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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Maritime Festival dates revealed as Derry prepares to welcome Clipper Race Crew

There was a warm welcome today for exciting news about the official return of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, as Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed the dates for the Foyle Maritime Festival.

It was confirmed today that the race is set to resume after a two-year delay due to the pandemic, and the crew will once again enjoy a fabulous welcome home to the Foyle as Derry and Strabane gets set to deliver a spectacular maritime celebration from July 20-24 2022.

The world famous sailing event will set out from Subic Bay in just three weeks' time, after being suspended in March 2020. Race Crew from 21 different countries will take part in an intensive week of training from 7 March, before the first point scoring race, which will take crew across the North Pacific Ocean, begins on 20 March. This will be the fifth consecutive time that the city has acted as a host port and a considerable international following for the event has built up over the years.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke said he was delighted at the news, and the much anticipated return of the sailing fleet to the Foyle, where they will take centre stage at the Maritime Festival.

"This is fantastic news, we are thrilled to be able to confirm that the Clipper Race Crew will be arriving in the City on time to join us for the Foyle Maritime Festival. There will be so much excitement as the first yachts appear on the Foyle. It will mark a real milestone in the journey of the crew but also very significantly in terms of the slow journey towards recovery that we have all been on.

"I've had a chance to look at the details of the Foyle Maritime Festival programme and I think the events team have done an amazing job at retaining the maritime magic of the event and also enhancing it this year. It's fitting that we announce the programme dates on the first day of our Illuminate Festival, which is only the first in a year of festivals for the City and District. And with the lifting of Covid restrictions this week, there is so much to look forward to in 2022."

Running from Wednesday July 20 – Sunday July 24th, the Foyle Maritime Festival theme for 2022 is 'What Lies Beneath' focusing on the natural beauty of our oceans, rivers and lakes, and the onus on all of us to protect and preserve marine life. Take the Pledge will be the message, with a dedicated campaign within the festival encouraging local people to sign up to being more eco-friendly.

Highlights of this year's event include the Legenderry Street Food Festival, live music events, on street animation, marine themed installations, and much more still to be confirmed as the final touches are put to the programme.

Head of Culture with Council, Aeidin McCarter, said that excitement was already building ahead of the event. "There's a great sense of anticipation about the Foyle Maritime Festival, it's the flagship summer event for the City and District, and one that always generates an incredible buzz of excitement many months before the first sails are sighted on the Foyle.

"We are delighted that the Clipper Race fleet will once again be central to our festivities, with all the colour and comradery that the crew bring to the Quayside. With today's announcement for the race, the pieces are finally all coming together and we look forward to revealing more about the festival programme over the coming weeks.

“The extended footprint of the festival with the closure of Queen's Quay opens up so many opportunities for local business, and Council is working with private promoters, businesses and traders to support the delivery of a diverse programme of events from the day the boats arrive, to ensure they can best make the event work for them. We have a very busy year ahead!"

Mark Light, Clipper Race Director, said:

"This has been the longest Clipper Race edition in our history and so we are looking forward to returning to this wonderful city more than ever.

“As a Skipper who has previously had the honour of representing Derry-Londonderry (back in 2011-12), I have experienced first-hand the exceptional welcome our teams always receive from locals. And for our fleet to be the centre point of the Foyle Maritime Festival is a real honour. We can't wait to be back!"

The Foyle Maritime Festival is delivered in conjunction with Foyle Port, and the Loughs Agency.


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