Maritime Festival huge success

Mayor Michelle Knight McQuillan and Kate O Connor from Ballycastle Church action lay flowers at the Blessing of the Boats
Mayor Michelle Knight McQuillan and Kate O Connor from Ballycastle Church action lay flowers at the Blessing of the Boats

The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is celebrating the most successful run in the Festival’s history, according to Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Officer, Caroline Carey.

It is estimated that this year’s Festival opened to a record number of visitors and tourists to Ballycastle and Rathlin, with thousands of tourist enquiries leading up to and including the first weekend.

Building Sancastle's at the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

Building Sancastle's at the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

Organised by the Council Harbour & Tourism Section, Ballycastle Community Development Group, the Rathlin Development & Community Association, and the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry and sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland, Malin Waters, Fair Head Tidal and Rathlin Island Boat House, the festival is renowned for its musical events, celebration of local produce and, of course, the many varied maritime activities.

Caroline Carey, Tourism Officer at Causeway Coast and Glens explained: “We are over the moon with the amount of interest in our local area. Figures are yet to be finalised, but we approximate that the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival will have drawn in over 10,000 people to the area, which is just astounding!

“We’ve had some amazing events on in both Rathlin and Ballycastle, which have really brought both of our communities together.

“It all kicked off on Friday with the Blessing of the Boats, which was absolutely beautiful. After the serene ceremony, Saturday saw a host of maritime events, with our very own jet man, power boating and kayaking, followed by some fabulous cookery demonstrations and art and craft events on Sunday at the Ballycastle Market.

“Our stand-out events include the fabulous Frances Black concert which was a resounding success, it was a real treat to have Frances performing. Frances’s daughter, Aoife Scott also performed, and both were delighted to be back in the area and really enjoyed their time here! Trevor Robertson, the world renowned record breaking sailor also stopped by Rathlin Island, delivering a talk on his times spent ‘overwintering’ and inviting the locals to come on board his famous ‘Iron Bark’.

“The Festival celebrates our passion for the sea, local culture, heritage and history, and finished with Rathlin’s ‘Big Lunch’, music from ‘Runabay’ and our ‘Living Seas’ event, on Sunday.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to all who have come out and supported the Festival and ensured that this year was a huge success. This was a team effort, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help from the Council Harbour & Tourism Section, Ballycastle Community Development Group, the Rathlin Development & Community Association, and the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry”.

For further information about the festival log on to http://www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com/maritimefestival or contact Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre 028 2076 2024 or ballycastlevic@causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk.