Did you know that, as well as being the predecessor to All Hallows Eve and Halloween, ‘Calan Gaeaf’ signals the first day of winter in the Celtic calendar?
Like many other similar traditions around the world, in Wales, the Celtic tribes believed that it was at this time of year that spirits roamed the lands, congregating around churches and clearings in the woods. Calan Gaeaf was also an important chance to celebrate the bounty of the Harvest, or ‘Cynheaf’, and prepare for colder months ahead.
This October, Penrhyn Castle near Bangor, is using these ancient traditions as inspiration for a whole host of events looking at how nature prepares for the cold snap – as well as a few ghostly goings-on!
Throughout autumn you can kick up the fallen leaves and take a stroll around the garden on a sensory adventure through the autumn colour. Using sensory pathway techniques you can travel around the garden meeting characters and animals that live around the castle who will make you smell, touch and think about how we connect with nature and the changing seasons.
During half term, you can also visit the castle to hear about the real ghost stories that visitors and staff have experienced on a spooky, family-friendly, silhouette trail.
“It’s great to be able to look back at this local Welsh tradition and connect with nature at this time of year,” explains Amy Underwood-Thompson, events assistant at Penrhyn Castle. “It’s a natural thing for us to prepare for winter and it’s really interesting to experience that same drive in nature, in the garden and our lives today.
“But just like the old Celtic tradition, you couldn’t have Calan Gaeaf without the odd scare too! The spirits will be walking the corridors of the castle this year as we look at the ‘real’ ghost stories of Penrhyn on our silhouette trail – the stories that people have told us over the years about bumps in the nights, strange sightings and spooky goings-on!”
Whether it’s ghoulish frights or enjoying the autumn colour and connecting with nature, Penrhyn Castle has something for everyone this autumn.