#rathlin – The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival was celebrating its most successful run in the Festival's history, until high winds affected the crossings on the Rathlin Sound, according to Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Officer, Caroline Carey.
It was estimated that this year's Festival opened to a record number of visitors and tourists to Ballycastle, with thousands of tourist enquiries leading up to and including the first weekend.
Caroline Carey, Tourism Officer at Causeway Coast and Glens explains, "It was just unfortunate that there were high winds on the Sunday 31 May which stopped many people going to Rathlin and enjoying the many planned festivities.
"Despite that, his year we were over the moon with the amount of interest in our local area. Figures are yet to be finalised, but we were confident that the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival would have drawn in nearly 10,000 people to the area."
"We've had some amazing events on in both Rathlin and Ballycastle, which have really brought both of our communities together. It all kicked off on Friday with the Blessing of the Boats, which was absolutely beautiful. After the serene ceremony, Saturday saw a host of maritime events, with our very own jet man, power boating and kayaking, followed by some fabulous cookery demonstrations and art and craft events on Sunday at the Ballycastle Market.
"Our stand-out events include the fabulous Frances Black concert at the Marine Hotel on Sunday 24th, which was a resounding success, it was a real treat to have Frances performing. Frances's daughter, Aoife Scott also performed, and both were delighted to be back in the area and really enjoyed their time here! On Wednesday 27th, Trevor Robertson, the world renowned record breaking sailor also stopped by Rathlin Island, delivering a talk on his times spent 'overwintering' and inviting the locals to come on board his famous 'Iron Bark'.
"Despite the bad weather, the events on Sunday were very successful, it's just such a shame that some people couldn't make it over for them! The Festival celebrated our passion for the sea, local culture, heritage and history, and we finished with Rathlin's 'Big Lunch', music from 'Runabay' and our 'Living Seas' event on Sunday 31st May."
Sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland, Malin Waters, Fair Head Tidal and Rathlin Island Boat House, the festival is renowned for its musical events, celebration of local produce and, of course, the many varied maritime activities.
Michael Cecil, Chair of Rathlin Community and Development Group explained: "inclement weather reduced the numbers somewhat but even that was a reminder that we are all very closely connected to nature. Seeing so many traditional boats , meeting so many like minded people from all over this earth and hearing so much traditional music over ten days was something very special."
"We would like to say a huge thank you to all who have come out and supported the Festival and ensured that this year was a huge success up until the Sunday. This was a team effort, and it wouldn't have been possible without the help from our sponsors and the Council Harbour & Tourism Section, Ballycastle Community Development Group, the Rathlin Development & Community Association, and the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry," concluded Caroline Carey.