History and highland dancing in Maiden City

Highland dancing competition to be held in Londonderry as part of the Maiden City Festival
Highland dancing competition to be held in Londonderry as part of the Maiden City Festival

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

Running August 1-8, the festival is organised by the Apprentice Boys of Derry and offers a programme of theatre, music, highland dancing, talks and tours.

The latest addition to the line-up is the Mountjoy Challenge, a boat race on the River Foyle which will emulate the path taken by the Mountjoy when breaking the Siege of Derry in 1689.

Other highlights include the Maiden City Highland Dance & Ulster Highland Dance Championships where 150 dancers will compete for the title of Ulster Champion.

Bluegrass and folk music can be enjoyed in the Memorial Hall, at the Craft Village and on the Walls.

As part of Culture Bite, over 40 young musicians will take to the stage in a number of the city’s cafes to play a variety of music from jazz and blues to soul, rock and pop.

The city’s history will be brought to life throughout the week with The Siege Story, a re-enactment of stories and tales about this pivotal moment in history.

Local historian William Temple will host a series of afternoon lectures in the Thiepval Gallery, George’s Street, highlighting the work of organisations such as the Salvation Army in the greater Fountain community prior to the Welfare State.

Another lecture will consider the role of the 10th Irish Division during the First World War at the Battle of Gallipolli.

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 2015 will prove 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.”

Festival co-director Jim Brownlee added: “Through music, dance, theatre and pageant we will celebrate Protestant heritage and culture by bringing the old city back to life.”

For more information visit www.maidencityfestival.com. Tickets can be booked via Home Sweet Home, Bond Street on 02871 346677 and via the Siege Museum on 02871 261219.