Did you know that once a year over Halloween weekend, Derry AKA the City of Bones becomes home to an incredible carnival with 30,000 people in attendance, live performers, fire shows, children’s theatre and all sorts of other activities just perfect for families with a love of all things ghoulish? Neither did we, until Tourism Ireland invited us over to see for ourselves.
As it turns out, the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival ‘spook-tacular’ attracts thousands of tourists every year and is considered to be one of the finest street celebrations in Europe.
Sadly, due to some bad luck on the cancelled flights front, we landed in Northern Ireland much later than planned and missed the Halloween night Carnival and Fireworks on the banks of the River Foyle, but on Saturday (1st November) we explored the still buzzing (and very beautiful) walled city.
This is what we found…
Fools Paradise presents Bruce Airhead at The Little Theatre, St Columb’s Hall
‘Bruce’ climbed inside a balloon in a wrestling leotard, danced about a bit, before emerging fully clothed. The kids loved it. He juggled with axes and generally got the audience laughing too. A fun show and only £1.
Granny Turismo around the streets of Derry
I’ve loved this act for years. Granny Turismo ride around on giant shopping trollies that double as boom boxes, blaring out disco hits somewhat incongruous with their mild mannered exterior. They’re very funny and they’re lovely people too, so if you spot them anywhere in the future, say hello and have a boogie.
Hansel and Gretel at The Little Theatre, St Columb’s Hall
This three man, highly interactive show saw the kids being led between two different rooms and getting really involved in the classic story. Very engaging and perfect for younger children. Entry was just £1.
Live fire dancers inside the walls of the Citadel
Circus performers with fire lit up the streets come nightfall! JD was stunned by the spectacle and keeps talking about it.
Quaywest, 28 Boating Club Ln, Londonderry.
We enjoyed an extremely tasty dinner at Quaywest. I opted for a creamy and perfectly spiced Cajun pasta, while Mark had a steak and the kids enjoyed sausage and mash. No veg included in the kids option, sadly, but when they learned it was JD’s birthday, they brought out his dessert with added candles and played Happy Birthday over the speakers – all the diners joined in the singing and clapping. Very lovely indeed.
A stay at No 8 Townhouse, 8 Artillery Street, BT48 YE5
No 8 Townhouse is a gorgeously decorated, narrow B&B spread across several floors right near the centre of Derry. The team there looked after us extremely well, fed us generous cooked breakfasts, chatted patiently and enthusiastically with the children and when Miss J took ill on the morning of our journey home, they even texted to see if she was ok. A really lovely place to stay – highly recommended.
In Your Space presents The Witches at The Little Theatre, St Columb’s Hall
This was our favourite show of the visit, which had the children up on their feet, dancing and giggling. It was perfectly pitched to keep both adults and children entertained and the kids got so enthused, I cried laughing.
So, where are you planning to spend next Halloween? I’d recommend you visit Scary Derry.
We had SUCH a lovely time during our brief stay, we’re thinking of travelling back in the summer, because as well as being ‘scary’, Derry is also welcoming, rich in culture and absolutely beautiful.
We attended all of the above events of a press trip arranged by Tourism Ireland. The hotel room pic is © No 8 Townhouse.