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Making Waves makes a splash on the Scottish festival scene

The rain didn’t stop everyone having a blast this summer at our much-anticipated Making Waves Festival!

In the works since 2020 but delayed due to the pandemic, the action-packed weekend saw more than 20,000 people visiting Irvine Beach Park and Harbourside during the festival.

And in true Scottish summertime style, although cagoule-clad crowds were rained on by downpours-a-plenty, the fantastic weekend (23 until 24 July) was far from a wash out, as revellers had a blast stomping in their welly boots to a diverse and talented line-up.

A weekend to remember

The world-renowned RAF Red Arrows took to the sky to open the festivities on Saturday 23 July for a spectacular aerobatic display, having last performed above Irvine in 1993 during a Radio 1 Roadshow. Crowds enjoyed the display from vantage points from Barassie to Stevenston.

Saturday’s strong festival line-up then followed, including Del Amitri, Twin Atlantic and Fatherson rocking headline slots on the opening day and JJ Gilmour, Blue Rose Code, Nerina Pallot and Anna Sweeney completing the talented festival billing at the perfectly suited venue.

Hailing from Kilmarnock, Scottish alternative/indie rock headliners Fatherson were thrilled to be part of the action when we caught up with them after their performance. Lead singer and guitarist, Ross Leighton beamed: “What a joy to have played at Irvine Beach, Making Waves Festival was for sure our favourite gig of the summer.”

Sunday was then soundtracked by family-friendly entertainers The Red-Hot Chilli Pipers and top tribute act Abbamania. XSM (ex-Simple Minds), Big Vern ‘n The Shootahs and Junkman’s Choir completed the eclectic and entertaining line-up.

Delivered by the Council’s Growth and Investment team, supported by the Communications team and local music promoters, Freckfest, the lively music event was a resounding success.

Other teams across the Council played vital roles in ensuring the event ran smoothly, from Streetscene making sure the area looked at its best, to Protective Services, Estates, Licensing, Roads, Communities, Sustainability, Facilities Management, Active Travel, Youth Services, our Countryside Rangers and many others contributing to what was an incredible team effort.

Karen Yeomans, North Ayrshire Council’s Director for Growth and Investment commented:

“This is the first time that the beach park has hosted a major music event in over a quarter of a century.

“The line-up really offered something for everyone, and we have been lucky enough to have worked alongside some fantastic partners to bring an event like this to Irvine Harbourside.

“The goal in delivering the event was of course about so much more than just a joyful weekend – it was about indicating a new direction of travel and renewed optimism around the changes coming as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal and the opportunities created by the Maritime Mile and Great Harbour project.

“Making Waves has been an early marker for our Growth Deal ambitions for Irvine Harbourside to capture its potential and create a regionally significant destination, attracting a wide range of visitors. By doing this, we are confident that we can provide exciting commercial opportunities for new and existing businesses by creating jobs which will in turn provide skills development opportunities for local people in line with the Council’s ambitious Community Wealth Building approach.”

A range of free activities also drew huge crowds to the waterfront event which was organised by North Ayrshire Council, Event Scotland, the Scottish Maritime Museum and local music promoters Freckfest.

Karen added: “Thank you to everyone involved in making the Making Waves weekend such a superb success. We hope that this will be the first of many live  events putting North Ayrshire on the tourism map. I would also like to extend our thanks to everyone else involved in attracting tourists and visitors to Irvine over the course of the Making Waves weekend.

“Local businesses dotted along the Harbourside were fantastic in helping to accommodate the increased footfall of visitors by extending their opening hours and a range of community groups including Irvine Clean-Up Crew and Garnock Connections provided activity stalls along the Maritime Mile.

“Special thanks are also extended to our project lead Fiona Anderson and Freckfest organiser Craig Smart and his team of volunteers who secured the diverse line-up of acts and performers who made the festival such a resounding success and to the Maritime Museum who offered free entry to their exciting Sea Monsters exhibition and welcomed thousands to a fantastic Ayrshire Makers Market and family fun fair.

“The Harbourside really was bustling with activity, and it was fantastic to see everyone turn out to support the event and most importantly have fun socialising and making memories in Irvine together once again.”

Stay tuned to Staff Talk early next year for more updates on the Council’s ambitious plans for Irvine Harbourside. In the meantime, if you missed Making Waves, watch our videos for some of the action-packed highlights, you may well spot someone in the crowd you know!

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