Derry – A Celebration of Irishness

Belfast Crown Bar

Belfast Crown Bar

IT’S a great year to visit the west coast of Ireland – the world’s coming along to share it with you!

Thousands of people are descending on Ireland from all over the world throughout 2013 to take part in the country’s ‘Year of Welcome’, The Gathering.

The Gathering is a mammoth event where folk of Irish descent flock back to the Old Country to celebrate their Irishness – in the customary style, of course.

There are special events all over Ireland including Derry-Londonderry and Shannon throughout the year – go to the Discover Ireland website at for more details and a full programme of events.


DERRY-Londonderry is the UK Capital of Culture 2013 – you don’t just get an honour like that by accident.

This historic city’s year in the spotlight is just reward for a city which has turned its life around and is looking forward to the brightest of futures.

It intends to make the most of its time as the No1 city – but it’s not only culturally that Derry comes out on top in 2013. According to the hugely respected travel giant Lonely Planet, Derry-Londonderry is permanently one of the best cities to visit any year.

In fact, they rank it fourth best city to visit in the whole world in their Best In Travel 2013 list, beating the likes of such giants as Beijing and Montreal. Only San Francisco, Amsterdam and Hyderabad fare better – a stunning recommendation.

And it’s well-deserved. As Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall, one of those who helped compile the list, says: Best in Travel is all about identifying destinations which offer the traveller something special. Derry is a brilliant example of a city that has bounced back from difficult times. This is a city with heart, which shines through in its exciting arts and music scene.”

This new Derry which he speaks about is symbolised by the Peace Bridge which crosses the River Foyle and connects the two sides of the city.

Before you head off into County Donegal and beyond, make sure you give yourself enough time to get the most out of this engaging city.

As well as music and arts events throughout the year, the city is hoping that being in the spotlight will help it show people how much it has changed in the past 40 years.

Situated picturesquely on the River Foyle, surrounded by hills and a stone’s throw from the rugged Northern Coast, the Walled City of Derry-Londonderry is steeped in history and provides the perfect starting point for exploring the magnificent surrounding countryside of Donegal.

But Derry-Londonderry is a cultural delight not just in 2013 but each and every year you visit, with many regular celebrations, such as the Jazz Festival and the Earhart Festival which in 2013 celebrates the 80th anniversary of the touchdown on Irish soil of the famous American pioneer pilot Amelia Earhart at the end of her historic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932.

The Amelia Earhart Centre is one of the city’s big draws. It is located on the outskirts of the city within the beautiful Ballyarnett natural park and is a permanent record of the famous aviator’s unexpected visit.

The city is known as the Walled City, so called because of the ring of walls that embrace and protect its inhabitants. They have never been breached but now, symbolic of the way modern Derry is taking over, they are occupied by museums, theatres and galleries plus a host of music venues.


One of Derry-Londonderry’s famous sons is returning to the city this year as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

Hollywood actor Stephen Rea, who was born and raised here, is bringing a brand new production along with him through the theatre company, Field Day. As homecomings go, this one will make headlines.

But Stephen is not the only famous name to make it big in showbiz. One of Derry-Londonderry’s most successful exports, the band The Undertones also get the City of Culture treatment with a new stage show – Teenage Kicks: A Punk Musical – which will strut into the 2013’s calendar backed by the swagger of award-winning screenwriter Colin Bateman. Expect punk classics and controlled anarchy although mohawks and dog collars are optional.

In August, the City of Derry Regatta will be held on Lough Foyle. This is a spectacular regatta featuring old traditional sailing boats which used to be commonplace on the city’s waters in the early 20th century when the local fishing industry was at its height.

The culmination of the year of special events concludes in December with an historic first. The winner of the controversial art award, the Turner Prize, will be announced in the city on December 2 and throughout the year the artists in line for the accolade will have their works on show. This is the first time the competition has been held outside England.

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