The council has released provisional details for this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebration at Slemish.
Arrangements for the popular event, which will be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee on Monday night, include entertainment at Slemish and in the village of Broughshane.
A council report revealed that the celebration on Friday March 17 will include “special offers from participating local businesses” in an attempt to “provide greater economic benefit to the local community.”
The council says that the annual climb to the top of Slemish mountain, where St Patrick is believed to have tended pigs and sheep as a young slave before converting to Christianity, attracts around 3000 visitors to the Broughshane area.
The report describes St Patrick’s association with Slemish and Broughshane as “a key opportunity to develop a Christian heritage product in the area, the outputs of which will be an economic benefit from tourism for the area and for Broughshane in particular.”
It continues: “The traditional Slemish event has great capacity to fit in with the overall strategy of developing the Christian Heritage project in the area and so officers have engaged with the local community development association in Broughshane and Raceview Mill to seek their engagement, input and support with the 2017 event.
“After a successful pilot in 2016, Raceview Mill has kindly agreed to continue with the support of Council to provide car parking on the day of the event. Entertainment will be provided at this venue throughout the day.
“The Broughshane Community Development Association has agreed to work in partnership with Council to provide entertainment in the village and at Slemish
“Council will also provide additional entertainment at the start of the climb.”
Most participants are expected to travel on coaches from the designated parking site at Raceview Mill via Broughshane to Slemish and return.
The coaches will also make a drop-off stop in Broughshane. Raceview Mill is to partner with local primary schools to encourage their participation.
Funds for the 2017 event are to be drawn from the council’s existing budget.