The traditional Celtic festival of Halloween has attracted attention around the world and is also celebrated with enthusiasm. Most celebrated in the UK, United States and Canada, Derry in Ireland is considered an incredible destination across the globe to celebrate Halloween. Here’s a guide to attending Halloween in Derry, places to eat and stay, and enjoying this spookiest place in Ireland.
Origin of Halloween in Derry
The event, which began in 1985 as an all-costume party, has grown into a massive celebration, drawing thousands of visitors worldwide. From lively carnival parades, scintillating fireworks, incredible music programmes, folklore, traditional food markets and feasting, Derry’s well worth visiting Halloween, Samhain gathering and Europe’s biggest festival. Also, according to a USA Today readers’ poll, Derry is the best destination in the world to beat the homeland of Dracula, Transylvania in Romania and Salem in the United States.
Halloween events in Derry
Derry Halloween Festival turns into a four day itinerary with lots of events and a few things to do.
Jungle NI is the North Island’s premier outdoor adventure center, offering traditional but extra adventures. They arrange Halloween events. About 45 minutes from Derry, this place is easily accessible by bus or car. Start your festival with a visit to Jungle NI, where you’ll encounter the creepiest creatures on the trail of terror. This adrenaline-pumping event takes you through haunted forests infused with fiendish creatures and spooky vibes. Packed with special effects, quirky lighting, and terrifying audio, the journey can shake even the toughest horror-loving person.
The Whispering Shipyard
Here you will experience Cailleach, the Queen of Winter, the goddess of cold, and winds guiding visitors through a narrative of ghost tales and Samhain tales. This event, which gives the surreal experience of the world beyond the walls, takes place in the evenings from 17:00 to 22:00.
The City of Bones
Walking towards Guildhall Square and The Diamond, one will witness Walter de Burgh and his ancestors, believed to haunt the Walled City, transform into the City Of Bones. To make this experience a spooky one, there are mind-boggling installations and disguises.
Trick and treat at Limitless
One can visit the outdoor adventure center at Limitless for the Tricks and Treats event, where one can search the Petrifying Pumpkin Patch, wear some spooky costumes for fun and win spooky treats, test their archery skills and practice Wicked Witches Laser Clay Shooting, where you shoot mysterious characters in laserclays is fun or compete against zombies, ghouls and ghosts.
The Awakening and the Forest of Shadows
This is the event where you are greeted with dancing flames and appear to be walking in a forest. The mesmerizing yet haunting performances featuring the phantom of Queen Morrigan are haunted, while the shape-shifting creatures are encountered all along the way. The entire event lasts approximately 1-1.5 hours and the experience begins in St. Columb’s Park and continues to the Transport Hub.
Experience the legends and the lore
If you want to experience the legends and lore of Ireland, as well as the ancient Red Branch Knights, you will be mesmerized by the event at Swan Park Buncrana. The knights parading through Lough Swilly on Halloween night as they tell the tales is a re-enactment for all in attendance. The event takes place between 17:00 and 22:00 in Swan Park.
The Derry Sparkling Fireworks is a wonderful place in Derry, Ireland. The spectacular fireworks display takes place on the last day, ie October 31st, when the Halloween Hay Trail and the animation and festival program take place across the city.
Places to eat in Derry
There are many restaurants to choose from including the award-winning Grain & Grill Restaurant with stunning views of the historic city walls serving the finest cuisine, Mekong Street Food is renowned for Asian street food and The Everglades Hotel where one can enjoy Derry Girls-themed afternoon tea with Sandwiches, pastries and fluffy scones, Mandarin Palace, known for its Euro-Asian decor, The White Horse Hotel Bar & Restaurant, known for European a la carte dishes and various tea menus, Castle Street Social, a casual restaurant, Timberquay is known for its tranquil riverside location.
Pubs in Derry
Derry has a reputation for having both traditional and modern clubs with Irish music and its lively, vibrant nature. Rosie Joes, Derry is a live music venue, Guildhall Taphouse has a traditional ambience albeit modern vibes, Silver Street (River Inn) is Derry’s oldest pub, Peadar O’ Donnels is home to traditional and contemporary live music, Dungloe Bar is the heart of Waterloo Street and best known for music and food.
Cafes in Derry
Derry is dotted with numerous cafes such as Soda & Starch in the heart of the Craft Village serving breakfast, lunch or dinner, Doherty’s Home Bakery known for the best bread, rolls and cakes, Maiden Heaven also a cafe ice cream shop, The Scullery Cafe, an artisan bakery coffee house, Primrose on the Quay along the riverfront with delicious food, Guild Cafe in the famous Guildhall overlooking the Peace Bridge are just a few options to choose from.
Accommodation in Derry
The city of Derry offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. Hotels, BnBs, guesthouses, hostels, self-catering, camping and caravans, campus accommodation and much more. The Waterfoot Hotel in Londonderry, the Lake of Shadows in Buncrana, the Holiday Inn Express Derry, the Shipquay Hotel and the Everglades Hotel are some options for the hotel. For hostels there are options like Derry Hostel, St Columb’s Park House and Tullyarvan Mill Hostel while Elaghvale, The Saddler’s House, Amore B&B, Groarty Manor and Cathedral View are some B&B options worth considering.