Hundreds of ravers descend on Ballyboley Forest

Ballyboley Forest. INLT-37-721-con
Ballyboley Forest. INLT-37-721-con

A rave attended by around 250 people at Ballyboley Forest left local residents clearing a mountain of waste dumped by drunken revellers.

Police were called to the gathering on Saturday, September 3, which is believed to have been organised by a group called Secret City Belfast.

On its Facebook page, the organisation says it is “bringing back the illegal underground raves of the 90s, taking over buildings, businesses, warehouses and any other venues we can find, stripping things back to what matters most, the people, the music and the experience”.

An email ticket found in the forest describes the Ballyboley event as a “secret forest rave” with the pick-up location for the event emailed out on the day and guests left ignorant of the venue until they arrive.

The email instructs guests not to post about the event on Facebook and not to litter or cause damage but to “bring your own drink”.

However, a resident says that locals were left counting the cost after revellers urinated in gardens and left behind rubbish ranging from vodka bottles to angel wings.

“Hundreds of them arrived on three coaches at 10.30pm and made their way into the forest,” said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous.

“This is normally a quiet rural area so it was out of the ordinary for so many people to appear and we had no warning.

“They disappeared into the forest but re-emerged at 5am on Sunday morning and we heard them walking around, they were cursing and yelling.

“They trespassed into gardens and private fields to urinate and the police were called to calm the situation.

“The forest and the two miles of road were left covered in rubbish ranging from beer tins, vodka bottles, toilet rolls, angel wings, coats to tents.

“The son of someone who lives in the forest removed four bin bags full of rubbish from her garden, it must have been terrifying for her with that going on outside.”

While buses appeared at 7am to collect the revellers, some were left behind.

“Quite a few people were left abandoned by the side of the road as they were so intoxicated,” the resident stated.

“They hadn’t a clue where they were, they didn’t even know what county they were in.”

Although the email ticket for the event advises revellers that “it is important to stay safe throughout the night,” the resident says that no effort was made to control the event or to protect guests.

“I saw some people in high visibility jackets the previous evening but no-one was doing anything about the people lying along the roadside or the litter,” he continued.

“One girl was lying at the roadside and she didn’t have a clue where she was or who she was, it’s very dangerous for people to get into that state.

“Anything could have happened in this situation. It was a stormy, wet night and they were in the middle of nowhere and didn’t even know where they were. It was totally irresponsible encouraging this behaviour.

“Then local people have to suffer afterwards wading through trash.”

A police spokesperson said that they had arrested a 17-year-old male at the scene.

“Police attended and a 17 year old male was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and possession of a class B controlled drug,” he stated.

“He was later released pending a report to the Youth Diversion Officer.”

No response had been received from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) who manage Ballyboley Forest, at the time of going to press.

The Times attempted to contact Secret City Belfast via its Facebook page, but received no response.