UK City of Culture: Events announced for Derry celebration

Saint Colum Cille Colum Cille, the man behind the city, launched the programme

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The Turner Prize, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Ballet will all feature in Londonderry as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations.

The first edition of the programmes arrived in the city by speedboat along the river Foyle.

Derry will take on the title in 2013. The year will kick off with a special Sons and Daughters of Derry concert.

Frank Cottrell Boyce has also been commissioned to devise a performance piece on the River Foyle.

'Superb programme'

Derry defeated stiff competition from Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield to win the title for 2013 - the first time it has ever been awarded.


Shona McCarthy's City of Culture programme for Derry/Londonderry 2013 is ingenious, measuring the city's local personality alongside its potential as an international arts fulcrum.

The headliners include international names that also happen to be home-grown, or at least home-nurtured - Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Phil Coulter and even the Undertones.

They are not in the least overshadowed by the LSO, the Royal Ballet or the Turner Prize.

Visitors fixed with images of 1690 or 1972 will have them wiped away, not least by Ebrington, once a hated barracks cut off from the city by the Foyle but now joined by the new Peace Bridge.

Not to mention a performance space that hosts an inaugural free concert, the Sons & Daughters spectacular, to introduce one of Ireland's - republic and province - most enchanting cities to a TV audience.

Simon Tait, co-editor, Arts Industry magazine

The chairman of the Culture Company, Martin Bradley, told the BBC that the city had undergone a "physical and psychological transformation".

"We're the first city of culture, there is no blueprint for this. All eyes are watching us to see how we do," he said.

"A huge amount of work has gone into this over the last 18 months. It's a superb programme."

The event will open with a Sons and Daughters concert on the 20 January 2013 in a new purpose built building in Ebrington Square.

The concert hopes to celebrate Derry's rich musical heritage and will be broadcast by the BBC.

The Turner Prize will be held outside England for the first time. It will be staged in the former military barracks on Ebrington Square.

Playwright Brian Friel and actor Stephen Rea will return to the city with the Field Day theatre company, which was founded in the city in 1980.

They will present a new work by playwright Sam Shepard.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who scripted the opening ceremony of the London Olympic s will devise a three day performance based on Colmcille, the warrior monk who founded the city.

"I've been brought in to work on the project on Colmcille. We are imagining him returning to Derry.

Oaky Doakes UK City of Culture mascot Oaky Doakes is being used to promote the city as well as the hashtag #LegenDerry on social media.

"I can't say much but it is going to be spectacular and it's going be be water based on the River Foyle.

"It is also going to involve at least 1,000 local people," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

A punk musical set in Derry during the 1970s, based on The Undertones, perhaps Derry's most famous export, will be premiered. It has been written by local playwright Colin Bateman.

In terms of music, Phil Coulter will be returning to the city for the biggest concert he has ever performed in his home town.

The London Symphony Orchestra will also present the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's At Sixes and Sevens, a new cantata featuring texts by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon.

The orchestra will also perform music by John Williams, including his scores from Star Wars and Schindlers List.


The Royal Ballet will give a special gala performance in their first visit to Northern Ireland in over 20 years. They will perform with the Ulster Orchestra.

Derry's walls will also become a canvas for art group Lumiere whowill transform the city with special light show.

Comedians Jimmy Carr and Tommy Tiernan will take to the stage while BBC Radio 1 have confirmed they will be broadcasting from the city.

Popular Donegal entertainer Daniel O'Donnell will bring his tour to the city, as will Primal Scream and Loudon Wainwright III.

Keiron Tourish reports for BBC Newsline

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Culture Company said that she hoped that the year would "bring a sense of joy, a sense of pride and a sense of being part of a global community."

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said he was "bursting with pride".

He said that he hoped the year long event would leave a lasting legacy.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the city. People are becoming very excited. It's an incredible opportunity which will bring new jobs and help transform the city."

A mascot was also unveiled, Oaky Doakes, who will be used to promote the event as well as the hashtag #LegenDerry on social media sites.

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