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Get Into The Spirit Of The P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival

Web Administrator   Thu 09 Jul 2015   updated: Fri 05 Feb 2016

Marquees, generators, lighting, fencing, staging – with just over a week to go it's all hands on deck for staff and community volunteers as Glenarm Castle and Village gears up for one of Northern Ireland's biggest cultural family events - The 5th P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival in partnership with UTV, 18 - 25 July. After months of preparation it is anticipated that thousands of visitors will travel to Glenarm to take part in a very unique experience. If you are making you way to the festival this year then check out these interesting facts which will help get you into the festival spirit.

Dalriada festivals

Did you know?

  1. That the main event, the world famous Highland Games, 18 – 19th July, has been hosted at Glenarm Castle since 1996 and since then has attracted over half a million visitors! Next year will be the 20th Anniversary
  2. The Festival, now recognised as one of Northern Ireland's biggest cultural family events, is home to the world's first Chic Sheep Fashion show
  3. The official charity for the festival this year is Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful – Live Here Love Here. Volunteers will be on hand to help keep the festival and wider site tidy and they're encouraging visitors to help out by picking up litter
  4. The name Dalriada was a Gaelic over kingdom that included parts of western Scotland (roughly now Argyll and Lochaber) and Co Antrim.
  5. Previous musical artists on the evening music stage have included Ronan Keating, Sharon Corr, Nathan Carter, General Fiasco, The Priests and Duke Special. On Saturday 18th July the evening music concert will rock with nostalgia as Bay City Rollers starring Les McKeown take to the main stage along with Bagatelle, Hothouse Flowers and support from Rob Strong, Runabay and XOD dancers
  6. Glenarm Castle is the current home of the McDonnell Family (Lord and Lady Dunluce). There has been a Castle at Glenarm since 1242, when Hugh de Lacy, the Norman Earl of Ulster, granted the Glens of Antrim to another Norman, John Bisset, who had previously lived in Scotland but was exiled after killing a cousin at a tournament. The Bissets became known as the MacEoin Bissets of the Glens. In the 1390's their chieftain died leaving an only daughter, Marjory, who married John Mor MacDonnell.
  7. The annual Highland Games attracts approximately 25,000 people over two days.
  8. New to the Highland Games this year, and a major coup, is the County Antrim Pipe Band Championships which will feature numerous bands from across N.Ireland and Scotland.
  9. This year the Highland Games will see an expanded action packed programme of events including live wrestling, additional music stages, more local foods, pop-up restaurants, shopping, a new kids zone.
  10. The week long community events which take place after the Highland Games feature the largest range of sporting activities featured at any Festival in Northern Ireland. Events include beach mounted relay, Dalraida wipeout, bubbleball soccer tournament, kids duathlon, sprint triathlon, super endurocross, Dalriada 5k and 10k run, rowing and sailing regatta. Closing the festivities will be the ever spectacular rowing/sailing regatta, street fair, live music and fireworks finale.

Adrian Morrow, Festival Director, commented:

"It is hard to believe that the 5th P&O Ferries Dalraida Festival is almost upon us. We say it takes months of preparation but we are already planning next year's festival which will also be a landmark year at Glenarm Castle as it will be the 20th year of the Highland Games. We are very proud of our festival and it is testament to the hard work and commitment of our staff, volunteers and the people of Glenarm that thousands of visitors participate and leave wanting to return the following year. Our partners and sponsors, P&O Ferries, UTV, Tourism NI plus many more, are an essential part of our festival family and it is thanks to them that we continue to deliver a diverse and ever expanding programme every year. Every year we are building and striving to be better than the next and this year is no exception. We cannot wait to welcome all our visitors and hope that they will join us for our landmark year in 2016.

For further information including Highland Games day passes (book online and SAVE 20%), Saturday evening concert tickets (£28.50) and camping packages visit and