Derry City and Strabane District Council, in partnership with Visit Derry, has launched an Augmented Reality experience aimed at bringing the Historic City Walls to life through augmented reality helping heritage venues within and around the walls to enhance their tourism offering.
Users will now be able to experience the story of Derry ~ Londonderry’s historic past, and more contemporary history through the use of Digital Technology. Augmented reality, an authentic location and story will be combined to tell a story relating to the contested history that the City Walls represent.
The Walls Alive App will enable visitors to use their phones/tablets to recreate the life of 10 sites by providing access to sets of short vignettes using a mix of images, audio, videos and drawing from a wide range of accessible archives from participating venues. For example users will be able to explore the tunnels under the city walls or take a view of the Guildhall clock tower.
The APP focusses on the key attractions within the City Walls, which were built by the London Companies with The Honourable the Irish Society in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster and completed in 1618. This site is the only remaining complete walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. The Derry Walls are the largest ancient monument in state care in Northern Ireland and have the longest, complete circuit of ramparts of any of the remaining 30 walled towns in Ireland.
The experience focuses not only on the Walls but also explores the contested history that the site represents including the story of the Apprentice Boys and the more contemporary history of the Civil Rights which saw significant activity in the Bogside area.
The Walls Alive App has been developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Visit Derry with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Tourism NI and Historic Environment Division as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The aim of the project was to test the use of digital technology within the heritage sector.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke said it will be a welcome addition to city and district’s tourism offering that local and international tourists can enjoy.
“This is a new and exciting way for visitors to explore our city and district to learn more about the colourful history that has shaped it,” he said.
“It will take users on a walk through some of our most famous landmarks, including St Augustine’s Church, Free Derry Corner, St Columb’s Cathedral and the Fountain.
“I would like to congratulate the project stakeholders on the development of the app which is a further welcome addition to our visitor offering following the opening of the new state of the art Visit Information Centre in Waterloo Place.”
Visit Derry Chief Executive Odhran Dunne added: “We are delighted to be able to offer visitors this innovative digital way to engage with the history of Derry-Londonderry.
“The app is designed to complement the existing heritage infrastructure and product offering that the city has to offer. Our knowledgeable virtual guides will bring users through portals that will allow them to experience amazing views of the city past and present.”
Jennifer O’Donnell, Tourism Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council said Walls Alive is available in English, French and German and can be downloaded from the App store and Google Play. She welcomed the fact that it has been developed using augmented reality and GPS technology. “It will take users on an interactive tour of the city to show them the city’s rich history and how it looked in the past and really allow us to engage with tourists to tell our unique historical story.”
The app is free to download and is available on Apple and Android devices by searching for ‘Walls Alive AR’ in the App Store or Google Play Store.
Business and Culture Committee Receives Update on Christmas Plans
Members of Council’s Business and Culture committee were presented with an update on plans for the Christmas programme within the district at their September meeting on Tuesday.
Presenting the report, Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, explained that the Christmas programme would begin on November 20th and continue into December, focusing on key weekends throughout this period.
Members heard that the programming will focus on bringing communities together, creating the space for shared inclusive celebration around the Christmas period and that all programming would be carried out in line with Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.
It was explained that Christmas lights switch ons will take place in Strabane on Saturday 20th November and in Derry on Sunday 21st November. Members were told that following last year’s virtual switch ons, this year it was proposed that the event return to an outdoor event format using different streets in the city and town centres to allow for social distancing.
Aeidin McCarter said, “We are planning a ‘Santa’s Switch On Procession’ which will consist of festive characters, NI Fire and Rescue Service, Panto Characters and beautiful bespoke Christmas themed mobile installations.
“Members of the public attending the Switch On event will be able to view Santa switching on the Christmas lights from a series of city and town centre streets which will allow for the maximum number of people to safely line the routes.”
She added that Business and Culture officers are working closely with the Council’s Environment Directorate to ensure that the various Christmas lighting schemes are complemented by a mix of events and activities to ensure an enriched overall visitor and shopper experience.
Members were also informed that work was ongoing around the Christmas Markets and a further update would be provided on the proposed details and dates at next month’s committee meeting.
Due to the continued indoor restrictions with regards to Covid-19, members were told that the possibility of hosting the Guildhall Craft Fair is unlikely, but that the festive marketing campaign would centre around ‘shop & gift local’, ‘support local’ and ‘your small spend makes a giant difference’ messaging themes to support local businesses and traders.
As part of the update, members also heard that the Council’s Events team are continuing to work closely with the Mayor’s Office on a series of activities that will enable the Mayor to bring Festive fun to communities in the Derry City and Strabane District.
Members voted to approve the overall budget of £80,000, with a further update to come before committee in October.
Business and Culture chair, Cllr Conor Heaney, welcomed the report and thanked Council officers for their work on the programme to date, adding that the festive period is always a positive and exciting time for local people and businesses and that the proposed programme will add to that excitement.
Mayor to Host ‘Supercar Sunday’ for Charity
If you’re a fan of all things cars, there will only be one place to be next month as Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, hosts ‘The Mayor’s Supercar Sunday’ which will see a range of the world’s most exciting supercars on display in the city centre.
The event will take place on Sunday 3rd October when car enthusiasts Gary McCaul and Keith Gamble will bring up to 15 cars that will include supercars such as Lamborghinis, Ferrari and McLarens together with American Muscle cars such as Corvette and the Ford Mustang to Guildhall Square and Harbour Square for the public to get up close and personal with these incredible machines.
Mayor Warke is hosting the special event to raise funds for his Mayor’s charity, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, and attendees will be invited on the day to donate to the charity, which supports and empowers children and young people with Down syndrome from birth to adulthood.
“I’m really looking forward to this event at the start of October and having got a sneak peek of some of the cars that will be on display I can safely say this is something not to be missed,” said the Mayor.
“We’ve all seen the Lamborghinis and Mustangs on TV and in films, but this is an opportunity to get a close-up look at these magnificent cars.
“I can guarantee that it will be fun for all the family. It’s not often that you get to see so many of these supercars all in one spot, so make sure you call down on Sunday 3rd October and have a look.
“This is all in aid of my chosen Mayor’s charity, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, who do fantastic work in this city and district. All donations will be hugely appreciated, and all proceeds collected on the day will go directly to helping FDST.”
‘The Mayor’s Supercar Sunday’ will take place on Sunday 3rd October from 12pm to 4pm in Guildhall Square and Harbour Square. Donations can be made on the day to Foyle Down Syndrome Trust or you can donate online.