Derry to light up in February 2022 as Illuminate festival comes to town

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Derry’s city centre will be transformed with light installations and performances across multiple sites, as part of a live illumination experience planned for two weekends in February.

The new festival will be the first major public event of 2022 and will run over the weekends from February 17th -20th and 24th – 27th. It will also be the first of its kind in the north.

It will feature a showcase of outdoor light and live illumination experiences that will transform some of the city’s most iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art over a 1.5kmm trail across six sites including the City Walls, the City Gates, the Guildhall and St Columb’s Cathedral.

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A series of live illumination experiences will in addition create a trail by turning six iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art. Using outdoor projection, sound and animation we will tell some of the cities original stories through digital animation, innovative design and deliver an experience that will be unique to Northern Ireland.

Derry Walls and Guildhall Square. Photos: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 034Derry Walls and Guildhall Square. Photos: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 034
Derry Walls and Guildhall Square. Photos: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 034

In addition to this, will be an Illuminated Trail of Light, which will include displays that will re-imagine public spaces across the city and Council will be working with local artists, businesses and organisations to develop a collection of exciting events which showcase the regions diverse arts and cultural offering.

The third element of the event, is a music programme that embraces the theme of light will take place through a series of intimate music gigs with artists such as Kila, Neil Cowley and The Henry Girls.

The festival is being funded by Tourism Northern Ireland and Derry & Strabane Council is working alongside businesses, cultural organisations and artists to enhance the visitor experience.

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Speaking at the launch Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke said not only will it be a fantastic family spectacle, it will also encourage people to visit the city which in turn will give those in the retail, hospitality and tourism sector, a much needed boost.

He said: “Illuminate will be an amazing event that will really showcase our city centre and the many iconic buildings and locations we have within it. This outdoor spectacle will allow people to take a walk through the city centre, enjoy the illuminations and soak up the atmosphere. We hope it will bring some cheer and positivity to the city after a relatively challenging time for many and help bring some business into the city centre.”

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council said that the Events team are working closely with the relevant bodies in terms of ensuring the event is COVID friendly and in adherence to any possible restrictions that may be in place at that time.

She said the primary focus when planning for this event will be to have a crowd friendly circuit of the city that can accommodate the numbers of people expected to attend, taking into account social distancing and crowd management, whilst allowing people to enjoy the experience safely.

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Mayor Warke added that following the recent successes of Hallowe’en and the Christmas Switch On procession, every effort is being made to use ambitious and curated animation to further develop and grow the city and region’s evening economy and to assist in COVID recovery.

Mayor concluded: “I am hugely excited about this and delighted that once again our Council is set to deliver another fantastic event to showcase our city and region. This festival will be an opportunity for us to celebrate after a difficult and challenging period.