Brought to life by the people of the city over 35 years ago, Derry Halloween has become one of the world’s foremost Halloween and Samhain celebrations. Reaching back through the pathways carved by Halloween travellers over hundreds of years, the celebrations draw on Derry’s rich mythical, creative, and cultural history. For many years, we have proudly welcomed the Samhain celebrations of story-telling, mischief, feasting and hospitality.
From it’s meagre beginnings as a simple fancy dress party in the city’s Castle Bar, the event has grown as each Harvest ends, attracting revellers from all around the globe and showcasing a programme of arts, food, and music as well as cultural, contemporary and family events. Pre Covid-19 the celebrations have included the magical Awakening the Walls, the colourful Carnival Parade, fabulous Fireworks, the mouth-watering Legenderry Food Market, the fearsome Little Horrors Family Programme, and our stunning Samhain Sessions Music Programme. During the last on-street Halloween celebration in 2019, Derry citizens were proud to welcome over 140,000 visitors to their city.
In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Derry Halloween switched its focus to create a diverse online programme that allowed people to get involved with the festival digitally from the safety of their own homes. This new experience kept the spirit of Derry Halloween alive while, protecting the health and safety of Halloween enthusiasts.
For our 35th anniversary event in 2021, we extended the festival footprint beyond the confines of the City Walls to create our most ambitious programme to date entitled: ‘Awakening the Walled City’. Each of our Spirit Worlds generated its own magic and enchantment. With three Spirit Worlds in the city itself, one in Donegal and one in Strabane, we merged our city with the Worlds Beyond the Walls.
The Festival was a huge success, attracting 90,000 visitors.
Derry is renowned the world over for its warmth and hospitality throughout the year but as our city comes alive once more to toast Samhain, we hope you will join us in 2022 to soak up the stories, the culture, and the farewell to Summer. The 400-year-old fortified ramparts of our city will be no match for the darkness of the spirits that are awakened.