Whatever your preconceptions of Northern Ireland’s second city, the chances are you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised by what you find in Derry. After all it wasn’t bestowed the title of UK City of Culture 2013 for nothing.
Its riverside location, fascinating past and warm welcome has fuelled its revival, and attracted renewed investment across the city that reflects its pride – both in its heritage and its modern culture. The arrival of various brands in support of its rapid growth of tourism, such as the Travelodge Derry Hotel, is testament to Derry’s firm position in the city break scene.
It has a lot to offer today’s visitor and the wheels of tourism have helped fund numerous projects and attractions, from the iconic new footbridge – the Peace Bridge – to a healthy calendar of events spanning a wide range of interests.
High on the list of diary dates for 2013 is the Turner Prize Awards in January 2013, which will be the first time the prize has been held outside of England. It seems fitting that this coveted award for contemporary art should be held in the same year as Derry’s City of Culture status.
Aside from contemporary art, and at quite the other extreme, Derry is a historical city that takes enormous pride in its heritage – and justifiably so. It is one of the oldest inhabited places anywhere in Ireland, with evidence pointing to settlements dating back thousands of years. The foundations of an ancient 6th century monastery form the earliest historical references that we can see today, while other historic sites such as the 17th century city walls tell the story of Derry’s more turbulent past.
Much of the city was rebuilt in the 18th century, which saw the construction of beautiful Georgian style houses – many of which are still standing today. And when the sun goes down this compact city really comes into its own. Like many other Irish towns and cities, its pubs and clubs are booming with a foot-thumping live-music scene and a thirst for entertainment, ranging from traditional Irish dancing and folk customs to an array of modern nightclubs churning out the latest sounds.
Whatever tickles your fancy, you can’t help but fall under the spell of Derry’s warm welcome and bewitching charm. Come and enjoy it before the rest of the world takes notice.