The blackberries are still on the hedgerows but, believe it or not, Derry City & Strabane District Council is already set for Christmas with details of its yuletide programme emerging this week.
The festivities kick off with the ‘Christmas Lights Switch On’ in Guildhall Square on Thursday, November 22 - just 69 days away - and will run for the best part of a month until Sunday, December 16.
Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, provided details of a proposed month-long programme at a meeting of the Council’s Business and Culture meeting on Tuesday.
She explained that the festivities will be focused on four key weekends throughout the Christmas period.
Immediately following the big ‘Switch On’ the Guildhall Craft Fair will take place over the weekend, Friday, November 23 to Sunday, November 25, celebrating the best in local arts and crafts and hopefully attracting extra footfall into the city centre.
The following weekend the popular Walled City Market will return to Guildhall Square on Saturday, December 1, for a special festive edition with the usual wide selection of speciality foods and handcrafted products.
Things step up a notch over the weekend of Saturday, December 8, and Sunday, December 9, with the ‘Mayor’s Christmas Event,’ which will feature “an atmospheric and mysterious winter fairy-tale [that] will surprise and delight audiences of all ages.”
And finally, on the penultimate weekend before the big day itself, the Council’s Christmas Market will take place in Guildhall Square between Thursday, December 13 and Sunday, December 16.
This is billed as “a winter themed Christmas market with bar serving craft/artisan drinks, live music, kids entertainment and festive animation”.
There are also two planned Christmas Tea Dances in the Guildhall, one on St. Nicholas’ Eve, Wednesday, December 5, the other on Tuesday, December 18.
And the Council will be providing grant aid of up to £3,000 to five neighbourhood renewal areas in the district in order to support various ’Christmas in the Communities’ events.
A total budget of almost £100,000 has been set aside with £78,300 for the events themselves and £20,000 for marketing.
During the meeting SDLP Councillor, Martin Reilly, requested that a final post-Christmas Mayor’s reception for those emergency services and health workers who will be working on Christmas Day be added to the programme.