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Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, 31 October, 2023 in Ireland: Europe’s biggest Halloween festival, Derry Halloween, is set for a dazzling culmination of four days and nights of spine-tinging fun, including Northern Ireland’s first ever drone show – the City of Drones display.

With 100 drones projecting a stunning spectacle of spooky images across the night sky over St Columb’s Park, the City of Drones show adds yet another dimension to the festival’s packed programme of entertainment.

The evenings’ Halloween Carnival Parade is an annual centrepiece to the Festival and will feature hundreds of costumed characters, fire performers, aerialists and drummers all dancing their way to the fireworks extravaganza that closes Derry Halloween.

Derry Halloween Festival has welcomed an estimated 120,000 people to the walled city to take part in the annual frightfest. The event summons the Celtic spirits of the ancient festival of Samhain, which was celebrated in Ireland thousands of years ago to mark the beginning of winter.

At Samhain the veil between this world and the otherworld was believed to be at its thinnest, allowing spirits and demons to easily pass between the two. It is considered to be the origin of Halloween.

Since kicking off on Saturday, 28 October, Derry Halloween has brought the streets of Derry~Londonderry to life with theatrical performances, pop-up-choirs, light shows and spooky creatures and haunted hooligans who roam the night. This year the Awakening the Walled City trail is a highlight of the festival, telling the story of Halloween through illumination, aerial performance, pyrotechnics and music.

Some of the city’s historic buildings are also joining the fun with dinosaurs taking over the Guildhall and St Columb’s Cathedral lighting up with enchanting illuminations.

Adding a further dimension to this year’s mischief and mayhem is a partner conference on the subject of the world of the undead. The Global Zombie Studies Symposium (30–31 October) is taking place at Ulster University’s Magee Campus in the city.

Speaking about the event, Dr Victoria McCollum from Ulster University, said: “Derry Halloween is such a vital aspect of cultural life here in the city. There is nowhere better on earth to host a global zombie studies symposium! For almost a century, the zombie has been used as a vehicle to inform our understanding of terrorism, racism, poverty, globalisation, communism, contagion, and so on. A mass horde of international zombie scholars have set up camp in our Derry~Londonderry campus, which has long played a central role in engaging with and supporting our local communities through our teaching, research and investment.”

The conference has welcomed 80 zombie scholars and enthusiasts from across the world to talk about the walking dead, covering topics from Zombies in Popular Culture to The Science of Zombiism.