Londonderry set to host Clipper Race return in 2022

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is set to return to Londonderry next year, Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) has announced.

The Clipper race, which has been a main fixture of Derry’s Maritime Festival in previous years, was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event sees yachts travel 40,000 nautical miles (74,080km) and stop at various locations around the world.

Organisers have now given assurances Derry will once again be a host port.

Members of council’s business and culture committee heard on Tuesday that plans were being put in place for the return of both the Clipper Race and the Foyle Maritime Festival.

The council’s head of culture, Aeidin McCarter, said the proposed plans were for an 11-day festival in summer 2022.

The last five days of the festival, when the Clipper yachts will be arriving in the city, will see a section of Queen’s Quay closed to traffic and pedestrianised to help maintain crowds and ensure social distancing.

“The Foyle Maritime Festival is one of our flagship events and there was great disappointment that it was among the many events cancelled last year due to the restrictions,” said SDLP councillor Rory Farrell.

“As we begin to take the first steps back to normality, the proposal to act as a host port in 2022 is cause for great excitement, and something to really look forward to as we embark on the path to recovery.”

Sinn Féin councillor Conor Heaney said the return of the Clipper race and festival would send out a positive message from the local area.

Ulster Unionist councillor Darren Guy described it as “great news” for the city, but highlighted the need for further discussions around traffic flow in line with the events.

Chief executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen, said the news was an “extremely welcome boost for the local tourism industry”.

“As we begin to take cautious steps now towards the reopening of visitor attractions in the coming weeks, we are all looking forward to being able to travel and enjoy cultural experiences in the near future.”