Ballina Salmon Festival returns to its roots with river celebrations and nights of nostalgia

A return to the festival’s river roots, an extensive, exciting children’s programme and a nod to nostalgia, are just three of the highlights awaiting visitors to Ballina for the 54th Ballina Salmon Festival.

The festival runs this year from Sunday, July 8 to Sunday, July 15 with over 70 events planned over the course of the week, this year’s programme is set to excite and delight young and old, locals and visitors alike.

A number of fun events for all ages will focus interest on the iconic River Moy, including a fly casting open day by the Game Angling Instructors Association in conjunction with Inland Fisheries Ireland, a three-hour exploration workshop incorporating science, fishing, water safety and more by the recently formed River Moy Trust.

There will also be canoeing and stand-up kayaking workshops for older children, salmon-themed workshops in the Jackie Clarke Collection and a display on the Moy showcasing river activities on the opening day of the festival. The much-loved Moy Swim will also resume this year and is set to attract a large participation.

PRO of Ballina Salmon Festival, Anne-Marie Flynn said that the festival was looking forward to bringing the focus back on the river this year: “Ballina Salmon Festival has always been about celebrating the people of the town and our story, and this year, we wanted to move the focus back to the River Moy, where it all began in 1964.

"Ballina is known as the salmon capital of Ireland, and we wanted to acknowledge our heritage and connection with the river by acknowledging our old traditions while providing new and enjoyable experiences for those attending the festival.”

Fun for all the family

The children’s event committee this year has put together an incredible programme of over 50 events, designed to give children of all ages and interests something to enjoy during festival week. From film-making to first aid, children’s yoga to martial arts, sports, SUP sessions and dance, this is the most diverse children’s offering yet.

A major new musical addition to the programme this year is “Those Were the Days - A Night of Dance Hall Nostalgia” on Monday, July 9 in the Military Quarter - a night to journey back in time to the romance of the ballroom days.

Staged by local Liam Brennan of Soundman Entertainment, the night will feature legendary acts like Judd and Jack Ruane of the world famous Jack Ruane Showband, PJ Duffy, The Conquerors band featuring Tony Maher and Frankie Collahan, Keith and Lorraine Showband Show, Shaun O'Dowd and Frankie McDonald.

Another musical highlight will be the Hothouse 30th Anniversary Party on Friday July 13, where DJ Dermot Rice of the iconic Hothouse club night will team up with Longnecks NiteClub DJs Sean and PJ to celebrate Ballina’s halcyon club nights of the 80s and 90s. Sean Keane will also perform in the Twin Trees hotel on Friday, July 13.

Old favourites return too such as National Heritage Day, a journey back in time to an old fair day, which will once again this year feature the incredible Garda Band, A Night at the Proms, the Choral extravaganza featuring MC George Lee of RTÉ, which wowed over 600 attendees on its 2017 debut, Country and Western Night featuring an exciting guest performer and of course, the festival Mardi Gras street party and fireworks extravaganza.

This year, Ballina Salmon Festival has also launched a new online ticketing system, allowing visitors from outside the region to access tickets to sought-after events in advance.

A full festival programme and tickets will be available on www.ballinasalmonfestival.ie from this week, with new events and news added daily.

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