PLANS for the first Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival are now well on their way. The Festival will run from Friday 24th May to 2nd June 2013 with the opening weekend centred in Ballycastle and the closing weekend centred on Rathlin Island.
A successful and popular Ballycastle Regatta was held in 2012, organised by Ballycastle Marina and Moyle District Council and the idea to develop this into a festival was discussed between the local community groups on Rathlin and Ballycastle and relevant Council staff.
Enthusiasm for the event has been such that now the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce, Ballycastle Market, Ballycastle Library, local businesses and activity providers have all come on board to support and get involved with the Festival. There has also been great interest from various organisations throughout Northern Ireland and beyond to participate and join in the Festival aimed at celebrating and promoting local maritime heritage, history, culture, music and food.
Rathlin Development & Community Association Chairperson Michael Cecil explained:
“The Maritime festival has come about due to a fortuitous set of concurrent discussions. A few of us on the Island were debating how to follow on from the very popular launch of Wallace Clark’s book, ‘The Call of The Running Tide’. In 2012 Wallace’s son Bruce and a few family friends had completed Wallace’s unfinished book and hosted its launch on the Island. That event left a legacy of visiting yachts and crews well into the season.
At the same time Ballycastle Community Development Group had been discussing a seafood festival to coincide with the Council’s summer regatta. When we brought our plans to Ballycastle Harbourmaster, John Morton, it seemed only natural to try and combine all three events.”
This festival is centred on Rathlin Sound, the body of water that lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle and is about inspiring a passion for the sea as well as celebrating local culture, history, heritage and traditions. It will bring together a rich mix of activities and events both on the sea and on land with an overall maritime theme.
Events will focus on Ballycastle for the opening weekend and Rathlin for the closing weekend and will run in both locations during the week in-between.
With on the water and seaside based ‘get involved’ activities including kayaking, diving, paddleboarding, surfing and more, historic and modern craft, competitions, talks, tours and exhibitions there will be something to interest everyone including plenty of family friendly activities. The Festival will also include a special seafood themed food and craft market with cookery demonstrations and local cafes and restaurants will be offering special menus throughout the event to celebrate our unique food offering.
In the evenings there will be a wealth of entertainment to choose from including music, drama and films including great local, national and international singers and bands.
More details including regular updates leading up to and during the Festival, can be found on the new tourism website at www.heartofthecausewaycoastandglens.com and also on facebook at www.facebook/HeartofCCAG or the festivals dedicated page and on twitter @heartofccag