Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
In 2013, Derry, Northern Ireland, will be front and center as the U.K.'s inaugural City of Culture, hosting an array of cultural events throughout the year. The City of Culture program in Derry will include the U.K.'s most famous art award, the Turner Prize, which will be presented outside England for the first time; a new commission by the London Symphony Orchestra; local Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney; and the Royal Ballet, its first visit to Northern Ireland in more than a decade.
The city of Derry is one of the oldest inhabited places in Ireland and has played a key role in the region's history. It was founded by Saint Columba, who converted the Scots and Northern English to Christianity. Derry was the battleground for the war that saw William of Orange wrest the throne from James II and was the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement in Ireland in the 1960s. Following its more recently troubled past, today Derry is a beacon of peacemaking and reconciliation. Derry is studded with historic landmarks and is the gateway to the UNESCO Heritage Site Giant's Causeway coastline. A new visitor center provides an enhanced experience for nature lovers, with audio guides providing commentary on this unique stretch of coast.
Highlights from the upcoming City of Culture festivities include the year-long Walls 400! Program, which will mark the quarter century of the city walls with a series of activities that will explore the history of the walls and their potential to unite rather than divide.
Music City! will take place on June 21, when the city will be devoted to all manner of music - from rock, pop and electronic to jazz, classical and opera. The city's streets, squares, churches and even offices become stages for the day.
The City of Culture Sprint Triathlon will take place on June 23, when locations around Derry provide a fitness challenge. Swimming will take place in the River Foyle that runs between the walled and new side of the city. Competitors then bike over Craigavon and Foyle Bridges, and finish with a run that will pass over the city's iconic Peace Bridge and finish in Derry city center.
On Aug. 11-18, Derry will be the site of Fleadh Cheoil na Heireann, the biggest festival of Irish culture in the world. Fleadh Cheoil na Heireann will be celebrated in the north of Ireland for the first time since it began in 1951. Over the course of eight days, Derry will host more than 300,000 visitors and be transformed into an enormous performance space with pageants, marching bands, ceili bands, concerts and singing.