Pirate battles on the river, aerial acrobats and majestic sails for Maritime Festival finale

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness pictured on board the Clipper Yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire with skipper Sean McCarter. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 26.06.14
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness pictured on board the Clipper Yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire with skipper Sean McCarter. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 26.06.14

Pirate ship battles, daring air stunts and a majestic river display are all promised for the final few days at Derry’s Maritime Festival.

Thousands of spectators are expected to attend what promises to be a spectacular finale, after the first six days saw the quayside thronged despite the rain and cloudy skies.

Mayor of Derry Brenda Stevenson said the festival had been an unforgettable experience and paid tribute to all involved.

Urging everyone to come down to the Quay she said was looking forward to the public giving the crews a warm Derry send-off.

“It’s been a magical week so far. This festival has been hugely successful, attracting thousands of people to the Quay to visit the boats, take part in water activities and family events in the various marquees and sampling some of the fantastic foods on offer.

“I am really looking forward to the weekend to give the Clipper Race crews a legenderry send off as they depart from the Quay on Sunday morning on the next stage of their journey.”

Among the highlights for the weekend are the Oban on the Foyle Japanese Lantern Festival, which will see floating lanterns on the Foyle from around 9pm on Friday evening and a Moonlit parade organised by the Foyle Paddlers and Canoe club at the Foyle Marina.

On Saturday evening, the fun will continue with a Pirates Party which takes place from 6pm along the Quay, followed by an amazing pyrotechnics display on the River Foyle at 10pm.

The huge fiery battle between two pirate ships will be accompanied by a spectacular aquatic fireworks finale on Queen’s Quay to close the week-long festivities.

The dramatic ceremony is the brain child of well-known local man Donal Neill, from Pains Fireworks, who was involved in the Clipper Race stopover event in the city in 2012.

He said: “The fireworks display back in 2012 was, then, one of the biggest that Derry had ever seen so to get the chance to top that will be an absolutely incredible experience.

“The fireworks will have a maritime theme and will burn on the water with haunting, ghostly music so it will be a remarkable sight.

“Tied in with that we will have a narrative piece from a pirate who will speak about “dead men telling no tales”, followed by the theatrical stand-off between two eight-metre tall galleons. It’s all about thinking outside the box to make this hugely memorable.”

Donal is no stranger to working on some of Ireland’s most prominent events, including the opening of the 2011 Europa League Final.

On Sunday morning it will be time to bid farewell to the Clipper Race fleet as it prepares to leave the Foyle Marina.

Spectators are advised to take their places on the quayside from 10am as the event build-up starts at 10.15am.

The Clipper Race yachts will begin their departures from 11am as part of the Parade of Sail. All local eyes will be on the Derry yacht as it prepares to leave its home port on the next stage of the race.

The 12 yachts are expected to arrive in Greencastle, Co. Donegal from 2pm where they will await the race start. The famous Red Arrows will stage an aerial acrobatics display at 2.45pm to mark the start of Race 15 – The OneDLL Cup – to Den Helder in the Netherlands.

A traffic management plan will be in operation in Greencastle with park and ride facilities available for spectators.

There will also be vantage points from Downhill to Benone Strand at Magilligan (parking is permitted on Benone beach but motorists are urged to exercise care as it is expected to be very busy).

Get regular updates at www.legenderrymaritimefestival.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/DerryLondonderryClipper

A full programme of activities along the quayside and on the water as well as the Continental and Walled City Markets, continues until the Festival closes up shop on Sunday at 6pm.