Top tourism award for maritime festival

The 37th Annual Tourism NI awards have recognised the most inspirational local providers and performers and celebrates the success of the tourism industry over the last year. Pictured are Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland, with (l-r) Helena Hasson, Karen Leonard, Elisha McCallion, Linda Williams, Mary Blake, Jacqueline Whoriskey and Aedin McCarter of LegenDerry Maritime festival, winner of the Best Event or Festival Experience award. Picture by Brian Morrison.

The 37th Annual Tourism NI awards have recognised the most inspirational local providers and performers and celebrates the success of the tourism industry over the last year. Pictured are Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland, with (l-r) Helena Hasson, Karen Leonard, Elisha McCallion, Linda Williams, Mary Blake, Jacqueline Whoriskey and Aedin McCarter of LegenDerry Maritime festival, winner of the Best Event or Festival Experience award. Picture by Brian Morrison.

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Londonderry’s Legenderry Maritime Festival has scooped a top tourism honour, picking up the Best Event/Festival Experience title at the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland Tourism NITA Awards.

The awards were decided by public vote, and over thirty businesses, initiatives and events across the industry were recognised for their outstanding contribution to tourism.

And there were further celebrations as Derry City and Strabane District Council were commended in the Best Food Tourism Experience category for the highly successful LegenDerry Food Festival.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion, attended the glittering ceremony at Queen’s University’s Whitla Hall where hundreds of industry figures gathered for the event.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Festival has won this award, as it’s been hugely significant in terms of promoting the North West region.

“The Legenderry Maritime Festival brought tens of thousands of visitors to Derry, where they enjoyed the very best of local food, music and maritime family fun on the banks of the Foyle.

“The city will be a stopover destination for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race for the third time in 2016, and as we prepare to host the Foyle Maritime Festival next year we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from around the world for an even more spectacular celebration.”

The Legenderry Maritime Festival took place in 2014, and the city’s beautiful quayside area was thronged with visitors throughout the ten day festival from June 21-29.

The event marked the arrival of the fleet of Clipper Round the World Yacht Race boats and crews – including the Derry-Londonderry-Doire - for their stopover in the city on their epic global journey. The crews received a rapturous reception and the celebrations continued throughout the city until their departure, set against the backdrop of a stunning aerial display by the Red arrows at Greencastle.

Following on from this success the city will play an important role in the 2015/2016 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which begins in August, when the Derry-Londonderry-Doire crew will compete in one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world.

Director of Business and Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Stephen Gillespie, said: “It’s such an honour to see the Legenderry Maritime Festival acknowledged within the industry, especially when pitted against some of the most long-standing and successful regional events. And it’s a great endorsement that the event has been voted for by the public.

“The event provided a fantastic platform to profile the city in terms of our growing tourism offering, and the effects of its success were shared by businesses throughout the region. I would like to congratulate all involved - our dedicated team in council and all our partners here in the city - in making the event such a success.”

The Legenderry Food Festival which filled the Guildhall Square with food lovers from far and wide from March 15 – 17 last year was also commended for providing an excellent Food Tourism experience. The event showcased the very best in local culinary talent and promoted food provenance and ‘legendary and local’ produce.