Achill Island teems with kites as crowds pack in for festival – The Irish Times

Hundreds of people gathered on Keel Beach in Achill on Sunday for the Mayo International Kite Festival, which featured Ukrainian performers and kite pilots.

Groups of families, kite surfers and beach goers congregate on the blue flag beach for the annual festival.

The festival was organized by Pure Magic, a Dublin-based kitesurfing and hospitality company with a lodge at Achill, Keel Camping and Caravan Park and Westnet. Along the beach were food and activity stalls and a stage where local and Ukrainian musicians and artists performed.

This year’s multi-year festival was organized in association with Ukrainian Kite Fliers, of the “Ultra Fest Trykhaty” festival, with all proceeds going to the Ukrainian relief effort. Achill Island has recently welcomed Ukrainian refugees, and community groups have stepped in to ensure integration and support for new residents on the island.

Francois Colussi, one of the founders of Pure Magic, said, “The idea behind it all is to stop our beautiful day-to-day business and be part of the community and do what we do, which is to fly kites.

“This year we contacted a Ukrainian kite festival organizer, and they also wanted to share that positivity… We have Ukrainian dancers, singers alongside Irish musicians and dancers.”

Achill Island was recently beaten by The Burren, Clare as Ireland’s favorite holiday spot in a competition organized by The Irish Times and Fáilte Ireland.

On Sunday, it proved shortlist-worthy, with visitors finding parking near impossible.

Many of those working at the festival have expressed optimism about the recovery of offshore islands like Achill whose economies depend on tourism. They said the end of Covid-19 restrictions had breathed new life into Achill, with new businesses springing up.

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