Plenty to do as city prepares for Clipper Homecoming Festival

THE city of Londonderry is buzzing this week as the final preparations for the much anticipated Clipper Homecoming Festival gets underway.

For those of you walking along the Quay, you will see the area is a flurry of activity as the final touches are put into place to give the 10 yachts and their crews a memorable welcome when they arrive on the River Foyle on board their 68-foot cutters, for a 10 day fun-filled festival of activities never seen before in Derry~Londonderry.

From Friday 29 June, the 10 yachts will be expected to finish their transatlantic voyage just two weeks after their vessels left Halifax, Nova Scotia, to sail across the Atlantic towards the home city of the Derry~Londonderry yacht. It is hoped that hundreds will come out to give the sailors a legenderry welcome when they sail into the city at various times between Friday and Sunday - more information on expected arrival times will be made available via the Clipper website and in the local media.

For those of you looking to find out what’s happening this weekend and how to be part of this unique celebration, a wide range of water based and landside activities have been organised with a strong family friendly ethos. As the yachts start to arrive in the city on 29th June, families can enjoy a visit on board the RNLI lifeboat which will be berthed at the Foyle Pontoon over the weekend or take a tour on the Maid of Antrim and the Wee Blue Boat from the Tour Boat Pontoon, on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Ardglass Vikings will be recreating Viking folklore and stories and inviting the public to row their longboat on the river on Saturday and Sunday, 30 June and 01 July from 10m am to 6pm, while the Foyle Paddlers will be encouraging people to avail of some canoeing lessons from the Foyle Pontoon in addition to dinghy racing and a punt display. The Ocean Youth Trust have been commissioned by the Loughs Agency to offer people the chance to try sailing in one of their two keelboats. The training will take place from Saturday, June 30th to Monday, July 2nd from 10 am to 8pm. Booking for this and all the other water based activities is advised and should be done by contacting the Information desk at the event.

For those of you who prefer to keep your feet on dry ground, the Queen’s Quay will be transformed into a Clipper Village from Friday 29th June with everything from heritage and maritime educational zones to a maritime café. On Saturday and Sunday (30 June and 01 July) the city will play host to a fantastic seafood festival will live cookery demonstrations by local chefs and restaurants. As part of the North Atlantic Fiddle Festival, there will be a kids’s Ceili along the Quay between 12 noon.

Families coming along at the weekend will be encouraged to get their children to get creative and participate in a variety of interactive and fun workshops that have been organised from 10 am to 6pm from Friday 29 and continues throughout the week of the festival until Sunday 08 July. There will be street performances and animation as the city will light up to the sounds and atmosphere of the Clipper spectacle while the People’s Platform stage will be showcasing local artists from musicians, standup comedians and poetry performances. The Fiddle festival will be in full swing and music lovers are being encouraged to join in some Irish singing, music and dance workshops.

The fun will continue into next week with a chance to visit the Clipper yachts and meet the crews on Monday 02 July or take part in lantern making workshops or storytelling sessions while on Tuesday 03 July the Irish Coastguard will be doing a display on the River and the city will host a Moonlight Canoe Paddle at 10.30pm.

On Wednesday July 04, Wayne Hemingway will be in the city to host a special Masterclass and there will be a chance to take part in some graffiti and urban art workshops or enjoy some live music along the Foyle. The NIEA boats will be open for public viewing from Thursday 05 July while the Earl of Pembroke Tall Ship will arrive and the Continental Market will open for the first day of its three day visit to the city while The Undertones will take to the stage at Ebrington that night to headline the Legenderry concert. On Friday 06 July the Foyle will be a hub of activity as the waterbased activities continue over the weekend, and the Queens Quay will be swarming with arts and crafts, exhibitions and activities to keep everyone entertained. Later that night the Ebringon site will be reopened for the Clipper connections concert featuring the Saw Doctors and Red Hot Chili Pipers .

On Saturday July 07 the Clipper yachts will depart in a Parade of Sail down the River Foyle between 1 and 2pm while at 3pm the exciting Zap Cats will take to the river for some racing and water displays which will continue into Sunday 08 July when the festival celebrations draw to a close and the Clipper yachts will be en-route to Amsterdam and then Southampton for the race finale.

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