Ballina Salmon Festival 2016 runs from Wednesday 13th – Sunday 14th July. In this, its 52nd year, it promises – as always – a line-up of events that will bring the streets alive with a celebration of music, heritage, food and culture that is unrivalled anywhere in the region.
The Ballina Salmon Festival is a community festival in every sense of the word, and is immensely proud of its family-centered focus with an action packed programme including old favourites like Heritage Day, International Evening, the Mardi Gras and Firework Display and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, along with river-based events like stand-up paddling and fishing. One third of the festival’s entire programme is dedicated solely to children with a huge variety of workshops and activities on offer, many of them free. The variety of events on offer is a testament to the work of many passionate, dedicated volunteers.
The Ballina Salmon Festival 2016 will once again be one of the most vibrant celebrations of community, culture and craic along the Wild Atlantic Way – and below, we’ve pulled together some of the highlights for you.
The famous ‘Lady of the Moy’ competition, ‘Mayo’s Got Talent’, the Pirate Car Treasure Hunt signal the run-up to the festival. The 2016 Lady of the Moy, Nephin Rose Laura Judge will represent the festival and town for the rest of the year. And this year, the Ballina Salmon Festival 5k takes place on the eve of Heritage Day (check out the route) with registration in Rouse’s Bar on Pearse Street from 6.30pm.
National Heritage Day is one of the longest-running events on the Ballina Salmon Festival calendar, and the day celebrates the time-honoured skills and crafts of generations past by rolling back the years and putting on a display that shows what life would have been like in the town 100 years ago. This year, the festival returns to its roots by renewing its focus on traditions like threshing, spinning, forgery, wheel-making, weaving and woodturning. Traditional music and the sounds and smells of vintage engines, turf fires and traditional cooking will waft through the air.
The Jackie Clarke Collection once again hosts the “Sliabh na mBan” armoured car that carried Michael Collins’ body, and Mount Falcon Estate Falconry’s birds of prey will be on show from 2pm in the garden. World Champion Irish dancers Cian Lavelle and Stephen Gallagher from the Sheila Moffatt School of Dance, will perform, with the festivities then moving to the Quay for the evening.
On Thursday night, country comes to town with the Ballina State Fair taking place from 8-10pm in the surrounds of the Military Barracks off Pearse Street. Ride the rodeo bull, milk the cow, try your luck with a hand of cards and dance the night away to Ballina’s own country superstar, Gerry Guthrie, fuelled by a Texan barbecue. Yeee-ha! (Admission €2).
Stock up on Ballina currency at the Festival Bureau de Change at International Evening, then take to the streets to indulge in song, theatre, dance, delicious food and drink from Italy, Greece, Mexico, Guiana, Burma, Nepal, France, USA, Argentina and China. Take a tango with a ravishing Argentinian or marvel at the Mexican mariachi band. Bathe in the sights and smalls of a truly multicultural evening. Sip a glass of wine and enjoy some tasty street food. Visit landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Not bad for a night in Ballina!
You won’t want to miss the most special Saturday night of the year in Ballina. The Mardi Gras Street Party starts at 10.30pm, and is the climax of “festival week”, when the streets become a colourful riot of music, costume and dance. Snaking through the town, magnificent floats bring mythical, fantastical creatures to life in a heaving procession of drumbeats and samba sounds, before proceeding to the River Moy for the customary fireworks spectacular. Each year, the display gets bigger and better. The sight of the night sky blazing and bursting with colour against the backdrop of majestic St. Muredach’s Cathedral never fails to draw gasps from the huge crowds.
Little ones might sleep late after the previous night’s excitement, but down in the woods, there’s a big surprise. Amidst the lush greenery of Tom Ruane Park, the revitalised Teddy Bears’ Picnic promises bouncing castles, inflatable games, a pirate train, farm animals from Kiltimagh Pet Farm, and a host of favourite characters make the final day of Ballina Salmon Festival 2016 an unforgettable day for bears, small children and big children alike.
Just like in other years, the committee have introduced new events to keep the festival fresh and up-to-date, as well as retaining some old favourites.
– The gripping and immensely popular Irish Press Photographers’ Association Exhibition sets up once again in Ballina Library. This runs from 9th-25th July, showing the most outstanding and moving images featured in the press in the previous year.
– The much-loved Soroptomists’ Flower Festival takes place daily in Ballina Methodist Church on Hill Street.
– Back by popular demand, the loved Busking Competition runs throughout the week on the main streets. Judging takes place 3pm daily from 2-3pm on Thursday – Sunday.