Hull named UK City of Culture 2017: A look at Derry/Londonderry - the city that beat Norwich in 2013

Fireworks over the Peace bridge in Londonderry, as the city celebrates becoming 2013 UK city of cult

Fireworks over the Peace bridge in Londonderry, as the city celebrates becoming 2013 UK city of culture. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 31, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Culture. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire - Credit: PA

In 2010 Derry/Londonderry beat Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield to the title of UK City of Culture 2013. As Hull was announced as the 2017 winner here's a look at how the designation has transformed the inaugural holder of the award.

It was once the city of fear but today Londonderry is reflecting on a year like no other.

The city has had a ball since January when the City of Culture got under way attracting more than a million visitors.

As Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay found out the successful bid for the 2017 title, Derry's Mayor, Martin Reilly smiled as he recalled days and nights they never thought possible.

He said: 'The legacy of being City of Culture in 2013 has been life changing for our citizens, it has given us a new confidence for the future and allowed us to put our turbulent past behind us and look towards a shared future for future generations to enjoy.'


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This is the same city where the IRA used to engage in ferocious gun battles during 30 years of violent conflict. But, that has all now changed since the guns first fell silent almost 20 years ago.

Major events like Radio One's Big Weekend; Frank Cottrell-Boyce's Return of Colmcille river pageant and the Turner Prize exhibition have not only delivered a bonanza for beleaguered traders and hoteliers but have helped transform perceptions of the place once blighted by the worst of the violence from Northern Ireland's troubled past.

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Multi-million pound infrastructure investments and regeneration projects have also restored civic pride and re-built confidence.

Sharon O'Connor, Derry City Council chief executive said: '2013 has been an overwhelming success. The city has experienced growth in tourism, business opportunities and capital investment as well as many artists and communities gaining opportunities to participate.'

Londonderry staved off competition from Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield to take the inaugural City of Culture mantle.

Organisers said their bid was successful because they aimed big and everyone in the Derry - which has one of Europe's youngest populations - bought into it.

Highlights from the 12-month-long cultural events programme included a pageant on the River Foyle to celebrate the return of Colmcille - a warrior monk said to have founded the city - scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce who wrote the much-lauded Olympics opening ceremony; a performance by the London Symphony Orchestral; the Royal National Ballet; Hofesh Shechter and the prestigious Turner Prize exhibition at the converted Ebrington Army barracks.

In August, almost half a million people descended on Derry for the eight-day Fleadh Cheoil making it the most attended festival in the event's 63-year history.

It is predicted that by the end of the year 1.3 million visitors will have travelled to Derry during 2013.

Capital investment worth more than £100 million was also pumped into city since the title was secured in 2009 including £100,000 to tackle dereliction and remove graffiti and officials estimated that up to £98 million in additional wages and profits will have been generated over the 12 months.

But there are other benefits which are more difficult to put a value on.

The Lonely Planet travel guide named Londonderry as one of the world's top four cities to visit ahead of Beijing and Montreal during 2013 and the Culture Company hope that by the end of the year Derry will have jumped from 49 to 20 in the league table of top UK cities.

Surveys conducted by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board show the benefits have been felt right across the region with over 80% of people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland believing it not only improved the city's reputation as a tourist destination but also as a place capable of staging major events.

But, it has not all been plain sailing. Organisers have faced financial difficulties because income from sponsorship and ticket sales failed to live up to expectations and behind-the-scenes wrangling between the Culture Company tasked with delivering the cultural programme and Derry City Council have, at times, overshadowed events and led to a number of high profile resignations.

There is also an ongoing debate over whether the Ebrington gallery currently housing the Turner Prize should be made into a permanent art space.

Northern Ireland's Culture Minister will outline her legacy plans following City of Culture 2013 today.

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