Foyle Maritime Festival to go ahead in new format in 2024 after Clipper chooses Oban over Derry

Derry City and Strabane District Council is set to deliver a new format for the Foyle Maritime Festival following confirmation the city will not be a host port in the 2024 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
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The local authority vowed to build on the Maritime Festival’s success with ‘a new narrative that retains the event’s international profile and builds on the positive impact it has had on the local economy’ after it was confirmed Clipper Ventures had selected Oban as a host port instead of Derry.

“The Foyle Maritime Festival has grown into an event of global significance over the last 13 years and is one of the biggest and highly acclaimed events on the island of Ireland,” said Head of Culture at Council Aeidin McCarter.

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“We have hosted the Clipper Fleet alongside some of the highest profile cities in the world including New York, Sydney and London - yet Clipper Ventures still regard the Maritime Festival as one of its greatest success stories and most popular stopovers.

A packed quayside during a previous Foyle Maritime FestivalA packed quayside during a previous Foyle Maritime Festival
A packed quayside during a previous Foyle Maritime Festival

"While our relationship with Clipper Ventures remains strong, on this occasion we will not be hosting the fleet and will now work on a new direction for the festival that will allow us to continue to reap the significant benefits it brings to the economy and tourism while further growing our Council area’s reputation as a host of international events.

“Since the first Maritime Festival in 2012, our growing international visitor numbers and reputation have allowed us to successfully achieve international status with Tourism NI for our Halloween Festival,” Mrs. McCarter added.

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SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said: “There will be real disappointment in Derry that the Clipper fleet will not return to our city as part of the 2024 Round the World Yacht Race.

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"The five visits to our city by the fleet have been major events and have helped grow our Maritime Festival to the point where it attracts thousands of visitors to our city every year.

“It’s important that we don’t let this hinder the growth of the festival and the SDLP will work with council to determine how we can still make it a huge success even without serving as a Clipper stop.”

The announcement follows lengthy discussions between Council officers and Clipper Ventures about the viability of the fleet returning to the city for a sixth time in 2024 with Council delivering the core programming of the Foyle Maritime Festival and covering a range of operational and safety costs.

In March Elected Members gave approval for officers to enter into negotiations on that basis following the implementation of a number of cost saving measures.

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Mrs. McCarter said: “Over the coming months we will work with Elected Members on a fresh format and direction for the festival and aim to bring on new partners to build the event’s legacy and retain its international dimension.

"We can also now be more flexible with regard to dates and can work to ensure they don’t clash with other significant events in the city that week to maximise the impact on visitor numbers and the economy.

"As a Council we would like to wish the port of Oban well in hosting the penultimate stopover and we hope they gain as much from the experience as we have over the last 13 years.”