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Home of Halloween says 'Halloween at home' with virtual programme

06 October 2020

Plans for a fabulous virtual celebration were unveiled in the home of Halloween today as Derry City and Strabane District Council launched its programme for Halloween 2020.

The programme this year will have a very different look and feel due to the current restrictions to on street celebrations – but people are being encouraged to keep the spirit of Halloween alive by engaging with a wide array of activities and entertainment online.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney launched the new digital programme, and said he was looking forward to what promises to be a highly entertaining few days of family fun.

"Derry is traditionally the home of Halloween so despite the circumstances much work has gone into creating a virtual experience which can be shared by people across Derry and Strabane and far beyond. The message this year is very clear – enjoy Halloween safely at home!

"While we may not be able to stage large scale events such as our traditional fireworks or Carnival parade Council's events team have been working hard to deliver an entertaining and alternative approach to our globally acclaimed Halloween experience.

"This is a time for family and what better way to celebrate than by bringing back some of the old traditions – apple-bobbing, costume making, pumpkin carving and spooky story-telling. While we can't bring people together on the streets we want to bring them together in the true spirit of Halloween and capture that essence in different ways.

"I am very conscious that our local businesses will be feeling the impact this year with fewer visitors to the city, and less people out and about on the streets. Council has been engaging with our shop and restaurant owners to find ways of responsible promotion at this time, so please continue to shop local and support our local businesses where possible.

"I would appeal to people to please heed the warnings about street parties and larger gatherings, especially younger people who naturally want to socialise at this time. The onus is on all of us to safeguard the most vulnerable in our community. If we can make some small sacrifices this year then we increase our chances of being able to enjoy a return to normality sooner rather than later."

Among the highlights of this year's programme are Little Horrors story-telling sessions, online tutorials in Halloween make-up, costume making, and pumpkin carving, fireworks displays, First Light and a series of community led interactive projects. Join Walter the Skeleton, the terrifying Cailleach, the Morrigan, the Banshee and the Red Branch Knight as they share some terrifying traditional tales of Halloween in Ireland.

Samhain Sessions will be making a welcome return showcasing the talents of some of the finest local and national artists, Roisin O and Reevah amongst others. This year the series will come to you from a number of spooky locations which can be enjoyed safely online from the comfort of your own home.

Halloween will have a strong community feel as local artists bring the celebrations into local community areas with some socially distanced creative activities and interactive sessions.

If you're out and about around the city centre you might come across some weird and wonderful sights at a number of locations across the city, with a frightfully fun inflatable trail.

Events Manager with Council, Jacqueline Whoriskey, said the team had been working to deliver a safer alternative in light of concerns. "Obviously this year has been more of a challenge in terms of the restrictions and we have had to rethink our usual approach to programming. Normally our main focus is bringing visitors into our city centre for an unforgettable Halloween experience, and this year our message is to stay at home.

"But here in Derry Halloween is in our DNA, so we couldn't let it go totally uncelebrated and I hope that people enjoy the wide range of online activities on offer. Over the next few weeks we will be providing regular updates on our social media of all the events and activities that can be safely accessed from home – watch this space and we hope to bring you an even bigger and better Halloween next year."

The full virtual programme will run from Oct 28-Nov 1 - for more information the Derry Halloween programme can be found at derryhalloween.com/highlights