Mayor joins Lilies of the Lough to unveil Maritime Festival programme
08 June 2022
There was fun on the Foyle today as the newly installed Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, once again stepped up to take the helm at the official launch of the Foyle Maritime Festival Programme, with a little help from some seafaring local ladies.
The Lilies of the Lough hopped on board to assist with the launch this afternoon on the River Foyle which provides the stunning backdrop for the internationally renowned maritime event. The all-female sailing group will be making their debut this year at the Festival, which is delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from the Tourism NI, Foyle Port, the Loughs Agency and Diageo, running from July 20 -24.
Founded by local woman Shauna O'Neill, who was awarded a bursary in 2012 to take part in the Clipper 2011-12 Race, Lilies on the Lough is a female sailing group established during lockdown advocating the positive effects that sailing has on female well-being both, mentally and physically. The Lilies will be taking part in the festival's daily programme of animation and also participating in the magical Parade of Light on the river on showcase night which will take place on Friday 22nd July.
A major element of the Maritime Festival is the Clipper Race stopover and the arrival of the first yacht into port traditionally signals the start of the festivities. It's now ten years since the love affair between the city and the Clipper Race began. Who knew in 2012 that ten years on this epic feat of endurance would continue to capture the imagination and draw tens of thousands of visitors to the festival for a fifth consecutive time?
The fleet always receives a rapturous welcome and 2022 is expected to exceed all expectations after a four year wait for its return. Leg 8, which includes the New York to Derry Race, features the largest number of Irish crew on board any leg of the race, but unfortunately was one of the Clipper 2019-20 Race legs unavoidably postponed due to the pandemic.
The festival itself is set to get off to a very special start on the evening of Wednesday 20th July with the Clipper Race Prizegiving taking place in the heart of the festival village, Dopey's Den, for the first time. In addition to the accolades awarded by the Clipper Race at the end of each race, Mayor Sandra Duffy will be presenting a crew member from each team with a special 'Spirit of a Derry Girl' Award.
Another fantastic female debut for this year's festival will be the appearance of the stunning Tall Ship, Grace O'Malley. Pride of the Atlantic Youth Trust, this regal ship has been recently purchased as a vessel for youth development across all of Ireland and will be making its much anticipated, premier appearance in the North of Ireland at the festival. Its namesake, Pirate Queen Granuaile met with the Mayor to celebrate the festival's launch ahead of her own performance on board the Grace O'Malley at the event.
The five-day Foyle Maritime Festival offers an exciting medley of maritime activity, as the riverfront is transformed once again into a vibrant and bustling international marina. This year's Festival theme 'What Lies Beneath' will celebrate the beauty and splendour of our seas, oceans and waterways, and the vital life they support. There will also be a strong environmental focus on the plight of our oceans and the actions we can all take to conserve and restore the beauty of our waters.
Looking ahead to the festival as the new Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Duffy said: "I am delighted to be joining some of our skilled female sailing crew to launch the Foyle Maritime Festival programme today. We are absolutely thrilled that once again we have the opportunity to showcase our beautiful City and District with an international events programme of this calibre. As Mayor it will certainly be a major highlight of my time in office and I look forward to welcoming both the Clipper Race fleet and the many visitors who flock to enjoy our beautiful riverfront throughout the celebration."
Head of Culture with Council, Aeidin McCarter said: "The Foyle Maritime Festival has a special place in the hearts of people here and we've already had amazing support from our local businesses and partners interested in engaging with the Festival and all the opportunities it brings for the local economy. We're expecting record visitor numbers this year after such a long and difficult break, and people won't be disappointed when they see the programme which really does have something for everyone. It will be fantastic to see our quayside buzzing once again."
Laura Ayres, Head of Partnerships & Events at the Clipper Race said: "The countdown to Derry~Londonderry is on. We can't wait to see the Clipper Race fleet sail into the city and take its place as the centrepiece of the Foyle Maritime Festival.
It has been ten years since the first Clipper Race Stopover in the city, and we are proud to see how much the city and festival has grown, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors for a jam-packed programme of events. We are sure that this year's stopover will be bigger than ever, and the Clipper Race teams, staff and supporters are certainly looking forward to that LegenDerry welcome this July."
2022 sees a busy Foyle Maritime Festival programme of both river and land based activity and animation including interactive experiences, tours of the Clipper Race yachts, water-based taster sessions including kayaking and the Foyle bubble Challenge, tall ships, boat tours, street theatre, markets, LegenDerry food and live music.
Kick off the celebrations early with the LegenDerry Street Food Festival, set to whet the appetite from 15th - 17th July. McFarland Way will host the welcome party for the arrival of Clipper 2019-20 Race participants due to arrive in port from Thursday 14th July, showcasing the very best of local street food and craft drink producers with live DJ Sets and a totally unique dining experience.
The main Maritime Festival programme officially begins on July 20th featuring the lively Maritime and Merchant Markets, al fresco performance on the Festival Village stage, and plenty of riverside family fun activities, from workshops to funfair attractions.
The festivities will reach a spectacular pinnacle at the Festival Showcase Event on Friday evening, July 22, with a magical evening of music, dance and theatre culminating in the enchanting Parade of Light on the River Foyle set against the backdrop of a stunning pyrotechnic display. Finally, the Clipper Race fleet will leave our shores once again as we bid them bon voyage in the dramatic Parade of Sail on Sunday July 24th.