Derry launched its year as the UK's first City of Culture with a spectacular fireworks display and the promise of a rollercoaster 12 months ahead.
It had to fend off stiff competition for the inaugural title from Sheffield, Birmingham and Norwich.
Sharon O'Connor, Derry City Council chief executive, said: "It is just going to be a rollercoaster ride of cultural delights."
It kicked off at 20.13 last night with a pyrotechnics event on the River Foyle, which runs through the centre of the city and for many years marked a boundary between nationalists and unionists.
An opening concert will be a celebration of the cultural talent that has come out of the city, featuring the Undertones punk band, traditional music's Phil Coulter, and 1970 Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana.