Antrim in the sunshine: Rathlin Sound maritime festival

“To Rathlin’s Isle, I chanced to sail
When summer breezes softly blew,
And there I heard so sweet a tale
That oft I wished it could be true.

The Seafood season started last month with the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival and now we’re looking forward to the start of the maritime festival season, kicking off with the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival. In its fifth year this festival is centred on Rathlin Sound, the body of water that lies between Rathlin Island and the town of Ballycastle on the beautiful Antrim coast and it celebrates the maritime traditions, local heritage and culture of this impressive area. 

rathlin island harbour

The festival starts on the 27th of May and runs over two weekends with a great programme of events including a sailing regatta, races, craft markets, guided walks, talks and tours, cooking demonstrations, competitions and Viking ships! All this takes place along the spectacular Causeway Coast and Glens so you’ll be able to soak in the stunning scenery and get a taste of the local culture.

There is so much on it’ll be hard to choose what to do. Here are a few of the highlights this year:


For the Arenaline Junkies: Check out JetMan soaring into the air on his jets of water, or feel the rush of the wind in your hair on a ride in a powerboat. Or cheer on the sailors as they compete in the regatta.

cooking demo

For the Foodies: Make sure you visit the Naturally North Coast and Glens market to get the best local produce from the friendly knowledgeable traders who love to chat! Or get some top tips at one the cooking demonstrations.

trad rope makers

For the History Buffs: Soak up the rich maritime history of Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. There will be traditional boats from Viking ships to the classic currach, as well as maritime exhibitions, talks and tours and demonstrations.

For the Music Lovers: A wide range of musical entertainment from the buskers on the streets and the fantastic Altagore, to the very talented Aoife Scott who is back again for the Festival Finale.

This is one festival not to be missed and if you’re not local, it’s a great excuse to visit the beautiful northern coast. For a full listing of events and news on the festival be sure to check out the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival Facebook page

Read next:  Checkout the rest of the best festivals around Ireland

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22