Fairies, unicorns, and a moon goddess may all sound like characters straight from a CS Lewis novel, but this Halloween all three will be joining in the fun at the Banks of the Foyle Carnival.
A series of carnival workshops facilitated by the NW Carnival Initiative in partnership with Derry City Council are currently underway at Derry’s Playtrail, where the Eco-House has been transformed in a frenzy of glitter and glue, as local children bring the fairy-tale creatures to life. They will celebrate the vital role the facility plays in the community through their performance in this year’s 25th anniversary celebration.
Local Artist Claire Heaney-McKee, explained why the area was the ideal spot to get some mythical inspiration for such a magical event.
“I took inspiration from the hub itself here, and used the surroundings of the Playtrail to catch the children’s imagination and get them thinking about their environment,” she said.
“We decided to introduce a story-telling element to the whole thing, so the first thing we did was get them thinking about the Fairy Woods here.
“We came up with a traditional ‘good versus evil’ fairy tale theme, and let them generate their own ideas as to how the story would develop. So we’re going to have the Silver Moon Goddess as our central character, up against the fierce Firebird, who is trying to capture the moonlight for himself.”
And the children are working flat out to make their performance stand out from the crowd.
“The children will be dressed as star angels and flower fairies, and we’ll have 16 unicorns from Foyle View School as well, so as you can imagine we’ve been very busy,” Claire revealed.
“With 38 children involved that’s a lot of costumes, but we have been getting loads of help from the community, and the children themselves have been working very hard.
But it’s not just about the costumes. “We decided to make this a very sensory experience for the children, taking inspiration from the sounds of the woodland and the sensory garden that’s actually based here,” Claire explained.
“We are also involved with the children from Foyle View School, and they will be working with DJ Kwame to compile an actual dedicated soundtrack for the night as well. Music and sounds are so important to children, so we thought we would incorporate that into the carnival performance and do something a little bit different.
“It’s so important for children to get the opportunity to learn arts and crafts and with the support of the Carnival Initiative it means we have so much more scope to do things like this. It’s also great to see people pulling together to make it all happen, it has become a real community project and I would encourage anyone to get involved.”
And the children have loved working with some of the natural materials available on site at the trail, according to Théa Layberry. “We have been using real leaves from the fairy woods to make our fairy wings, and covering them with loads of glitter. And we’ve been trying to use lots of natural things in our costumes, I’m really enjoying it,” she said.
And the chance to work with new people has been just as enjoyable, said Jessica Starrs. “I really love the workshops because we get to make loads of things and I love using the glitter. It’s good because we get to go outside too and I’ve made some nice new friends.”
n For more information on the Carnival Parade and a full list of all the spooky surprises in store during this year’s four day Banks of the Foyle Halloween festival, check out the Derry City Council website on www.derrycity.gov.uk/halloween or follow on Facebook.
n Further press information can be obtained by contacting Derry City Council’s Marketing and Communications Section, Tel. 028 71 376504.