Derry’s game-changing year as City of Culture received another boost at the weekend as the New York Times extolled our virtues to their readership - as a city eager to move forward where there is a “verifiable buzz” in the air.
New York Times travel writer Brendan Spiegel visited Derry and described how the city has moved on from the past and is embracing the future.
He stated that, upon seeing the ‘Free Marian Price’ grafitti and the famous sights of the Bogside, Free Derry Corner and the murals depicting more violent episodes in our past a visitor could be forgiven for thinking they had “stepped into a warzone”.
But, he continued: “This once hotly contested city is far from it. As I wandered under an archway and into the walled city, I was a bit taken aback by just how far.
“The notes of a classical piano piece rang out from the First Derry Presbyterian Church, the clomps of an Irish step-dancing class echoed loudly through the narrow streets, and a chorus of enthusiastic buskers belted out tunes for passing shoppers. A rainbow-colored tourist trolley swung a busload of photo-snappers around the corner,” he wrote.
Cherry picking The City Hotel, The Tower Hotel, Brown’s and Custom House restaurants for special mention, Spiegler also relayed many of the highlights of the coming year to the New York Times audience.
He added: “The cultural scene has been simmering for some time. On any given weekend, traditional Irish music and modern rock bands fill the city’s pubs, while a diverse array of performing arts can be found on stage at sites like The Playhouse theatre, Waterside Theatre and Irish-language cultural hub Culturlann Ui Chanain. One of Northern Ireland’s premier international cinema showcases, the Foyle Film Festival, will mark its 25th year here when it starts on Nov. 21.”
Highlighting the success of this year’s Clipper Festival and Peace One Day concert and the attention both brought to the city, Spiegler added: “But despite the international attention, the aspect of Derry that quickly becomes most apparent to visitors is that this once-scarred city is a place now reveling in its sense of normalcy.