Landmark year for Broadisland festival

Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band taking part in the Broadisland Gathering
Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band taking part in the Broadisland Gathering

The organisers of the Broadisland Gathering festival in Ballycarry are planning ahead for a major milestone this year.

In 2017, the Gathering will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and discussions have been taking place on what form the events and entertainments will take for the historic occasion.

One of the co-founders of the event, Valerie Beattie, said that it was hard to believe that almost 25 years had passed since the event was first held.

“The festival is a non-profit making event and as such it is extremely dependent on grant assistance each year and sponsorship,”

“That means we never could plan ahead to any degree, but we did say a few years ago that if we got to 25 years it would have to be a special Gathering,” she added.

The committee met last week to look at the potential themes, events and entertainments, and the hard work of seeking sponsorship and applying for grants is underway.

But they will also be asking the local community for their views on the festival, which is the longest-established Ulster Scots festival in Northern Ireland.

The committee says that it was decided to ask the local public and organisations how – or if – they see the festival develop after this year.

The festival committee will hold a public meeting in a few months to take views and say that it is hoped to have feedback from across the community.

“Last week there was general consensus that this Gathering should be a landmark because of the remarkable achievement of 25 years as a community festival, “ said Mrs. Beattie, “but it is also time to take stock and consider the future.”

“We are pleased to have some new helpers this past year, and others are always very welcome. Over the years the Gathering has achieved a lot for the village and brought visitors from across the world,” she said.

The Gathering was established in 1993 by the local Community Association, with the support of Larne Borough Council.

and the main events are traditionally held on the first Saturday in September.