Northern Ireland

Londonderry hosts 'record-breaking Halloween party'

There was a family friendly atmosphere at the City of Bones carnival Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption There was a family-friendly atmosphere at the City of Bones carnival

Record-breaking numbers of people flocked to Derry for the 2016 Halloween festival, organisers have said.

The event was celebrating its 30th year and even a slight drizzle did nothing to dampen the 30,000 spirits.

The parade in the renamed City of Bones began at 19:00 GMT, followed by fireworks from 20:00 GMT.

The city now lays claim to being the "best Halloween destination in the world" having been voted number one in a USA Today readers' poll last year.

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Media captionThousands of people attended the Halloween festival in Derry.

Halloween live page special

Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption Crowds lined the city's quay to watch the fireworks display
Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption Even the ghouls were drumming to the city beat

Derry City and Strabane District Council estimated that 30,000 people attended the "Out of this World" celebrations on Monday evening, with a total of about 80,000 attending the four-day festival.

Jacqueline Whoriskey, festival manager, said they were overwhelmed by the success of this year's events.

"We're absolutely delighted, thousands of people came into the city not just last night, but over the weekend. It's record breaking numbers and we can't but be pleased, if maybe a bit exhausted!"

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Image caption Along with the traditional parade floats, local school kids got into the spirit

"At one point on Friday night, we were standing on the walls and thought: 'This really could be one of the big European experiences'," Ms Whoriskey said.

"There were so many people that had never been to Derry, Northern Ireland or even Ireland before and came specifically because of our reputation as the best Halloween destination in the world."

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Image caption Even the stars were out in force last night

Jim Roddy, City Centre Manger, said the north west would be reaping the economic benefits.

"The city centre hotels were full all weekend and what a great legacy of 2013 our city of culture year that is - 80,000 people going through the streets over the weekend, just a fantastic weekend to showcase our wonderful city."

Ch Insp Gordon McCalmont, said about 200 officers policed the event.

He said the operation was "not without its challenges" but it was also "thoroughly enjoyable".

At the spooky scene

By BBC NI's Niall Glynn

Londonderry's Halloween celebrations may have started small with a fireworks display 30 years ago, but they have grown into a four-day festival attracting tens of thousands.

It's first and foremost a family affair, with hundreds of children on parade and hundreds more lining the streets to watch, most of them decked out in fancy dress.

But it's not just the kids who dress up, the adults get into the spirit of it too with Star Wars characters, creepy clowns, ghost busters and some frankly indecipherable homemade costumes on display.

The parade itself featured everything from Celtic mythology and spooky dancers to environmental messages and even a likeness of Donald Trump.

The event reached a climax with a stunning fireworks display over the River Foyle.

Image caption The festival got the smile of approval from this young man
Image caption The celebrations are in full swing under the gothic Guildhall

An invitation was extended to extra-terrestrial guests, and a World War Two siren wailed across the city to "prepare earth residents for their arrival".

After the parade ended at Queen's Quay, the fireworks provided a spectacular finale for the entire Derry and Strabane area. The council spent £30,000 on the display.

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Image caption Deputy Mayor Jim McKeever gets the fright of his life in the Tower Museum
Image caption One of the organisers told the BBC an estimated 30,000 people had gathered in the city on Monday evening

"The world knows no-one throws a Halloween party like us," said Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Hilary McClintock.

"For 30 years now, people from all over the world have visited our city and celebrated with us in our unique Halloween celebrations, making memories and great friends during their visit."

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Image caption Blue mascara anyone? this trio were well covered

It was not just all about 31 October - the city has been partying hard for the last three days.

Derry's Halloween festival officially began on Friday, with a packed weekend programme of "freaky family fun".

Image caption There was also the Awakening the Walls event which lit up the historic city

There was live music, street performances, ghost tours, spooky story-telling, fancy dress dances, a food and craft market and a 5km "zombie run", with the city's historic 17th Century walls a dramatic backdrop to the four days of festivities.

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Media captionThe Londonderry Parade - in 60 seconds
Image caption The fireworks display lit up the sky above the river Foyle

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