Thousands of visitors from across Ireland flocked to Slieve Gullion on Saturday and Sunday for a packed weekend of family fun and adventure as part of this year’s Footsteps in the Forest festival.
Featuring a host of make-believe characters, storytelling and a bustling schedule of activities, Footsteps in the Forest kicked off the first of five free summer events in the all-new Giant Adventures programme for 2017, a major series of family festivals organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to showcase the region’s breath-taking mountains, coastline and mythical stories.
After unprecedented success last year, Footsteps in the Forest – the official winner of the 2016 Heritage Council of Ireland ‘Cool for Kids’ event award – was confidently returned for a second year at Slieve Gullion Forest Park in the Ring of Gullion, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was supported by Tourism NI.
Throughout the weekend, larger than life creatures including mischievous trolls, woodland fawns and Finn McCool, led by captivated children enjoying theatrical storybook tours throughout the forest ferns.
Young visitors from across Northern Ireland and beyond took part in a range of craft activities, including making swords and shields, watching a real blacksmith at work in his forge and monster mask making.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chair, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, said:
“What better way to kick start our Giant Adventures festival programme for 2017 than with thousands of children having fun with fairy-tale creatures in the stunning setting of Slieve Gullion Forest Park. We’re delighted that so many returned this year and that so many came for the very first time.”
In addition to Footsteps in the Forest, the Giant Adventures programme includes four additional standout events – Strangford Lough Skiffie Festival on 22nd and 23rd July, Festival of Flight on 4th and 5th August, Wake the Giant on 26th and 27th August and City of Merchants on 30th September and 1st October – a new festival this year which reflects on and celebrates the rich maritime and industrial heritage of Newry.
For more information, visit www.ringofgullion.org or contact the Festival Office on at 028 3031 3170.