It’s back - the NI Potato Festival

Celebrity Chef Paula McIntyre MBE & Gary Stewart, Tartine at'Distillers Arms, at the launch of the Potato Festival.
Celebrity Chef Paula McIntyre MBE & Gary Stewart, Tartine at'Distillers Arms, at the launch of the Potato Festival.

Northern Ireland’s favourite potato-themed festival is back, bigger and better than ever, on October 13.

And the popular event is set for a boost thanks to a new partnership with headline sponsor Randox, and a festival cookery theatre compered by NI Food Ambassador Paula McIntyre MBE.

Set against the backdrop of the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival is a heady mix of family fun, a celebration of world-renowned potato breeder John Clarke, and a chance to sample the delights of the agri-food industry which thrives in the Causeway Coast & Glens. Festival fun starts at 10am and runs until 5pm in the grounds of the Causeway Hotel.

Now in its sixth year, the line-up for Festival Day boasts a packed programme of activities and attractions for all ages, and there is no admission fee.

Festival Committee Chairman Michael McKillop, Glens of Antrim Potatoes Ltd, said: “This year the committee has worked effortlessly to bring a bigger and better potato festival to the North Antrim coast on the site of the Giant’s Causeway. We have more fun-filled events planned with loads of arts and crafts on site and fantastic local chefs doing cookery demos. Along with a free open day to the Causeway Centre, it will be a great family day out.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the National Trust for their continued support. Every year the National Trust is a key partner and sponsor for the Potato Festival, not only opening up the Giant’s Causeway site and providing the perfect location but giving their staff to co-ordinate the activities on the day. They also coincide the festival with their free Community Open Day - welcoming everyone to enjoy their Visitor Experience and award-winning guided tours for free and providing a great opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland’s heritage to local and international visitors while celebrating the legacy of John Clarke.”

This year also sees the first appearance of the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market, with a popular collection of award-winning local artisan food and drink, and hand-made colourful art and crafts.

The Food NI Roadshow is back with its festival cookery theatre, compered by NI Food Ambassador and newly-honoured local chef Paula McIntyre MBE, and featuring a selection of talented homegrown chefs and producers.

Q Radio Bus and the PSNI tractor are making their debuts in the event’s exhibitor area, with a new ‘Kidzone’ featuring bouncy castles, potato-inspired activity workshops, ‘The Mighty Spud’, balloon-modelling, face-painting and a petting farm.

And for potato enthusiasts there will be a series of specialist talks on a range of topics including John Clarke and breeding your own potato varieties, as well as an exhibition of all John’s varieties.

Cutting Edge Helicopters will be back in the air again offering spectacular helicopter sightseeing flights (fee applies), and on the eve of Festival Day (October 12) a ‘Super Spud Tour’ will be held along the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route, celebrating the area’s unique potato breeding and growing heritage.

This ticketed tour, offered by Causeway Coast Foodie Tours, will include a potato producer tour, themed lunch and an opportunity to enjoy a delicious cocktail featuring Ireland’s first potato-distilled vodka.

Randox Founder and Managing Director, Dr. Peter FitzGerald, said: “This sponsorship means a great deal to Randox and we are delighted to work, for the first time, alongside the dedicated and enthusiastic committee behind this fantastic event. The local community has played a significant role in the successes of Randox over the past number of years and we believe it is important to give the same support and encouragement back wherever we can.

“The Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival is well-known in the area and attracts an impressive number of visitors, from both near and far. Like the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival, we at Randox are dedicated to supporting local quality produce, evidenced in our production of meats, jams, chutneys and apple juice straight from Dundarave Estate in Bushmills and CherryValley Estate in Antrim. The food and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland is among the best in the world and we are pleased to help showcase award-winning local producers on a national platform.”

As well as Randox as the main sponsor, the festival has benefited from financial help from The National Trust, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, NI Regional Food Programme (DAERA), Jamison Potatoes, McCurdy Potatoes, Wilsons Country, Manor Fresh, Active Packaging, First Trust Bank and Food NI.