Paisley town centre will be transformed into a gothic playground when the town’s Halloween Festival – one of the biggest and best in the UK – returns this October with a new format.
The award-winning festival – which attracts a crowd of tens of thousands each year – will see three nights of spectacular street performers and specially-created spooky installations, set against the backdrop of the town’s 850-year-old Abbey.
This year’s theme is ‘Gothic Halloween’ and the event is on Thursday 26 to Saturday 28 October, from 5 until 9pm each night, across a redesigned event site, with activity spread across two zones.
The Halloween Trail Zone will be a one-way system, with a queue to enter, around Paisley Abbey where visitors can explore specially-created attractions including Frank & McStein’s Fire Show, Spooky Bat Cave and Raven’s Realm.
The Live Performance Zone in the area around Paisley Cross will see street theatrics from returning festival favourites Spark! LED drummers and Pyroceltica, as well as sword-swallowing, stilt-walkers and community music and dance performances.
Visitors can also enjoy a stunning show as aerial performance specialists All or Nothing’s troupe of flying vampires soar 40 feet in the air in front of Paisley Abbey, with other attractions including a haunted funfair, marshmallow pits, and street food.
Paisley Halloween Festival is run by Renfrewshire Council as part of the area’s major events programme, produced in partnership with internationally-renowned circus performance specialists Cirque Bijou, and supported by EventScotland as part of their national events programme.
Pauline Allan, Renfrewshire Council events manager said: “We are thrilled to announce the programme for Paisley Halloween Festival, which has grown over the years to attract thousands of residents and visitors alike, providing a huge boost for our local traders.
“This year’s festival includes a few changes to the site layout to help create the best experience for everyone, while we are delighted to welcome back many of the established festival favourite acts who crowds know and love.
“The Halloween festival is also a wonderful stage from which to showcase the many talented groups in Renfrewshire’s cultural scene, with young people getting the chance to perform beside and be inspired by professional artists.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are proud to support Paisley Halloween as part of EventScotland’s National Events Programme.
“Each year, the Halloween spectacular draws in big crowds with its immersive programme and dramatic theatrics, providing an experience like no other.
“Community engagement is at the heart of this year’s festival with talented local groups participating alongside internationally-renowned performers to further showcase Paisley’s assets – its heritage, people and culture. Paisley Halloween helps underpin Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events.”
Julian Bracey, artistic director of Cirque Bijou, added: “We are delighted to once again be working with Renfrewshire Council on Paisley Halloween Festival, which is now recognised as among the best Halloween events in the UK, set against the suitably-stunning backdrop of Paisley’s historic town centre.
“This year’s programme is a fantastic mix of established favourites alongside unique attractions and performances created especially for this year’s Gothic Halloween theme. We think people will love it and we can’t wait to see you all there.”
Renfrewshire community groups will be performing at or creating artwork for the event, with the community engagement arm of the festival supported by Future Paisley – the council-led programme of activity using the area’s internationally-significant cultural and heritage story to change its future.
They include Artboss, Kibble School, Castlehead High, 33rd Gleniffer Cub Scouts, Disability Resource Centre, Spinners Gate, Afterschool Care Club, Renfrewshire Young Carers, PACE, Right2Dance, Cameron School of Dance, Community Circus Paisley, Outspoken Arts and RockUs choir.
The popular festival was recently nominated for the regional finals of VisitScotland’s prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards – in the Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival category – with the ceremony taking place on Thursday 28th September 2023.