Ballina Salmon Festival first took place in Ballina in 1964 and was at the time called the ‘Moy Salmon Festival’. The original organisers knew that the town was home to one of the best rivers in Ireland with the best fishing waters and salmon in the country.
The festival, now one of the largest Irish community festivals has a long and distinguished history. In line with the times, it has been been through its ups and downs, and suffered particularly during the economic recession of the 1980’s. A significant revival took place in 1991, at which time the original Heritage Day concept was developed. This soon became a flagship event in the Irish tourism calendar, attracting thousands of visitors to this West of Ireland town.
While the festival has varied in duration from five to ten days over its lifetime, it continues to thrive and its location on the North West coast of Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way means it remains a key attraction for visitors from all over Ireland and abroad, attracting attendances of over 200,000 annually as well as huge numbers of the Mayo diaspora who make their way home for the event each year.
One of the trademarks of Ballina Salmon Festival is its strong community-focused ethos. It has an price tag of over €280,000 when all associated costs are paid, but the week-long event generates millions for the local economy. Funding is generated through a programme of local fundraising and some grant aid. A team of over forty volunteers works all year round to compile, organise and market a programme of events that will cater for people of all ages and interests.
With an action-packed programme that includes old favourites like International Evening, Heritage Day, the Mardi Gras Street Theatre Parade and the annual Fireworks Display, along with river-based events like fishing competitions and watersports, the Ballina Salmon Festival is proud of its varied offering and family-centered focus.
One third of the festival’s entire programme is dedicated solely to children, making it one of the most family-friendly festivals in the country.
The Ballina Salmon Festival team looks forward to welcoming you to our beautiful town, and hopes you will enjoy your time with us!
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