“How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.” ― Bram Stoker, Dracula

Now in its fifth year, the Bram Stoker Festival has evolved from its inaugural incarnation as a literary celebration to a full-brown arts weekender, incorporating theatre, film, music and live performance. The event seeks to celebrate and reclaim Stoker, Dublin’s infamous king of the gothic novel and the creator of everyone’s favourite vampire, Count Dracula.

“Although his name is inextricably tied to Dracula, the festival is interested in the themes and the tinge of Gothic that exists throughout Bram Stoker’s work,” says Festival Director Tom Lawlor. “In recent years, the programme has responded to the cannon of work, rather than just Dracula. We want to expand beyond the vampire trope and explore the elements of superstition within Irish heritage and storytelling that exists throughout Stoker’s writing.”

Promising '4 days of living stories and 4 nights of deadly adventures', the festival offers a mix of free and ticketed events, many of them family-friendly. Here are some choice highlights from this year's programme:

-The acclaimed Galway-based arts troupe Macnas are back with an immersive Halloween parade crossing Dublin’s northside - the theme is 'Sleep No More', and dressing up and joining in is actively encouraged. (Oct 31)

-The National Concert Hall are screening Tod Browning’s 1931 film of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, accompanied by the world premiere of a new contemporary music score for the film, performed live by Seán Mac Erlaine, Mathew Nolan, Eivind Aaarst and Sharon Phelan. (Oct 29)

-Stokerland returns, this time for two days in St Patrick's Park: the pop-up Gothic fun park has proved a real hit with festival goers, and its totally free. This year, it’s bigger and more macabre than ever. (Oct 29-30)

-The elusive Freemason’s Grand Lodge will open its doors to welcome festival-goers to a Horror Expo consisting of panel discussions. Q&A sessions and - rather unusually - paranormal investigations. (Oct 30)

-Werewolves is a tactical game of finger-pointing and self-preservation, a high-octane, high-stakes parlour game played with friends and strangers around a table. (Various venues, Oct 28-31)

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