Paisley is preparing to welcome tens of thousands of visitors as its annual Halloween Festival returns later this week.

The free family event will take over the town centre and run from Thursday, October 26 to Saturday, October 28, between 5pm and 9pm each night.

The theme of this year's festival is 'Gothic Halloween', with the activity spread across two zones at the redesigned event site.

It is being organised by Renfrewshire Council events team, whose members include creative events producer Suzi Maciver and senior events officer Catherine Horsburgh.

The Gazette:

The Gazette:

Suzi, from East Renfrewshire, said Paisley's 850-year-old Abbey served as the inspiration behind this year's festival.

The 40-year-old told The Gazette: "The creative opportunities around Halloween are endless, and the process of generating ideas is so much fun for us. 

"It's important the festival is rooted in our place – this year we were inspired by the gorgeous gothic architecture of Paisley Abbey.

"Once we've settled on our theme, we share this with the fantastic creative partners and artists who come on board each year, and they use it to develop the festival’s installations, performances and spooky site décor. 

The Gazette:

The Gazette:

"So this year, think flying vampires, bat caves, and red-eyed ravens!"

A new and improved event format will see the fun split over two zones: 

  • a Halloween Trail Zone full of spectacular installations set against the backdrop of Paisley Abbey, as a one-way system, with a queue to access it
  • a Live Performance Zone with street performers including festival favourites Spark! LED Drummers and the flame-throwing Pyro-Celtica

Suzi said: "We work with many of the area's creative and cultural groups and young people, helping them use Halloween as a platform to showcase their talents. 

"This year, look out for a brand-new immersive theatre piece from PACE Youth Theatre based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven, and a 'Despicable Dance' from right2dance in the style of Wednesday meets Barbie.

READ MORE: Paisley gets set to welcome thousands for Halloween spectacular

"In particular we work with many lesser-heard voices – this year we have everything from Kibble School co-creating set pieces in our Raven's Realm, to Renfrewshire Learning Disability Service groups co-creating props for our spooky Bat Cave."

Catherine, from Inverclyde, said some of the acts for this year's Paisley Halloween Festival were booked the day after the 2022 event finished. 

The 46-year-old added: "A huge amount needs to be in place to make sure a big outdoor event with thousands of people each night is managed smoothly. 

"That includes robust health and safety and crowd management measures, staffing, toilets, signage, and much more."

Suzi added: "The community involvement really is the beating heart of this event - their contribution and participation are what make this event feel so unique to our place."