Animations returning to Austins’ windows, a Christmas forest, robotic elfs and the return of the Sound of Light Procession will be among the highlights in Derry this festive season, it has been revealed.
The Big Christmas Lights Switch, with Santa himself doing the honours, will take place on Thursday November 17.
Last year’s Sound of Light and Christmas Procession spectacular will be returning this year, it was confirmed at Derry & Strabane Council’s October Business and Culture Committee meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday. The trail will include light installations, music, projection, and performance throughout cultural venues and upon and within the City Walls.
A number of festive weekends will be held in Derry from November 24 to December 18.
A mystical Winter Wonderland with Carol Singers and Robotic Elves making toys are planned, while the council is looking as using the shop windows in the Austin’s building “to help animate that space”.
In bygone years Austin’s was always famous for its animated displays at Christmas time.
A Hans Christian Anderson Tale Trail in conjunction with In Your Space across “enchanting nooks and crannies around the city” is being developed.
A report brought before the committee states: “Classic Hans Christian Anderson tales such as The Tin Soldiers and The Little Matchstick Girl are brought to life through a mixture of classic storytelling, dance, music, visuals and circus arts.”
The Mayor’s Office is planning a Christmas Grotto for children of all ages, focused on bringing communities together, creating the space for shared, inclusive celebration and providing families which a unique Christmas experience. St Columb’s Cathedral meanwhile will be hosting a Christmas Tree Festival from December 15 to 18, which will involve over 100 Christmas Trees and a number of school and adult choirs and bands, as well as services that “will add to the overall Christmas experience”. The organisers of this event aim to attract over 10,000 attendees.
The Mayor meanwhile is also organising choral trails performing in key community locations across the city and district in the days before Christmas, and then to gather in the Guildhall as a collective sing along, to bringing communities together in song.
Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue welcomed the procession and called for more marketing for some returning aspects of the programme to make sure local people were fully informed.
Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly meanwhile welcomed the planned allocation of resources towards certain areas to help them progress their plans for Christmas celebrations.
In Strabane meanwhile, the Christmas Light Switch will take place on Saturday, November 19, while council officers are also working with rural communities to develop their Christmas switch-on events.
For Strabane, a full day of family activities are planned in the Town Centre, including a Winter Wonderland in the Alley Courtyard with Santa’s Grotto, Street Entertainment and Activities, Kids Carousels, Help Find Santa’s Elves, Santa on the Run, Live Music from a host of local talent followed by the annual Christmas Parade and the Christmas Light Switch on.