Christmas switch on, markets and tree festival countdown begins in Derry & Strabane

The processions to turn on the Christmas lights in Derry and Strabane on the final weekend of November are part of a packed programme of festive fun announced this week by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
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The city’s main Christmas tree was already being installed at Guildhall Square at the weekend ahead of the 2023 festivities getting under way.

Many festive favourites are set to return including the Guildhall Craft Fair and Mayor Patricia Logue’s Christmas Tea Dances, as well as a number of new initiatives such as the St Columb’s Cathedral Christmas Tree festival and the Derry Business Collective Christmas Market in St Columb’s Hall.

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Mayor Logue will also host a special Countdown to Christmas event in Guildhall Square on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 December featuring festive music, characters, refreshments and a rumoured appearance from Santa Claus.

Left: Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty. Right: The Christmas tree being installed at Guildhall Square at the weekend. Photo: Kevin Mullan.Left: Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty. Right: The Christmas tree being installed at Guildhall Square at the weekend. Photo: Kevin Mullan.
Left: Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty. Right: The Christmas tree being installed at Guildhall Square at the weekend. Photo: Kevin Mullan.

The schedule begins on the weekend of Friday November 17 with the Guildhall Craft Fair before the Christmas Lights Switch On Procession events which take place in Derry on Friday November 24 and Strabane on Saturday November 25.

Mayor Logue officially launched the programme at the Guildhall this week.

“I am absolutely delighted and excited to officially unveil our plans to celebrate Christmas in style this year across the City and District,” she said.

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“The programme is designed to create special Christmas memories for people across our Council area and allow our local businesses to get maximum benefit from the festive period.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.
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“I am particularly pleased that we have retained the Wonderland Processions through Strabane and the city centre which have proved such a hit with the public in recent years and have grown into one of the highlights of our festival and events calendar.

“I’m proud to be hosting a number of initiatives including my Christmas Tea Dances in Derry and Strabane and a series of Christmas movies in the Alley Theatre and I can’t wait to meet people of all ages at those events.

“There are a number of new additions to the programme this year so I’d encourage families to access it now and plan a Christmas experience to remember right here in Derry and Strabane.”

The Christmas tree being placed at Guildhall Square at the weekend.The Christmas tree being placed at Guildhall Square at the weekend.
The Christmas tree being placed at Guildhall Square at the weekend.
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The Procession format for the lights switch-ons originated in 2021 as a safer way for crowds to gather during the Covid pandemic, however Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, explained that they have been retained following a positive response from the public.

“The 2023 Christmas Programme aims to enhance the visitor and shopper experience and complement the existing calendar of events at this time of year,” she said.

“In the last two years the format of the Christmas light switch on has changed to a procession incorporating multiple streets across a wider area of the city and town centres.

“We are delighted that Santa and his festive friends will again parade through the streets this year with the Christmas lights switching on in their wake.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, launching Council’s Christmas programme with Council’s Events Co-ordinator Andrea Campbell and members of the Voices of the Foyle Choir. Photo Lorcan Doherty.
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“The Procession will consist of festive characters, NI Fire and Rescue Service, Panto Characters and beautiful bespoke Christmas themed mobile installations.”

“We have planned a mix of quality programming and a strong marketing campaign over the next two months to maximise the economic opportunities for local businesses and we are strongly focusing on a theme of shopping, gifting and supporting local,” she added.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tea Dances are scheduled for December 6 in the Guildhall and December 12 in St Patrick’s Hall, Strabane.

You can plan your Derry Strabane Christmas experience by accessing the full programme at derrystrabane.com/Christmas and support and follow Council's support local campaign using the hashtags #ChristmasDS and #GiftLocal on social media.

The Mayor’s chosen charity for her term in office are the Ryan McBride donation and the Foyle Hospice, you can donate online at www.justgiving.com/campaign/derrystrabanemayorscharities