There’s a wealth of events and activities taking place over the summer months in and around Londonderry and Strabane - so why not get out and explore this exciting area of Ulster?
Dominating the north-western landscapes of Ireland, astride the flowing waters of the Foyle, is a sixth century city that today resonates to the sounds of the 21st century.
Having been placed by Lonely Planet as the fourth best city to visit in 2013 by a panel of travel experts and awarded the first ever UK city of Culture for 2013, Londonderry is a great place to explore this summer.
A centre of culture and creativity, the Maiden City is a place pulsing with life and vibrancy.
Meander through the bustling streets of the only completely Walled City in Ireland and the British Isles and listen to the echoes of 1450 years of history. Stroll along its 17th century walls which are over 400 years old, and across the gleaming Peace Bridge which curves majestically across the River Foyle leading to the new development at Ebrington. And this summer the city is buzzing with things for all the family to do.
Thanks to Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Craft Development Programme, there’s a summer of creative activity and events under the banner, ‘Craft in the City’, is underway in Londonderry, showcasing the talent and entrepreneurship of the vibrant local craft sector.
The Secret Garden outdoor exhibition will run over the summer where the work of six local crafters has created a special space within the Craft Village, off Shipquay Street, using knitted creations, large felt flowers and innovative designs.
Other key events taking place as part of the Craft Development Programme include the Second Skin exhibition, which is on display until Thursday, July 16 at The Playhouse, Artillery Street – open daily except Sundays with free admission.
One of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland’s core touring exhibitions as part of the year of Irish Design 2015, Second Skin is the result of collaborations between Irish fashion designers, woollen mills and textile producers, digital fabric producers, tailors, retailers and upcyclers. It also includes an interactive space exploring recent international developments in sustainable fashion production.
Visitors are in for a further treat with a unique outdoor summer exhibition, ‘Pots Around Town’ featuring a trail of eight large ceramic pots created by well-known local ceramicist Deirdre O’Callaghan, located at key locations around the Walled City including the Guildhall, Playhouse Theatre, Verbal Arts Centre, Aras Colmcille, St Augustine’s Church and the Garden of Reflection on Bishop Street.
The Craft Development Programme is part funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for NI. Meanwhile, the Faughan Valley may once have been Northern Ireland’s best kept secret – but the secret is out, with so much to see and do in this idyllic rural tourism destination right on Londonderry’s doorstep. Less than 10 minutes from the historic walled city, the Faughan Valley offers an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and a great base from which to explore the rural hinterland – and there’s no better time now that summer is here. Visitors are spoiled for choice with the wealth of local history and heritage, country house tours, recreational activities, ancient monuments, prime angling and golf, not to mention top quality hotel and self-catering accommodation and natural landscape waiting to be explored. The Faughan Valley offers a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities to suit all ages and energies, including cycling, hillwalking, canoeing, coasteering, karting and paintballing. The opening of Hard as OAK - NI’S first 10k extreme obstacle course challenge - at Oakfire Adventures, Glenshane Road, on Saturday, August 29 – will be one of the highlights of the season. For more information and to register, visit www.hardasoak.com or follow on Facebook and Twitter. Whether it’s adrenaline-fuelled action by day, or soaking up the atmosphere in one of the local hostelries by night, the Faughan Valley is the perfect destination.
Choose from one of the great hotels in the area such as the multi award-winning Beech Hill Country House with its museum dedicated to the US Marines based there during WWII, the Best Western White Horse or Belfray Country Inn. Or, select from the fantastic range of B&B and self-catering accommodation including the 5* Coach House adjacent to Learmount Castle at Park. Perhaps you prefer pitching a tent or bringing your beloved motorhome or caravan, then Elaghvale Camping Park is top of your list. For more details about tourism provision in the Faughan Valley, visit www.discoverfaughanvalley.com and www.facebook.com/discoverfaughanvalley