We make no bones about it, when Derry Londonderry decides to throw a party, they do it frighteningly well and Derry Halloween is no exception.
With its historic walls, the city is the perfect setting to celebrate the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘Sau wen’ in the city) and there is so much to see and do as the whole city seems to get involved with activities officially kicking off on Saturday 26 October and finishing with a grand final finalé of a parade, a 100-drone done show and fireworks display on Halloween itself, Tuesday 31 October. It’s no wonder Derry Halloween boasts that it is the largest Halloween Festival in Europe!
Derry Halloween Highlights for 2023
Daily events – Saturday 28 – Monday 30 October
- The City of Bones, within the city walls, 6-9pm, free | ‘Awakening the Walled City’ Trail. Suitable for all ages. Fire performance, aerial displays, live music and illuminations.
- Through the Veil, The Diamond, 6-9pm, Free | An aerial display performed by creatures of the night!
- The Festival of Bones, Society St Car Park, 6-9pm, Free | Join the ‘King of Bones’ Halloween procession headed by the sinister skeletal frame of Walter DeBurgh, which will weave its way through the darkened streets.
- Spark!, The Diamond to Butcher St, 6:30pm, 7:30pm & 8:30pm, free | The glow-in-the dark drummers will be blazing a trail along Shipquay Street this year, so keep an eye out for their dazzling displays.
- Heart of Samhain, Guildhall Square & Waterloo Place, 12noon – 9pm, free | Halloween market with sights, sounds and tastes to enjoy including activities for children such as puppet making.
Halloween – Tuesday 31 October
- The Carnival Parade – Embankment, Queen’s Quay, Strand Road, 7:00pm, free | Schools, performing arts groups, community organisations and sports clubs come together for a vibrant and colourful parade.
- The City of Drones & Firework Displays – View from Queen’s Quay (riverfront), 8:15pm onwards | Northern Ireland’s first drone show with a swarm of 100 drones taking to the sky for a thrilling aerial display followed by the breathtaking annual fireworks display.
Other activities and events
For children – a selection
See the Derry Halloween website for a full programme.
- Trick or Treat Kids’ Halloween Disco – Guildhall, Tuesday 31 October, 4:00-6:00pm | In aid of the Mayor’s charities, Foyle Hospice and the Ryan Mcbride foundation. Donations welcome.
- Roar Roar Dinosaur – Guildhall Main Hall, Saturday 28 t– Monday 30 October – 11 am (quiet session), 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3:30pm and 5pm, £3 plus book booking fee | Dinosaur-related fun for kids.
- Spectacular Awakenings – Guildhall Square, Saturday 28– Tuesday 31 October, 3:00 pm -8:00pm, free | Animation and Ark activities with games dress up and puppet making
Tours, shows and other events
Tickets and more information about these events can be found on the Derry Halloween website unless stated otherwise.
- Candlelight Orchestra – St Columb’s Cathedral, 28 Oct, 6:30pm & 9:00pm, £15-£35 – Buy tickets on Derry Halloween website. A programme of horror-themed tunes.
- House of Horrors – Old Tourist Information Building, Tuesday 24 – Monday 20 October, 6:30pm-10:30pm, cost £5pp | Test your bravery at Derry’s scariest haunted house.
- Spooky Tour of the Derry Walls – Derry City Walls, Thursday 27-Tuesday 31 October, late afternoon /early evening, £5pp inc hot drink. 45-minute family-friendly ghostly goings on. Lead by Martin McCrossan City Tours.
- The Experiment – Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, Wednesday 27-Monday 30 October, 6:00-10:00pm, £8pp | 15 minutes of terror in ‘the experiment’ with live actors, sound and lighting effects for audiences of up to 24 people at a time.
- Seantradisiún na Samhna – Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Monday 30 October, 2:30-4:00pm / 6:00-7:30pm, £5pp | A hands-on workshop exploring the true origins of Samhain, and how our Celtic nuances have made their way across the world. Bilingual. Tickets from the Cultúrlann website.
- Zombie Apocalypse – Lock ‘n’ Load, Thursday 26 – Monday 30 October, £12pp. A laser tag battle to escape the zombies.
- 1st Global Zombie Academic Symposium – Ulster University, Magee Campus. Learn more.
Visit the event website or download the PDF of the programme for full details of the close-to-50 workshops, tours, shows and activities – and if you do venture out to ‘The City Of Bones’ on Halloween weekend, be sure to go in disguise…
Accommodation & getting there
You will be very lucky to find accommodation in Derry~Londonderry for the period of the Halloween festival 2023 but if you are planning on coming in 2024, book your accommodation now!*
However, Translink are putting on additional services and increasing capacity so visitors can travel to the city to enjoy the festival and especially the Parade, Drone Show & Fireworks display on Halloween night itself which should be over . There will also be the usual free bus service between the city bus station and the train station across the river. There are also regular busses to destinations such as Belfast (about 2 hours) and Dublin. Visit the Translink website for more information.
* Affiliate link.