Spend Hallowe’en at the world’s best scare-fest

Derry Halloween - Return of the Ancients’ International Halloween Street Carnival Parade Photo by Lorcan Doherty

Dust off your ghostly garb and head to Derry~Londonderry to experience the frights and sights of the world’s best Hallowe’en celebrations.

A frightfully good line-up of events awaits at the world-famous Derry Hallowe’en festival, which this year runs from 26 October to 1 November in Northern Ireland’s evocative walled city.

Reflecting Hallowe’en’s roots in the Celtic tradition of Samhain (pronounced ‘Sow-in’), when the boundary between this world and the other was believed to be is at its thinnest, this year’s festival theme is The Other World Awakens.

The hair-raising programme includes a magical Museum of the Moon on display in the historic Guildhall, monstrously good music at the Samhain Sessions, which will feature Irish folk-Americana duo Hudson Taylor among the performers, and all manner of family fun taking place at Little Horrors events. A host of other eerie events includes spooky tours and trails, fun fairs and spine-chilling street theatre. 

This year there will be a new LegenDerry Hallowe’en Food Village, laden with produce from the thriving local food and drink scene and tempting even visiting vampires to try something new.

And the hugely popular Awakening the Walls event returns to light up Derry~Londonderry’s 400-year-old walls over three nights. More than 40 installations and performances by local and international artists will rouse the ghosts of the city with a supernatural animation trail along this historic monument.

On 31 October the festival will culminate in a fabulously colourful Hallowe’en Carnival Parade featuring circus and dance performances and a bewitching display of ghostly guises and petrifying props. The parade ends with a fabulous fireworks display.

Derry Hallowe’en has been running for over 30 years and last year 100,000 people showed up, making it Europe’s biggest Hallowe’en party. The 2019 event has even won the stamp of approval from  Royal Mail, which has issued a new postage stamp to celebrate the festival, one of eight events across the UK to be honoured in this way.

Before, during and after the spine-tingling Hallowe’en events there is plenty more to do in this welcoming city. Walk the famous walls, visit the museums, take a selfie at the Derry Girls mural and enjoy the buzz of Derry~Londonderry’s restaurants and bars.  

And if you’ve time to venture further afield the city is also the gateway to the acclaimed Causeway Coastal Route to the east and the bracing Wild Atlantic Way to the west.