Born in 2009 in Tralee, Kerry The Nightmare Realm began terrorizing the people of Ireland for the first time. The groundbreaking new way of bringing live acting and interactive entertainment together had customers coming from all over both Cork and Kerry to experience The Nightmare Realm.
Only after two short years of frightening the people of Kerry it was time to expand. Moving the event to Cork we made our mark solidly in the heart of the City in 2011. One building with three floors of terror. Bringing the concept of a yearly theme change and a revamp of the set every year made us unique and set the bar for other pop up halloween events to follow in our footsteps. Fast becoming the place to be for halloween, we experienced new heights of what the realm could be.
With 2015 being our biggest year yet in Cork, opening with one of our favourite themes to date – The Rotten Village, showed us just how far we had come and how much further we could go. We invented the concept of secret rooms – something we are famous for now. The idea being that these secret rooms are intimate settings that customers are invited to and can spend up to 15 minutes inside them at a time.
Knowing the following year would be our last in the building we were currently in, we knuckled down and worked hard behind the scenes outside of haunt season to further expand yet again, opening a second event in the capital the following year.
2016 had us split in two in many ways – one new event opening for the first time in the RDS, Dublin and the other event reopening in Cork. Hostel 2016 was to be the last year in Navigation house. A well loved building that was due for demolishment. Time to search for a new home to haunt.
Our first year in Dublin was a huge success, bringing our well known 2015 Rotten Village show to Dublin for its first viewing in 2016, it was well received by critics and new fans alike. And this was only the beginning! Our cork event moved from the iconic Navigation house to the Marina. Behind the scenes we were traveling between both on a weekly, sometimes nightly basis, making sure both events were up to our high standards.
2017. The year we moved to the Marina, the country experienced Hurricane Ophelia. For our American fans reading, Ireland is rainy and windy sure..but we have never had a hurricane before. Fallen trees, floods and house damages hit the country all over, ripping up the road that led to our event. The city was damaged beyond what we were all expecting. The weather was shocking. It was not a good October for anyone!
With rising rent, insurance and the increasing difficulty to find a suitable building to house The Nightmare Realm, without the want for trying, we had no option but to say a heartfelt goodbye to the city that loved us so well. Cork, we love you.
In the year of 2018 with the Realm’s sole event being held in the Capital, we buried our heads deeper to bring the biggest show to date. And boy did we deliver! The Witches Children won an international haunt award – Unilad’s ‘Number 1 Haunted House in the World’. A lofty title but one we are proud of!
The following year gave us the drive to develop our event even further, working on our best known elements to the business – our maze layouts and our secret rooms. Redeveloping the maze sets year on year is what we’re known for. In 2019 we changed how the mazes were made, introducing new pathways, newer ways of thinking and even more secret rooms than we had previously. Our 2019 show ‘The Devil’s Crossroad’ became another award winner, this time but the European Scare Industry – ScareCon. We were graciously ‘Best Independent European Halloween Attraction’. As a temporary Haunt in a category up against the best in the industry, we hold this win dear to our hearts.
With two awards under our belts and a plan to increase the dwell time on site after the mazes, we set off into 2020 with a fire of a thousand suns. If only that year went to plan! We all know what happened… *cough*
With all that spare time we suddenly had, we used the lockdowns and time at home to work on elements of the business that we felt needed some extra TLC. There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t criticise our event as much as we do! We used this time to expand on ideas, work on storylines, character development and the admin side of the business. We even experienced our first October without a haunt.. October is so pretty when you’re not spending every waking moment inside of dark mazes!
In 2021 between the ongoing lockdowns and the entertainment industry being one of the last sectors to reopen after the pandemic, we had emotional whiplash. For our event to work fluidly and ahead of schedule we need months of preparation. It took a lot of research, endless phone calls back and forth to insurance, government officials and finally after what felt like weeks we were granted permission to open 3 weeks before October.
Three weeks to organise everything from admin to set to travel from Kerry to Dublin.. To have the trucks move our set from the warehouse we store everything in up to Dublin’s RDS (Keeping in mind we are still a temporary haunt business – we have no permanent home to store year on year) Three weeks to scramble our marketing, actors, auditions, laborers, set team, organising queue barriers, toilets, hotel stays and everything else that comes with opening the event we were literally pulling our hair out trying to pull this off. 2021 was the year that truly tested us.
We were to be the first event open in the country since the pandemic began. That pressure was intense and the rules around opening were always changing. The stress that goes in with the events industry is high, it’s not for everyone but this was the most intense stress we as a team have ever faced. To open our show and stay open in an unprecedented year that was showing signs of further lockdowns, would be enough to put anyone off from being in the events business. Trying desperately to work with the government’s rules around indoor events having pod group visits only, battling the ongoing skyrocketing rent and insurance costs and praying on the only glimmer of hope that we could make it out alive was the rumour of the country fully reopening on the 22nd of October.. We kept going. We pushed through. We had nothing left to lose.
2021 was the year of high stress and strong perseverance. We had survived the hardest year to date.
Like always, we began taking all of our learnings and putting them into the next year’s event. 2022 is the year that 2020 should have been. The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone in the events business, and continues to do so this year with the ever increasing rise of costs, materials, insurance and rent. Every time we feel like we’re getting that bit closer to reaching our goals of bringing the best event that the people of Ireland deserves, something else comes smashing through our walls, getting in our way. Perseverance and trust in our guts gets us through these hurdles. Because when one pops up, you have to take that running leap of faith over it.
2022 will be our 13th year running and our 7th year open in Dublin, Ireland. Having won our third award in a row, this time for ‘Most Entertaining Horror Experience’ we are raring to go. We have worked tirelessly to bring new heights to our event. This year for the first time in 7 years.. We will be bringing The Nightmare Realm to a BRAND NEW location. This new location and our new additions for this year are only the beginning of our long term plan for our event.
These additions coming are the biggest in Nightmare Realm history, making us Irelands first, only and biggest indoor scream park.
The Nightmare Realm truly is born from blood, sweat and tears. For those of you who have been here from the start, who visit us year on year – we owe everything we do to you. To those of you who are reading this and considering visiting us for the first time.. Thank you. The realm would not be where it is if it wasn’t for our amazingly dedicated fans and our brilliant cast and crew.
Here’s to 2022! We hope to see you in October!