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Iconic Austin’s windows brought back to life with magical ‘Santa’s workshop’ performances

01 December 2017

Anyone with fond memories of Austin’s Department Store’s Christmas windows is in for a treat this year as they come to life once again with an enchanting display of traditional carols and festive performances led by local theatre company ‘In Your Space’.

Whether peering into Santa’s workshop or watching mystical toys come to life, these wondrous windows are sure to warm your heart (and toes) with a dash of winter magic, music, light and life!

As one of Europe’s oldest department stores, predating Harrods of London and Macy's of New York, the store closed its doors last year after 186 years of trade. Residents and visitors to the city will recall that every Christmas the store was famous for its elaborate window displays that would draw visitors from all over to the city.

Derry City and Strabane District Council are bringing the window display back to life this year as part of their magical Wonder Windows Trail – which will see some of the city’s most prominent shop fronts brought to life with performances, colours and animations.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Maolíosa McHugh said: “It is great to see the Austin’s windows being brought back to life for Christmas with these fantastic ‘Santa’s workshop’ performances.

“The elaborate Austin’s window displays have always been synonymous with Christmas – which is why it is so great to see such special performances being created for the festive season.

“As Austin’s is such an iconic, landmark building in the heart of the city centre, Council wanted to ensure that the window displays were also incorporated into this year’s festive programme.”

Jacqueline Whoriskey, Festival and Events Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, says there are also other amazing window performances to look out for during this year’s ‘Wonder Windows Trail’. She added: “The beautiful Austin’s building in the Diamond will recapture a sense of childhood wonder as Santa’s elves put the final touches to this year’s gifts. Carollers will also bring a touch of Dickensian charm to the festivities as they perform in the windows.  For anyone looking to view ‘Santa’s workshop’ in operation please visit the Austin’s windows on Fri 8 & Sat 9 December from 5.30-7.30pm, Sun 10 from 4-6pm, Fri 15 & Sat 16 December 5.30-7.30pm, Sun 17 from 4-6pm and Fri 22 & Sat 23 from 5.30-7.30pm.

“Indeed, other fantastic window performances to look out for in the run up to Christmas include the ‘Magical Sweet Shop’ at the former Ulster Bank building between Foyleside and the Richmond Centre from 5:30-7:30pm on Fri 15, Sat 16, Fri 22 & Sat 23 December – as well as the amazing ‘Magical Mystery Box’ performances in Our Space at Waterloo Place from 5:30-7:30pm on three consecutive Saturdays – 9th,16th & 23rd December.

“This will be a real treat for children and shoppers alike as many local retailers have given their windows a festive makeover too – including The Gift Box, Checkpoint Charlie and Smart Swag – which will further add to the overall Christmas shopping experience.”

This year’s magical ‘Wonder Windows Trail’ will begin at the Guildhall. Recapture a sense of childhood wonder as you track down and watch these magical scenes.

Pick up a trail map at the Guildhall reception (daytime), the Richmond Centre or Foyleside Shopping Centre.

For more information on the magical ‘Wonder Windows Trail’ and other Christmas events taking place throughout the city and district over the coming weeks visit www.derrystrabane.com/christmas