Derry and Strabane’s fantastic eateries and artisan producers are taking centre stage with the unveiling of the LegenDerry food and drink brand.

The brand, launched by the local Food and Drink Network and supported by the Council, brings together our finest food-focused talent and puts the City and District firmly on the foodie map for locals and visitors alike.

Our innovative, authentic producers, growers, chefs, brewers and restaurateurs are celebrated on the new LegenDerry food website and in marketing material, including this video.

More than 50 online events took place in Derry and Strabane as part of the world’s first UNESCO Virtual Learning Festival.

(Photo – Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Derry City and Strabane District Council, alongside funding partners North West Regional College and Ulster University, held the world’s first Virtual Learning City  Festival on Wednesday and Thursday.

Over 50 online events took place during the two-day programme in the form of information sessions, live presentations, short films and live chats exploring key areas such as Jobs & Skills, Health & Well-Being, Arts& Culture and Technology & Science.

In total, there were 40,000 engagement views on Facebook and other social media platforms during the two days.  

In addition, there was over 9,500 visitors to the bespoke Learning Festival website, including views on Youtube coming  largely from the UK and Ireland, but also due to the nature event and associated global conference which launched the festival, recorded traffic also came from Europe, Ukraine and Japan and Brazil. 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Brian Tierney joined speakers from Colombia, Seoul, Bangkok, Cork, Hamburg, USA and Derry to open the festival, and he said he was delighted to see so many had enjoyed the programme on offer.

“Achieving the UNESCO Learning City status for the Derry and Strabane region was an important moment for our district, it was brilliant to see it celebrated in virtual format.

“The wide variety of topics covered meant that there was something to attract everyone’s attention, and it really captured the essence of what learning is about – picking up new skills and information.

“Thanks to our Council team, to North West Regional College and Ulster University, and to all those who delivered workshops and interactive sessions across the two days  without this collaboration we could not have run  a virtual event.”

Malachy Ó Néill, Provost at Ulster University’s Magee campus said: “Ulster University has been privileged to collaborate once again with our neighbours Derry City and Strabane District Council and North West Regional College to acquire UNSECO Learning City status for our city and to host the inaugural Virtual Learning Festival. Well done and thank you to all involved.

“It has been inspirational to see and hear so many people come together to learn. As our thoughts turn to enabling the cultural and tourism sectors in the North West post COVID-19, we look forward to building on this initiative in the future for the good of the people of the city and region.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College said: “This was a fantastic festival and all at NWRC were delighted to be part of such an innovative event in this new era of learning through a virtual format.

“We continue to support career ambitions across the region and look forward to continued collaboration with the partners of the festival in the future.”

Padraig Canavan, Chair Learning City said: “It was an honour for us to attract so many distinguished speakers from around the globe to our opening seminar.  

“With ‘Lockdown Learning’ as the theme we heard about individual, community and nationwide learning initiatives like ‘Classrooms without Walls’ and the new libraries – ‘Smart Learning Civic Centres’.  A great first for Learning Cities and for Derry and Strabane.”

If you missed the festival over the last few days you can watch all of the LIVE Zoom recordings and premiered events at the Learning Hub.  Learning City’s is delighted that this Learning hub can be now used and shared.  It is a valuable resource for people of all ages to enjoy at any time, over and over again available at https://www.derrystrabane.com/LearningFest. 

There is a growing sense of optimism among Derry City fans after Declan Devine’s return to the Brandywell hot seat yielded a fourth place League of Ireland Premier Division finish last month and with it European football for 2020.

The club were at one of their lowest ever ebbs when the former goalkeeper returned for a second spell in charge at the end of the 2018 season having narrowly avoided relegation with an eighth place finish in the ten team league.

With a limited budget, the persuasive Creggan man made some shrewd pre-season signings including UCD midfielder Greg Slockett and the return of Ramelton man Barry McNamee.

They were expected to struggle though following Aaron McEneff’s switch to Shamrock Rovers and the departure of long term custodian and club captain Gerard Doherty.

The new look side rallied however and, playing a high tempo brand of possession football, they got their fight back, conceding just 34 goals in 36 games and netting 56 with striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe bagging 34 goals in 34 games.

The lure of bigger wages from clubs south of the border, and indeed the Irish League, means it has been a losing battle to keep the best local players at the club and it is hard to see them challenging for a league title until they can offer local talent a competitive remuneration.

Last month’s FAI Cup Final between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk was a case in point where North West players McEneff, Danny Lafferty, Michael Duffy and Georgie Kelly all had pivitol roles.

What City can offer however is a proven gateway for younger players to move to full time football in England and Scotland and the chance to emulate the likes of James McClean, Stephen McLaughlin and Ronan Curtis.

With participation numbers strong in the Youth Leagues of Derry and Donegal and Devine’s experience in nurturing emerging young talent, a higher league position and a group stage win in Europe is within their grasp in 2020.

We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of some of the finest things to enjoy in Derry and Strabane this festive season. Whether you’re returning from overseas or based here, we’ve got Christmas wrapped up for you.

To buy

Made Here – You’ll find beautiful creations from some of the district’s most innovative designers in Made Here on Shipquay Street, Derry-Londonderry, including In Chlomo, from Strabane’s Chloe McColgan.

Velveteen Handmade – Rachel Kelly’s beautiful embroideries – from storybook-inspired pictures to appliqued cotton purses – make excellent Christmas gifts. View her pieces at the Craft Village’s Walled City Crafters.

Little Acorns Bookstore – Jenni Doherty’s independent book shop in Derry-Londonderry’s Society Street is a treasure trove of new and old books. You’ll also find local arts and crafts, literary gifts and must-have Derry Girls mugs.

To eat

With Love Recipes – Overindulged this festive season? Strabane woman Sharron McCormick’s range of guilt-free desserts, sauces and more are a delicious, healthier way to continue the celebrations.

Dart Mountain Cheese – Julie and Kevin Hickey’s award-winning range of artisan cheeses are handcrafted in the Sperrins and include the Banagher Bold local ale washed cheese and the creamy, flavoursome Sperrin Blue.

Grainola Goddess granola – Made using upcycled spent grain from the Walled City Brewery, Grainola Goddess’ delectable range includes Bountiful Berry (with dried cranberries, apricots and cherries), Scrumptious Spice, and Gorgeous Gluten Free.

Ukulele Chocolate – This Derry-based chocolate, from husband and wife team Donal and Sinead, is organic, melt-in-the-mouth, and oh so moreish. Even better, it’s made from sustainable, planet-friendly ingredients. Guilt-free chocolate… What’s not to love?

To drink

Foyster – This creamy new oyster stout showcases our native, sought after, Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster. A collaboration between the LegenDerry Food and Drink Network’s Walled City Brewery and Sippy Fest, it uses leftover oyster shells to make a delicious, old-style stout with a hint of saltiness.

Quiet Man Irish Whiskey – This award-winning, Derry-Londonderry based craft whiskey is expertly distilled in small batches and the ideal tipple to relax with on a cold winter’s night.

Rough Brothers – This handmade beer is brewed in Derry-Londonderry and the product range includes pale ale and red ale. You can also try its specially created Mekong Street Beer at Mekong Street Food (and a Beer 57, for Pyke ‘N’ Pommes, is also in the pipeline).

To do

Christmas Winterland Markets – Soak up the atmosphere, meet artisan traders selling local arts and crafts, taste seasonal delights and relax over a mulled wine at these markets in Derry-Londonderry’s Guildhall Square. Dec 12th to Dec 15th.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime – Enjoy the classic fairytale with some modern local twists – and plenty of gags for the grown-ups – at the Millennium Forum from December 4th to 29th.

The Snowman and Other Christmas favourites – Join the Allegri choirs and the recently formed Orchestra North West symphony orchestra as they present The Snowman and a host of Christmas classics. The Guildhall, December 15th.

Far and Wild Adventures – Treat yourself or an adventurous loved one to a moonlight kayak tour, archery, a foodie cycling tour, boom board adventure or urban mountain biking with Derry-Londonderry’s Far and Wild Adventures. Gift vouchers are also available.

Christmas Day dips – Feeling brave? Why not unpeel yourself from the sofa (and get out of Christmas dinner duties) and take part in one of the Christmas Day charity swims taking place on beaches around the North West.

A Women in Tech-themed event and startup pitching competition have been announced as part of the upcoming Derry-Strabane Enterprise Week 2020.

The 5th March event, hosted by leading startup community and platform Startacus, will focus on the wider themes of diversity and inclusion, and aims to inspire and motivate attendees through discussions, key-note speakers, workshops, a women in tech startup pitch competition and an evening social and networking event.

The pitch competition will invite shortlisted female-led tech startups from across Ireland to the stage to pitch their businesses to a panel of industry leaders and enterprise experts. The overall winner will be announced at the evening social event and the winning startup will receive a prize package.

Alastair Cameron, Startacus co-founder, said: “As well as inspiring and empowering attendees, we see this as a great opportunity to showcase innovative startups in the local area, bring standout keynote speakers to the city, and in turn encourage more people to embark on their own entrepreneurial journeys.”

Enterprise Week 2020 runs from 2nd March to 6th March. For full programme details, go to www.derrystrabane.com/enterpriseweek

If you are interested in getting involved or sponsoring the Women in Tech event, please contact Alastair@startacus.net

The North West region’s unique strategic cross-border location and pipeline of talent were the key messages to potential US investors during a recent trade mission to Philadelphia and Boston.

A number of focused engagements with industry specialists, foreign direct investment executives and venture capitalists took place during the weeklong Ireland North West trade and investment mission, led jointly by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council to showcase the northwest city region’s compelling investment proposition.

Potential investors heard how they could take advantage of the unique combination of benefits the region has to offer, including an accessible, connected and business-friendly gateway region (with a foothold in both EU and UK markets) and a compelling vision for greater international impact, a talented and educated workforce, superb quality of life and a supportive business environment.

The delegation also met with the Mayors of Philadelphia and Boston who outlined their commitment and support for the work being done by the two Councils.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke about his ties with the North West and outlined his commitment to build on the positive work being done to promote strong communities and shared prosperity, while Philadelphia Mayor Senator Jim Kenney vowed to continue to work to celebrate our connections and build on the existing relationship.

The delegation included Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle, An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Nicholas Crossan, and local businesses from a range of sectors who met with potential clients and business partners.

The trade and investment mission also involved engagement with educational institutions from across the region, and saw the launch of a research project with Harvard Graduate School of Design, exploring how the cross-border northwest city region could be shaped in light of the economic, political and social realities of Brexit.

For more information on the trade mission visit www.irelandNW.com

North West Regional College (NWRC) has secured a huge €1.6 million of Erasmus+ funding, giving staff and students opportunities to study and work across Europe during the next 24 months.

The funding will be used for staff and students from many of the college’s curriculum areas to travel to partner countries including Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy and even Reunion Island, and undertake training and development programmes designed around specific curriculum, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation and creativity.

Staff will also participate in strategic partnership projects collaborating on innovative practices for vocational training and education with a number of key European partners.

Bronagh Fikri, NWRC European and International Projects Officer, said the college was also pleased to announce its success in obtaining the Erasmus+ VET Mobility Charter. Currently held by just 14 organisations in the UK, the charter is awarded to organisations with a track record in organising and delivering high-quality mobility projects.

The €1.6 funding boost was revealed at a special event celebrating the success of the college’s Erasmus+ training mobilities and collaborations across European networks in 2018/2019.

During the event, students who have taken part in a range of different mobilities across the world received awards recognising their various achievements.

Fashion fans flocked to the Guildhall on Saturday evening where a cornucopia of couture awaited as the sell-out annual Fashion Fest show got underway.

The Main Hall of the historic building became an autumnal paradise, as the catwalk cascaded with colour in all the hues of the season. The show was a celebration of creativity, diversity and self-expression showcasing the work of both emerging and established designers.

The event was delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Style Academy, who co-ordinated the stunning catwalk display.

Speaking after the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle said it had been a fantastic production. “I want to say well done to all involved in co-ordinating Fashion Fest this year. It was a delight to see the Guildhall being used for such a glamourous event, and the beautiful backdrop of the Main Hall. The talent on display was fantastic and our local designers are undoubtedly right at the cutting edge of the fashion industry.”

Business Support Officer with Council, Tara Nicholas, said the event had been a great success. “I want to thank everyone involved in the show for the delivery of such a spectacular and ambitious production. We had an array of talent on show here at the Guildhall – not just the designers and models who lit up our catwalk, but also the music and dance performers who helped create such an entertaining experience.

“This year there was a strong message about identity, inclusivity and how fashion is a form of self-expression that is accessible to everyone. We strive to support the local creative industries in terms of offering business advice and mentoring, as well as showcase opportunities such as Fashion Fest. The calibre of the talent here is exceptional and it’s fantastic to be able to see so many local designers coming together for one show.”

The audience enjoyed an evening of live music, song and fabulous fashion from a whole host of emerging and established designers, including Bridie Mullan, Paul Stafford, Una Rodden, Hope Macaulay and Alan Cresswell.

Other highlights included a showcase of eco-friendly fashion by Junk Kouture as some of the past winning designs took to the runway to inspire people to resurrect old materials and transform them into stunning ensembles and local dance company CREATE with a show stopping opening. 

The show closed with a magical collaboration with US label Badgley Mischka showcasing their luxury Bridal Collection which made for an epic finale.

Entertainment included performances by Irish Singer / Songwriter Racheal O’ Connor and Derry’s award winning DJ, Louise DaCosta, plus live sax accompaniment.

You can find out more about Fashion Fest at www.derrystrabane.com/fashionfest Follow us on Instagram @FashionFestDerry

Take advantage of our hassle-free fares. As standard, you get a 20kg luggage allowance plus an additional 6kg hand luggage, perfect if you’re visiting the style mile for a bit of Christmas shopping!

Not only that but arrive in Glasgow refreshed ready for your day ahead with complimentary refreshments on board including; tea, coffee and snacks.

We believe when your little ones are little, they should get a big discount. That’s why, when you’re visiting Glasgow for festive fun, infants fly at nil fare and children aged 2-11 inclusive, receive a 33% discount off their net fare, when travelling with an accompanying adult*.  (Link for T’s and C’s can be found here: https://www.loganair.co.uk/for-children/)

What’s even better is that you are rewarded for flying with us, fly between Glasgow and Derry and collect Clan Points when you fly, then redeem them for a Clan Reward Flight for something a little less usual.

If you’re going on a winter break further afield then connect with Loganair via our leading airline partners at Glasgow Airport, including; British Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines, with Emirates coming very soon!

Link: https://www.loganair.co.uk/legenderry-journeys/

The theme of the 31st Foyle Film Festival was VOICES, and the programme marked a number of important milestones with special screenings and events that, in one way or another, gave voice to significant world events.

100 years of Women’s suffrage was acknowledged by placing women’s voices at front and centre of the festival programme – with Keira Knightley headlining the Opening Night film Colette about a young woman extricating herself from her domineering husband to carve out her own path in life. In The Wife, the brilliant Glenn Close plays a devoted wife who eventually finds her voice after forty years of marriage to an unfaithful husband. For decades Yayoi Kusama’s work pushed boundaries. She was an underdog with everything stacked against her – the trauma of growing up in Japan during World War II, life in a dysfunctional family, sexism and racism in the art establishment, mental illness in a culture where that was a particular shame. In spite of it all, Kusama has endured and has created a legacy of artwork that is inspiring. Bad Reputation chronicles the life of Joan Jett, from her early teenage years as founding member of The Runaways to her enduring presence over four decades later as a Rock ‘n’ roll icon. While Maggie Gyllennhaal closes the festival with The Kindergarten Teacher – a role that many have heralded the finest performance of her career.

The festival responded to the events in Northern Ireland from 1959 to 1974 highlighted in Nerve Visual’s latest exhibition, Speeches, Strikes and Struggles: Curating Conflict, led by the Tower Museum with special screenings of I, Dolours with special introduction and post screening discussion with acclaimed journalist and the film’s producer Ed Moloney. I, Dolours is a compelling film that explores the life of IRA activist Dolours Price. While journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney took part in a discussion following a special screening of their documentary No Stone Unturned – which deals with the Loughinisland massacre.

On a lighter note, Disney returned to the Foyle Film Festival with a Special Preview screening of Ralph Breaks The Internet.

FFF hosted a special weekend programme as part of Anim18 exploring the history of animation in Northern Ireland and introducing audiences to the often-unsung local pioneers of the artform.

Other Special guests of the festival included Edwin Thomas – one of the stars of Rupert Everett’s latest film The Happy Prince. While the festival’s annual Shorts To Features Conference played host to director Mat Whitecross (Supersonic – biopic about Oasis – and Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams which is an intimate portrait of Coldplay’s rise to fame. Producer of Sea Sorrow Carlo Nero took part in a post screening discussion about his mother Vanessa Redgrave’s directorial debut and her life long struggle to fight for human rights around the world. Other guests included writer Rory Gleeson whose short film Psychic (which was directed by his father Brendan Gleeson) competed in the Best Irish Shorts category of the Light In Motion (LIM) Short Film Competition.

The 31st FFF concluded on Sunday 25 November with the announcement of the Light In Motion Competition winners at Brunswick Moviebowl. Irish filmmaker Ian Power took home the award for Best Irish Short Film for his film Tattoo, qualifying it for Oscar® consideration. I Made This For Mum, by Dutch filmmaker Melanie Essink, took the top prize in the category of Best International Short – making it eligible for Oscar® consideration. While the award for Best Animation went to Sister – by Chinese director Siqi Song. The awards, sponsored by City of Derry Crystal, were presented ahead of the packed Closing Gala screening of The Kindergarten Teacher in Brunswick Moviebowl, bringing to a close ten days of premiere screenings, special guest discussions and industry networking.

Foyle Film Festival is funded by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Tourism Northern Ireland. The festival acknowledges the ongoing support of City of Derry Crystal, and venue partner Brunswick Moviebowl.