Spectacle on the Foyle to bring 2016 Maritime Festival to a close

Thousands are expected to line the River Foyle tomorrow night for a magical outdoor performance centred around a real-life 10th century Irish queen, saint and maritime heroine.

Friday, 15th July 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 15th July 2016, 10:05 am
The Voyage of Sunniva.

The Voyage of Sunniva will bring to a close the Foyle Maritime Festival in an epic production along the river.

Fireworks over the Foyle will follow the free event, which will run from 8pm right through until 11pm.

Sunniva may not be well-known in today’s Ireland but she is still venerated in Scandinavia as the Patron Saint of Western Norway.

A medieval statue of Saint Sunniva.

Born in the 10th century, Sunniva was the heir to a kingdom in Ireland, but was forced to flee the country with her followers after a pagan king, seeking her hand in marriage, began an invasion of the country.

Queen Sunniva and her followers headed north and settled on islands off the coast of Norway, where legend has it they took refuge in a cave.

After reportedly being wrongly suspected of stealing sheep by locals, and on the point of being taken and killed, she led prayers to God, and rocks fell down blocking off the cave, killing the Irish emigrants outright.

The atmospheric outdoor celebration in Derry, titled ‘The Voyage of Sunniva - Night of the Two Moons’, will harness the power of the elements, bringing together earth, water, light and aerial performance for an evening of entertainment on the Foyle.

A medieval statue of Saint Sunniva.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mayor of Derry & Strabane Hilary McClintock said: “The Voyage of Sunniva promises to bring something completely new and exceptional to the Foyle Maritime Festival. It promises to bring together something more mysterious and magical - a real opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere and natural beauty of the river.”

Mysterious figures will walk the quayside before joining their queen for a final parade of light on the river as Sunniva and her followers prepare for their journey.

Council Festivals and Events Manager, Jacqueline Whoriskey, said: “The Voyage of Sunniva will really capture people’s imaginations and we are delighted to bring such a unique and creative piece together for the Festival Finale event. The Voyage of Sunniva will be a visual spectacle with a beautiful aerial and light show brought to life by LUXe.

“This will end with a spectacular fireworks finale bringing to a dramatic close our Foyle Maritime Festival.”

Events along the Queen’s Quay will begin from 8pm, culminating in the fireworks on the Foyle at 10.45pm.

Music for the performance will be provided by acclaimed bands, Derry’s own Balkan Alien Sound and Irish outfit Kíla.