Categories: things to do

Derry-born pop star, actress and model Nadine Coyle may have lived in glamorous places including Los Angeles and London, but her heart remains firmly in Northern Ireland.

Nadine’s music career began when she successfully auditioned for reality television talent show ‘Popstars’ and she went on to become part of girl group Girls Aloud, one of the most successful pop girl bands in the last twenty-five years in the UK and Ireland. The band had a string of popular hits, such as ‘Sound of the Underground’, ‘The Show’ and ‘Untouchable’. Then, in 2009, when Girls Aloud decided to take a hiatus, Nadine pursued solo projects, releasing her own music and appearing in popular TV shows, such as ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ and ‘Celebrity Juice’. Taking time out of her busy schedule, Nadine spoke recently with Tourism Northern Ireland, on everything from her memories of growing up in the Maiden City to her top tips for visitors blessed to find themselves in this part of the world. 

Reminiscing over fond memories of her childhood here in Northern Ireland, Nadine says: “Going to the city centre on a Saturday and the Richmond Shopping Centre for a shop was always a treat”, she says. “I remember my Mum putting picnics together and taking us to St. Columb’s Park. My Dad would play with us on all the equipment, it felt like we were in Disneyland.”  

Nowadays, Nadine wants to create new memories here for her daughter, like the summers of her own childhood. When the sun comes out, she says she’d “go on a day trip to Portrush, get the train with my family from Derry train station and spend the whole day exploring the beach and eating fish and chips in the seaside town.”  

During lockdown, she returned home and was able to enjoy some of her favourite places around the city, one of which was the quay by the River Foyle on the Strand Road: “It really is so beautiful with so many nice places to eat. I love the Primrose! Getting hot chocolate and walking across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington is such a great way to spend the afternoon.”  

The food scene in Derry is well known as an up-and-coming foodie destination, with locals and visitors alike remarking on the culinary delights to be found here, and Nadine feels that the culinary scene just keeps getting better: “With great access to local produce, we are spoiled for choice. You cannot beat an Ulster fry with all the extras and a tea! For that, I would go to Doherty’s in William St.” She says she has heard they have the best buns in town, but there’s only really one way to find out... 

Nadine may have many favourites in the city, but for anyone coming from overseas, she recommends The Craft Village in Derry: “It is so quaint and picturesque. The restaurants are great, and you feel like you have stepped back in time.” 

Derry, she says, is a great base to explore more of Northern Ireland “There is always something to do, with some great day trips from the city too. The Galgorm in Ballymena is such a great place to spend a weekend. The afternoon tea and hot tubs outside make it a perfect way to enjoy the rainy days.” And if you’re looking for a bit of history, she says to visit the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, County Tyrone, “Then you really step back in time getting to see the journeys the Irish people made to America.” 

There’s a lot of scenery back in the city she loves too: “Derry is absolutely stunning. It has the perfect mix of city and country everywhere you go, lots of green areas and so much history.” There are lots of great photo opportunities across the city, including the Derry Girls Mural, The Walls and the Peace Bridge, and yet there’s only one place on Nadine’s selfie list, and that’s Thornhill College, her old secondary school: “Just for the memories of how many years I spent going there. Now it has been captured in the fantastic show Derry Girls, everyone gets to see how much of an incredible place it is!” Being a naturally musical person, she feels that this soulful city is bursting with talent: “You don’t have to go far to find a really good time of singing and dancing in Derry. Just pick a place, any place, and I guarantee you’ll have a great time.”  

When pushed, she finds it tricky to narrow it down to only a few words to describe her hometown, “I would say heart-warming, friendly and home. Having travelled so many places over the years, I have always viewed Derry as home and love showing it off to my friends when I go back.” And one of the things that she misses most when she’s away? The people of course. “People are so friendly. You always feel so welcome. I love bringing friends to enjoy the culture. There is such a strong sense of community that I feel isn’t replicated anywhere else!” 

If you want to visit some of Nadine's favourite places in Northern Ireland, check out this inspirational itinerary.

East Strand Beach
Beach
East Strand Beach

Golden sandy beach with views of The Skerries and Causeway headlands.

Peace Bridge
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
Peace Bridge

Since its launch in 2011 the Peace Bridge has become an integral part of the City’s infrastructure and is held in high regard by locals and visitors alike for its stunning physical beauty and in equal measures for the symbolic story it represents.

Ebrington
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
Ebrington

Ebrington, a former military barracks just across the Peace Bridge, with a rich history, recently transformed into a vibrant, public space and event venue with impressive views over the City.

Doherty's Home Bakery
Café
Doherty's Home Bakery

Doherty’s Home Bakery is a family run business serving a wide range of hot food and producing the best of breads, Buns, and Cakes to the people of Derry for over 80 years.

The Craft Village
Arts & Crafts Shop
The Craft Village

Welcome to the distinctive delights of the hidden jewel in Derry’s crown, the classic Craft Village. Dickensian in appearance and delightful in layout, Derry’s Craft Village is a cultural oasis in the heart of a vibrant city.

Galgorm
Hotel
Vitality Pool at Galgorm

Galgorm is one Ireland's premier Resorts, set in 163 acres of lush parkland near Northern Ireland’s most renowned scenic attractions it is the perfect location to truly relax & unwind.

Ulster American Folk Park
Visitor Centres & Museums
Ulster American Folk Park

Journey back in time at the Ulster American Folk Park, from the Old World of Ulster to the New World of America.

Derry Girls Mural
TV/Film Location
Derry Girls Mural

Get yourself down to Badger's Bar where you'll find the infamous Derry Girls mural, one of the best selfie locations in the city of Derry.

17th Century City Walls
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
17th Century City Walls

Derry~Londonderry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and is one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. A walk around the walls reveals a city crammed full of history, heritage, interest and a vibrant cultural scene.