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Ghost boosters ... Hollywood star Aykroyd backs Scotland's first paranormal festival

WHO you gonna call (when you need sponsorship for Scotland's first paranormal festival)?

Peter Broughan at Cowane's hospital and graveyard in Stirling, one of the locations for Scotland's first paranormal activity festival. Left: Dan Aykroyd in hit movie GhostbustersPhotograph: Stewart Attwood
Peter Broughan at Cowane's hospital and graveyard in Stirling, one of the locations for Scotland's first paranormal activity festival. Left: Dan Aykroyd in hit movie GhostbustersPhotograph: Stewart Attwood

Ghostbusters!

Dan Aykroyd, the comic star of the much-loved 1980s classic, has given his backing to the new event, which will tap into the Scots' love of a good old ghost story.

The first Scottish Paranormal Festival will take place in Stirling this Hallowe'en and the Canadian star - who owns a premium vodka company - is donating two crates of his Crystal Head vodka which retails at £145 a bottle, all shaped like a human skull.

The event is being organised by filmmaker Peter Broughan, producer of Rob Roy and The Flying Scotsman, who believes there is a big demand in Scotland for a celebration of all things weird.

He said: "I came up with the idea because Scotland is very much linked in the public mind with the supernatural and the paranormal.

"I realised that there wasn't actually anything reflecting that in Scottish culture. There wasn't anything in the way of a paranormal festival anywhere ... There seemed to be a gap in the market.

"Everyone, including myself, is interested in the paranormal, whether you're a believer or not, and the festival reflects that - it's not just for believers, it's for people who are deeply sceptical too."

Scotland's history and landmarks have long given rise to spooky tales of ghosts, ghouls and mysteries - from the so-called Falkirk triangle of alleged UFO sightings to the Loch Ness monster - and Broughan believes this fascination with the unknown and unexplained has been handed down through the generations, going back to a time when we sat round campfires.

"I think it goes right back to our roots," he said. "It's about ­cavemen and women sitting round the campfire in the dark with the fear of the unknown. As humans we all respond to ghost stories, especially when we're young. I was always interested in ghost stories when I was younger and it's developed into a real interest now.

"Our tagline for the festival is 'If you haven't seen a ghost, you'll know 100 people who have'. And it's true, everyone has a story and everyone loves to hear a good story."

The festival, which takes place over two days and nights from October 31 to November 2, will feature a wide range of paranormal activities and events, including ghost hunts, psychic sessions, UFO events, a film festival, theatre productions and a number of different talks and debates.

The keynote address will be delivered by Stanton Friedman, the nuclear physicist who brought Roswell to the world's attention and the so-called grandfather of ufology. Other speakers include rangers from the Navajo desert who are billed as real life X-File investigators, and Nick Pope, the man who used to run the British Government's UFO project.

There are also more light-hearted events in the form of comedy from psychic comedian Ian Montfort, a vampire ceilidh and various children's activities. A UFO event is also being held at Bonnybridge, believed by some to be the UFO capital of the world, while the rest of the festival will take place in Stirling at the Tolbooth, the Albert Halls, the Churchyard of the Holy Rude, Cowane's hospital and Stirling Castle.

Broughan believes that Stirling is the best place to host the festival, thanks to its ancient architecture, and he hopes the city will soon become the go-to place for Hallowe'en. He said: "Stirling is such an atmospheric location. It's already home to Bloody Scotland [the crime writing festival] and I think our festival sits side by side with that."

Asked if he is a believer in the paranormal, Broughan coyly replied: "Strange things happen."

Tickets for the festival will go on sale later this year. For further information on the event visit

www.paranormal scotland.com

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