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Introducing Derry/Londonderry

Northern Ireland’s second city comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors. Derry may not be the prettiest of cities, and it certainly lags behind Belfast in terms of investment and redevelopment, but it has a great riverside setting, several fascinating historical sights and a determined air of can-do optimism that has made it the powerhouse of the North’s cultural revival.

In preparation for Derry’s year in the limelight as UK City of Culture 2013, the city centre was given a makeover and an elegant new footbridge – the Peace Bridge – was built across the River Foyle. Confirmed events include the hosting of the Turner Prize in 2013 and the world’s biggest Irish festival.

There’s lots of history to absorb here, from the Siege of Derry to the Battle of the Bogside – a stroll around the 17th-century city walls is a must, as is a tour of the Bogside murals – and the city’s lively pubs are home to a burgeoning live-music scene. But perhaps the biggest attraction is the people themselves: warm, witty and welcoming.