25ft skeleton and ghost ship to feature in Derry’s parade of phantoms

Billy McGreanery, Joe Campbell, Karen Cassidy, Greater Shantallow Community Arts Carnival artists.
Billy McGreanery, Joe Campbell, Karen Cassidy, Greater Shantallow Community Arts Carnival artists.

A troupe of boney ballerinas, a 25ft high giant skeleton, and a 22ft long ghost ship will be featuring in the Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival Parade in Derry.

This year’s City of Bones celebrations organised by Derry City Council will feature a spooktacular pageant and focus on local haunted lore with around 500 street performers, dancers, singers and musicians.

Large props will form the main centre-pieces of the parade based on the story of the Ghost of Captain Browning, who was killed as his ship the Mountjoy broke the boom across the River Foyle to end the Siege of Derry in 1689.

His wife Jane Browning will be depicted as the Lady in White in the carnival parade, which will also include a large prop of the tower of St. Columb’s Cathedral where she was located as her husband was making his way to the besieged city.

Watch out for ghostly dancers, the skeleton crew, and ghastly ghosts representing the ‘half dead’ from the Siege.

Walter, the skeleton depicted in the city’s Coat of Arms, will also make a larger than life appearance in the ‘Bone-Shakers’ Return’ section of the carnival parade along with a host of other ghoulish characters and some blood-curdling screams.

Ollie Green, Artistic Director of Greater Shantallow Community Arts (GSCA), said the group was delighted to have 384 residents involved in this year’s interactive spectacle.

Their large centrepiece, ‘Walter’s Demise’, will see a 25ft high skeleton on a gallows over flaming fires accompanied by the Bone-Shakers Ballet featuring dancers from the Rainbow School of Ballet based at GSCA’s Studio 2, choreographed by Vanessa Chapman.

GCSA have been involved in all of the city’s recent annual carnival parades but, according to Mr Green, this year’s event is extra special.

“Hallowe’en is one of the biggest celebrations in our city’s festival calendar and this year we are really upping the game,” he said.

“This year promises to be the biggest and most memorable and inclusive Halloween Carnival parade our city has ever seen and we are also thankful to Louise Hughes, the Outer North Community Engagement Officer who has played a central role in bringing new groups of local residents into the heart of creative activity within our city.

“The groups are working alongside an outstanding team of local artists, dramatist, dance facilitators and Carnival costume makers who have been working away behind the scenes preparing hundreds of our local performers of all ages, ensuring that the tens of thousands who come out to line our city streets will really experience a Bone-Shaking Hallowe’en night to remember.”

The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival Parade will depart from Derry City Council offices, Strand Road, at 7pm on Friday, October 31st and make its way along Queen’s Quay, with the Fireworks Display at 8pm.

For a full programme of all the events go to www.derrycity.gov.uk/halloween

The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival is organised by Derry City Council with support from the NITB Events Fund, Derry City Council’s Legacy programme, and Ilex.