Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Halloween in Derry: Thousands of ghosts, goblins and ghouls hit streets for carnival

Fireworks pictured at the annual Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival

The Halloween Festival in Londonderry drew to its grand finale last night with tens of thousands of revellers in full fancy dress.

The hordes of spooks, kooks and countless other scary characters took to the streets for the Carnival of Light parade which culminated in a spooktacular firework display.

Throughout the day the number of tiny goblins, witches and ghouls grew as children got into the spirit of the day and enjoyed the many events laid on by Derry City Council in venues across the city.

There was Halloween fun laid on and spooky goings on in several venues throughout the city.

From its origins as a single day of activities, the Halloween Festival has now been extended to a five-day horrorganza and spookfest, a decision that has clearly paid off as traders in the city enjoyed enviable trade for October.

The crisp autumnal air was filled with aromas of exotic burgers and hotdogs wafting on the breeze from the continental market in the Guildhall Square.

Odhran Dunn, Chief Executive of Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau, reported a 90% occupancy rate for the city hotels and guest houses and said Halloween was definitely not a dead time in Derry.

He said: “It is incredible that Derry city has an occupancy rate of 90% given that this is the middle of the week. This is an extension of the summer tourism trade and a huge success for Derry City Council’s strategic plan to extend Halloween celebration for a full five days.

“Coming on the back of last week's City of Culture programme launch and Derry's inclusion in the Lonely Planet guide it is clear that people from throughout GB and Ireland are certainly taking notice of us.”

Derry's message that it is a place full of life was certainly reaching the masses yesterday as a special Live Music Stage erected in Waterloo Place was beaming all the new musical talent that the city has to offer directly to 22 other towns and cities in Britain and Ireland.

Big screens, including three in London and two in Birmingham were set up to showcase just some of the reasons why Derry won the City of Culture bid and gave people in those cities a taster of what they can expect next year.

As darkness descended and a full moon rose, the swell of people grew for the spectacle.

Fathers, mothers and grandparents dressed up as witches, vampires, superheroes and ghosts held on tightly to their equally scary young charges who watched with wide-eyed wonder as the Carnival of Light wound past.

The effort put in by community groups and youth clubs was clear to see as intricate float after float passed by and the streets came alive with the undead.

As the parade made its way along the route people were also gathering on the opposite side of the Peace Bridge, content just to enjoy the fireworks.

Every possible vantage spot was taken in both sides of the Foyle.

Derry City Council hinted of even bigger and better things for next year. It would be hard to imagine how.

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