Belfast Telegraph

All aboard: 100,000 yacht race fans to descend on Derry festival

By Brendan McDaid

More than 100,000 people are expected to breeze into Londonderry as the city prepares to welcome the Clipper Round the World Yacht fleet with a 10-day festival.

Two back-to back concerts will take place over two nights, featuring The Undertones, Paul Casey and a host of other homegrown talent.

Other events taking place include daredevil Zapcats powerboat stunts on the River Foyle, Viking boats and a major fireworks display.

A new Foyle Seafood Festival will be staged alongside the largest Continental Market ever erected in Northern Ireland, while a creative family zone will be set up near the riverbank.

The festival will take place from June 29 through until July 8 with a major ceremony being staged to welcome the 10 teams, who are currently racing from Panama to New York.

There is expected to be a massive turnout for the arrival of the fleet, which includes the Derry-Londonderry boat and crew, as they make their way up Lough Foyle and into the heart of the city.

Among those who will be making that journey will be Padraig McConway from Shantallow, who was one of five local people who won bursaries from Derry City Council to join a leg of the race.

The 25-year-old will fly out this Saturday to see a bit of America before meeting up with the Clip

per crew and heading out into the Atlantic.

“I can’t wait. We leave New York on June 7 and this will be the homecoming leg. Everyone is calling it the glory leg because of that, and we are due into Derry on June 28.

“The part I am most looking forward to is coming around Malin Head and into Derry and seeing my family and friends.”

Niall will be the last of the five bursars to travel with the 50-strong crew on the Derry-Londonderry.

They joined Clipper officials, Derry City Council staff and leading representatives from Northern Ireland’s business and tourism sectors yesterday at the City Hotel to hear details of the Clipper Homecoming Festival.

Local businessman and tour operator Martin McCrossan said he was delighted with what was being planned for the city.

“I am hoping it is going to be a major boost for the city’s economy — a much needed boost to be honest. We are hopeful now that this will benefit shops, bars, hotels and we know that a lot of people have booked well in advance to come here because of this.

Derry is expected to be thronged with people during the festival, which coincides with |the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention.

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