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Local businesses encouraged to make most of Halloween

07 July 2021

Local business owners are being invited to attend a special online event later this month to find out more about how they can maximise opportunities to trade during the city's world famous Halloween Festival.

The Halloween Business Engagement event will take place on Thursday 29th July, and give an insight into the plans for this year's event. Last month draft proposals for the 2021 programme were warmly welcomed by Council members, as preparations get underway for the cautious return of outdoor celebrations following lockdown. The proposed dates for this year's Halloween Festival are Friday 29th October – Sunday 31st October 2021 with the Awakening the Walled City programme running for three evenings. 

Last year's programme shifted online with a wide ranging digital programme and a limited number of outdoor inflatable attractions due to tightened Covid restrictions. But as the City and District gradually reopens, it's hoped that this year's event will take on a more traditionally festive feel.

Council is currently working with Tourism Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance and other industry bodies to develop this year's experience in line with industry guidance. Any plans will progress in line with the changing government guidelines and the focus will still remain on maintaining the health and safety of Council staff, statutory partners, participating artists and the public.

With that in mind Council is now encouraging the local business community to engage with the programme and make the most of opportunities to showcase products and services during the course of the festival.

Today the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Alderman Graham Warke, said he looked forward to engaging with local businesses to hear some of their ideas. "Halloween is always an important time for the local economy, and of course last year shops, restaurants and bars all took a hit during what has been a very difficult time since the beginning of the pandemic. This year we hope things will be very different with a responsibly managed flow of visitors throughout the city and a number of opportunities to trade outdoors.

"There is much excitement about the programme with its extended footprint across Derry, Strabane and into Donegal, with further details to emerge in August when we have a better idea of how things are progressing in terms of the restrictions. As always we must be cautious and flexible in our approach but I would really encourage local businesses to be part of the conversation to ensure we can maximise all opportunities open to us this Halloween."

While the traditional Halloween Carnival will not take place this year, among the plans being considered are an extension of the popular Awakening the Walls event to create a crowd friendly circuit of the City that can accommodate considerable footfall with social distancing and crowd management. This would offer a variety of themed locations and experiences to be enjoyed safely and at people's leisure as part of an illuminated trail with a number of themed zones including a range of installations, large scale inflatables, displays, dressing and animation. A fourth zone would be included for Strabane town with the development of visual art installations.  

A number of trading opportunities will be identified within each of the Zones in order to give audiences visiting each area a fully immersive experience that is self-contained in line with crowd management plans, and ensure an even spread of visitors across the city.

Council's Head of Business Kevin O'Connor said: "Council's business team have been working closely with the local business community to offer a range of tailored support throughout the pandemic. This includes identifying opportunities to promote trade and services and we hope that this year's Halloween programme will inspire local businesses to come up with some new and innovative approaches that will tie in with the wider Festival plans.

"The Business Engagement event will give businesses the chance to find out more about the programme and how they can help shape and enhance the visitor experience this year."

The Halloween Business Engagement event will take place on Thursday 29th July, from 10.30 to 12.30.

For tickets go to www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/halloween-2021-business-engagement-event-tickets-162533340597

Derry Halloween is brought to you by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Tourism Northern Ireland and The Executive Office.