Programme announced for DERRY HALLOWEEN 2023 – Europe’s Biggest Halloween Festival!

The programme has been announced for DERRY HALLOWEEN 2023, Europe’s Biggest Halloween Festival, which returns to the iconic Walled City of Derry from 28th to 31st October 2023!

This year’s programme features activities for all ages, from spooky ghost tours, creepy arts and crafts, haunted houses and carnival craic, not to mention an international zombie conference and Northern Ireland’s very first attack of the drones.

Central to the programme is the Awakening the Walled City Trail, which this year illuminates the city centre, taking in locations from the Guildhall Square and Shipquay Street to Bishop Street and the Diamond. Features include fire performance, aerial displays, live music and the haunting ‘King of Bones’ Halloween procession headed by the sinister skeletal frame of Walter DeBurgh, which will weave its way through the darkened streets. Dynamic drummers Spark will be blazing a trail along Shipquay Street this year, so keep an eye out for their dazzling displays.

When you’ve braved the trail, then take to the historic City Walls to find out more about some of the city’s most spine-chilling spots on the Spooky Ghost Tours, running each evening from Thursday 26th October, and right through until Monday evening.

Some fearsome family fun is on the cards, with lots of activities for little terrors throughout the programme. Embark on a Jurassic adventure with the Roar Roar Dinosaurs who will be taking over the Guildhall this year for some prehistoric pandemonium. Check out the Creepy Critters Kids Farm, or visit one of the many local venues hosting arts and crafts workshops and story-telling sessions.

Start the festivities early on Halloween day by joining the Trick or Treat Trail, which ends in the Trick or Treat Disco in the Guildhall from 4pm – 6pm.

For those who take a more academic approach to terror, a Global Zombie Studies Symposium will welcome a mass horde of international zombie scholars to Ulster University’s Derry campus for a deep dive into Zombie culture, a first for the city and the university.

Music lovers will be delighted that there are some ghostly gigs taking place this year, with the After Dark Music Trail, and on Saturday October 28th immerse yourself in the haunting harmonies of the Candlelight Orchestra in the atmospheric setting of St Columb’s Cathedral.

Or dare to enter the Black Hall and discover the evil that lies within, as St Columb’s Hall is taken over by malevolent spirits seeking revenge.

Halloween night itself is a spectacle not to be missed, as thousands of revellers take to the streets for an unforgettable festival finale involving hundreds of local participants. The Carnival Parade is a massive gathering of performers from schools, performing arts groups, community organisations and sports clubs, who have all worked together led by the North West Carnival Initiative, to create a magical display of characters, props and costumes.

The parade weaves its way through the ‘City of Bones’ with its curious cast of Samhain characters casting its spell over the crowds. As the final performers pass by, all eyes will turn to St Columb’s Park across the River Foyle, when the City of Bones morphs into the City of Drones, and for the first time a swarm of 100 drones take to the sky for a thrilling aerial display.

When the drones depart it’s time for the skies to ignite, as the traditional fireworks display lights up the river bringing the four-day extravaganza to a spectacular end. Though for many it’s just the start of a great night out at one of the many local venues who will be keeping the party going into the small hours.


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