Celebrate the dark corners of Portsmouth's imagination

This Halloween sees the return of Portsmouth DarkFest, a creative and cultural festival exploring all things dark, sinister and supernatural.

Inspired by the Supernatural Cities project at the University of Portsmouth, and working in close collaboration with the city’s creative communities and cultural organisations, the festival brings together artists, writers, performers, academics, storytellers and musicians to explore ghost stories, urban legends, crime, horror and hidden histories.

Celebrating the fantastic wealth of Portsmouth’s creative talent, there will be over 20 events include spooky storytelling, live music and performances, public talks, guided walks, film screenings, plays, immersive experiences, art exhibitions and writing workshops.

Alongside some established favourites like Dark Songs, events will include the staging of a new play, Scattering Salt, a writer’s workshop with award-winning authors Anna Mazzola and Catriona Ward, and a talk about Bram Stoker and Dracula by Stoker’s great-grandnephew.

The festival will also include events linked to the culmination of two Arts Council England projects that are currently running in the city, Dark Side Port Side and the multimedia Snow Witch project.


Halloween is the one time of year when we really allow ourselves to talk about things dark and supernatural. DarkFest continues that imaginative engagement. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic wealth of creative talent that we have in Portsmouth.

Dr Karl Bell, Director of Supernatural Cities

Dr Karl Bell, director of the Supernatural Cities research project and co-organiser of DarkFest, said: “Halloween is the one time of year when we really allow ourselves to talk about things dark and supernatural. DarkFest continues that imaginative engagement. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic wealth of creative talent that we have in Portsmouth."

Now in its fourth year, DarkFest fosters collaboration, supports new events, and gives local writers and artists a platform to share their work with the public. The festival is organised by a committee of volunteers from the city’s creative community, supported by staff from the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Organisations and venues involved in this year’s programme include T’Articulation, The Front Room, Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth Film Society, Tongue n Grooves, Coastguard Studio, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Square Tower, and local pubs, coffee shops and libraries.

The festival runs in venues across the city from 21 October to 10 November and all events are open to the public. Please visit the DarkFest website or Facebook for full listings and event details.


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