Exit New Year AwardsIt may be a couple of weeks late but the 'votes' are in and the New Year Awards for all that was great and good about Newry in 2013 have been announced.

And so without further ado ...

Best Night Out

Best Night out is a tie between Mercury Fur at Newry Drama Festival and Culture Night in September.

Mercury Fur, a completely nightmarish, drug induced blood fest from the Silken Thomas Players may have been hard to watch at times but that is what theatre is about and the sheer professionalism of the production made for compulsive viewing and and great nights entertainment.

Newry's very first Culture night had many different events on round the city, including a dramatic trial in the Working Mans Club, a Mexican night in Maya Cafe, Karaoke on the street from Newry Rainbow Community and lots of entertainment in the Marcus Square performance space.

Mercury Fur, Newry Drama FestivalNewry's first Culture Night was a resounding success. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Best Venue

Best Venue for the second year in a row has to be Amplified Bar in Water Street.

For such a small venue it packs an incredibly large punch with many brilliant bands performing from both local and further afield.

From The Shout to Duke Special to The Wolf is In and themed nights from comedy, to the Day of the Dead to Battle of the Bands and many many more.

Our personal favourite of the year was the Bruce Springsteen tribute band, The Springsteens from Waterford who played in November.

Also worthy of mention is the newly renovated Cafe Brass, the chilled out Bridge Bar and the ever evolving B.E.D

Day of the Dead was just one of Amplified Bar's successful events in 2013.

Best Dining Out

This years Best Dining winner has to be the newly arrived Sugar Supper Club in Sugar Island.

A great new start up from Neil Bradley that only appeared on the scene in the second half of 2013 in a part of Newry not necessarily renowned for it's quality eateries.

Sugar Supper Club. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The new arrival has certainly proved a raging success from the word go and paves the way for others to follow in the area.

Exceptional food with a great ambience including live music at certain times.

Other contenders include Maya Cafe and McCoey's in Monaghan Street 

Best Festival

Best Festival of 2013 was undoubtedly Oktoberfest run at McClelland Park for the second year by Graeme Finnegan and Barry Johnston.

Oktoberfest Newry goes from strength to strength.

This time around the beer festival also involved a 5k run through the city, kicking the festival off and ensuring that a lot of tired punters came in for a wee drink … or two!

Atmosphere once again was a magic mix of the fun and the surreal with one well known council official taking to the tables along with nearly everyone else.

Plenty of quality music from St Catherines Band, Cold Porter and many others certainly helped the beer go down and the Burlesque Belles were never far away.

Other Festivals worthy of mention include the second annual Pride in Newry the first Newry Culture night which will no doubt grow and grow, this years spectacular St Patricks Day Festival, Newry Drama Festival and Newry Feis which attracts an incredible number of people to the city.

Best Gig

Best Gig of 2013 was Aslan at Bellinis way back in January.

Christy Dignam gave it his all and every one in the audience seemed to be life long fans.

What an atmosphere.

How Can I protect you in this crazy world and many others were sung almost as much by the audience as by the band.

Aslan in Bellinis was the Gig of the Year. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

One to go down in history.

Others worth mentioning would include JLS on their farewell run at Pairc Esler and The Springsteens at Amplified.

Best Sporting Event

Best Sporting Event was the first Newry City Triathlon held at the Albert Basin as part of Newry's Festival of Water in September.

For a first event it was remarkably well organised and extremely well supported by both competitors and onlookers and the eventual winner Barry Convery made it look so easy.

Newry City Triathlon was a spectacular success.

Sure I might try it myself next time!!!

Newry City Marathon is also worthy of a mention having established itself on the local sporting circuit.

Best New Arrival

Our Best New Arrival is such an incredible idea produced as a result of such nightmarish tragedy.

It's  the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust set up by Kevin Bell's parents Eithne and Collie after Kevin lost his life in New York in June last year.

The Trust was set up after an unbelievable outpouring of shared concern from Newry locals resulted in many thousands of pounds being collected in barely a week to ease the financial burden of bringing his body home.

The death of Kevin Bell led to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

The charity has already helped quite a few families throughout the island and has the potential to ease the worries of bereaved families in similar situations, who already have more than enough pain to deal with.

Note: The Awards are unashamedly biased of course as it's just our opinion on what we experienced but don't be afraid to let us know what you thought was the years highlight!

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