Towns and cities across Northern Ireland are gearing up for ghoulish celebrations this weekend as they vie for the spooktacular title of best Halloween party.
Londonderry traditionally hosts the biggest party with thousands attending the carnival parade and street parties. This year will be no different with people coming from across the province to dress up and join in the fun. But this year Belfast will be giving the Maiden City a run for its money with its planned events.
The celebrations kick off at St George’s Market at 9am with a monster parade, balloon modelling, crafts and face-painting for the kids, live music and pumpkin carving. There are more events at the City Hall with music from 1pm and evening celebrations taking place from 6.30pm.
There will be more than 40 street entertainers and all sorts of surprises to keep revellers on their toes throughout the evening, which culminates with the biggest fireworks display in Northern Ireland.
And this year celebrations will be taking place across the province with parties planned from Strabane to Newtownards.
Opinion is divided over who will host the best party. Connor
McCrory (29) from Strabane said he would never miss spending Halloween in Derry.
“It’s the best place to go. I love it and look forward to it every year. Some of the costumes you see there are amazing — you look like a freak if you don’t dress up. People just don’t make the same effort everywhere else, it’s always a great night,” he said.
Treasa Rice (27), from Newry, disagrees and will be donning her Wilma Flintstone costume and heading to Belfast.
She said: “Everyone always talks about how amazing Derry is and it’s the best place to go. I’ve been before and, yes, it’s good but Belfast has a much better vibe. The City Hall always looks absolutely amazing and there is also so much happening on the streets all day and night.”
With the postal strikes not allowing anyone to leave anything to chance, shoppers have been foregoing buying their outfits online and have been queuing outside costume shops for the last week as they try to find the scariest, craziest or most original costume they can. Shops have been decorated in full Halloween garb as they prepare for the spookiest date in the year’s calendar with ghosts, goblins, witches and vampires appearing from every nook and cranny. ‘Trick or treaters’ have already started knocking on the doors, fireworks are being stocked up, apples are getting covered in toffee, age-old ghost stories are being rehashed and pumpkins are being carved as everyone prepares for the Halloween holiday.
What’s happening tomorrow
LONDONDERRY: Carnival parade departing the council offices at 7pm followed by fireworks on the banks of the Foyle at 8pm.
BELFAST: Monster Mash at Clarendon Dock. Free bus complete with special onboard fancy dress competitions and prizes for the creepiest costumes. Buses leave Chichester Street for Clarendon Dock, dropping off in Corporation Square, every 15 minutes between 6pm and 8pm.
LARNE: Halloween fun afternoon at Carnfunnock Country Park from 2-6pm with face painters, treasure hunt, storytelling, stalls, acrobats, magician and live music culminating in the grand finale of a magnificent jousting display in the front field.
OMAGH: Musical entertainment from 6.30pm in the grounds of Omagh Leisure Centre with Tom Sweeney. The night will finish with a spectacular fireworks display at 7.30pm.
CULTRA: Ulster Folk and Transport Museum: On Friday and Saturday visitors can bob for apples and hear tales of ghosts and ghouls as they make their way around the museum’s historic buildings.
CARRICKFERGUS: An afternoon of entertainment at the castle including headless hosts, ghosts, ghouls and goblins. There will also be Halloween tales by wicked witches, freaky face painting, a pumpkin carver, and workshops.
ANTRIM: Music, storytelling, fireworks and Halloween entertainment at the Navan Centre & Fort. Take a walk through the Tunnel of Death, enter the fancy dress competition, watch fire jugglers perform, visit the owl display and finish off the evening with a fireworks display.
STRABANE: Barrontop Fun Farm — Tunnel of Terror, free treats for all those who come dressed in Halloween costume, silly spells with Grizelda the Witch or Greybeard the Wizard. Halloween competition trail.
NEWTOWARDS: Celtic folklore with ghosts, fairies, banshee and demons at Mount Stewart mansion house with an evening twilight tour.
PORTRUSH: Guinness North Coast Folk Festival includes include concerts and a free folk music trail at bars and restaurants throughout the two towns. Music acts featured include Life O'Reilly, Cat Malojian, Dave Gibb, Venue 1, Tannasg, Captain Kennedy, Balkan Alien Sound, Reel Folk, Failte and Whiskey in the Jar. There will be workshops, storytelling, mask making, spooky tours, fireworks and fancy dress.
Full details of what is going on over the Halloween weekend across Northern Ireland can be found at www.discovernorthernireland.com