21 Sep 2016
Every autumn, MalinWaters comes alive with festivals and events that light up the time when the weather is often cooperative but the days portend the approaching winter darkness. There are plenty of celebrations for you to take part in: it just depends on what floats your boat!
Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. You may wish to celebrate this important pagan date by taking part in one of Ireland’s great game and harvest fairs: the Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival, taking place in Montalto Estate in County Down on the 24th and 25th of September, provides a rich mix of country lifestyle, living history and the best of country sports competitions. It is supported by a re-enactment of the Battle of Ballynahinch and other entertainment events in town.
If you’re a music fan, the season kicks off with Live@Troon to which you can arrive by sea – and don’t miss the Darvel Festival in Scotland in September where some huge names join together to rock the Malin Waters.
If books are more your bag, you can take a literary track with the Seamus Heaney Opening Weekend. Music, theatre, poetry, song, reading and talks galore, all at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace. The Helicon, a dedicated performance space opening in September 2016 in Bellaghy, Northern Ireland, stands at the heart of where one of Ireland’s literary giants was born, where he grew up and which he chose as his final resting place.
Or come to Killybegs in Donegal on 24 September 2016 to experience Hooked! and hear some of the greatest fish and sea stories ever told. You’ll be amazed by the speed and expertise of expert net menders and fish filleters. Expert chefs will be on hand as they compete in the Chowder Cook off – and you can also practice your hand at fly fishing as the BIM training unit conducts a demo. For kids (and big ones too) there are live fish displays galore, as well as a chance to watch a private screening of Finding Nemo. Check the event’s Facebook page for updates.
In mid-October, the foodies come out for the BBC Good Food Show on the waterfront in Belfast. This year celebrity chefs celebrate the Year of Food and Drink with opportunities for food tastings, live demos, book signings, buying from hundreds of exhibitors and being generally inspired.
The Crana Fest, 21-23 October, on the Crana River in Buncrana, Donegal is the premiere event of the Irish canoeing calendar. Crana Fest is a 2-day event for all disciplines of kayaking; sea, lough and river from Grade 2 to Grade 4. The Fest is open to people of all abilities and ages, with top coaches from Ireland and the UK on hand to give instruction and advice. The program and tickets are available online at www.cranafest.ie.
The Donegal Gathering in 2016 reaches out to the Donegal diaspora to bring our people home over the Christmas period. A series of events staged at An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny offers something for everyone, from Craft Fairs and Christmas shows to the legendary Fureys live on stage. There are many more Christmas fairs throughout the region bringing local arts and crafts and artisanal cuisines to the people.
There is much on offer at this time of the year, so get out there and have some fun before the darkness sets in. After all, ‘winter is coming’ – and if you know what we mean by that, don’t forget TitanConin Belfast 30 September to 2 October, a sci-fi and fantasy event focusing this year on George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular Game of Thrones HBO TV series.