ALL roads lead to north Antrim this week as the ever popular Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival returns to Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.
The festival runs from tomorrow (Friday) through to Sunday June 5 and features a host of attractions celebrating the maritime heritage of the area.
Visitors will be able to indulge in local seafood, traditional music and dance, take part in arts and crafts workshops, experience a boat trip and maybe even spot a dolphin!
"The tall ship 'Leader', a traditionally rigged sailing vessel, will be docked in Ballycastle throughout the festival and everyone is invited to get on board for a tour, enjoy a sail around the bay or simply admire the beauty of this majestic boat from the harbour," explained a spokesperson.
"The Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage group will be on the water sailing drontheims, currachs and will be offering have a go sessions. Watch out the Vikings will be about, head down to the seafront
to see how Vikings crafted tools and watch them do battle!
"Kitecrew Ireland will fill the air with colourful displays, while Tony Hawkins creates a sand sculpture to inspire you for the sandcastle competition. The festival delivers a full itinerary of dance, traditional
Irish music, children’s workshops, storytelling, a showcase of local produce at the cookery bites sessions at the seafront and much, much more."
Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce President Brian McLister said the local community is delighted to welcome the festival back after a two year pause and admitted everyone was 'looking forward to welcoming many more visitors to enjoy the fun and excitement of the festival!'
"Enjoy our local independent businesses' fantastic maritime themed window displays and we hope you enjoy some of the maritime themed 'specials' on offer from our local restaurants and cafes, complemented by the local produce showcased at our local award-winning artisan market Naturally North Coast and Glens," he added.
Paul Kerrigan Chair of the Ballycastle Community Development group said: “It’s wonderful to be able to offer the opportunity once again for our local communities to come together to showcase, promote and engage people with our maritime heritage and history.
"The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival prides itself in being an opportunity to engage with our local maritime heritage and offer opportunities to get on the water.”
Shauna McFall from Naturally North Coast and Glens said: “We are proud to be a partner in delivering this festival which we have supported since 2012. It provides a great opportunity for our local artisan producers to showcase their skills and products at the market.
"Our market is a fantastic showcase of our local food, culture, heritage and traditions, a perfect destination for anyone searching for an authentic artisan market experience.”
Visit www.rathlinsoundmaritimefestival.com for more information and to seethe complete programme when it is released.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Ballycastle Community Development Group, and the Rathlin Development and Community Association are working together to deliver the festival.