Derry's Halloween festivities attracts tens of thousands every year
When it comes to street celebrations there are few that compare to the internationally renowned Halloween festival that draws tens of thousands to Derry annually.
Final touches are now being added to the packed programme of events lined up for the coming days, featuring an extravaganza of family friendly activities to suit all ages.
When the final firework illuminates the Foyle and brings to a close the traditional ghoulish goings on, tranquillity returns with a magical and meditative experience marking the AllHallowtide celebration First Light.
Taking place on Friday November 1st and Saturday November 2nd, First Light will bring people of all faiths together in the spirit of remembrance and reflection to mark the all Saints and All Souls Feast Days. A series of services, installations, musical and choral experiences will run throughout the two days aimed at offering opportunities to reflect, offer prayers and thanks.
Events coordinator with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Helena Hasson, said that after such a busy week for the city it would be an opportunity to slow the pace and remember the spiritual origins of the All Hallows celebration.
“First Light is a relatively new element to our Halloween programme and one that we continue to grow and develop in partnership with the local churches and community organisations. It’s very unique and quite special.
“After being caught up in the excitement and energy of Halloween, First Light immerses us once again in calmness and serenity. It really is a beautiful programme of thought provoking events aimed at bringing people together and engaging them in restorative and enlightening activities.”
Leave behind the noise and indulgence of the night before with some Blissology by the Light of the Moon in the Guildhall, with meditative yoga sessions taking place throughout Friday. The sessions are free and are open to everyone, no experience required.
The Guildhall Main Hall will remain open from 10.00am – 6.00pm for anyone who wants to come and spend some time under Luke Jerram’s ethereal Museum of the Moon installation. Candle bags will be available for visitors to write a message of remembrance for a loved one, which will then be placed on the Main Hall stage.
The Guildhall Square main stage will host a musical showcase to remember as choirs from across the city display their talents on Friday afternoon at the Voices of Light event.
If you’re seeking some spiritual fulfilment then the Windows to the Soul Reflective Walking Tour will take you on a contemplative journey around some of the city’s most significant places of reflection and worship on Friday and Saturday. Beginning at Aras Colmcille, the tour will take in St Columba’s Long Tower, before moving to St Augustine’s, then First Derry Presbyterian Church, and finishing at St Columb’s Cathedral.
Organizer Kieran Griffiths explained the idea behind the tour. “It was inspired from a poem by local poet Daniel Ferguson. His poem talks about each religion as a window looking at Christ, and each window has a different architecture, but is looking at the same Christ. “Volunteers and Church leaders from each venue were interviewed during the project as to how they pray, what is special about their place and what they would want a visitor to know about the Church. From this process a tour outlining the atmosphere, history, people, song and prayer of each place has been written. The tour will give a look into the soul of that church.
“The process of interviewing and writing this simple walking tour was a very moving experience. It moved the inertia of routine, it moved perceptions of others and it was emotionally moving on many occasions meeting the wonderfully dedicated human beings keeping these beautiful building and the message alive.”
Enjoy specially composed music and share a common prayer at each of the churches as part of this reverent look into the presentation of faith marking the feast of All Saints and All Souls. Candle bags will again be available at each of the churches so that people can write an intention for a loved one they have lost and place the lit lantern bag at that church. This event is free and everyone is welcome.
The First Light programme will conclude with a peaceful choral performance at Eugene’s Cathedral, as people gather to remember departed family and friends at 5pm, followed by a special mass of remembrance awww.derryhalloween.com/1stlightt 6.15pm. Intentions can be offered up during the mass and the cathedral will be bathed in golden light to commemorate All Souls and First Light.
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