you can enjoy a range of locally sourced snacks, hot and cold foods, as well as drinks including mulled wine, all while getting some Christmas shopping done at the same time.

Plan your festive visit here.

(Image courtesy of ‘afeitar’ via Flickr.)