Sunday 15 December 2019

Action-packed weekend at huge summer festival!

The raft race
The raft race
The air show, which takes place this year on Sunday afternoon
Checking out equipment on show at last year’s festival

Anna Hayes

The seventh annual Wexford Maritime Festival kicks off this weekend, with an action-packed schedule of events sure to delight young and old.

This year, the festival will celebrate all things sea and air as the 100th anniversary of Wexford's Air Base is commemorated. The festival has, over the past number of years, become one of the town's premier events, drawing crowds up to 45,000 people to the scenic quay front.

The full list of events is as follows.

Saturday, June 23

Try It Dock - midday to 6 p.m.

Seize the opportunity to try your hand at kayaking and canoeing, as well as stand-up paddle-boarding and boating trips. The Try It dock is at the Crescent.

Rosslare Maritime Museum

A new feature this year is the photography exhibition from the local museum, focusing on the 50th anniversary of the Aer Lingus Tuskar Rock crash, which was commemorated earlier this year. Photographs have been sourced from numerous places to create a vivid exploration of a terrible tragedy.

Rescue Village - 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Talk to the volunteers and crews from rescue services including RNLI Lifeboats, Army, Air corps, HSE, Civil Defence, Irish Coast Guard, Gardaí and their Water Unit, Wexford Fire Brigade, Carrick On Suir River Rescue, Wexford MarineWatch, Slaney Search and Rescue and Scouts.

Kids' Events

The first day of the Maritime Festival will coincide with Cruinniú na nÓg this year which sees a selection of free events taking place throughout the day. The events are aimed at encouraging kids creativity, through workshops in Lego bricks, pottery crafts, Viking shield and brass rubbing, and marine science workshops.

At the Children's Village, Cow and Gate colouring competitions will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prizes will be given to kids aged four up to 12.

Kids can also see a steam thrashing machine up close, and finish the day by having their face painted and meeting their favourite cartoon characters.

Thundercat - midday, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Crazy manoeuvres and speed are all part of the Thundercat speedboat demonstrations that are taking place throughout the afternoon in the harbour.

Model Village - 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit the largest collection of model boats and aircraft and talk to their makers. The Stena pond, complete with drivable model boats is always a big hit.

Search and Rescue Demonstration - 3 p.m.

Watch the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 117 Helicopter, Wexford RNLI Lifeboat and the Civil Defence in action as they demonstrate five rescue scenarios.

Wexford's US Airbase 1918 to 2018

Another new feature at this year's festival is a photo exhibit focusing on Wexford's US Air Base, which was situated in Ardcavan. Featuring photos that have never been seen before, the exhibition is another fascinating insight into a piece of Wexford history.

Main Stage events - midday to 5 p.m.

The main stage events will start at midday with Disco Fun, inviting kids to join their favourite characters, dance and have fun. From 3.30 p.m. the sea shanty singers will show off their skills before making way for an 80-piece band at 4 p.m.

Food Market - 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Treat yourself to crepes, pizza, pulled pork and more. There will be plenty of tasty food on offer.

Sea Shanty - 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

St Iberius Church is the venue for performances of sea shanty songs that will fit in with the maritime theme.

Sunday, June 24

They're back

The Rescue Village, Try It Dock, Thundercat Demonstrations and Model Village run again on Sunday, following the same hours as Saturdays events.

Stunt Airshow - 3 p.m.

One of the highlights of the weekend, turn your eyes to the sky and enjoy a spectacular air show, full of thrills and jaw-dropping aerial manoeuvres. The Irish Air Corps will take part in a flypast.

Sailing Regatta

Over at the Try It dock, sailors from Wexford sailing clubs will take part in open sailing events, showing off their skills.

Rowing Races

Ferrycarrig Rowing Club and the Slaney Paddlers Club will have their Dragon boat on display and will also partake in races throughout the course of the day.

Raft Races

Teams of six will take part in these popular races. Rafts, paddles and life-jackets will be provided. Entry is €60 for a team of six and all funds go to Wexford RNLI. To register, email

Wobbly Circus

The Wobbly Circus workshops and stilt walkers return this year from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. . The workshop is run on a 'come and have a go' basis where all ages can come and learn the tricks of the circus including tight-wire walking, juggling, diabolo and devilstick techniques, plate spinning, poi swinging and more.

Food and Entertainment

The food market is open again from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. while the main stage and St Iberius Church will welcome their entertainers from Saturday.

At 2 p.m. Divine Invention will play in support of the Crumlin Children's Hospital Spinathon. Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts will perform on stage.

At 3 p.m. members of the Superstars Stage School will perform on stage.

Memorial ceremony

The weekend finishes with the annual memorial ceremony at the statue of Commodore John Barry. The annual wreath laying remembers the contribution of John Barry, who was the founder of the US Navy, and also pays tribute to Wexford seafarers who played their part in Wexford's proud maritime history.

Wexford People

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