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Derry Halloween celebrations leading world poll

BY DONNA DEENEY

Londonderry’s Halloween celebrations are doing ‘spook-tacularly’ well in a global online poll — and are currently in top position ahead of New Orleans, Paris and even Dracula’s homeland, Transylvania.

The competition to find the best city to celebrate the annual witching season is being run in association with USA Today, although it accepts votes from around the world.

Derry is up against 19 cities synonymous with the festival, including Salem — famous for its witch trials — and Sleepy Hollow, home of the headless horseman and Ichabod Crane.

Derry is currently number one with another two weeks of voting to go — and people are encouraged to vote and keep it in top place.

After humble beginnings, Derry’s festival has grown to a week-long event drawing around 30,000 people into the city centre. This year, hotel occupancy is already at over 90%.

Visit Derry manager Odhran Dunne said world recognition is invaluable to the city’s economy.

He said: “USA Today is one of the most popular media outlets, so for our Halloween celebrations to feature on its Top 20 venues is amazing — and to be number one is incredible.

“Halloween extends our holiday season into the autumn and while the numbers coming into the city hit a peak in 2013 with the City of Culture title as you would expect, we expect to be back at that peak number again next year.”

Other cities competing with Derry for the Best Hallow’een Destination title in the USA Today’ Readers’ Choice poll include New York, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Derry Council festivals and events manager Karan Leonard said: “We’re anticipating a huge turnout with Hallowe’en on a Saturday and we have some fantastic events. Chateau le Fear will be making a terrifying return to Ebrington, and we’ll be welcoming back the atmospheric Awakening the Walls. New to the programme will be the Rio Bravo Fiesta which will transform the craft village for the mysterious Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

“Our Carnival this year takes on the theme of the Rise of the River Gods. So there will be plenty of family fun and entertainment. It would be the icing on the cake if we are crowned top Hallowe’en destination in the world — so I encourage people to keep voting.”

To  vote for Derry, log on to: usatoday.com

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