City of Culture 2013: Shona McCarthy's Highlights

After a spectacular opening ceremony on New Year's Eve, Culture Company chief executive Shona McCarthy looks forward to a year of events in Derry~Londonderry

My top ten events for City of Culture 2013? Firstly there is the unexpected, those things that are beautiful and inspirational and that will have a duration in the hearts and minds of those who experience them.

Lumiere in November will be one of these: four magical winter evenings of light installations and projections transforming the landscape of the city. (Watch highlights from the 2011 Lumiere Festival in Durham below).

Dominoes by Station House Opera on July 7 is another: a giant domino spiral through the streets and communities of Derry~Londonderry that will stretch over several kilometers in a dramatic arts event.

On June 21, Music City Day will see the city in full song, from the dawn chorus at the mythical Grianan Ailiagh to a Sky Orchestra of colourful hot air floating above the city.

We will also create a unique celebration of 100 years of 'Danny Boy', though the Muppets version still remains my favourite and one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

There are fabulous music opportunities throughout the year, but RTÉ Two's extraordinary Other Voices from Dingle to London to Derry from February 8-10 will be a special three days. Elvis Costello also plays Ebrington Square on June 27; I adore that man’s music.

The Relief of Derry Symphony, commissioned back in 1990 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Siege of Derry, will be the closing concert for City of Culture on December 20. People in the city still talk about the first performance of this piece, so I am very excited about hearing it performed by the Ulster Orchestra and some of the most talented musicians from across Northern Ireland.

At Sixes and Sevens, a new music cantata, will mark the 400th anniversary of the City Walls, and will be broadcast simultaneously from the Guildhall in London and the Guildhall in Derry on July 3. Composed by Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon and English composer Mark Anthony Turnage, it will be performed by Camerata Ireland and the London Symphony Orchestra.

The Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann also comes to the north of Ireland for the first time in its 60 year history, featuring ten days of exceptional Irish music spilling out from every corner of the city.

Homegrown festivals have special plans for 2013 too. The wonderfully small but massive Glasgowbury music festival, the Maiden City Festival, the Gasyard Wall Feile and the Derry Feis, plus many more, will play a part in the City of Culture celebrations.

I’ve never seen a tattoo, so I’m looking forward to the sound and music and spectacle of the Walled City Tattoo at Ebrington, right here on our doorstep. My office overlooks the square.

And what of world class theatre? Field Day return with Stephen Rea and friends, Prime Cut produce Conquest of Happiness with Haris Pasovic, Adrian Dunbar does Friel, Hofesh Schecter performs contemporary dance and the National Ballet leaves London for Derry.

In visual art we have the city’s own Locky Morris, Willie Doherty and Maurice Harren, as well as Northern Irish artists Rita Duffy and Basil Blackshaw, leading to the Turner Prize being staged outside of England for the first time at end of our City of Culture year.

My top ten, or 11, or 12? There is so much to look forward to. It’s too hard to choose.