Snow Patrol frontman to kick off Culture party

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Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle and Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody will help kick off celebrations in the UK’s first City of Culture, it has been confirmed.

They will join Neil Hannon, Phil Coulter, The Undertones, Dana, James Nesbitt and Amanda Burton for the opening concert in Londonderry on Sunday.

The Sons and Daughters gig aims to showcase a host of Northern Ireland artists with international reputations to reflect Derry’s cultural achievements through music, word and song.

The event is the first major celebration of 2013 and is being staged in The Venue, a new purpose-built pavilion in the former military barracks in Ebrington Square.

Tickets for the free concert were issued through a lottery and all 2,000 have now been allocated.

Organisers said there were 11,000 applications for tickets.

Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell said it would be one of the highlights of the year.

He said: “The Sons and Daughters concert will allow us to celebrate our excellent musical and cultural talent for which we are so renowned.

“We are delighted to offer the public the chance to see the city’s most-loved musicians and performers come together in their home town for a free concert. This gala event promises to be a great night’s entertainment.”

It is hoped the year-long programme of events will help transform perceptions of Derry, which as the epicentre of the Troubles was blighted by some of the worst violence.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of Culture Company 2013, said the plethora of art, music and drama could generate an economic spin-off worth £500 million and help restore civic pride and rebuild confidence.

Highlights of the programme include 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.

Other key events in the programme include the all-Ireland Fleadh and a military tattoo in August.