Derry, the very first UK City of Culture
With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and the Paralympics this year, it’s easy to think that 2013 may have a sense of ‘the morning after the night before’. But with the recent opening of the Titanic Experience in Belfast and Derry being chosen as the UK City of Culture 2013, as far as Northern Ireland tourism is concerned 2013 is a very big year indeed.
As Kate and Michael found out on their inspection visit earlier this year, although Northern Ireland has had its troubles over the years, it is a nation that is looking to the future rather than the past. You and your members will love that famed Irish hospitality - something you're sure to enjoy if your group opt for a pint of Guinness in the Crown Bar in Belfast, reputedly 'the most beautiful bar in the world', during a break in your guided city tour.
Northern Ireland has so much to offer your group, with highlights including the new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site, a tour and tasting at the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, the Ulster Museum in Belfast whose collections range from fine art to natural history and a full programme of art, music and cultural events celebrating Derry's status as the UK City of Culture 2013. Notably, Derry will also be the venue for the Turner Prize in 2013. Why not rest your legs by including a railway journey from Derry to Coleraine, described by Michael Palin as 'one of the most beautiful journeys in the world'?
The Titanic Experience is housed in an iconic, 6 floor building, located in the heart of Belfast beside the historic site of the world famous ship's construction. Your journey takes you through nine galleries starting with a walk through the famous Harland & Wolff shipyard gates and seeing, through the Experience's innovatively designed glazing, how the Titanic would have looked, from the luxury of first class to the heat of the engine room. Along with stories of the crew and passengers from the fateful maiden voyage and reliving the final hours before she sank, the final galleries concentrate on the aftermath, from copies of newspapers and stories from survivors through to Professor Ballard's famous discovery of the Titanic in 1985.
And with lots of regional flight departures from all around the UK, Northern Ireland in 2013 is set to be a great destination for groups.
So Northern Ireland really does offer something for everyone - from art, culture and history through to spectacular scenery and the odd tipple or two.