The Mayor of Derry has paid tribute to all involved in making the Maritime Festival “the highlight of the year” locally, with preparations already underway for further festivals in 2015 and 2016.
Speaking as the Clipper fleet navigated their way towards their next race stop in the Netherlands, Brenda Stevenson said that the festivities over the past nine days had proved to be a stunning success.
Her comments come after the Parade of Sail in Derry and the Red Arrows performance and race start over Greencastle on Sunday. Tens of thousands from Derry, Donegal and beyond gathered at various spots including to witness the succession of stunning spectacles on offer at the festival finale.
The Maritime Festival will now return in the summer of 2015, and thereafter as an annual fixture on Derry’s calendar, adding to other major draws such as the City of Derry Jazz and Big Festival and the Halloween festivities.
The following year will see the Clipper fleet returning to Derry as a major stopover once again in the 2015-16 race.
This year’s nautical celebration, which attracted tens of thousands of people to the city, saw the 12-strong fleet of Clipper Race yachts which made their second stopover visit to the city, following a gruelling journey across the Atlantic.
The Derry boat, captained by local man Sean McCarter, received a hero’s welcome a week ago after winning the Atlantic leg.
Speaking after joining the tens of thousands who gathered at Greencastle in Donegal to watch a death defying aerial display by the Red Arrows on Sunday, and start of the 15th race in the round the world adventure, Mayor Stevenson said:
“It was such an emotional day seeing off the Clipper Race crews who have really made the city their home for the past week,” she said.
“The LegenDerry Maritime Festival has been the highlight of the year for Derry, and I am so proud today that once again we have shone on the international stage and delivered another world class event.
“I would like to wish all the teams, especially our own Derry-Londonderry-Doire, the very best of luck in the final stages of the race and a safe journey to Den Helder.”
Town Clerk and Chief Executive of Derry City Council, Sharon O’Connor, said the event had been hugely successful in terms of promoting the North West region.
Ms O’Connor said: “Following on from the success of our cultural year, Derry City Council is committed to building the city’s profile both as a first class tourist destination, and the ideal place for businesses to locate in terms of both infrastructure and standard of living.
“Events like the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race provide the ideal platform for Derry to showcase all that our beautiful city has to offer.
“The event not only has a direct impact on the local economy, it sends out the message that Derry offers an exciting and unique visitor experience, and I am delighted that based on this success the Clipper Race team is already considering another stopover visit in 2016. I would like to thank everyone involved for delivering such an outstanding experience.”
There were many highlights during the nine day Maritime Festival, including a storming alfresco performance by the Beach Boys in Ebrington Square, and a dramatic pyrotechnics display on the Foyle as two ghostly pirate galleons battled it out on the water.
To find out more about all the events and to view some of the extensive photographic coverage throughout the festival go to www.facebook.com/DerryLondonderryClipper