It's proposed that a budget of £1.2M will be spent on Tourism Events in the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area in 2020/2021 following the endorsement by councillors of a Tourism Events Programme at the Council's Enterprise Regeneration and Tourism Committee meeting in Newry yesterday 11 November.

Newry Arts Festival

A new proposal will enlist officers to develop proposals for a new Newry Arts Festival by engaging with arts groups and professionals from Newry and the district, to be delivered alongside the redevelopment of Newry Town Hall and the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre. A specific budget allocation wasn't stated for this rather "Provision within ERT budget"

Giant Adventures Flagship Events

Recommendations included growing their flagship events including refocusing Footsteps in the Forest into a week long 'Enchanted Forest' event, growing the Wake the Giant festival in Warrenpoint, to be the centrepiece of an extended outdoor arts festival, and enhancements for the Festival of Flight in Newcastle and St Patrick's Day Festivals in Newry and Downpatrick.

The programme also hopes to introduce a new Tourism Events Support Programme, a training initiative for the events sector as well as introduce a new proposal to celebrate local food and drink offerings at festivals and events.

Speaking at the meeting Chair of the ERT Committee, Cllr Roising Mulgrew pointed out that in relation to council spending on tourism events in the Newry, Mourne and Down Area, that for every £1 spent you get more than £10 back into the local economy.

Growth Events

The initiative also plans to support the development of four 'growth events' in the district: DownTime Festival, Downpatrick; Skiffies Festival, Delamont; Ballynahinch Harvest Festival and the newly proposed Newry Arts Festival.

Cllr Gary Stokes "Glad to see that in terms of the growth of festivals we are going to be talking to the groups who are delivering some of these things already and not re-invent the wheel.

"I helped out back in September at Iúr Cinn fleadh festival, very succesful and the council were heavily involved in that in terms of supporting that, so where we have existing group we should work with them."

Wake the Giant Festival is to be the centrepiece of an extended outdoor arts festival. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
The Wake the Giant Festival is to be the centrepiece of an extended outdoor arts festival. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/


The budget of £1.2M is to be allocated to the Tourism Events Programme subject to approval through the rates process. This includes £195K for the Financial Assistance Programme call. 

Proposed Spending

Flagship events:

Footsteps in the Forest: £150K for 2020/21 up from £85K in 2019/20

Festival of Flight: £150K for 2020/21 up from £120K in 2019/20

Wake the Giant: £150K for 2020/21 up from £100K in 2019/20

St Patrick's Day Newry and Downpatrick 2021: £150K for 2020/21 down from £170K in 2019/20

Growth Events:

Growth events stay funded same as 2019/20

DownTime Festival: £30K

Skiffies Festival: £40K

Ballynahinch Harvest Festival: £30K

Two Golf tournaments will have £40K to spend while Halloween and Christmas event spending remains unchanged with £80K to be spent between Hallowtides, Newcastle and Halloween in Newry and £30K spending between Christmas switch on in Newry and Downpatrick.

Good news story

Cllr Willie Clarke said "It's important to say that this is a real good news story, it's a real committment from the council in their tourism product but also groups delivering festivals for us as well."  Speaking re the growth of the Wake the Giant Festival in Warrenpoint Cllr Clarke asked "Are we looking at another giant"

'Activity' Tourism Events not Included in Council Delivery

The Newry Triathlon or Mourne Walking Festival or similar events which may have been delivered by council in the past will now have to apply through the councils Financial Assistance Programme.

The proposals go forward to Decembers full council meeting for ratification.

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