With more than 100 projects planned over the next 12 months, 2012 is set to be an amazing year for tourism north of the border. Here are some of this year's main attractions.

Titanic Belfast Festival (April-May)
A fusion of impressive events is planned to mark the centenary of Titanic's fateful maiden voyage. From the opening of the multi-million pound Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, through to commemoration services on the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking, there will be something for everyone. A wide range of plays, tours, talks, films and major musical events is taking place to showcase Belfast as the 'home' of Titanic. The 14,000sq-metre venue accommodates nine galleries of interactive exhibition space, including a dark ride, underwater exploration theatre, recreations of the ship's decks and cabins and a luxurious conference and banqueting suite with capacity for up to 1,000 people. The unique architectural design was influenced by several maritime themes, including ice crystals, ships' hulls and the insignia of the White Star Line.

Land of Giants (Belfast, June 30)
Land of Giants will celebrate iconic Northern Ireland giants on an epic scale with a spectacular show featuring music, acrobatics, pyrotechnics, special effects and a cast and crew of over 500 people, all in front of an audience of 20,000 on Belfast's newest events space, the Titanic Slipways. The event takes inspiration from some of the giants found in local history, literature, society and landscape – Jonathan Swift's Gulliver, the legendary Finn McCool, Harland and Wolff's iconic Samson and Goliath, the ships the Olympic and Titanic, and, of course, the Giant's Causeway.

Peace One Day Concert (Derry, June 21)
Hosted by Jude Law, the Peace One Day Concert on midsummer's day is set to attract some of the biggest names in music. Massive Attack have been confirmed to play at the gig and other acts will be confirmed shortly. The concert will showcase the iconic new public space at the historic Ebrington site in Derry, which is linked to the city centre via the new Peace Bridge. The gig will be wrapped in a city-wide, day-long music festival, with something for everyone to enjoy.

Irish Open (Portrush, June 28 – July 1)
The Irish Open golf event travels north of the border for the first time in over 50 years. This year's European Tour event takes place at Royal Portrush Golf Club and with recent major winners Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy all confirmed to play, this year's event should be bigger and better than ever. Fellow major winner Padraig Harrington is also set to play and welcomed the decision to move the event north, saying it was an "inspired move" and adding that Portrush "is my favourite golf course in the world".

Peace Camp by Deborah Warner (July)
Created by the renowned opera and theatre director Deborah Warner in collaboration with the actor Fiona Shaw and creative producer Artichoke, this major new living artwork will appear simultaneously from dusk until dawn at locations around the coast of the UK and Ireland. From the north coast of Ireland to the tip of Cornwall, from remote Scottish islands to an East Anglian beach, these glowing, murmuring artworks are a poignant exploration of love poetry and a celebration of the extraordinary variety and beauty of the Irish coastline.

Clipper Homecoming Maritime Festival (Derry July 5-8)
The Clipper Round the World Yacht race will make its homecoming leg from Nova Scotia, arriving in Derry in late June 2012 where it will be welcomed by a four-day maritime festival at the end of the following week to celebrate the visit of the world's longest race. The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the only event of its type. Anyone, even if they have never stepped on a boat before, can join the adventure and circumnavigate the world in an 11-month-long marathon. This is probably the only race in the world where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, bankers rely on help from nurses or rugby players – a crew that represents all walks of life, where everyone is equal.


FLAGS by Hans Peter Kuhn (Giant's Causeway, August/September)
FLAGS by Hans Peter Kuhn is an installation embedded in the dramatic landscape of the Causeway, creating a new visitor experience, drawing on the natural power of the elements. A series of flags randomly positioned along the banks of the cliff face will rotate freely in the wind, creating a flickering pattern of yellow and red set against the backdrop of this spectacular landscape. The impressive Giant's Causeway visitor centre also opens this summer, which will enhance the visitor experience, while the innovative building will blend seamlessly into the environment.

50th Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's (Belfast, October 19 – November 3)
Dance, music, theatre, visual arts, film, classical and world music will all come to life in many forms during this autumnal event. This year an extended programme will dramatically increase its visibility and the North's cultural offering, including Belfast's world-class cultural venues. Seamus Heaney, James Galway, Van Morrison, Robert Wilson, Nick Cave, Ennio Morricone, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimi Hendrix and Yoko Ono have featured throughout the festival's 50-year history.

For more information about these and more events in 2012, visit: www.ni2012.com.

Ed Leahy


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