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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Lauren Harte

Love shines bright at Derry's Illuminate Festival with surprise marriage proposal

Love was in the Derry air on Saturday evening at the Illuminate Festival as one lucky Newry man dazzled his girlfriend with a marriage proposal with a difference.

The words 'Mariane will you marry me?' blazed across the Guildhall as the Festival came to a standstill while Benny Marmion got down on one knee to ask girlfriend of three years, Mariane Freitas de Souza to be his wife.

There wasn't a dry eye in the Guildhall Square as – thankfully – Mariane said yes to a huge round of applause from the crowd.

Speaking afterwards, Benny said the Illuminate Festival was the perfect backdrop for his proposal to the light of his life Mariane.

"I want to thank the Council team and Visual Spectrum for making this happen this evening, it really made the moment even more special," he said.

"We love the city so it just seemed like the perfect place for a proposal, and the Illuminate festival brought some extra magic."

Benny said the Illuminate Festival was the perfect backdrop for his proposal to Mariane. (Lorcan Doherty)

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke extended his congratulations to the delighted couple, saying: "We were so pleased to be able to play a part in such an important moment in Benny and Mariane's life.

"When Benny approached us with the request to use the Guildhall as the backdrop for his proposal, the company behind the 3D animations, Visual Spectrum Studio, didn't hesitate.

"They were determined to make it work and were able to incorporate the messaging into the animation, much to the delight of by standers watching the show.

"I just want to extend my congratulations to Benny and Mariane and wish them every happiness on their journey together. I know they have family here in the city so no doubt there will be a huge party tonight.

"If they're looking for a wedding venue then of course the Guildhall could be the perfect place for the ceremony!" he laughed.

"I'm thrilled that Illuminate was able to add that extra bit of sparkle to their special moment."

The Illuminate Festival has been running in the city for two weekends, and is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland as part of its Embrace A Giant Spirit campaign.

A festival first for Derry, the event is a celebration of the city's history dramatically brought to life in a series of 3D animations projected on to historic landmarks scattered throughout the city centre.

Illuminate continues to light up the city centre for one more night tomorrow evening, Sunday February 27 from 6pm – 9pm.

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