Safety first is the key message this Halloween
21 October 2022
Tens of thousands of revellers will throng the streets of Derry next week as the Halloween celebrations get into full swing, with a four-day festival extravaganza from October 28 – 31.
Today the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said she was really looking forward to the event, but encouraged people to be mindful of doing everything they can to ensure it's a safe and enjoyable celebration for everyone.
This year's programme features an array of activities taking place at locations throughout the City, and extending into Strabane and Donegal. The Awakening the Walled City Trail kicks things off on Friday October 28th running until Sunday October 30th, with a magical mix of animation, illumination and performance at key locations throughout the City Centre and St Columb's Park. Monday October 31st sees the welcome return of the traditional Halloween carnival parade, which is always a huge draw for visitors, with over 40,000 expected to turn out this year for the on street entertainment, followed by the Finale Fireworks display over the Foyle.
Looking ahead to the celebration, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, Mayor Duffy said that awareness was key to ensuring that everyone gets the very best out of the event.
"Halloween is such an important event for the City and District in terms of showcasing the fantastic experience we offer visitors, and it's primarily a family friendly event so we want to ensure that it's a safe and enjoyable celebration for all ages," she stressed.
"With large numbers of people expected to come out to enjoy the Awakening the Walled City Trail and the return of the Halloween parade this year, 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. We all have a responsibility to safeguard those around us and to make sure our behaviour doesn't put others at risk.
"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's 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. If we all just do our bit and follow the advice, then this will be a fabulous festival for everyone."
Derry Halloween is delivered by Derry and City Strabane District Council, and the Festival and Events team there works closely with a wide range of community and statutory agencies behind the scenes to ensure that the event runs smoothly. These include the PSNI, St John's Ambulance, and Youth Services, who have staff and volunteers on hand to assist throughout the festival. With additional pressures already experienced by local Health Trusts, the message is to stay safe and avoid any behaviour that could result in a trip to hospital.
PSNI Superintendent Clive Beatty said: "Halloween is always a busy time for police, and this year will be no different with tens of thousands of people expected to celebrate the many events organised by our partner, Derry City and Strabane District Council. You'll see our Neighbourhood and Local Policing Team officers on patrol to provide reassurance to local residents and businesses. Our officers will have a focus on those who are illegally supplying fireworks and will be working with partners to encourage responsible use. By everyone putting safety first, we can all work together to ensure a safe and enjoyable Halloween for all.
"If you're concerned about anti-social behaviour in your area, or would like to speak to us about any issue call us on the non-emergency telephone number 101 and always 999 in an emergency."
Dr Paul Baylis, Consultant in Emergency Care and Medicine with the Western Health and Social Care Trust, (WHSCT), said: "Halloween always presents challenges for Western Trust staff as it's a particularly busy time of year with additional pressures on services. We would appeal to everyone to be mindful of these pressures at the moment, and to please heed all the safety guidance and avoid having to attend our Emergency Departments.
"Fireworks, sparklers and naked flames pose some of the biggest risks, so I would ask everyone to take particular care when using them, and to keep children away. Alcohol is also another issue, and while lots of people want to enjoy themselves, there is nothing enjoyable about ending up in hospital. Try to be responsible and don't consume alcohol to excess. Our staff will be offering support throughout the festivities, please respect them as they do their work, and we hope everyone has a very enjoyable Halloween."
A number of measures have been put in place to ensure the festivities are safe and accessible 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 in the run up to Halloween, 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 also 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 reputable retailer and please note that costumes intended for use by children, must carry the necessary labelling and important CE safety conformity 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 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.
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.
For more information on how to stay safe visit – www.derrystrabane.com/care
Traffic and Travel information detailing all road closures and traffic restrictions is available at www.derryhalloween.com