Sunday 17 June 2018 10:33:49 PM

Council Announce Further Geopark Community Events
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An exciting programme of geopark-themed public community events has been announced by the Geopark Project team at Newry Mourne and Down District Council for 2018.

The team will have a presence at a number of annual festivals and events that are scheduled to take place over the coming months.  From June to September, if you are out and about at any of the following events you will be able to catch up with the Geopark Project team, who will be sharing information and engaging with visitors to answer any queries.

Timetable for Community Events:

22-24 June                          Mourne International Walking Festival, Newcastle

30 June                                 Newry Agricultural Show

14 July                                   Castlewellan Agricultural Show

19-22 July                            Soma Festival, Castlewellan
27 – 29 July                          Strangford Lough Skiffie Festival, Strangford Lough and Delamont

3-26 August                        Ring of Gullion Lúnasa Festival featuring Geotastic Extravaganza (11 August)

4-5 August                          Footsteps in the Forest, Slieve Gullion Forest Park
11 August                            Festival of Flight, Newcastle

18 – 19 August                    Wake the Giant, Warrenpoint
21 – 22 September           City of Merchants

 

Children meet a dinosaur at the Ring of Gullion Lúnasa Festival last summer.

Supported by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), the Geopark Project Community Events programme provides an opportunity to learn about geology through activities such as making fossils, erupting volcanoes, touching and seeing wonderful rock specimens and making your very own planet earth.  Dr Kirstin Lemon from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) explains:

“The Community Events programme seeks to raise public awareness of geology and to promote the area’s geological heritage. Having a presence at public events in the locality encourages people to learn about geotourism and get involved in educational activities. Events are varied and include public talks, guided walks, exhibitions and workshops.

“The proposed UNESCO Global Geopark in the scenic landscapes of Mourne, Ring of Gullion and Strangford & Lecale has the potential to generate sustainable tourism and deliver a range of economic benefits while providing recreational opportunities and increased awareness of the area’s natural assets.  It will involve people in their landscape and work with local landowners, businesses and communities. There is a programme of work involved in securing UNESCO Global Geopark status and activity has been initiated to allow an application to be submitted to UNESCO for consideration.”

Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Mark Murnin adds: “The Giant Adventures festivals namely; Strangford Lough Skiffie Festival, Footsteps in the Forest, Festival of Flight, Wake the Giant and City of Merchants will take place in locations across the district, using the area’s mountains, coastline, legend and folklore. It’s estimated that the Giant Adventures flagship festival programme will have a positive impact on the local economy of circa £10m.”

“In addition to the ‘Giant Adventures’ festival programme there will be an exciting programme of Geopark Project summer events, supported by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, that will also celebrate the district’s culture and heritage. The development of our festivals under the ‘Giant Adventures’ brand, together with additional financial support for a range of other established events, is one of the steps the Council has taken to position the area as one of the premier tourism destinations in Ireland. The ‘Giant Adventures’ programme has been designed to deliver ‘epic moments’ to our visitors, providing experiences that they will never forget and which will whet their appetite for more.

“UNESCO Global Geopark status for the area will play a key role in differentiating the region and in giving it a much stronger and cohesive market identity. The proposed UNESCO Global Geopark will bring significant economic benefits and will also have an important role to play in empowering local communities, giving them the opportunities to develop cohesive partnerships with the common goal of promoting the area’s significant geological and other heritage. The UNESCO Global Geopark brand does not impose any restrictions on farming practices, planning or development.”

 

Dr Kirstin Lemon from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI).

 

The Community Events programme kicks off with the internationally recognised Mourne International Walking Festival which will take place over three days in Newcastle from 22-24 June 2018 and will offer walkers, of all levels of fitness, stunning routes in the Mourne Mountains and surrounding countryside.

Strangford Lough Skiffie Festival will take place on Strangford Lough and in Delamont Country Park between 27-29 July 2018 and will attract international and local competitors with their community built skiffs.  Visitors will have the opportunity to watch the racing, meet the rowers, savour a variety of locally produced food at the accompanying food fair and enjoy a fun-filled programme of events in Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh.

The ever popular Footsteps in the Forest event takes place from 4-5 August 2018 and uses the beauty and mystery of Slieve Gullion Forest Park to capitalise on well-known tales associated with the forest. This event was the winner of the 2016 Heritage Council of Ireland Cool for Kids award and continues to excite and delight. Visitors will have an opportunity to encounter mythical people, hear their stories of a world that has been forgotten and explore their woodland realm through the magical living storybook tour.

Now a firm favourite, the Festival of Flight promises a powerful combination of stunning airborne antics led again by the Red Arrows and complemented by a lively ground level programme of family-friendly events and attractions, including the popular Aviation and Food Village. New for this year there will be a corporate STEM area, a ‘FansZone’, corporate hospitality area and an enhanced exhibit of RAF flying aircraft on the ground to mark the centenary of the RAF, all played out against the iconic backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne. The event will be soaring high over the shores of Newcastle and Dundrum Bay on 11 August 2018.

Wake the Giant festival is back between 18-19 August 2018 in Warrenpoint for more gigantic interactive fun and a new story that will once again bring Finn the Giant to life using the combined efforts of the audience, the artists and craftspeople. Come along and marvel at the sleeping Giant – as who knows what magic will happen as the story unfolds.

City of Merchants will take place between 21-22 September 2018 in Newry and bring another year of epic ‘Giant Adventures’ to a close. Drawing on the maritime and industrial heritage of Newry, this event will celebrate and commemorate the roles of commerce and trade in the City. The pivotal role of trade along the canal, river and basin will be brought to life through site specific theatre, music, sound and dance and showcase a contemporary celebration of the best local produce from the kitchen of the city food providers.

Furthermore the Geopark Project Team will also be present at the popular Newry (30 June) and Castlewellan (14 July) Agricultural Shows taking place this summer.

You can find out more details of all this summer’s Giant Adventures and community/business led events at:

 visitmournemountains.co.uk

If you have any questions about the UNESCO Global Geopark application process please contact the project team via:

E.[email protected]

or log on to unesco.org

and/or newrymournedown.org.

***

Geopark Background.

*    UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of sustainable development, education and protection.  There are currently 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks found in 38 countries around the world, all of which have been developed using a bottom-up approach with local communities playing a significant role in this process.

 

*    The UNESCO Global Geopark brand does not impose any restrictions on farming practices, planning or development.  Typical activities in a UNESCO Global Geopark include the development of walking and cycling trails, the training of local people to act as guides, provision of information signage and the development of visitor centres. The ultimate aim of a UNESCO Global Geopark is to enhance the economy and develop employment opportunities for the people who live there.

 

*    At present there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries around the world, all of which have been developed using a bottom-up approach involving local communities. The UNESCO Global Geopark brand has benefited these communities. Research undertaken in the UK found that the UNESCO label added an average of £2.69million to the UK economy per annum for each UNESCO Global Geopark.