Magical Derry up in lights - two week Illuminations festival to be held February 2022

‘There’s something magical about Derry’ according to SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell and after council officers secured £451,000 from Tourism Northern Ireland to deliver a two-week long Festival of Light entitled ‘Illuminating the Walled City’ in February 2022, there’s no doubt he is right.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:41 am

It is proposed ‘Illuminating the Walled City will run from February 14 to 27, 2022  from 5pm to 10pm daily.  The event will consist of three main elements – An Illuminated Trail of Light, an Intimate Music Programme and Live Illumination Experiences.

An Illuminated Trail of Light will see installations/animations re-imagine public spaces across the city and they will stay in place for the duration of the two-week experience. 

These could include giant moonbeams, displays of illuminated props, aerial illuminated character/chandeliers, illuminated towers, fire gardens, circus and fire performers, large lanterns at multiple sites across the Walled City.  

2013: One of The Travellers by Cedric Le Borgne suspended over the River Foyle which was part of the four day Lumiere Festival of light in produced by Artichoke as part of the City of Culture celebrations. Picture Martin McKeown. 28.11.13

An Intimate Music Programme will embrace the theme of light with a programme of intimate gigs of well-known local artists in unique locations.  

Live Illumination Experiences will take place each weekend of the festival and will culminate in a trail of live illumination experiences which will turn some of the city’s iconic buildings into spectacular pieces of art. 

By using a mix of audio-visual, digital media and outdoor projection, some of the iconic buildings will be brought to life, telling the city’s original stories through digital animation, innovative design to deliver an experience that will be exciting, engaging, stimulating, informative, fully immersive and unique to Northern Ireland. 

Each installation will come alive for 3-5 minutes at a time and will be played in a loop to form an illuminated trail within the Walled City. 

Committee Chair, Sinn Fein Councillor Conor Heaney described it as a ‘really exciting development.’

He added; “It will be a major asset to the city and draw in a lot of visitors to the city. It’s also very timely coming as a festival that can operate in February, a quiet time in most cities and as most of our businesses are trying to build their way out of Covid.”

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell said it was ‘genuinely fantastic news’. 

He added: “When I read the details around this proposal I just thought this is amazing. There’s something magical about Derry on a cold dark winter’s night when you see the buildings illuminated and personally I love walking around the city at Christmas when we have the illumination just to see the look on people’s faces when they marvel at how beautiful our city is. 

“I would imagine if this is as half impressive as what we do at Christmas people are going to be over the moon with it. It starts on Valentine’s Day as well so it’s the perfect gift for my other half.”

In awarding the £451,000, Tourism NI have issued council with a Service Level Agreement which sets out objectives to attract 92,000 additional visitors, generate 70% bed occupancy, engage with 70+ local businesses and 40+ local artists and venues to deliver the project by end of February 2022. 

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter