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Derry City & Strabane

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.

Derry City & Strabane

Don’t Miss a Thing with New Derry Halloween App

With the countdown officially on ahead of another spooky and spectacular Halloween, the public are being encouraged to download the free Derry Halloween app to keep up to date on all the ghostly activities.

Derry City and Strabane District Council have been working closely with partner agencies to put together an exciting programme that will span across Derry, Strabane and Donegal.

Whether you want to find out more on the Spirit Worlds, the fireworks shows, the Strabane Hay Trail, Little Horrors, or anything else taking place – the Derry Halloween section of the Whats On Derry Strabane app is a one-stop-stop for everything you need to know.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, encouraged everyone to download the app to make sure you don’t miss out on the haunted happenings.

“I’m delighted that we have the Derry Halloween app this year which will be a fantastic tool for everyone planning to be part of the Halloween activities.

“The app will be the perfect place to stay updated on everything that will be taking place across the city, district, and Donegal.

“Everything has been planned with public health and safety in mind so please follow the advice and ensure you spread your visits out across the whole Halloween weekend, wrap up warm and keep your distance from others.

He continued: “I know I am really looking forward to this year’s programme and to having Halloween back in our city and district, so get the Derry Halloween app downloaded and start your planning now!”

Derry Halloween is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Tourism Northern Ireland, the Executive Office, Translink, Donegal County Council and the North West Development Fund.

To download the app, visit your Google Play or i0S app store and search for ‘What’s On Derry Strabane’

You can find out more about the full programme on

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Derry City & Strabane

The Lost World to Take Over Strabane this Halloween

There will be lots of strange and spooky sights in Strabane town centre on Halloween weekend as The Lost World takes over.

On Friday 29th and Saturday 30th October from 1pm to 5pm you better keep your eyes peeled as you may discover some strange unwanted characters lurking that have got lost on their way to the Awakening in Derry and have come through the wrong portal, landing in Strabane. There will be an interactive animation trail, starting at the Alley Theatre, and if you​ follow along you may meet some interesting individuals along the way.

Look out for the ‘Wayward Witch’ who can tell you all about the characters lost in Strabane and how to gather them up before it’s too late.

There are six characters to find including ‘The White Lady of the Bann’ who has a special riddle to solve before she casts her spell on the town.

See if you can spot the fastest ghost ever – ‘The Tullymoan Ghost’ – and help him evade the grasp of his arch enemy ‘The Soul Catcher’.

Outside McColgan’s you might see Mrs Lovett trying to sell her famous pies, made from people! Shifty barber Sweeney Todd is helping her look for her next victim, but if you can solve the riddle hidden in their song/monologue, then they will soon be sent back to the Awakening in Derry.

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Half Hung Mc Naughton outside Harley’s. Listen to his story and don’t forget to catch his riddle at the end.

Along the way you’ll also spot some amazing dinosaurs including ‘Gorm’ the 25-foot-long Triceratops, ‘Jay’ the 15-year-old T-Rex, ‘Echo’ – the youngest of the Velociraptors, ‘Baby Blue’ who is the eldest of the ‘Raptors and daughter of a very famous movie star named Blue, ‘Sastá’ the gentle and caring herbivore, and the feisty ‘Baby Roxy’ – stay away as he does bite! There will also be a special dino mobile museum packed with real skulls, teeth, claws and much more. 

If that wasn’t enough, make sure you’re in Abercorn Square on Saturday 30th October at 1.30pm to catch the frighteningly fantastic SPARK LED Drummers. Back by popular demand, this is street theatre at its finest with a magical live music movement and spectacular lighting performance.

There will also be live music, a food quarter, arts and crafts, and street performers and live shows, so don’t miss out!

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, encouraged everyone to pay a visit on Halloween weekend.

“It will be spooky Strabane next weekend as the town centre is overtaken by The Lost World. You just don’t know what ghastly and ghoulish sights you might see!

“It’s also fantastic to have SPARK back. It’s a very special show and certainly one that’s not to be missed.

“With the dinosaurs also making their way through the town, there’s guaranteed to be a fantastic Halloween atmosphere, so I’d really encourage all families to get themselves into Strabane to enjoy the vast Halloween activities that we have planned.”

You can find out more about the full programme on

Derry Halloween is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Tourism Northern Ireland, the Executive Office, Translink, Donegal County Council and the North West Development Fund.

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