Now in full swing, the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is dominating the Causeway Coast with fleets of families turning out to partake in the nautically-themed festivities.
The weeklong celebration recognises the unique body of water between Ballycastle and the magical island of Rathlin- affectionately known as Rathlin Sound- and is only taking place until June 5th with thousands of people already having enjoyed the cultural celebration.
Opening weekend highlights included country music sensation Lisa McHugh who brought the crowds to their dancing feet on Sunday night in the Marine Hotel, and the crowning of Ulster’s very first Chowder Cook Off champion who will now compete in the All-Ireland competition in 2017.
Seafaring families were also able to set sail on a real-life Tall Ship, the Soteria, as well as watch the action-packed Sailing Regatta. Those who were willing could even test the waters themselves by learning to kayak or power-boat.
Caroline Carey, Tourism Development at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said: “Planning the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is always an exciting experience as we try to cater for absolutely everyone in our busy schedule. This year it has most certainly paid off with record-breaking crowds arriving every single day.
“Of course, we have been lucky with the weather, but it has been absolutely fantastic to see families enjoying themselves whilst recognising our unique maritime heritage.
“But the best is yet to come. There are lots of activities on Rathlin Island including an opportunity to explore the Ship Wreck and Arandora Star exhibitions. We also have a Rathlin Sunset cruise with Rathlin Island Ferry company and of course our finale on Rathlin on Sunday with the ‘Big Lunch’ music by Runabay, Altagore and Aoife Scott and lots more.”
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.
For more information on the full Festival programme of activities in Ballycastle and on Rathlin Island, between 27thMay and 5th June, visit www.rathlinsoundmaritimefestival.com