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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Shaun Keenan

Illuminate Festival 2022: Traffic restrictions, road closures to avoid and council advice

The time has come for Derry's IIIuminate Festival.

This Thursday, February 17, will see the highly anticipated festival light up the city with multi-media installations, music and performances across some of Derry's most iconic sites.

It means there will be changes to roads and public transport for the day as Derry City and Strabane District Council balances the extra demand for participants, spectators and those who are simply going about their normal business.

It will be a festival first for the city, with visitors invited to follow an animated trail bringing the story of Derry to life, from Colmcille's first monastic settlement to the present day.

The Events

Visitors can enjoy snapshots in time captured in a series of stunning digital animations, enhanced by live performances and music.

Site 1 – The Guildhall

Derry's iconic Guildhall has been its civic hub and the beating heart of city life since 1887. Illuminate will animate the building's neo-Gothic façade with a magical visually mapped projection show capturing the era 1789-1932, a time of busy commerce and lively maritime activity.

Site 2 – Echo Echo Theatre

The Troubles were a defining time in Derry's history and an era of immense unrest and change that has seen the City evolve into the place it is today. Echo Echo will provide the platform for the story of the Crucible City – one of the darkest chapters in Derry's eventful history, but also the most hopeful.

Site 3 – Castle Gate

During Illuminate the gates will once more shut at the imposing Castle Gate, now guarded by the Apprentice Boys of Londonderry who watch tensely as the Jacobite troops gather on the periphery of the Walled City.

Site 4 Derry Walls/ Fahan Street Embankment

Travel from 432 – 1566 with some of the most prominent figures who shaped the city, as St Colmcille laid the foundations of his monastery and first bestowed the name Doire Colmcille on this place. Witness the bloody battles between Viking invaders and the fearsome warrior family the MacLochlainns, all captured in thrilling live performance.

Site 5 – St Columb's Cathedral

The horrors of the siege have come to an end and the trail takes us to St Columb's Cathedral to find out how the Walled Town has fared, as we explore the story of the first Protestant Church in Ireland.

Site 6 – St Columb's Hall

2022 – a year to look back and celebrate all that makes Derry the place it is today. This Grade A listed building was originally built by the Temperance movement but has since become a favourite cultural venue for the fantastic talent that sets this place apart. Our 'Reimagined City' is one of music, vitality and charm, where the warmth of the welcome has become renowned the world over.

A wider programme of music events will also take place at a number of intimate venues across the City, led by Music Capital and featuring Kila, Neil Cowley, the Henry Girls and Aoife Scott. They will be joined by some of our finest local performers including Glenn Rossborough, Roe and John Deery and The Heads, Comrade Hat, Clodagh May Music, Kate O'Callaghan, Ciaran Lavery, Maria Kelly and Basork for what promises to be a fabulous musical showcase.

Travelling to and from the event

The council has said in order to successfully deliver this event road closures and traffic diversions will be in place throughout the festival.

Alternative routes will be signposted in accordance with the Traffic Management Plan and in agreement with the Department of Infrastructure to notify motorists of the traffic diversion.

The following roads will be closed to traffic or have traffic restrictions in place for the event between the hours of 4pm and midnight:

  1. Fahan Street, Butcher Street,
  2. Waterloo Street impacting Harvey Street & High Street,
  3. Union Hall Place/ Magazine Street, Castle Gate
  4. Bishop Gate/Bishop Street Within, Palace Street, Society Street, (Society Street Car Park will be closed all day).
  5. London Street leading to Pump Street,
  6. Ferryquay Street, Artillery Street, Market Street, New Market Street,
  7. Orchard Street Lane Closure
  8. During these hours' access and egress from Bishop Street Carpark will be via Bishop Gate only

A council spokesperson said the road closures and diversions were being made in the "interest of safety".

They added: "Road closures and diversions will be kept to the minimum length necessary to ensure safety but motorists are advised that there may be delays.

"Drivers are reminded that normal on-street parking restrictions will be in place and that they should avoid parking anywhere they may be blocking entrances to residences or businesses or where they may be obstructing emergency access."

Public urged to plan ahead

Looking ahead to Illuminate, the Chair of Council's Business and Culture Committee, Councillor Conor Heaney, encouraged people to plan ahead.

He said: "This is a unique and totally innovative festival experience and I'm really looking forward to seeing how technology has been used to animate the City. It's the first in a series of ambitious events for 2022 – we may have had a long break from social and cultural experiences, but we're certainly making up for it this year.

"As we look ahead to our 10 th anniversary of the City of Culture, this exciting medley of events is a fitting way to mark the City's status as a creative and culturally rich destination with so much to offer visitors.

"I hope to see a great turnout for Illuminate over the coming two weekends and I would ask that people be patient, plan their journey and follow the traffic advice.

"I would also recommend that people wrap up warm and wear comfortable shoes as the trail does involve a bit of walking.

"I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of all those involved in the event, and the thought that has gone into creating a safe and totally unique experience to bring people together as we look ahead to brighter days."

Visitors should also note that a Quiet Space/Sensory Room is available during the Festival in the Guildhall. A number of information points will be open at Visit Derry, St Columb's Cathedral and outside the Millennium Forum.

More information on the trail and the programme of music events taking place

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