Eerie Romanian Lake Sets Stage for Largest Halloween Gathering Since Communist Era

by Chloe Baker
West Side Hallo Fest in Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania’s capital, has become a coveted destination for Halloween celebrations, drawing immense public interest.

Over the past weekend, Angels’ Island peninsula, also known locally as Insula Ingerilor, located within Bucharest, hosted West Side Hallo Fest. The event attracted over 80,000 attendees, making it the most significant Halloween gathering in Romania since the country transitioned from communist rule.

The location was not randomly selected; both the Angels’ Island and the neighboring Lacul Morii lake have been veiled in urban myths and legends ever since the lake’s artificial creation in the late 1980s.

A woman was seen capturing images of children beside the festival’s ornate entrance on Friday, October 27, 2023. The crowd surged into Angels’ Island, marking the event as a historic Halloween celebration in post-communist Romania.

When Lacul Morii was established, numerous buildings including hundreds of houses, two educational institutions, and a church were razed. Additionally, approximately 11,000 graves were relocated, while a significant number remained undisturbed, thereby fueling eerie narratives of wandering spirits and unexplained nocturnal phenomena.

For several years, the vicinity of the lake remained abandoned but later transformed into a popular leisure spot for the city’s inhabitants. Nevertheless, its enigmatic aura persisted, reaching a crescendo during the past weekend’s festivities.

To set the mood, the event organizers procured 18.5 tons of pumpkins and in excess of 2,300 bales of hay. Renowned Romanian floral designer Nicu Bocancea also contributed to the setting’s decor.

Models of human skeletons, monster disguises, skulls, and synthetic spider webs conjured a setting reminiscent of a horror film, captivating the attendees.

The event appeared to be a particular hit among children, who were spotted in elaborate costumes and horror-inspired makeup, joyously snapping photos with frightening entities.

One attendee brandished a faux severed head mounted on a pole while donning a shirt that simulated blood stains.

Numerous visitors paid homage to Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire Dracula, a character inspired by a medieval Romanian prince and Bran Castle, situated to the north of Bucharest and another favored destination for Halloween enthusiasts.

Prior to the fall of the communist regime in 1989, Halloween was virtually an alien concept in Romania. The festival has gained significant traction among Romanians across all age groups in recent years, notwithstanding criticism from the Romanian Orthodox Christian Church, which has previously denounced the celebration as incongruent with Romanian traditions and religious beliefs.

The coverage included contributions from Jovana Gec, a writer for Big Big News, based in Belgrade, Serbia.

From intricately designed human skeletons adorned with flowers to elaborately costumed entertainers on stilts, the event showcased an array of attractions that were extensively documented by both the participants and the media. Young and old alike, including a youth in a Dracula outfit, took advantage of the picturesque setting to capture selfies.

The festival’s success underscores the burgeoning interest in Halloween celebrations in Romania, despite its relatively recent introduction to the country’s cultural calendar. Whether intrigued by the historic tales of displaced souls or simply attracted by the prospect of communal festivities, the crowd at Angels’ Island bore testament to Halloween’s growing prominence in post-communist Romania.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about West Side Hallo Fest in Bucharest

What is the West Side Hallo Fest?

The West Side Hallo Fest is the largest Halloween festival in Romania since the fall of communism. It is held in Bucharest on the Angels’ Island peninsula, attracting more than 80,000 visitors over a three-day period.

Where is the festival located?

The festival takes place on the Angels’ Island peninsula in Bucharest, Romania, which is situated in the artificial Lacul Morii lake.

Why is the location significant?

The location, Angels’ Island and the surrounding Lacul Morii lake, have been enveloped in mysterious stories since the lake was artificially created in the late 1980s. The area had been deserted for years and became the subject of eerie legends involving lost souls and wandering ghosts.

What kind of decorations were used in the festival?

The festival featured 18.5 tons of pumpkins, over 2,300 hay bales, and decorations by renowned Romanian floral designer Nicu Bocancea. Additional adornments included human skeleton models, monster masks, skulls, and cotton-made spider webs to create a horror-movie-like setting.

What activities were available for children?

Children seemed to enjoy the event immensely, participating in activities such as dressing up in costumes, wearing monster-like makeup, and taking photos with scary creatures.

How has Halloween evolved in Romania?

Halloween was virtually unknown in Romania before the fall of communism in 1989. Since then, the celebration has grown increasingly popular among Romanians of all ages, despite opposition from the Orthodox Christian church.

Who opposes the celebration of Halloween in Romania?

The Orthodox Christian church in Romania has expressed its opposition to the celebration of Halloween, dismissing it as a “commercial sensation, foreign to Romanian culture, faith, and spirituality.”

Who contributed to the report on the festival?

Big Big News writer Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to the report on the West Side Hallo Fest.

Are there any other popular Halloween tourist destinations in Romania?

Yes, the Bran Castle, north of Bucharest, is another popular destination, especially for those interested in the legend of Dracula, the world’s best-known vampire who was inspired by a Romanian medieval prince.

What were some of the unique costumes seen at the festival?

Some visitors dressed up as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, while one young woman was seen holding a make-shift head on a pole and wearing a seemingly blood-stained shirt. Numerous other creative and spooky costumes were also part of the event.

More about West Side Hallo Fest in Bucharest

  • West Side Hallo Fest Official Website
  • History of Lacul Morii Lake
  • Nicu Bocancea’s Portfolio
  • Evolution of Halloween in Romania
  • Orthodox Church’s Stance on Halloween
  • Big Big News
  • Bran Castle Official Website
  • Jovana Gec’s Publications
  • The Dracula Legend and Romanian History

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cryptic_mystic October 31, 2023 - 5:14 pm

18.5 tons of pumpkins and 2300 hay bales? Thats an insane amount of decorations. They’re not playing around, are they?

HistoryBuff October 31, 2023 - 9:40 pm

Interesting how Halloween became popular post-Communism. Cultural shifts are fascinating.

flower_lover November 1, 2023 - 2:48 am

Nicu Bocancea the floral designer? His works are amazin, must have been a sight to see.

OrthoBeliever November 1, 2023 - 4:54 am

Honestly, i’m not a fan. The church has a point, this doesn’t align with our traditions.

casualreader November 1, 2023 - 8:48 am

didnt know Halloween was a thing in Romania, especially since the church opposes it. times are changing, i guess.

Sara_M November 1, 2023 - 9:55 am

Has anyone actually been there? The article makes it sound pretty amazing. wanna go next year!

CuriousMind November 1, 2023 - 10:45 am

Anyone know more about Angels’ Island? The article piqued my interest. Seems like it has a lot of history.

TravelGuru November 1, 2023 - 11:52 am

Bucharest, Dracula, and Halloween, what a trio! Gotta say, this festival really taps into the whole Transylvanian vibe.

JohnDoe November 1, 2023 - 1:41 pm

Wow, never knew Romania had such a big Halloween fest. Especially in a place with such a eerie backstory. That’s cool and creepy at the same time!


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