All eyes are on Derry in 2013

Derry’s game-changing year as UK City of Culture has garnered many column inches as the big moment approached.

Critics and journalists alike have remarked on how the Culture celebrations will be a highlight for many of 2013.

At the weekend the Independent - in its A-Z of 2013 listed Derry under the entry for D - with other entries for next year including the birth of a very royal baby and the continuing success of Andy Murray.

Writing in Saturday’s paper, the Independent scribes said: “Derry aka Londonderry aka Slash City (because it’s been referred to so often as “Derry-slash- Londonderry”) is about to be officially launched as 2013 UK City of Culture.

“The 2013 Turner Prize will be unveiled there, the first time it has been celebrated outside London.

“So what are Derry’s cultural credentials? Well, in 2010 it was named 10th most musical city in the UK by the Performing Rights Society. It was the birthplace of George Farquhar, the Restoration dramatist (remember The Beaux’ Stratagem? Of course you do) and the contemporary playwright Brian Friel. It’s the city of Seamus Heaney, the Nobel-winning poet, and the novelists Joyce Cary and Jennifer Johnston; of Feargal Sharkey and his band The Undertones, and, er, Nadine from Girls Aloud. Oh and Dana, who won Eurovision in 1970 with “All Kinds of Everything” before becoming an MEP.

“Perhaps less culturally distinguished than Seamus and co is the ‘Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival’ that winds through the town every 31 October – forming “the largest street party in Ireland”, according to the local Visitors and Conventions Bureau. Also noteworthy is the annual Big Tickle Comedy Festival every March, the Jazz and Big Band Festival every April and the Celtronic annual electronic dance festival held all over the city.

“And don’t forget the momentous day, 9 December 2007, when 13,000 Santas gathered in Derry, to break the Largest Gathering of Santas record previously held by Liverpool and Las Vegas, thus hurling Derry city into the Guinness Book of Records.”

The Indo hack concluded: “Culture? Derry’s got culture seeping from every pore.”

High praise was also forthcoming from Will Gompertz, Arts Correspondent with the BBC.

He wrote: “Londonderry’s year as the UK City of Culture hopes to generate much international interest.

“It features home-grown shows such as Teenage Kicks: A Punk Musical, and the Turner Prize, which will be awarded outside England for the first time. Also receiving attention will be Manet at the Royal Academy, Glastonbury, Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and the reopening of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.”

He also listed it among his cultural highlights of 2013.

David Blevins, Sky News Correspondent in an online article also expressed hope for the year ahead - and for the wider future.

“For the most part however, things have changed. Protestants and Catholics, previously separated by the river flowing through the centre of the city, have been connected by a peace bridge,” he wrote.

“The British army barracks is now a concert venue and the year-long programme is diverse - from Britain’s Royal Ballet to the All-Ireland Fleadh, the world’s largest festival of Irish culture.

“Derry, Londonderry or #Legenderry - the promotional hashtag on Twitter - it certainly has no shortage of names. Most residents would prefer that their city had only one reputation: culture, not conflict.”