Maiden City Festival Brings History to Life

Hundreds of performers prepare for the 18th annual programme reenacting Derry's illustrious past with theatre, dance and unique special events

The Maiden City Festival returns to Derry~Londonderry next month with a host of events for 2015 that will bring hundreds of performers to the city’s streets and historic Walls.

Running from 1 – 8 August, the festival, organised by the Apprentice Boys of Derry, will offer an action-packed programme of theatre, live music, dance, visual arts, talks, tours and exhibitions. Up to 40,000 people are expected to attend.

The latest addition to the programme is The Mountjoy Challenge, an unmissable boat race on the River Foyle, emulating the path taken by the Mountjoy when breaking the Siege in 1689. Held in association with the Lough Foyle Yacht Club, the boats will race from Ross Bay to the Council Jetty on Thursday, August 6 at 6pm.

Other highlights include festival favourites, the Maiden City Highland Dance & Ulster Highland Dance Championships where 150 dancers will compete for the prestigious title of Ulster Champion. Music fans will enjoy a weekend of traditional and modern Bluegrass & Folk in the Memorial Hall, Craft Village and day-time performances on the Walls.

As part of Culture Bites, over 40 of Northern Ireland’s most talented young musicians will take to the stage in a number of the city’s cafes to play covers and originals from the worlds of jazz, blues, soul, rock and pop.

The city’s illustrious and colourful history will be brought to life throughout the week with The Siege Story, a re-enactment of stories and tales performed by local actors.

Maiden City Fest 2

From Wednesday, August 5 to Friday, August 7, local historian William Temple will host a series of afternoon lectures in the Thiepval Gallery, George’s Street, highlighting organisations, such as the Salvation Army, that alleviated hardship and distress within the greater Fountain community prior to the Welfare State.

An additional lecture on Wednesday, August 5 in the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall at 7.30pm will look at the role of the 10th Irish Division during WW1 at the Battle of Gallipoli - "The Forgotten Irish Heroes of 1915".

Launching the programme, Festival Director Jonathan Burgess said: 'The Maiden City Festival has always prided itself on the quality and scale of our programme and we are confident, that with our exciting new addition, 2015 will be just as popular.

'Once again, the city’s Walls will take centre stage. Each day we’ll have piping, drumming and newly choreographed Highland dancing from Sollus Highland Dance as well as nine colourful characters retelling tales from the Siege. We’re also very excited about The Mountjoy boat race that we hope will become an annual event within the programme. I hope that everyone will come out and enjoy the celebrations.' 

Governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and Festival Co-Director Jim Brownlee added: 'We’re delighted to be launching the festival’s 18th programme. Through music, dance, theatre and pageant we will celebrate Protestant heritage and culture by bringing the old city back to life. The week-long programme has something for everyone, and we look forward to welcoming both returning and first-time visitors to the city.' 

The Maiden City Festival is funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Ulster Scots Agency, and the Community Relations Council. For more information and to download the programme visit www.maidencityfestival.com