‘First Light’ to mark Allhallowtide with music and light

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Derry’s Halloween celebrations will host a day of music and light themed events in the city centre on Thursday, November 1 aimed at bringing people together to reflect and remember the dead.

‘First Light – Reflection and Remembering’ is being held to mark Allhallowtide or Hallowmas, a three day festival following Halloween night to honour the dead.

Among the highlights are performances by local choirs on the Main Stage in Guildhall Square on Thursday afternoon and into the evening where illumination will be provided by personalised lanterns of remembrance created earlier in the day.

People will have an opportunity to make their own personalised lantern of remembrance in advance, at one of three ‘First Light Lantern Making’ workshops running from 6pm until 8pm from Sunday, October 28 until Tuesday 30.

This workshop will also be hosted in the Guildhall’s Whittaker Suite from 4pm – 6pm on Thursday itself to enable as many people as possible to participate in the gentle act of remembrance.

The celebrations will conclude with a special evening of remembrance and reflection in St Columb’s Cathedral on Thursday night and a choral service in St Eugene’s Cathedral on Friday night.

Festival and Events Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Jacqueline Whoriskey, explained the tradition of honouring and remembering those who have passed is one that spans all cultures and traditions.

“In almost every culture there is a belief that the dead should be honoured, be it out of respect or a fear of ghostly retribution,” she noted. “Local traditions include setting a place at the table for those departed, attending mass or special services, lighting candles or placing lanterns, gifts or flowers on graves.

“In some cultures there are holidays set aside specifically to commemorate the dead, which vary from reserved veneration to an all-out party celebration.

“Allhallowtide or Hallowmas is a three day festival of Western Christian observances to remember the dead that includes All Saints Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) and All Souls Day.

“We are delighted to be able to explore and continue those traditions within our own Halloween Programme for 2018 with a wide variety of interactive activities, performances and events.”

The First Light programme begins at 10.30am on Thursday, November 1 with Yoga Under the Samhain Moon in the Guildhall’s Main Hall.

Later in the morning and afternoon the Nerve Centre Cinema will host two special screenings of Pixar’s Coco at 11am and 1.30pm.

Festivals of the Dead at 1pm in Holywell Trust in Bishop’s Street will allow people of all ages to come together for craft, face-painting and workshops to learn more about the different cultural traditions and rituals honouring the dead including China’s Hungry Ghost Festival, and Japan’s O-Bon celebrations.

From 2pm until 8pm local choirs Voice of the Foyle, Momentum Community Choir, Encore Contemporary Choir, the Calgach Sigers and Rosemount Male Voice Choir will perform on the main stage at Guildhall Square.

Inside in the Guildhall’s Main Hall, Lochlainn Kelly of Why,gigs will present ‘Nostalgia for New Scenes’ a selection of indie, alternative and folk songs under the Museum of the Moon from 6pm onwards. At 7pm the BBCs Stephen McCauley will deliver a unique musical experience underneath the moon, as he transports the audience into a state of mindfulness and serenity with a bespoke soundtrack featuring soundscapes, melodies and compositions that pay homage to the moon and everything it signifies.

St Columb’s Cathedral will host a special evening of remembrance and reflection at 7pm on Thursday evening with a service that will include music and a religious service where people will be invited to write down their special intentions for those who have passed and place them on a tree.

On Friday, November 2 St Eugene’s Cathedral will dim their interior lights and illuminate its stain glass windows to allow people to come together and remember family and friends who have died through a choral performance at 7pm and Mass at 7.30pm.

The full First Light programme can be viewed at http://derryhalloween.com/1stlight.

The 2018 Halloween programme will run from October 26 – November 3, with over 100 family friendly activities at more than 40 venues, stretching over nine jam-packed days. Among the regular highlights which draw thousands to the city each year, is the Awakening of the Walls, which makes a welcome return for 2018, along with dynamic drumming sensations Spark.

There will be ghost tours, story-telling, animation, Halloween markets and so much more happening in the build up to the big night itself on October 31, when the traditional Carnival parade will bring hundreds of performers together to celebrate this year’s Return of the Ancients theme. The night will finish in a spectacular Halloween fireworks finale.

The programme is organised and funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from the Tourism N. Ireland International Fund.

The full programme for this year’s Halloween Festival is available online at www.derryhalloween.com.