Last year Halloween was largely put on hold due to Covid19, which made this year’s magical programme all the more special for the home of Halloween. Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said it had been a fantastic return for the event. “We have all had such a challenging 18 months and I know there was great disappointment when the festival couldn’t go ahead in full last year, so it has been such a joy to see people returning to the city’s streets this year.
“So much has gone into the careful planning of the new format for the event and we are delighted at the support we have received from far and wide. Derry Halloween is nothing without the people who make it special, and this year that has been even more important. It’s been a celebration of getting together again – albeit with some measures to keep everyone safe – but a fantastic coming together to share something that brings delight and entertainment to so many people.
“I want to thank the Council’s team who have worked so hard over the past few months to make this happen. I also want to thank all our community and creative partners for sharing their amazing talents, the statutory agencies who made the safe delivery of this event possible, and our government and tourism partners for their dedication to local culture. But most of all thank you to all our visitors, and the people of this City who have turned out this weekend to reawaken the Walled City.”
Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Aeidin McCarter, said it had been a challenge, but also a huge pleasure to bring the festival back this year. “Of course we have had to face challenges this year which we worked hard to address, and during all our planning we were mindful that me may have to adapt to changing circumstances. If anything the past year and a half has taught us, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted and flexibility is key. The Festival and Events team have worked closely with Tourism Northern Ireland (TNI), Tourism Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance and other industry bodies in developing a safe plan for this year’s event.
“I am delighted to see that so many people were just waiting for the return of Derry Halloween and we had tens of thousands of visitors here over the course of the weekend. Thank you to everyone who followed our guidance in terms of safety, and played their own part in making Derry Halloween a success. Local businesses in particular have been thrilled to see the celebration back as it has such an impact on the local economy. It has been a real pleasure seeing people embracing the festivities, getting into their Halloween costumes and getting out and about once again.”
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.
Return of St Patrick’s Parade Plans Welcomed by Councillors
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee approved plans for the return of the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, after a two year break due to the pandemic.
The proposals for the on street celebration, which will go ahead subject to Covid guidance, were brought before the committee at the Guildhall, and were warmly welcomed by members.
Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, told members it was the next stage in the phasing in of public events and that measures will be in place to ensure the safe delivery of the programme. It follows the successful delivery of the City’s annual Halloween celebrations, which were redesigned this year with a major focus on public safety.
The Committee heard that Council’s Festival and Events team would now progress plans in partnership with the North West Carnival Initiative as part of their Service Level Agreement with Council. The parade event will involve 500 participants from throughout the city’s neighbourhood areas, with an open call and targeted engagement programmes aimed at supporting local communities.
The Parade will happen in tandem with a major outdoor event already confirmed for the City taking place over a week in mid-March. About Us, which is created by 59 Productions Collective as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, will be a large-scale public event that takes audiences on a journey through 13.8 billion years of history from the Big Bang to the present day. The live show will transform the area in and around the city centre into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. More information can be found by visiting www.aboutus.earth
Welcoming the plans, Chair of the Business and Culture Committee, Councillor Conor Heaney, said it would be a major boost for local businesses. “If we look back at 2019, St Patrick’s was the first major event to be postponed due to the pandemic and I think people then began to realise the seriousness of the situation. The tragic events as they were unfolding around the world had reached our shores, and local businesses and Council responded swiftly to protect the public, with the postponement of the Spring Carnival and the closure of local venues. Looking back no one could have imagined that we would still be impacted by Covid19 as we near the end of 2021.
“Those same businesses will be delighted to see the return of our annual events programme, and to see two major events running in tandem throughout the week of St Patrick’s is an additional bonus and very positive news for the local economy. I am confident following the successful delivery of our Halloween celebrations last weekend that safety will be prioritised and that this event can be delivered safely and responsibly in an outdoor setting. I look more to hearing more about the programme as the details are finalised in the coming weeks and months.”
The Committee were reassured that About Us would complement the Spring Carnival events, and would not affect the main parade route through the City Centre. Members approved the allocation of £106,000 for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, £30,000 of which will go towards festivities in Strabane.
Later in the meeting the Committee also approved the wider Festival and Events programme for 2022, which features several milestone events, including the Illuminating the Walled City project in February, the innovative Our Place in Space trail in April designed by Oliver Jeffers as part of UNBOXED, the City of Derry Jazz Festival in May, Summer Jamm in June and the Foyle Maritime Festival in July.
Kickstart IT Course to Give Students the Edge in the Software Industry
Local IT companies are partnering with Council and the North West Regional College to boost employment opportunities within the software industry through a special fast track course beginning in the New Year.
The Kickstart IT course, which is funded by the Department for the Economy, is a 16 week, industry led course aimed at students at HNC/D level and above. Participants will benefit from specialist training to enable them to successfully apply for IT software roles.
The full time course will begin on January 10th, and offers students a placement of at least four weeks with a local software company and a guaranteed job interview at the end with participating companies.
Head of Business with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Kevin O’Connor, said the course would offer students the chance to get the competitive edge in the local job market.
“We are delighted to be working with the North West Regional College and local IT companies to provide a specially tailored course which will that will help address a shortage of computer programmers in our region.
“The course has employability sessions integrated into it which aim to enhance the candidates’ personal development to give the best possible chance during the job application process.
“These include assistance with completing the application form, advice on improving interview skills, mock interview feedback and help with delivering presentations. These are skills that participants can use regardless of whether or not they choose to pursue a career in IT at the end of the course.”
Candidates must be fully available for the entire duration of the training schedule which will delivered through a blended approach of classroom and online learning. Successful students will gain qualifications in ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing, a City and Guilds Diploma for Software Developers and a City and Guilds Certificate of Unit Credit in relation to SQL module.
Lecturer in Computing at North West Regional College, Kevin McLaughlin, revealed that, despite the short nature of the course, students will learn a wide range of programming functions.
“This software fundamentals course will allow students with no background in IT to quickly learn a range of skills and programming languages that they can put into practise in the workplace,” he said.
“It includes Java, SQL and UX Fundamentals modules as well as software testing and design.
“The local software industry is a growing one, particularly in the current climate, and the successful completion of this course can leave candidates strongly equipped to successfully gain employment and thrive in it.”
For an application packs Contact Eileen McGrinder on 07595216249 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org Applications must be submitted by November 19th.