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

Coming in 2022, the sculpture trail will stretch over 10 kilometres and will travel from a riverside location in Derry~Londonderry (April / May) to Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast (June / July), before heading to Cambridge (August) and returning to Northern Ireland at the Transport Museum and North Down Coastal Path (September / October).

Artist Oliver Jeffers said: “For centuries, we’ve defined ourselves by who we are and who we’re not. Which side we choose, on what ground we stand, who and what we fight for. A human story, that lives merely in human minds. But with distance comes perspective… Our Place in Space is a playful experiment that asks: What is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? What happens to your perspective on everything when you look back at Earth from space?”

The team behind Our Place in Space is led by Nerve Centre and includes artists Oliver Jeffers and Die Hexen, Professor Stephen Smartt from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, as well as National Museums NI, NI Science Festival, Big Motive, Taunt, Microsoft, Jeffers & Sons, University of Cambridge, Dumbworld, Live Music Now, Little Inventors, and Urban Scale Interventions.

Location partners include Derry City & Strabane District Council, National Trust, Cambridge City Council and Ards & North Down Borough Council.

David Lewis, Executive Producer at the Nerve Centre, said: “Our Place in Space is an exciting collaboration between some of our finests minds in science, technology and the arts.”

‘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.

Some of Derry and Strabane’s finest new entrepreneurs were unveiled today as the winners of the RE:IMAGINE new Pop Up Shop initiative, offering a platform to showcase the very best new products on the market.The six successful candidates battled it out for places in a prime retail space in Foyleside, Derry and the Pagoda Strabane, following a Dragon’s Den style pitching event to sell their ideas to a panel of expert judges.RE:IMAGINE is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and delivered by The Fashion & Textile Design Centre (FTDC) in Derry and BID in Strabane.The initiative is part of the new Start Up Accelerator Programme being rolled out by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise NW and Strabane Enterprise Agency, with £240,000 secured to assist individuals who have participated in the Go For It Programme, to take their business ideas further and develop their business skills. The programme is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.The brands which will be showcasing their latest products are Coalesce Wearable Art; Koto Candles; VS – Mend and Make Do, Oh Sew Design Co.; Scottie Paws; Connie Ann. Each enterprise will be able to show their products in a busy trading space providing a launch pad for up and coming start-ups.

the entrepreneurs were congratulated by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke, who met up with them to find out more about their exciting new brands. Mayor Warke said the scheme presented a fantastic opportunity to profile new talent keen to get established in the local marketplace. “I was so impressed by some of the products and designs which I’ve seen today,” he declared. “The Pop Up Shop space will really help to connect these top new entrepreneurs with new audiences, and raise the profile of their brand. “We have a fantastic local business community but every successful economy relies on fresh new talent to stay on top of new trends. The winners here today all demonstrate the creativity and innovation that will keep our economy driving forwards. I want to congratulate them all, and wish them every success on their business journey. I look forward to seeing them all become regular fixtures on our high street for many years to come.”The pop up shops will run until June, with five spots in Derry and one in Strabane. The entrepreneurs will also avail of a comprehensive package of wider support including bespoke mentoring, promotional marketing campaigns and technical assistance.  Council’s Head of Business, Kevin O’Connor said: “I am delighted to see six exciting new companies take the next step with the support of the Start Up Acceleration Programme and the Pop Up Shop Scheme. The local economy thankfully is beginning to turn a corner and as we look ahead to more positive times, it’s exciting to see new talent enter the market. I look forward to working with all the successful companies, and to watching their brands grow and develop over the coming months.”Deirdre Williams, Business Development Manager at the Inner City Trust’s Fashion & Textile Design Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for up and coming entrepreneurs just setting out on their business journey. The costs associated with any new business can be prohibitive, so this wraparound package of support will make a major difference to all the successful candidates.  “I’m delighted at the standard of the entries, there are some extremely impressive new local brands which will add to the retail offering at both locations. I’m looking forward to working with them all and to have this opportunity to develop and profile such an exciting array of new talent.”

Meet the Winners

Elaine Duffy, Vintage Star – Mend & Make Do

Elaine Duffy lives and breathes vintage fashion.

For decades, she’s been hunting down the best preloved pieces to recreate classic looks from the 1930s, 40s and 50s – and now you can get some vintage va-va-voom too!

Vintage Star – Mend & Make Do stocks original vintage items and handmade, retro-inspired clothing and jewellery.

Whether you’re after a beautiful 1950s item, some rockabilly daywear, or a fabulous pinny to sprinkle some chic into your cooking, you’ll find it – and so much more – when you visit Elaine and her fellow start-ups at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

www.instagram.com/vintagestar304050s

Bridgene Graham and Niall Lynch, Coalesce Wearable Art

Meet Bridgene and Niall. A match made in fashion heaven.

During lockdown, designer Bridgene and her partner, tattoo artist Niall, had to close the doors of both their businesses.

Niall began drawing up some Japanese-inspired artworks, and Bridgene decided to print them onto streetwear and luxurious silk kimonos.

And so, Coalesce – meaning to grow together and unite as one – was born.

See their beautiful wearable art – and discover more brand new local designers – at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

www.instagram.com/coalesce_wearable_art

Catriona Hutton, KOTO Candles

Catriona Hutton is a self-confessed candle addict, who has always loved lighting one at home after a long day.

But here comes the science bit: “I soon realised that they contained things like paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum oil, and other toxic chemicals,” says Catriona.

“I decided to create something that I would be happy to have in my home, and so KOTO Candles was born.”

KOTO’s handmade candles, diffusers and wax melts use planet-friendly raw materials, with aromas such as soothing lavender, and zingy lemongrass.

See – and smell! – them for yourself at the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up, Foyleside Shopping Centre.

https://www.instagram.com/kotocandles

Laura Miller, Oh Sew Design Co

Banish all memories of those scratchy wool jumpers your granny used to make for you. These days, crocheting, knitwork and embroidery are the epitome of cool.

After watching her grandmother and mum knit as a child, and with a little help from YouTube, Laura Miller has mastered these traditional skills to create Oh Sew Design Co.

Think pretty wall hangings, personalised embroidery, and crocheted tote bags.

Laura’s delighted to stock her products alongside other local start-ups in the RE:IMAGINE Pop Up in Derry’s Foyleside.

“Selling online is great, but you don’t have the same community. And for customers, it’s so nice to experience a handmade product in real life,” she says.

“Every stitch is different from the rest. It’s a unique product every time.”

www.instagram.com/oh_sew_designco

Shannon McCafferty, Connie Ann

“I want my designs to be passed down the generations; timeless, beautiful pieces that never go out of fashion.”

Meet Shannon McCafferty, founder of Connie Ann.

A love of fashion runs in the family for the Derry designer, with great grandparents who worked in  the shirt factory, and a style-conscious mother who’d save her lunch money to buy clothes.

After studying fashion design in Liverpool, Shannon returned home and began creating Connie Ann clothing and accessories, inspired by her love of 1970s fashion and Indian fabrics.

So take a trip back in time, transport yourself to India, and see the amazing range for yourself at the RE:IMAGINE pop up In Foyleside Shopping Centre.

Jenna Mitchell, Scottie Paws, Strabane Pagoda

Do you have a four-legged fashionista?

Thanks to Scottie Paws, you can kit out your pet in the coolest of clobber – such as leopard print bandanas, tartan bow ties, and cupcake-emblazoned leads in a variety of sizes.

Founder Jenna Mitchell, who also runs a horse-riding stables and equine fashion brand, has her very own brand ambassador and model: her Jack Russell, Chase, who turns heads in the park with his bright, bold accessories.

Visit her RE:IMAGINE standalone pop up shop in Strabane’s Pagoda, and turn every dog walk into a fashion catwalk. www.instagram.com/scottiepawspets

A new website listing arts and cultural events in the North West has been launched to provide a one-stop guide to the best family fun experiences in Derry, Strabane and Donegal.

The www.happydaysnw.com website, which covers the entire spectrum of arts and culture events and experiences across the region, is a joint initiative by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council. The initiative, which is primarily aimed at engaging more families with arts and culture, is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and is part of the ongoing, cross border, North West Audience Development Project, supported by the North West Strategic Development Fund.

Visitors checking out Derry/Londonderry Tower Museum

The comprehensive ‘What’s On’ guide involves partnerships with hundreds of cultural partners across the North West. These include visitor centres, theatres, arts centres, entertainment venues, festival organisers and experience providers offering great family days out, ranging from unique and exciting instead adventures to more relaxing cultural activities. The initiative also fosters and encourages public engagement and participation with cultural partners through social media channels.

Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Jack Murray, said: “Our region offers among the best family-orientated arts and culture experiences available anywhere and happydaysnw.com gives everyone the opportunity to quickly find and explore the information needed to plan their perfect family day out.

“The Happy Days initiative is yet another example of the strong partnership approach that exists between our two local authorities and will play an important role in engaging many more families with our rich arts and culture scene.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said the new initiative is designed to “simplify the planning of great family days out in the North West”.

“I’m delighted to launch this initiative which gives people instant access to the many fantastic arts and cultural events and experiences our region has to offer – all in a single online hub. The North West has a very rich calendar of arts and cultural events, boasts a great many wonderful destinations and offers some of the most fun-filled experiences on these islands.

“Happydaysnw.com brings all of these and more together in an online listing that makes discovering, planning, and enjoying family days out simple and convenient for all.”

Sharon Meenan, Arts and Culture Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Challenge Fund, this initiative is part of the NW Audience Development Plan and is designed to enable everyone to easily access information about arts and culture in the North West.

“By providing all the practical information on one website, it’s easier for families to find out about cultural activities near them, connect with like-minded people online and plan their special days out across the Derry-Londonderry, Strabane, and Donegal areas.

“Whether it’s dancing, crafts, heritage, festivals, literature, theatre, visual arts, sport or learning activities you’re after; Happy Days offers a one-stop guide to what’s on, where and at what time. It also details all of the amazing spaces on our doorstep and highlights access-friendly spaces so you can plan great days out for everyone.”

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.