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Crowds Gather at Ulster Folk Museum for new Making Festival

The two-day Making Festival celebrated Northern Ireland’s cherished crafts.

Making Festival at the Folk Museum
Theme
Ulster Folk Museum
Date published
21.08.2023

Ulster Folk Museum welcomed over 2000 people to its inaugural Making Festival, this past weekend. The two-day event celebrated traditional crafts and supported the continued revival of our most cherished heritage skills. 

Planned in partnership with Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI), the family-friendly event included exciting and informative demonstrations from many traditional craft makers such as woodturning, thatching, stained glass making, musical instrument making and stone masonry. Visitors had the opportunity to take part in these time-honoured practices, and enjoy lively traditional music sessions.

The Ulster Folk Museum, established in 1964, was created to safeguard the unique way of life that defines the people of Ulster. 

Susan Starrett, General Manager at the Ulster Folk Museum said, “Ulster Folk Museum’s Making Festival was a huge success. It was fantastic to welcome visitors, such notable heritage makers and artisans to the new event for the Folk Museum to celebrate our rich traditions. 

“The event signalled our values and ambition to rekindle and ignite appreciation for these remarkable skills and traditions that we actively preserve here at the museum, so that we can learn more about them, be inspired and keep them alive for future generations.”

In addition to showcasing Northern Ireland’s unique building traditions, Making Festival also hosted a craft fair in collaboration with Craft NI, coinciding with August Craft Month. 

Speaking at the event, Barry Neilson OBE, Chief Executive of The Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI) emphasised the significance of preserving our traditional skills. “Heritage skills form a small but vital part of our construction sector. In recent years we have seen a decline in people taking these skills forward, putting these skills and our built heritage at risk. We're proud to collaborate with the Ulster Folk Museum to celebrate these valuable skills in a new and exciting way and hope this festival will inspire people to reconnect with their heritage and to become the next generation of master craftspeople.”

Plans are currently underway to ‘reawaken’ the Ulster Folk Museum and unlock its potential as a dynamic heritage and environment resource. Plans include the repurposing of currently inactive and underutilised spaces to create dynamic learning facilities which will enable greater participation in activities such as heritage craft skills and environmental volunteering. The proposed scheme also includes two new, carefully located buildings. A ‘Culture Hub’ will create a greater sense of welcome and orientation for visitors, whilst an ‘Industry Zone’ will tell the story of industrialisation and unlock the potential of a unique collection of items currently inaccessible to the public. 

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI said, “We’re incredibly passionate about safeguarding and preserving Northern Ireland's distinctive heritage skills and cherished customs. We believe that museums of today hold the power to enhance learning, promote wellbeing, and foster a deeper sense of connection. The Making Festival is a wonderful example of how Ulster Folk Museum can forge fresh and innovative ways to engage people with Northern Ireland's heritage.”

For more information about Ulster Folk Museum and upcoming events during August Craft month, visit ulsterfolkmuseum.org/whats-on