Derry Halloween parade and fireworks attracts thousands

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Media captionThousands attend Halloween parade and fireworks in Londonderry

Tens of thousands of people have lined the streets of Londonderry for the annual Halloween parade and fireworks display.

The Return of the Ancients festival has been extended this year with its largest ever budget of almost £400,000.

Image caption Crowds lined Derry's quay and part of the city centre for the parade

Derry City and Strabane District Council has said 100,000 people visited the city for what is known as Europe's biggest Halloween gathering.

The city's walls came alive with skeletons, nuns, witches, fire and music - otherwise known as Awakening the Walls.

Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place has been transformed into a harvest market for the nine-day festival.

Image caption Local community and arts groups have been preparing for the parade for months
Image caption Skeletons and zombies featured in the parade

Aeidin McCarter, head of culture at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the record numbers who attended this year's celebrations was a "ringing endorsement of the extension of this year's festival".

'Amazing'

"We have been overwhelmed by the numbers," she added.

"We have seen in excess of 20,000 people per night coming out for the Awakening the Walls trail and over 30,000 attended the Halloween night parade and fireworks displays, bringing the total figure to in excess of 100,000 people.

"It takes months of work on the ground to host an event of this magnitude but it is extremely rewarding for our all our council teams when the public give their backing to the programme by attending in such large numbers."

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Image caption Tens of thousands of people have been walking Londonderry's famous walls
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Image caption Spark, a street theatre group, has been one of the biggest talking points over the past few days

Teresa Cairns, a mother of two from Dungiven, told BBC News NI that her children love Halloween more than Christmas.

"The colours, sights and sounds are amazing," said Mrs Cairns.

"My Jessica is autistic and she loves films. She thinks this is like a scene from a movie."

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Image caption A large skeleton sits on the city's walls at Bishop Street

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, hailed the celebrations as a resounding success.

"I would like to congratulate council's festival and events team and all their partners on delivering the ambitious programme across Derry and Strabane," he said.

"The record breaking attendance and the fact that hotels are booked to full capacity all week justifies our campaign to market the celebrations as an international event."

Image caption St Patrick also got into the spirit of things for the parade
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Image caption The fireworks brought events to a close on Wednesday night

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