The City of Merchants Festival saw thousands of people on the streets of Newry enjoying a fabulous weekend of activities, culture and a spectacular firework display. Even inclement weather failed to dampen visitors enthusiasm. 

Returning for a second year, the festival was bigger and better than ever with three days of amazing interactive events, family fun and the best food and drink.

SPARK! Drummers on parade at the City of Merchants. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
SPARK! Drummers on parade at the City of Merchants. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the festival event brought a programme of culture, history and street performances to the city to celebrate the waterways, canals and rich maritime history of Newry.

On Friday night the famous SPARK! Drummers led visitors on a carnival parade to the fathom line, where audiences were wowed with a breath-taking firework display set to music. The fireworks lit up the skies above the Newry waterways in the biggest pyrotechnic show the district has seen to date. This was coupled with the Twilight Market that saw a mix of craft and artisan producers showcase the best of the area’s culinary offerings, along with free children’s workshops and street entertainment.

On Saturday visitors experienced the history of the city with live street theatre performances, guided tours, exhibitions, family activities and a chance to explore the Tall Ships, La Malouine, Soteria Brienne, and Brian Boru.

A third day was added this year to welcome, in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), an Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Formula 1. Visitors were enthralled to see the car up close and hear its engine rev. Street entertainment continued throughout Sunday and brought this year’s three-day festival to a fantastic close.

City of Merchants at Newry Museum.
City of Merchants at Newry Museum.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Mark Murnin, said: “This year’s festival was terrific. It was great to see so many people come to Newry, some for the first time, to explore the various activities and see first-hand the fantastic culture and heritage of the area.

The Merchant Quest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
The Merchant Quest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

The Giant Adventures season has been a wonderful way of showcasing the region and the City of Merchants brought it to a close in a spectacular way.”

City of Merchants festival was the fifth and final event in the Giant Adventures summer programme, a series of family festivals run by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to showcase the region’s breath-taking mountains, coastline and mythical stories which included Footsteps in the Forest, Skiffie Festival, Festival of Flight and Wake the Giant.

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