Sun sets on Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

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Glorious sunny skies were on the menu for the fourth annual Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, which ended on Sunday after seeing record-breaking crowds attend the weeklong celebration across the Causeway Coast.

The nautically-themed festival takes place annually and recognises the unique stretch of water between Ballycastle Harbour and the magical island of Rathlin – affectionately known as Rathlin Sound.

This year, thousands of seafaring families ventured to the coast to partake in maritime activities such as rides on the iconic Tall Ships, ship wreck explorations, and of course a visit to see the famous Puffins on Rathlin- all which was encouraged by the fantastic Northern Irish sunshine that remained for the festival’s entirety.

Highlights included the appearance of music sensation Lisa McHugh, who took to the stage at the Marine Hotel to delight her coastal fans with a good old country dance set to her latest hits, and the crowning of Ulster’s very first Chowder Cook Off winner- Paul Shields from Upstairs at Joes, Cushendall- who is now off to the all-Ireland finals in Kinsale.

The famous Naturally North Coast & Glens Market was on-hand as a must-visit for any foodies keen to take home some local produce, and they could even get involved themselves with numerous cookery demonstrations taking place across the packed festival schedule.

Caroline Carey, Tourism Development at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said: “We couldn’t have asked for anything better from this year’s Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival! Not only did the weather do us proud, but the festival was a true representation of our fantastic maritime heritage as well.

“We saw huge crowds journey to the coast to take part and a personal highlight of mine was seeing so many families eager to get in the water- kayaking, powerboating and sailing. On Sunday we ended with our grand finale- the Rathlin ‘Big Lunch’- with music performed by Altagore and Aoife Scott and it was a great end to a fabulous week.

“We can’t wait for next year and are now wondering how we can possibly make 2017 an even bigger and better year for Rathlin Sound!”

This year’s festival has been organised by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Ballycastle Community Development Group, the Rathlin Development & Community Association, and the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sponsors include Tourism Northern Ireland, Malin Waters and Rathlin Boat House Partnership as returners. Also on board are new sponsors Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, Marine Hotel Ballycastle, Naturally North Coast & Glens Market and Causeway Coast and Glens Food Network.