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It’s a monster bash! Bram Stoker’s bloodline to visit Slains Castle for Dracula’s 125th anniversary

There will be a celebration at Cruden Bay to mark the 125th anniversary of Dracula. Supplied by Design team, Mhorvan Park.
There will be a celebration at Cruden Bay to mark the 125th anniversary of Dracula. Supplied by Design team, Mhorvan Park.

For more than a century, Count Dracula has sunk his fangs into global popular culture.

The bone-chilling bloodsucker has been played by everyone from Christopher Lee to Gary Oldman, and even inspired a cartoon duck in the 1980s.

But it was in Cruden Bay that Bram Stoker wrote large sections of the book, and Slains Castle is thought to have inspired the vampire’s gothic residence.

So it’s fitting that the 125th anniversary of Dracula will be celebrated in the Aberdeenshire village.

The Irish author’s great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, will visit the spot on a tour of sites said to have influenced the legendary novel.

And while there, he will unveil a plaque on the wall of the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel – where his forbear stayed while penning Dracula.

The celebration will take place at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.

North-east links to horror history

Between 1903 and 1910, Bram Stoker regularly visited Cruden Bay to write.

He put pen to paper on Dracula for the first time during an 1895 stay at the village’s Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.

Dacre Stoker will map out a “Dracula trail” during a week-long celebration of the milestone from May 21-28.

His tour will begin in Whitby, where Stoker sets three chapters of the novel.

He will then visit Jedburgh and Edinburgh before concluding the trek in Cruden Bay.

Our map details each location’s significance to the book: 

Permanent reminder to celebrate Dracula’s 125th anniversary

The Aberdeenshire village will play host to a 125th anniversary dinner, with local author Mike Shepherd as guest speaker.

The commemorative plaque, donated by the Stoker family, will be unveiled during the event.

In a reflective mood, Dacre Stoker proves he’s not a vampire on a visit to Cruden Bay in 2017. Picture by Chris Sumner

Dracula 125th anniversary event could draw more vampire fans to north-east

Dacre said: “My aim is to help direct visitors to come and enjoy this lovely area as Bram did back in his day between 1893-1910.

“It was during his long walks along the beach of Cruden Bay and on to Whinnyfold where all of Bram’s earlier inspiration, notes and research came together.

“This area offered him peace and quiet, a far cry from the interruptions and the stresses of his office in the Lyceum Theatre in London.”

The entry by Bram Stoker in the guest book of the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. Picture by Kami Thomson

Why Cruden Bay is ‘more important’ part of Dracula mythology than Transylvania

Dacre added: “That’s why I see it as most appropriate to celebrate the 125th anniversary where the book actually took shape.

“Many ask how come we don’t celebrate in Transylvania, Whitby or Dublin.

“All these other locations do play a role in the origins of Dracula, of course…

“But when it comes to celebrating the literary process, I think Scotland is a given”.

Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager for VisitScotland, hopes the spotlight will attract more Dracula enthusiasts to the country.

She added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about the Scottish connections to this well-loved novel.

Dracula holds such a sense of intrigue and mystery.

“It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker was inspired by some of Scotland’s magical landscapes and locations on his travels.”

Dacre Stoker previously praised plans to name streets in a Cruden Bay community after the book.

However a proposed “Dracula Street” was ruled out after drawing strong objections.

Invasion, insurrection and salad are all on the menu at Slains Castle – are Dracula tours next?

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