One thing to keep in mind as you're sketching out your after-dark plans is that Derry is a youthful city -- roughly 40% of its population is under 30. This fact, coupled with a legal drinking age of 18, means that the night scene is driven by the young. On weekends, after 1 or 2am when the clubs empty, the city center can seem a rather loud and volatile place.
The Performing Arts
Derry has long been associated with the arts, especially theater, poetry, and music. While its financial resources have been modest, its commitment remains inventive and tenacious. The Millennium Forum, Newmarket Street (028/7126-4455 box office; www.millenniumforum.co.uk), inside the city walls, has added a cultural meeting place and superb theater space to the local mix.
Other principal venues for concerts, plays, and poetry readings are the Guild Hall, Shipquay Place (028/773357136-5151), and the Playhouse, 5-7 Artillery St. (028/7126-8027; www.derryplayhouse.co.uk), as well as the Nerve Centre, 7-8 Magazine St. (028/7126-0562; www.nerve-centre.org.uk), which has a cinema and two concert and theater amphitheaters. The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within (028/7126-6946; www.verbalartscentre.co.uk), is devoted to promoting literature through readings and spoken-word events. Ticket prices range from free to about £15.
Derry pubs are an important part of the local fabric; hanging out in one is a good way to meet locals. Boozers are tied into the local music scene, so you’ll frequently find bands playing. Pubs even host debating contests, in the midst of which you’ll hear Irish eloquence at its well-lubricated best. Along Waterloo Street, just outside the city walls, a handful of Derry’s most traditional and popular pubs are known for their live music. Walk from one end of Waterloo to the other—an act that will take you all of 2 minutes—and you’ll likely find the bar for you.
The Club Scene
Provided you're under 25, there are several places where you'll want to be seen if not heard. Two multi-entertainment complexes stand out; the first is Strand, 31-35 Strand Rd. (028/7126-0494), with a classy bar serving mostly pub grub and an open venue for bands. On weekend nights, the tables in the bar are moved aside and the Strand morphs into a nightclub for the 20-plus crowd. Then there's Earth, 1 College Terrace (028/7136-0556), which has long been the city's main nightclub. It's near the university, so expect a young crowd.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.