Held annually in Castlewellan and the surrounding area, the SOMA Festival includes live music events, creative writing workshops, walking tours, and more. Taking place from July 18-22, this year’s festival includes a range of family friendly events to entertain kids big and small.
Festival Director Tiona McSherry said: “Thousands are expected to flock to the district to be entertained by top notch musicians, crafters, and artisans. As well as the amazing entertainment, visitors should take the opportunity to taste the fabulous local cuisine and take in the breath-taking beauty of the area.”
“With families in mind, our programme is full of delights, festival favourites, and exciting new additions. July 2018 promises more music, magic, and madness than ever before for this, the sixth year of the SOMA Festival.”
Here are 14 family friendly events worth checking out:
1. The Singing Tree, July 21, Maginn’s, 11am – 3pm
Following on from the huge success of last year’s Singing Tree event, a fabulous set of singers will lead this beautiful gathering of traditional singing and show of appreciation for an enduring Irish art form. Come along, prick up your ears, and tune up your vocal chords for an unforgettable singing experience. Ticket price includes tea, coffee, and cake.
2. Natural Voice Workshop, July 20, The Lodge, 3pm
Voice of Lecale Choir Director and Natural Voice Tutor, Laura Plummer, offers this fun voice workshop, open to all. Come along and enjoy everyone singing together!
3. BEATnDRUM, July 20, Lower Square, 9pm
BEATnDRUM brings dancefloor anarchy to the streets of Castlewellan! This tight-knit crew of over 30 performers take to the streets with their audience, encouraging spontaneous and uncontrollable dancing, jigging, and moshing to their funky Afro Brazilian and Cuban rhythms. Tickets: Free
4. SOMA Body n Soul Drum Circle, July 21, The Lodge, 3.45pm
Promoting health and wellness, with a focus on both traditional and contemporary practices, SOMA Body & Soul provides the perfect space for individuals and families to try something new. Make some “in the moment” music with interactive drums and percussion – fun for all the family.
5. SOMA Body n Soul Theraputic Art Workshop, July 21 & 22, The Lodge, 11am – 5pm
Lisburn-based Community Artist, Shirley Brown-Camblin, delivers a personal development workshop promoting mindfulness and positive thinking through art and creative play. Suitable for adults and children, everyone can enjoy the workshops, which run continuously throughout Saturday and Sunday. Children aged 12+ will have the chance to make their own piece of Affirmation Art using MDF wood and acrylics.
6. SOMA Artisan Market, July 21-22, Upper Square
The SOMA market is back! Celebrating the finest of local produce and crafts, with live entertainment all day, come along to meet the unique creators, makers, designers, producers, musicians, artists, and crafters. Held from 11am to 7pm on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July.
7. Magnus Vikings, July 21 (11am – 5pm) & July 22 (12pm – 5pm), Lower Square
This July, prepare to experience Castlewellan as never before, as the Lower Square is transported back through the millennia to the mystical time of Ancient Irish myths and legend. Take a stand on the Celtic war chariot, see Manannan Mac Lir’s magical boat, grasp a Celtic shield, watch warriors engage in battle, and explore the living history village while hearing a wise storyteller impart the myths of old Ireland.
8. Creative Writing Workshop, July 20, Castlewellan Library, 11am – 12.15pm
This fun children’s workshop, organised by acclaimed children’s author, Paula Matthews, is for 7-11 year olds who will be encouraged and inspired to produce imaginative stories on the Big Summer Read theme of Sea to Shore.
9. Writing for the Stage Workshop, July 20, Castlewellan Library, 11am – 3pm
Delivered by Catherine Kelly, a teacher and writer who has produced plays for radio as well as a student performance at the Lyric Theatre, learn about playwriting through a practical session that includes writing, reading and discussion. Consider what makes plays different to other genres and explore key aspects such as story, character, and dialogue. Open to all ages, bring pens and paper!
10. Time and Place Creative Writing Workshop, July 20, Castlewellan Library, 11am – 3pm
How do you transport your readers to places and times that feel real, using only words? Join multi-award winning novelist, Sheena Wilkinson, for a lively and interactive workshop that will help you make your words jump off the page and lodge in your reader’s heart.
11. Potatoes and Oats in Irish Agriculture, July 20, Maginn’s, 3pm – 4.30pm
Our landscape, culture and history are intimately linked with the production of these two staple food crops. Liam Corry, Curator of National Museums Northern Ireland, will give this absorbing talk about the significance of potatoes and oats in Irish agriculture.
12. Children’s Art Workshop, July 22, The Fish Bowl, 4.30pm
This special Art Workshop, curated by Newcastle Comhaltas, offers children the opportunity to create works of art to be included in the Ulster Fleadh parade taking place in Castlewellan on Saturday, 28th July.
13. Children’s Drama Workshop, July 21, The Fish Bowl, 12pm – 1.30pm
A drama workshop for kids with music, dance and art, based on An Dream Dearg’s campaign.
14. Designing Dragons Children’s Workshop, July 21, The Fish Bowl, 2pm
Join author, Maire Zepf, and illustrator, Andrew Whitson, for a story-making workshop all about dragons. Hear Maire read ‘Rita agus an Dragun’ and watch Andrew draw the dragon from the story, before going on a creative and imaginative journey of your own. Bilingual workshop for children aged 7+.
Running from July 18-22 across Castlewellan in Co Down The SOMA Festival is an annual festival full of concerts, workshops, art exhibitions, storytelling, poetry, health & wellbeing fair and various family events across the week.
For more information and details of the full festival line-up go to www.somafestival.com or follow #SOMAFest18 on social media.