WITH less than two weeks to go until the city is transformed into Scary Derry, organisers are working around the clock to put the final preparations in place for what is expected to be the biggest celebration to date.
This year’s annual Halloween celebrations have been extended over nine days, with a packed programme of family friendly events for all ages at a range of venues across the city.
One of the biggest highlights of the programme is the atmospheric Awakening the Walls event which takes place over three evenings from October 28th – 30th. Always a huge draw, this year the event has been extended to include an even wider area, taking in not just Derry’s historic Walls, but also the surrounding streets and sites.
The move will allow for even greater community involvement in the magical illuminated trail, and will provide more opportunities for local businesses to be part of the celebrations.
A number of streets in and around the Cathedral Quarter of the city will be closed for the duration of the event, creating a haunted Halloween hub which visitors can explore on their journey around the trail.
Festivals and Events Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Liz Cunningham, said the extended trail would enhance the experience for all those taking part.
“Awakening the Walls draws huge crowds and this year we wanted to offer an even better experience taking in more of the of the city’s historic Cathedral Quarter and the communities that live within vicinity of the walls,” she explained.
“It will mean businesses in the area will have the opportunity to embrace the Halloween theme and enjoy the benefit of passing trade.
“We are delighted to see even more community involvement this year with groups from the Fountain, Bishop Street and the Bogside joining in the celebrations.
“Halloween in Derry has always been about the local community so we invite as much participation as possible, and love to see groups getting involved and making it their own.
“The new route will also accommodate easier movement around the Walls and Streets Within, opening the experience up to more people.
“We would like to advise visitors to take note of the closures and diversions in place in advance of coming to the event, and we appreciate your cooperation in ensuring it’s a fantastic experience for everyone.”
In order to facilitate this year’s Awakening the Walls, temporary restrictions will be in place in the following streets: Magazine Street, Butcher Street, Bishop Street Within, Society Street, London Street, Pump Street, Artillery Street on 28th, 29th & 30th October, between the hours of 5 pm and 10 pm.
Regular users of Bishop Street Carpark should note that a partial carpark closure will be in place, however during the Awakening the Walls, from 5.30 pm to 10 pm, exiting the carpark will be restricted and controlled by a dedicated steward. Exiting will be via the top end of the carpark.
Society Street Carpark will only be available for accessible parking during Awakening the Walls, from 28th – 30th October. Users must be in place by 5.30pm and cannot leave until 9pm or when it is suitable to do so.
Route maps for the event are available online at www.derryhalloween.com, and from the information point located in Waterloo Place.
The official build-up to the Halloween festivities begins on October 26th and this year up to 100,000 people are expected to attend events taking place over the extended Halloween programme, which runs until November 3rd.
The programme features a whole host of activities for all ages, including dynamic drumming sensations Spark, the return of the Samhain Sessions, the Jack-O-Lantern Festival, Monster Funfair, Little Horrors, Shape Shifter costume and make up workshops as well as the haunted Harvest Market.
For grown up ghosts and ghouls, the Samhain Sessions are the perfect way to mark this ancient celebration, with some magical performances from top Irish artists including Lisa Hannigan, David Kitt, and Colm Mac Con Iomaire taking place over three nights, Oct 28-30, under the Museum of the Moon in the Guildhall.
Or why not ascend the Dark Tower on October 26 – an adult only after dark celebration with live music, ghost tours and plenty of Halloween fun in the Tower Museum.
Check out the full programme which is organised and funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from the Tourism N. Ireland International Fund, on www.strabanehalloween.com