It has been a while since I posted a travel review on the blog and I am glad to be back with a cracking post for you today!
Last weekend we were offered a couple of nights in a cottage in Coleraine by the very lovely team at Cancer Fund for Children.
We had read in the Irish News that Derry had been voted as the best Halloween destination in the world, so we decided to brave the one hour drive and go and check it out!
The Halloween celebrations in Derry indeed are, an absolute treat!
First of all, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the celebratory mood is prevalent way before you even set foot in the city center, where all the buzz is and most organised activities take place!
Families are out and about, dressed up in Halloween attire, matching most times and all! I am so sorry, in retrospect, that I did not bring my professional camera along and act like Brandon from Humans of New York, I think you would have been delighted with the ingenuity and the effort people put into dressing up for the occasion!
Upon arrival, we parked on the other side of the Peace Bridge, as we had been advised, for an easy exit afterwards, and went to explore the place on foot.
The Peace Bridge was built in 2011 and it is the ultimate definition of symbolic architecture! The Bridge unites the two sides of Derry, that historically stand for the two sides of the big political divide here, in Northern Ireland and, according to Wikipedia, “it is intended to improve relations between the largely unionist ‘Waterside’ with the largely nationalist ‘Cityside’, by improving access between these areas, as part of wider regeneration plans.”
To Emma, Alex explained the slightly odd, windy twisty shape of the bridge as the way in which political peace generally works: ” it is never a straight path, but a long process of compromises, detours and mutual acceptance.”
We decided to go straight to the Guild Hall, once on the other side of the bridge, as there were loads of children’s shows and activities scheduled that we wanted Emma to enjoy.
The hall was set up magnificently for the occasion, entry fee was only a pound per head and loads and loads of fun was had during the two shows we got to watch, the Three Witches and Bruce Airhead:
After the shows we felt the need to get a bit of fresh air and since the afternoon had turned out so very pleasant and warm (a lovely surprise, given the typical Norn Irish weather!) we knew it was the perfect time to show Emma the old defense stone walls. The wall walk lasts not more than 20 minutes and gives you an exquisite, vantage view point of Derry and its gorgeous surroundings.
Once back into the town, it was time to cross the Bridge once again and settle for a lovely evening meal in the award winning Sooty Olive restaurant, which we had booked for six o’clock, giving us time to enjoy a lavish meal and finish in time for the annual fireworks. By then, my camera had run out of battery so I wasn’t able to take pictures of our aaaah-maaa-zing meal but I am sure the lovely owner will not mind us using a couple of pictures from their website to showcase the extraordinary culinary treat you are in for at the Sooty Olive:
We had their three course meal, which is an absolute bargain at £17.95 per head for a restaurant of this caliber.
Our choices consisted of beautiful (and stunningly well presented) starters of salmon pate and fish cakes, main meals of lamb shank and chicken supreme (featured in the picture above) and chicken goujons and mash for Emma and desserts of apple and blackberry crumble and the selection of house ice-creams, which comes with a home baked cookie, the size of Emma’s head!
Alex fancied a couple of craft beers from the menu as well and it all came to a bill of £50 and three stuffed-to-the-gills but very satisfied customers!
It was then time to head out and find a spot to watch the fireworks, a 10 minute walk and we were back to the Peace Bridge and ready for a good show,which was delivered, above our wildest expectations:
Our only regret was that we didn’t book to stay into the town overnight and we didn’t manage to see the Parade this year, as we had to head back to Coleraine, but I did book City Hotel provisionally for next year :-)!
If you do want to have a real feel of Halloween in Derry, do check last year’s selection of best moments here:
I truly hope that next year we will be able to return to Derry for their amazing Halloween celebrations and provide our readers with an even thorougher review of the events. I do hope Tourism Ireland get to read not only our post but also into our love and enthusiasm for our adoptive country and who knows, even commission us to write about the next year’s Halloween celebrations :-)?
I do know that next year’s Halloween seems like a long time away now but where would you like to spend yours, given the choice?
Reblogged this on Visit Derry Blog.
Thank you very much for the reblog!xx
Hi Oana – thanks for writing about your experience of Halloween in Derry.
It definitely was the best ever
I was at the parade myself and captured a few moments. https://vimeo.com/144243954
Absolutely brilliant, Brian, thank you for sharing this with us!
This looks like such a fun event! I’ve not been to Derry before but it looks great. I do love the description of the bridge and its meaning of peace.
Wow, it looks like an amazing place to celebrate Halloween. I love the peace bridge and all that it reflects too
What an amazing sounding time – those fireworks look spectacular! x
I’d not heard of Derry as a Halloween destination before. I like the sound of that – didn’t Halloween originate in Ireland anyway?
I would love to see a Halloween parade – maybe a trip to NI is on the cards for next year!
Halloween in Ireland seems like a great idea, glad you had a good time. My local village surprisingly hosts a great Halloween evening with nothing big like fireworks, just that all the shopkeepers and residents alike give out sweets for trick or treating and everyone gets into the spirit. (I say surprisingly because France doesn’t really do Halloween.)
I had no idea Halloween was celebrated in such a spectacular fashion! I would so love to visit sometime.
I love your photos – it really does look amazing.
I’m so please you had such a lovely time x
It looks like an amazing place, I would really love to visit. The food at the restaurant looks amazing too and so reasonably priced. So pleased you all had great time x
This looks so brilliant! We had a Trick or Treat trail in our little village. I have never been to Ireland, but being just across the water would love to. Kaz x
What a fantastic experience! I didn’t know that Derry celebrated Halloween in such a big way. We like being at home on Halloween as we live in a small village and there’s a lovely community atmosphere.