Boys’ annual festival is ‘celebration of diversity’

2011... The Apprentice Boys' 'Relief of Derry' parade makes its way throughout Derry city centre.
2011... The Apprentice Boys' 'Relief of Derry' parade makes its way throughout Derry city centre.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry says its Maiden City Festival is a “flagship celebration of diversity” in Northern Ireland.

The annual week-long event - which takes place this year between August 4 and 11 - is, according to the loyal order, the “highlight” of Derry’s August holiday period and a “major visitor attraction”.

“The festival offers something for everyone and works hard to bring pride and tourist trade to Londonderry,” its official brochure reads.

The eight-day festival will culminate on Saturday, August 11 with a massive parade through Derry’s city centre to commemorate the 323rd anniversary of the “Relief of Derry”.

A spokesperson for the organisation said: “The Maiden City Festival is a showcase for Protestant culture of tolerance and openness and for the heritage that is entrusted to the Apprentice Boys of Derry.

“The Maiden City Festival is the way in which the Protestant community of Londonderry, a minority community, makes a positive contribution to past heritage and contemporary life of the city and to diversity in expression of culture.”

The week-long event - which is funded by, among others, the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs - kicks off on Saturday, August 4, with the popular ‘Bluegrass on the Walls’ event.

Throughout the week, the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall at Society Street will be open to the public while a series of guided tours - which take in the City Walls and the nearby Fountain district - will be available.

The highlight of the week is, of course, the annual Relief of Derry parade which, according to the Apprentice Boys, takes place in a “celebratory mood.”

A spokesperson added: “Derry day is one of the most enjoyable for the Apprentice Boys. In recent years, more and more people have made the occasion a good family ‘day out’.

“We pray that continues and that all will find a friendly environment and bring themselves and their curiosity to the city for the finale of the Maiden City Festival week.”

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