Northern Ireland: Places to Explore

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Derry

In 2013, Northern Ireland's second-largest city, Derry/Londonderry (as it's now known) hosts the U.K. City of Culture. By a happy coincidence, 2013 is also the 400th anniversary of the building of the historic 20-foot-tall walls enclosing the old city. Derry's stint as City of Culture will bring writers, painters, poets, musicians, sculptors, and other artists to town to showcase their work, and many cultural events will take place. Derry will also host the 2013 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil (2013fleadh.ie), the most prestigious event on the Irish traditional music and culture calendar. From August 11th through the 17th, thousands will flock to watch dancers and listen to singers, tin whistlers, fiddlers, and bodhrán players. This is the first time that Northern Ireland has hosted this event. As if that's not enough, the Turner Prize—regarded as the most important event on the contemporary art calendar in the United Kingdom—is coming to Derry in 2013.

Recent changes in Derry also include the 2011 opening of the spectacular Peace Bridge across the River Foyle. The bridge links the city center with Ebrington Square, a redeveloped military base that figured in World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. The base's developers are building a gallery, a modern art center, studios, bars, hotels, shops, and eventually a maritime museum. Collectively, the changes of recent years are being seen as a huge opportunity to build on progress born of the peace process and to send out a message to the world that this city's communities, so long divided, now desire to work together.

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