Derry in northern Ireland climbed a step further up the league ladder of European cities of culture this weekend with a successful LegenDerry Maritime Festival in association with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Over a nine-day period the Foyle riverside area of this medieval walled coastal city was awash with international food stalls, diverse live music performances and, of course, slick multi-million dollar yachts that arrived there across the Atlantic from New York on their watery global journey.
The creative spirit was obvious for all to see as city officials even erected a music performance stage out on the water, as well as hosting a special floating Japanese lantern ceremony. Among the musicians entertaining the crowds of festival guests was the 29-album, 100-million-record selling Beach Boys who played an open-air concert on Ebrington Square, plus a special ‘Celtronic’ stage with various electronic music bands including Max Cooper, Karenn, Denmark’s Kolsch and the German/Dutch trio Move D, Juju and Jordash.
The international aspect of the festival was emphasized not only by the yachts from so many countries competing for the coveted prize, but also a special ‘Ubuntu’ festival tent (the South African word meaning all our identities and humanity are inter-linked), which featured exhibitions and performances from various ethnic groups.
As part of the festival, people could board the yachts and learn more about the intricacies of their operation, with questions answered by various crew members.
“It’s a most enjoyable race and a delightful festival,” said an enthusiastic Stephen Dand from England from the ‘Mission Performance’ yacht, as he showed visitors above and below deck and explained the workings of the most impressive boat he sailed on.
There were also sailing and boat safety courses offered, as well as dinghy, paddleboarding, wakeboarding and water-skiing taster sessions.
Food booths in three separate areas – the Walled City Market, the Continental market and The Galley – ranged from French patisseries to grilled buffalo and kangaroo burgers, from freshly-made macaroons to barbecue meats and paella. The aerial daredevil group, the Red Arrows, also entertained guests with spectacular manoeuvres and flypasts in nearby Greencastle and Magilligan.
Children were well catered for during the festivities, with a treasure hunt on the neighboring island of Inishtrahull six miles north-east of Malin Head; a scavenger hunt through the city; the Legenderry Eye, a 30-metre high ferris wheel; and a range of arts and crafts activities, with many based on the overarching nautical theme. There were also graffiti/street art workshops and an environment and heritage tent, including explorations along the river with the Loughs Agency’s Riverwatch Marine Discovery Tank.