D-day has finally arrived for Londonderry as the city will find out later today whether or not it has been chosen as the UK City of Culture for 2013.
Fingers are being crossed on both sides of the Irish Sea as the Derry bid team waits in Liverpool with bated breath, along with the rest of Northern Ireland.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and a yet-to-be-confirmed DUP minister were expected to join Mayor of Derry Colum Eastwood, town clerk Valerie Watts and the chief executive of Derry regeneration company Ilex in a symbolic united front ahead of tonight’s announcement.
The decision will be broadcast live from the second floor of the Mersey Ferry terminal building on BBC’s The One Show tonight from 7pm.
The local bid team flew into Liverpool last night with the North West Telegraph joining them for what could be one of the most momentous days in Derry’s history.
The decision has the potential to act as a catalyst for the transformation already under way in the Maiden City, with experts predicting that if it hits the jackpot tonight, the win could result in a £200m infrastructural investment and up to 3,000 additional jobs in what is Northern Ireland’s worst unemployment blackspot.
UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is expected to make the announcement, delivering the verdict on whether Derry has done enough to outshine fellow finalists Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.
The team of judges, headed by Liverpool cultural guru and TV presenter Phil Redmond, will be present at the event.
Speaking from the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool, Ilex chief executive Aideen McGinley said that nerves were setting in as the countdown began in earnest.
“It is real now that we have arrived in Liverpool,” she said.
“The massive support we have received has been overwhelming and in a way I’m sorry I’ll be missing the party in Derry.”
Meanwhile, in Derry tonight, the Guildhall could see the biggest party since it was built, with a live link-up to Liverpool.
Musicians and artists will be providing entertainment in the lead-up to the announcement.