Tens of thousands of people flocked to the North Coast today for the start of the annual Auld Lammas Fair.
The traditional event has been running for more than 300 years and has become an important fixture on the Ballycastle calendar.
As with every year there will be horse trading, street entertainment and market stalls which will line the streets of the Co Antrim village, while the huge crowds, which are expected today, sample local specialities yellow man — a sticky sweet – and dulse — a particular type of seaweed. At last night’s official gala dinner held at Ballycastle’s Marine Hotel, the 120 specially invited guests were treated to a special sample of these local delights.
Last year, there was much debate at the traditional dinner when dulse was incorporated into a trifle along with yellow man.
Many people liked the unusual dessert. However only the sticky sweet was used in the pannacotta this year.
Instead, the dulse was used in another part of the meal.
Philip Williams, Head Chef at Ballycastle’s Marine Hotel explained: “Last year the dulse and yellow man trifle was a shock for many people but when they tasted it they were quite surprised. Many people said they liked it but we wanted to try something new this year.
“So dulse was there, fried in batter, as a garnish for the dinner main course.”
Besides being able to sample the specialities, visitors will also be able to witness some of the best street performers in action.
The Lammas Fair Street Entertainers Competition will be held from the Quay Road Hall down Quay Road to the seafront.
The competition is being held to encourage the development of traditional street acts which have become synonymous with the Lammas Fair.
There are two categories, the junior for under 16s and the senior for anyone aged above 16. First prize is £100.
Police have warned those visiting the fair today to only bring essential items with them and to not leave valuables in the car.
They have also said they will be cracking down on the sale of counterfeit goods again this year.
Street drinking is also banned at the fair and officers will be deployed throughout the town to monitor the public.
Parking will be available at Cross and Passion College, along the Moyle Road in Ballycastle. Two car parks will be open and will cost £5 per car.
Park and Ride facilities are available at Whitepark Road.