Things to Do

Maritime Festivals in Northern Ireland 2019

See tall ships, small ships and great entertainment

Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival, Belfast 25-27 May, 2019
Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, Rathlin Island/Ballycastle24 May – 2 June 2019
Sea Bangor Festival, Bangor1-2 June, 2019
Portaferry Sails & Sounds Festival20-23 June, 2019
Foyle Maritime Festival, Derry~LondonderryTBA

Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival

10am–6pm, Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May 2019 (including Monday, bank holiday)
Sailortown, Queen’s Quay, Donegall Quay and Titanic Quarter

Get the opportunity to climb aboard some magnificent ships and naval vessels including the Mexican naval vessel Cuauhtémoc, Irish light vessel Granuaile , HSM Penzance, Pelican, the Dutch sailing barge Volharding and the 1960s tug Brocklebank. There’s also a tour For water lovers there’ll be the opportunity to try kayaking or paddle boarding in Abercorn basin. Also on the programme: the Maritime Market for food, live entertainment and music, street performers, a maritime heritage exhibition, the Maritime Pick-up Picnic, live demos of rope making, boat building and riveters, free movie screenings on the Titanic slipways (bring a picnic rug or deck chair), story telling and entertainment for the kids including a ‘Wee Critters’, ‘Scientific Sue’ and fun at the ‘beach’. Phew! And there’s more…  Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival Guide

Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

Friday 24 May–Sunday 2  June
Rathlin Island and Ballycastle, Co. Antrim

This week+ long festival features all sorts of curious nautical events. There are two separate programmes, one for Rathlin Island and the other in Ballycastle.

Rathlin Island – Boating activities including a races, a boat parade of traditional currachs and drontheims, a floating cinema, vikings, have-a-go kayaking plus lighthouse tours, a hash-race, walking tours, food, music, a sandcastle competition, plus a lot more. See the full schedule >>.

Ballycastle – Most activity is focused around the late Bank Holiday weekend for the Ballycastle side of the event. Expect a flurry of festival activity with music, food demonstrations, viking workshops, face-painting, a celebrity appearance of Finn McCool and his wife Oonagh, and a highlight is probably the Ulster Chowder Cook-Off Competition. You can also take part in guided walks and have-a-go powerboating. See the full schedule >>.

Fun fact: although there’s plenty of music at the festival, the ‘sound’ part of the name refers to the sound of water between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.

Getting to Rathlin Island:  Rathlin Island ferry

Sea Bangor Festival

AeroSuperBatics - Sea Bangor
The AeroSuperBatics Wing Walking team will be among the main attractions at Sea Bangor over 01-02 June.

Sat 9 (10am-6pm)–Sun 10 June (12-6pm)
Bangor waterfront, County Down

Sitting at the top of Belfast Lough, Bangor has seen its fair share of maritime history and this town puts on a good show in its annual Sea Bangor Festival.

Sea Bangor will feature:

  • Sea Bangor Rowing Boat Challenge, Saturday 1-4pm
  • Have-a-go sailing (Saturday) and kayaking (Sunday)
  • Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers Aerial Display The world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking team (Saturday 4.30pm and Sunday 3pm)
  • Tented Village with arts, a Silent Disco for the kids, and the Sea Bangor Café
  • Bangor’s Best Balti competition
  • Eclectic live music program by Open House Festival in The Shanty Shack:
    • Saturday – French Connection, Bangor Ukelele Collective, Dolbro Dan Trio, Dylan’s Villains
    • Sunday – Gerry Norma, Mike Donaghy Trio, Jackie Rainey, Stick with it
  • Sand Sculpture Surprise at the Long Hole by Sublin-based artist Daniel
  • Army Reserve Village with military vehicles, a climbing wall and other items for display
  • Face painting

Plus other programmes.

Portaferry Sails & Sounds Festival

20-23 June, 2019
Portaferry, Co Down

A small musical and maritime festival at this picturesque town at the foot of the Ards peninsula, and a short car ferry ride from Strangford  – its sister town across the mouth of the Lough.

If you are a sailing fan, book a trip on the tall ship Soteria or look our for the sailing taster sessions. Also on the water: sailing and traditional skiff racing, and fishing and other boat trips.

On the land you will find music and dance in the streets and bars. For kids there will be face painting, a bouncy castles and open days at Queen’s Marine Laboratory and Portaferry Lifeboat, as well as a scavenger hunt. Watch the video for a flavour of the event, of visit the event Facebook page for more information.

Getting there: you can either drive down the Ards Peninsula, passing sites such as Mount Stewart, Scrabo Tower and Greyabbey, or come in on the car ferry from Strangford, which is close to Castle Ward (Game of Thrones) and via key sites in Saint Patrick’s country such as Downpatrick and Saul.

Foyle Maritime Festival (#FMF18), Derry~Londonderry



Northern Ireland Holidays

After more than quarter of a century spent living and working in Hong Kong, David Donnelly and his wife Katie McGregor are now living in, and loving Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Holidays website came from our passion to let people around the world, and even on the British mainland, know about Northern Ireland. As a country it has much to offer in natural beauty, the people are just simply amazing, and as a holiday destination it’s second to none. Even though this is now our home, we feel like tourists as we discover the region, and it is this knowledge and these experiences we want to share.
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