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Mayor encourages safe and responsible Halloween

28 October 2021
 It's that time of year again when the City and District is overrun with ghosts, ghouls and all things supernatural as we count down a spectacular 2021 Halloween celebration next weekend.
 
As restrictions are lifted and people are expected to descend on the city and district to enjoy some of the outdoor animation and activity over the weekend of Friday 29, Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke is encouraging people to act responsibly and to put safety to the fore.
 
He said that while there was huge disappointment that the event could not go ahead last year – every effort was being made to ensure this year's event recreates the magic of our annual Carnival, but in a safe and accessible format.
 
This year's theme is aptly titled 'Awakening the Walled City' and the eagerly awaited festival will return once more to the City's streets, with a carefully coordinated blend of al fresco events taking place over an extended area.
 
The celebrations will feature illuminations, animation and installations across key locations stretching around and beyond the City's historic Walls, taking in the wider City and District guaranteed to enthral and mesmerise spectators along the trail. The various locations offer the opportunity to experience the magic at your leisure, taking in the sights and sounds over a number of visits if preferred, ensuring everyone can enjoy Halloween in a safely distanced manner.
 
Visitors will have an opportunity to travel through a series of Worlds each linked to the North West's Samhain roots. Ghostly characters from the underworld returning for Halloween 2021 include Irish witch, the Cailleach, the shape-shifting goddess Morrígan, the fearsome Red Branch Knight, and Walter the Skeleton from Derry's own coat of arms. There is much excitement at the return of the traditional fireworks display to light up the skies once again later than normal on Halloween night.
 
As the final preparations get underway, the Mayor had a serious message for all Halloween revellers urging them to stay safe, look out for one another and if out and about in the pubs and clubs to drink responsibly.
 
"It has been a challenging period for all of us and while we won't have the Halloween carnival parade this year and the majority of our activities are outdoors we are encouraging people to please stay safe. This is primarily a family friendly event and we want to make sure it's an enjoyable one for all attending.
 
"With large numbers of people expected to come out to view the animations over the three nights I am encouraging everyone to take heed of the advice issued about traffic and travel, to follow all signage and to co-operate fully with the PSNI and stewards who will be there to ensure your safety.
 
"Parents please be aware of where your children are – and that's big children as well as little ones! Arrange meeting points and ensure teenagers have transport home if out with friends, and that mobile phones are charged. If consuming alcohol it is vital that you do so responsibly and be aware of the risks of over indulgence.
 
"If you're planning on dressing up please heed the warnings about costumes, check the labelling and only buy products which meet the relevant safety requirements."
Superintendent Catherine Magee said: "With many visitors expected to the city this weekend we will be working closely with Council to ensure everyone can enjoy the celebrations safely and our Neighbourhood and Local Policing Team officers will be on patrol to provide reassurance to local residents and businesses.
 
"If you are concerned about anti-social behaviour in your area or would like to speak to us about any issue please contact us on the non-emergency telephone number 101."
 
Dr Paul Baylis, Consultant in Emergency Care and Medicine with the Western Health and Social Care Trust, (WHSCT), said: "Halloween is traditionally an extremely busy time of the year for all the emergency services, particularly for Western Trust staff working at Altnagelvin Area Hospital.
 
"This year with the particular pressures and challenges faced by health care workers across the Western Trust area we are urging the public to stay safe this Halloween so as to avoiding having to attend our Emergency Departments.
 
"If people are using fireworks as part of the Halloween festivities I would hope that they can enjoy them safely. Although fireworks can be entertaining and exciting, particularly for the younger members of our community, they can be extremely dangerous and can cause serious injury if not handled properly. It is important to remind people of how dangerous sparklers can be and that they are extremely hot for some time after the sparkler has gone out and can cause serious burns."
 
A number of measures have been put in place to ensure the festivities are enjoyable for everyone. Parents should note that there are alcohol free zones throughout the city centre and Strabane town. Stewards and PSNI officers will be on duty to provide information and assistance over the weekend with police monitoring and seizing alcohol from anyone under the age of 18.
 
Council's Licensing and Health and Safety teams will be liaising with businesses and licensed premises reminding them of their responsibilities while Council's Community Safety Wardens will also be working throughout the wider area providing advice and assistance to anyone that they perceive to be in need. This will include directing people who need to get home or to accommodation or advise on local transportation provision. Community organisations will be on the ground over the weekend providing support and helping to ensure alcohol misuse is minimised.
 
When buying fireworks and costumes only buy from a licensed retailer and please note that costumes intended for use by children must carry the necessary labelling and important CE safety mark.
 
Please be aware of the potential dangers of children wearing fancy dress costumes, either shop bought or home-made, if they're around fireworks, sparklers, or open flames (such as pumpkins with candles).
 
Businesses who are supplying Hallowe'en and children's dress up costumes and accessories, are reminded that the onus is on them to take appropriate steps to ensure they are of the necessary quality and are compliant.
 
Traffic and Travel information detailing all road closures and traffic restrictions is available at www.derryhalloween.com.
 
 For more information on how to stay safe visit – www.derrystrabane .com/care
 
Concluding the Mayor said: "Let us make this year's Halloween celebrations an enjoyable experience for everyone. Please heed the safety advice and consume alcohol responsibly and ensure you know where children are at all times. But most of all enjoy what shaping up to be a boo-rilliant weekend!"
 
Derry Halloween is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Tourism Northern Ireland, Donegal County Council, the North West Development Fund and the NI Executive Office.