A captivating new sculpture trail designed by the bestselling children’s author and artist Oliver Jeffers is coming to Derry this Spring.

Centred around an epic scale model of the solar system created by Jeffers with support from astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt, Our Place in Space combines a three-dimensional sculpture trail, interactive AR (augmented reality) app, and exciting learning and events programmes.

The sculpture trail will stretch over 10 kilometres and will travel from a riverside location in Derry in April/May, to Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast in June/July. It will then head to Cambridge in August before returning to Northern Ireland at the Transport Museum and North Down Coastal Path in September/October.

The team behind Our Place in Space is led by Derry’s Nerve Centre, with location partners including Derry City and Strabane District Council.

David Lewis, executive producer at the Nerve Centre, said: “From creating a star to writing a symphony for the universe, inventing a new form of transport, building a Minecraft planet or connecting with space watchers in Vietnam or Iraq, Our Place in Space invites participants to look at our solar system in a different way – exploring what it means to live on Earth in 2022, and how we might better share and protect our planet in future.”

Our Place in Space is Northern Ireland’s project for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, commissioned by Belfast City Council.

To find out more and sign up to the mailing list, visit: www.ourplaceinspace.earth

A two-week illumination festival will be held in Derry in February, with some of the city’s most iconic buildings transformed into pieces of art.

The ‘Illuminating the Walled City’ spectacular will run from February 14 to 27, from 5pm to 10pm daily.

It will consist of three main elements including an Illuminated Trail of Light, with props, performers and lanterns, a music programme embracing the theme of light in unique locations, and live illumination experiences featuring landmark buildings.

The plans follow the major success of the Lumiere light festival as part of the City of Culture 2013 programme, which highlighted the requirement for an out-of-season experience that will attract visitors to the city.

Derry City & Strabane District Council has received a Service Level Agreement (SLA) from Tourism NI for £451k to the two-week long festival. It is 100% funded with no additional budget required by council.

Plans for next year’s Enterprise Week programme have been rubber-stamped by Council’s Business and Culture Committee.

The popular business support event, which is delivered by Council in conjunction with a wide range of partners, will take place from March 7 to 11.

The programme will feature a blended series of online and in-person events, with a focus on opportunities for post-pandemic innovation and economic growth.

Council’s Head of Business, Kevin O’Connor, told the committee that Enterprise Week would provide a valuable forum for local businesses to share expertise and experiences after two years of significant challenge and upheaval.

He added that the changing economic landscape meant that flexibility and willingness to adapt have become key to business success, and said EW2022 would help local companies reimagine business models to make them more resilient for the future.

This year’s EW2022 programme features a series of business focused workshops, webinars, keynote addresses, panel discussions, start-up pitches and networking opportunities. Themes will include Digital Innovation, Funding, Start Up support, Leadership and Empowerment, and Skills.

Full details of the event are set to be confirmed in the New Year.

The festive season is in full swing in Derry City and Strabane, with a series of magical events getting people in the mood for Christmas.

The Uncover the Magic of Christmas programme included a magical procession through the streets of Derry and Strabane for the Christmas lights switch-ons (with Santa as the guest of honour), and the Mayor’s Magical Christmas Experience.

The Walled City Christmas Markets also made a welcome return to Guildhall Square on the first two weekends of December, offering unique, locally produced artisan food and crafts.

Christmas shopping left to do? You can support Council’s support local campaign using the hashtags #ChristmasDS and #GiftLocal on social media.

Derry’s Millennium Forum was the stage for a special cultural showcase for returning expats in October.

The event, sponsored by new diaspora association, Futureproof Northwest, featured snapshots of the region’s music, literature and art.

It included a choral recital, hosted by Maurice Kelly of Allegri and guests, a new exhibition of paintings of Derry street-scenes from the last century, by Bridget Murray, and the launch of the late John Bryson’s historical reference guide to the city, Derry’s Streets: 521-2021.

Futureproof chair Sean Downey said the diaspora group, which was inaugurated at Dublin’s Mansion House in 2019 and is made up of expats from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone, aims to support conversations that will help the region.

He added: “We want to encourage the diaspora of the North West to connect, share ideas and experience, exchange contacts and create opportunities. As part of this, we plan to organise activities and events to promote networking and relationship-building, and strengthen the community of Northwesterners across the islands and further afield.

“We also hope to provide support through the network to people in the North West and the diaspora across these islands and further afield seeking to develop business, promote culture and foster educational opportunities.”

Further information on the group is available at futureproofnorthwest.com 

Business leaders from across Northern Ireland have attended an event to celebrate the North West’s potential for investment, innovation, and economic growth.

Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons MLA spoke at the Succeed North West event, which presented the opportunities that exist locally and showcased what makes the region a great place to live, work and do business.

Attendees at the event, held in Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, also heard from Derry-based company Elemental and Derry City and Strabane District Council on the benefits and advantages of doing business in the North West.

The event was sponsored by Allstate NI and FinTru, and hosted by BBC broadcaster Mark Carruthers, with entertainment from renowned Derry musician Phil Coulter.

Succeed North West was led by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland, North West Regional College, Ulster University, Western Health and Social Care Trust, and Derry City and Strabane District Council. The key strategic partners involved plan to take the event on the road across the UK, Ireland and beyond to promote the North West as a leading location for business and entrepreneurship.

Paul Clancy, chief executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are on the cusp of something great in the North West, something which can benefit businesses, workers and families across the region. Looking forward, I would encourage any growing business to consider investing in our region, and to join the thriving, supportive, and prosperous business community that we have built here.”

Derry’s Cottage Café is celebrating after its home-baked scones were named the best in Northern Ireland.

The thatched roofed café, in the city’s historic Craft Village, beat more than 100 other hotels, restaurants and cafes to win the hotly-contested title from the Dairy Council of Northern Ireland.

Michelle Devine from the Cottage Café, who bakes the scones from scratch in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours, entered the competition after a customer told her about it.

“I knew the judges liked our scones when they came around to try them but there were so many other great places in for it, I never thought we had a chance. But then when they called out our name I nearly exploded!” she said.

Michelle, who learned how to make scones from watching her mother bake, said the key to a delicious scone is to go easy on the mixture.

“To me, it’s all in the way you do it and having the oven at the right temperature. There’s not really much else to it,” she revealed.

The Cottage also won the Best Cafe category in the competition, while Patricia’s Coffee House on the Quay was one of five finalists for best cafe.

The North West’s LegenDerry food scene has been showcased in a new online travel series.

Chef Randy Lewis, who describes himself as the ‘Phileas Fogg of food’, met with local chefs, brewers and producers to sample the fantastic dishes and drinks created in the City and surrounding areas.

Randy’s LegenDerry Adventure sees Lewis discover what makes the LegenDerry food scene so special; from Lo & Slo sauces and Dart Mountain cheeses, to fresh catch from fishmonger Moore on the Quay and Mekong Street Food’s Asian-inspired dishes.

The chef, who runs the Randaddy’s restaurant in Co Clare, also tried out some unique local experiences including paddleboarding along the River Foyle with Far and Wild adventures.

All four episodes are available to watch on YouTube, social media and on RTE.ie. You can catch the first instalment here.

The Carnival of Colours returned in September to brighten up Derry city centre with acrobatics, circus performers, graffiti art, live music and much more.

Check out the highlights:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p–gCDpsHWE

Derry’s Walled City Brewery has beat hundreds of other taprooms to be crowned the best in the UK.

The Ebrington Square business, which has created more than 200 beers and received multiple accolades since it opened in 2015, was named Taproom of the Year at the nationwide Pub and Bar Awards.

WCB fought off competition from an estimated 600 other UK taprooms to win the top prize, with organisers called it “a cracking operation”.

The brewery, run by James and Louise Huey, is also planning a major expansion which will see it open a standalone Taproom and Experience Centre in 2022.