These are the things that make people in Northern Ireland happy

Councils campaigning for the WeAre2023 European Capital of Culture bid asked a wide range of people the question ahead of World Smile Day

'What makes you happy?' That's the question Derry City and Strabane District and Belfast City Councils put to the public ahead of World Smile Day on Friday, October 6 2017.

The survey has been carried out as part of the ongoing WeAre2023 campaign for European Capital of Culture, which has already been supported by notable names including Liam Neeson and playwright Martin Lynch.

The cities’ First Citizens have now revealed some of their favourite and most popular responses from the hundreds received. Read them below.

  • Spending time with my family/ family gatherings
  • Seeing my dog’s/ pet’s face
  • Getting out and about
  • Rainbows, unicorns and fairies
  • Playing sports
  • Seeing our city flourish
  • Knowing my kids are happy
  • Enjoying the arts, crafts and other leisure pursuits
  • An unexpectedly big curry chip!

Commenting on the responses, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh said: 'From this feedback, it’s pretty clear that people here are a happy bunch – so it’s no surprise that we’ve earned a reputation for being such a welcoming place. We want to bring the European Capital of Culture 2023 title home so that we can encourage even more people to visit, explore and discover our cultural experiences.

What makes us happy group shot Weare2023

'No matter where in the world, there’s no place like home and I have a very strong sense of pride about where I come from. For me, I love spending time with my family and St. Eugene’s GAA club is my home from home. It is somewhere I can meet with friends, have a chat, a laugh and celebrate my culture and my love of Gaelic games. There is a strong sense of community spirit, something that I feel is very important in our bid for European Capital of Culture status in 2023.'

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister, said: 'We had an amazing response to the question "What makes you happy?" The responses were such a pleasure to read and certainly brought a big smile to my face. We’re currently finalising our European Capital of Culture bid which, thanks to all of the feedback we’ve gathered through talking to people who live here over the last few months, will truly reflect their lives. And ahead of ‘World Smile Day’ this Friday, we wanted to share what makes everyone happy.

'For me, nothing can beat hearing the sound of my young son Finn’s laughter.'

World Smile Day® is celebrated on the first Friday in October. Artist and creator of the smiley face, Harvey Ball declared World Smile Day in 1999. He thought that all of us should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world.

For further information on Belfast City and Derry City and Strabane District Councils’ European Capital of Culture bid and to pledge your support, visit  or follow #WeAre2023 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.