Thrills and chills at Wild Winter Festival in Ballymena

drum circle
The drum circle proved a big hit at the Wild Winter Festival at Ecos Nature Reserve in Ballymena.

More than 1,500 people flocked to enjoy Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Wild Winter Festival at Ecos Nature Park in Ballymena.

Festival goers enjoyed an array of activities from wreath making to willow weaving, coppicing, nest box building, eco art and even tree dressing.

The event was part of the Your Place Our Space project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The project brings people from all communities together using Mid and East Antrim’s abundance of fantastic parks and open spaces to enjoy fun and innovative programmes.

The scavenger hunt proved a huge hit as did the bush-crafts, storytelling, drum circle, lantern making and the moreish toasted campfire marshmallows.

The star on the day stealing the hearts of many was Linnie the rescued fox who was there with her family of Debbie Dolittle’s woodland creatures.

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Linnie the Fox enjoying a cuddle from Debbie Dolittle. Watching on are Josh and Owen Mairs, Freya Patton, Daisha Boyce and Amber Anand

A Christmas artisan fayre got people in the festive mood with the Naturally North Coast and Glens Market featuring a range of local suppliers including Granny Shaw’s Fudge Factory and Linda’s Originals desserts.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar, said: “We have so many wonderful parks and open spaces across our borough and it’s amazing to see so many people, from Carrickfergus to far as Rathlin and Cookstown, coming to events like this and enjoying getting outdoors.

“There really is something for all ages, from food, crafts and even wild animals to cuddle, what else could you want?! It’s truly been a fantastic day bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to just enjoy themselves.

“The Your Place Our Space project is an exciting environmental project for all ages that uses outdoor spaces across the borough for shared events and promotes sustainability.

“We’ve had so much positive feedback from everyone who came and I can’t wait to see what else happens as this project runs throughout next year too.”

Festival goer Gillian Foster said the event was fantastic: “My grandson Mason loved it! He particularly enjoyed the bird box making. He’s been out in our garden with his bird box and feeding the birds ever since. We also loved the survival skills.”

Shama Lamsiah was also there with her family: “What an amazing event, well done, it was a huge success! It was so well organised and really allowed visitors to experience all the site has to offer.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been awarded £3.1m funding through the PEACE IV Programme. Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Executive Office and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

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