Derry’s Clipper Maritime Festival confirmed for summer 2022

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Derry’s world-class Maritime Festival is set to return to the city in July 2022 after a four year absence, it was confirmed today.

Councillors were provided with an update on the Clipper Race restart dates and subsequent proposed dates and format for the delivery of the Foyle Maritime Festival 2022 at the Business & Culture Committee meeting this evening.

In a bit of good news after the festival was cancelled this last year and again this year due to the pandemic, the suspended Clipper 2019-20 Race will resume next year and the flotilla will once again arrive up the River Foyle next summer during the rescheduled Maritime Festival all being well.

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Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry & Strabane Council told today’s meeting of the Business & Culture Committee that the plans were for an 11 day festival which will be intensified for five of those days when a road closure and pedestrianisation of the area would be in place.

Foyle Maritime Festival 2018

Crowds on Derry Quay.Foyle Maritime Festival 2018

Crowds on Derry Quay.
Foyle Maritime Festival 2018 Crowds on Derry Quay.

“This award winning event was highly anticipated locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as the festival has become the penultimate stopover of this global race attracting a large audience and spend into the city and region,” she said.

“In 2018 the event attracted almost 211,000 attendees, achieving over 19,000 bed nights and an estimated economic impact of at least £2million for the local economy.

“On March 17 2020, two days after the completion of Leg 9 and arrival of the race fleet into Subic Bay in the Philippines, it quickly became apparent that the challenges of global travel during the pandemic would make it impossible to continue the race and Clipper Ventures immediately announced the suspension of the race until further notice.

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“The Foyle Maritime Festival was also cancelled for the summer of 2020, in response to Covid-19 restrictions.”

The last day of the Foyle Maritime Festival on SundayThe last day of the Foyle Maritime Festival on Sunday
The last day of the Foyle Maritime Festival on Sunday

She added: “By 2020 Officers had noted that there was a considerable appetite within the private sector to independently programme events as soon as the boats arrived, testament to the economic opportunities that this international event brings to the city. In response to this officers were working closely with a range of businesses and organisations to support and align independent events that would become part of the 2020 festival portfolio. For 2022 officers propose working proactively with the private sector once again to develop these opportunities.”

A revised budget assessment for the forthcoming festival will be brought to the committee at a future meeting.

Committee chair SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell said this was fantastic news and that the festival will provide a chance to “broadcast our majestic Foyle and beautiful city on a global stage”.

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Proposing the Committee proceed with the proposals, Sinn Féin Councillor Conor Heaney said it will result in a real sense of “returning to some sort of normality” and it would be hopeful everyone will work together if there still restrictions in place when the time comes.

UUP Colr. Darren Guy said it was “great news” but said with regards to the closure of Queen’s Quay he hoped Council will work with the Department of Infrastructure to facilitate traffic flow for taxi drivers and other motorists.

Aontú Colr. Emmet Doyle said this will give people “a sense of hope and of things opening again”.

Deputy Mayor, DUP Ald. Graham Warke said this was “absolutely outstanding news” and spoke of the buzz the festival and Clipper arrival brings. “Fingers crossed it all goes well,” he said.

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UUP Ald. Derek Hussey said he too had great memories of the festival, but raised issues over the distribution of the wider benefit across the entire Derry & Strabane District region.

Ald. Hussey was told that an eight hour raft journey from Castlederg had formed part of a previous festival and could do so again, and he very much welcomed this.

SDLP Colr. Shauna Cusack agreed it was fantastic news and said the festival brought so much to the area. “The impact of COVID has really, really crucified and decimated our tourism offering. Hopefully next year we will be in a better place.”

SDLP Colr. Jason Barr said it was always a great event and was looking forward to attending again in 2022.