Preparations ramp up for Athlone's River Festival
The popular Athlone River Festival returns on Saturday, August 31, and Sunday, September 1.
This action-packed weekend is the perfect way for families, fun-lovers and water sport enthusiasts to say goodbye to the summer in style.
This year, the Athlone River Festival is designed to celebrate both the rich history and culture of the medieval town and its unique connection to the River Shannon which has been a source of fun and opportunity for locals for centuries. Members of the organising committee have volunteered their time and efforts to create a programme of activities to suit all ages and interests, and the majority of the festival’s activities are free.
The festival replaces last year's much-heralded Shannon Feastival, which combined food attractions and a river focus. The subject of €20,000 funding from Westmeath County Council last year, the Feastival was envisaged as an annual event but will not now go ahead this year.
Damien Delaney, organising committee member and volunteer with Lough Ree RNLI, said: "Here in Athlone we are surrounded by some of Ireland’s most stunning waterways. Athlone River Festival is a chance for everyone in the area to come together and enjoy a fun-filled weekend celebrating the fantastic natural amenity on our doorstep.”
Not to be missed on Saturday, August 31 is the Inland Waterways Motor Cruiser Flotilla which will sail between the Railway Bridge and the Athlone Lock at 3pm. The spectacle of this large convoy of motor cruisers arriving to the town is truly something to behold! Once the boats are safely docked the day’s celebrations continue in the back of Sean’s Bar with live music and a Guinness and oyster reception between 4pm and 6pm.
On Saturday evening local rivalries may bubble to the surface as several local GAA teams take to the water for a GAA Raft Race. It will be a true test of stamina as the teams race around the Town Bridge so make sure to come out to cheer on your club!
Other Saturday highlights include art exhibitions in the Civic Centre Atrium and Luan Gallery, a Children’s Medieval Art & Craft Workshop and an Army Band performance in John McCormack Square at 4pm.
Sunday activities kick off early on the water with a Junior Fishing Competition and Rowing Race both getting underway from 10am. Highlights later in the day include a Dinghy Sailing demonstration and RNLI Raft Race.
Throughout the weekend Athlone Castle will be a hive of activity with everything from medieval music and dancing and hobby horse jousting to demonstrations of crafts including glass bead making, weaving and spinning. The little ones can enjoy a host of fun activities such as outdoor games, medieval dress-up, face-painting and a crown and shield-making workshop.
A full timetable and further information can be found on Athlone.ie website and Facebook page as well as the RNLI River Festival Facebook page.
The Athlone River organisers include Athlone Anglers Association; Athlone Boat Club & Sub Aqua Club; Inland Waterways Association; Lough Ree Yacht Club; RNLI; Swim Ireland; Athlone Arts & Tourism; Heritage Council and Old Athlone Society;
Special thanks to Minister for Defence and the Army Band; Athlone Sports Centre; Hodson Bay Group; Sheraton Hotel; Destination Athlone; Westmeath County Council; Waterways Ireland; Sean’s Bar; Baysports; Viking Tours; Athlone Gardai; Order of Malta and to all the event organisers.