Hallowe’en: Derry does it better

The best Hallowe’en destination in the world celebrated 30 years of civic festivities in style with events organisers suggesting up to 60,000 visitors are likely to have attended this year’s party.

Mayor, Hilary McClintock, had promised the best Derry Hallowe’en ever.

Photo: Margaret McLaughlin

Photo: Margaret McLaughlin

Odhran Dunne, the manager of the Visit Derry tourist office, which for the first time opened an office on the ground floor of the old Ulster Bank building right in the middle of the action in Waterloo Place, said hotel occupancy was peaking at almost 100 per cent on Saturday with similar volumes expected last night.

“We’ve been fortunate this year in that Hallowe’en has fallen on a Monday Night, so with the mid-term break we’ve been able to promote the festival over the four nights,” said Mr Dunne.

Jacqueline Whoriskey, Festival and Events Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “We had a fantastic weekend of events that saw up to 40,000 people coming along to enjoy and be part of the celebrations and we are anticipating large crowds to come along this evening for the grand finale carnival parade and fireworks.”

The Council was hopeful the annual fireworks and parade would attract a further 20,000 people into the city centre, bringing total festival attendance to 60,000.

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Mr Dunne said local hotels and guesthouses have been doing a roaring trade.

“Occupancy over the four nights is between 85 and 90 per cent, that’s up on last year, which is brilliant.

“We peaked at 98 per cent on Saturday night and we’re expecting between 98 per cent and 100 per cent tonight.”

Foreign visitors, a returning diaspora, and regional daytrippers have all been among the thousands who have been calling into the Visit Derry offices, Mr Dunne said.

“There’s the leisure market, people visiting friends and family, the corporate market and the day trip market all of which have performed well,” he said.

“This year we actually opened up the visitor centre in Waterloo Place for the first time and we’ve had thousands of enquiries from people looking for events information and so on.

“It’s been great to be able to reach that broad spectrum of visitors from across those various markets,” he added.

Ms Whoriskey said there’s been something for everyone over the long weekend.

“Among the events that proved extremely popular were the Awakening of the Walls, the Spark! performance and the appearance of Saurus in both Derry and Strabane, while the haunted tours at the Tower Museum and the arts and crafts in the Alley Theatre had record numbers attending.

“The family entertainment and storytelling at our venues, proved hugely popular and the Haunted Halloween Harvest Market added to the entire Halloween offering.

“Other events that helped make the weekend such a success were the movies at the Nerve Centre, treasure hunts and spooky bat and ghost tours at Creggan Country Park, ghoulish events at the Riverwatch Aquarium, Bewitching Tales at Gray’s Printing Press and trick or treat tours at the Alley Theatre,” she said.