Be afraid, be very afraid
Londonderry’s fabulous Halloween carnival is doubling in size this year
When it comes to celebrating the scariest time of the year, nowhere does Halloween get better than the Walled City of Derry. Regarded as Europe’s top destination for Halloween, year after year the people of Londonderry masterfully conjure up a scare-fest like no other. Jam-packed with ghoulish events and frightful fun for all the family, this year the event is doubling in size. So for outstanding family fun and a stupendous array of events and activities over eight days, let your imagination run wild at the biggest ever Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival (October 26-November 3).
Thousands will be getting into the spirit by dressing up in creepy and creative Halloween-style costumes. For a smart base to don your outfits and be close to all the thrills, the four-star City Hotel is hard to beat. Situated on Queen’s Quay, adjacent to the beautiful River Foyle, iconic Peace Bridge and historic Guildhall, the hotel offers excellent city and river views from many of its guest rooms and is central to all the action.
Once you settle in to your hotel, as it’s Halloween time, see the sights on a guided ‘paranormal’ bus tour which will provide hair-raising stories of the city’s most haunted streets and spaces. A monstrous cast of ghosts, zombies, ghouls, witches and superheroes will create a spine-tingling city tour that is frightfully good fun.
Other scary activity includes a haunted harvest market, tours and trails. See the Zombie Apocalypse, let the kids loose in the Monster Funfair and Halloween discos, or bathe in the light of Museum of the Moon, featuring detailed NASA imagery of the Moon’s surface and an atmospheric soundtrack by award-winning composer, Dan Jones.
One of the best ways to banish the darkness will be with Awakening the Walls, a supernatural illuminated animation trail around the city’s famous walls — celebrating the 400th anniversary of their completion in 2019. Awakening the Walls will feature some of the greatest street performance acts and landscape artists in the world in over 30 installations around the walls, Cathedral Quarter, Craft Village and surrounding areas. Large-scale light installations, fire, projections and theatrical spectacle will weave an amazing story for three evenings (October 28-30).
After all the exhilaration, grab something to eat at the Bentley complex, which boasts fabulous food and great entertainment. With a new wine bar, a cosy traditional Irish snug bar and a top notch function room, everything is under one roof at the Bentley. On Halloween night, the annual street carnival parade featuring more than 1,000 local and international participants and fireworks finale is not to be missed. The parade is like an illuminated moving performance. Costumed performers, illuminated sculptures, large-scale lanterns, musicians, dancers, circus and street artists will weave their way through the city streets.
THRILLING NIGHTS: last year’s fireworks display in Derry and (below) thousands attended the Halloween festivities at Guildhall Square and Ebrington Barracks