Final rehearsals for Derry Girls Big Sing Event

18th October, 2023

With final preparations underway for the opening of the 10th annual City of Derry International Choir Festival, singers from eight post primary schools gathered together for one final rehearsal ahead of the Derry Girls Big Sing event.

The event in Guildhall Square on Thursday 19th October at 6pm invites the public to join a massed choir performance of ‘Dreams’ by the Cranberries. The emotive song was one of the standout tunes associated with the programme, taking on particular significance when it was used in the second series as Derry reached fever pitch ahead of President Clinton’s visit to the city in 1995.

Funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the City of Derry International Choir Festival was originally launched as part of the amazing programme of events in the 2013 City of Culture celebrations. This year’s programme is extra special as it celebrates the festival’s 10th anniversary with an impressive line-up of events from 18th to 22nd October.

Eighty local and international choirs have signed up to take part in the festival, from professional singers to amateur ensemble, to community groups and everything in between.

Thursday’s Derry Girls Big Sing event is just one of many highlights. The programme will open on Wednesday with the 100-strong Festival Chorus, made up of singers from across the northwest, performing the dramatic Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi with Northern Ireland’s premier symphony orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, and a superb line-up of guest soloists including Mexican tenor Benito Rodriguez and Derry soprano Laura Sheerin.

In addition to the gala headline events, school, national and international choirs will take part in a series of competitions across the five-day festival, adjudicated by an international panel of renowned and celebrated choral directors, singers and composers. National choirs will strive to be crowned Choir of the Festival, while international competitors will pull out all the stops to win the prestigious Oak Tree of Derry Trophy.

Alongside the competitive element of the festival will run a vibrant and eclectic programme of non-competitive concerts, pop-up performances and sacred services, with local choirs sharing the stage with visiting groups and singing in venues and public spaces across the city, district and throughout the northwest region.

Dónal Doherty, Artistic Director of the Festival says, 

The extraordinary success of the festival since its launch in 2013 is due largely to the magnificent support and special welcome provided by the people of Derry and the North West to our many national and international visitors. For one week each year, the City of Song comes alive with the sound of thousands of singers sharing their joy of music with the local community.

"The theme of this year's festival is 'engagement' and our Derry Girls Big Sing is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the city to come out, join in and get singing!

“Welcome to our 10th Anniversary celebrations - let the party begin!”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, 

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is thrilled to support the City of Derry International Choir Festival, thanks to funding for good causes from the National Lottery. Congratulations to the Festival team on 10 fantastic years. Audiences can look forward to some wonderful events this year from some of the very best local and international choirs – a truly fitting celebration to mark this special anniversary programme.”

All details at and tickets available at