Sky’s the limit for festival

Puffins
Puffins

A puffin festival which is to be staged in a north Northumberland seaside town for the first time is attracting international interest.

Amble is preparing to hold the quirky event from May 18 to June 2, coinciding with the best time to see the birds on nearby Coquet Island.

It comes on the back of a £10,000 government grant to help towards regeneration in the town.

The event is being organised by the Amble Action Group, and involves both the town’s development trust and business club.

Those behind the festival are aiming to engage the community and hope the event will bolster tourism in the town.

And it has already prompted some positive comments, including from people overseas.

Julia Aston, from Amble Development Trust, said: “We thought a puffin festival would be really good.

“When you are looking at your unique selling point, puffins seem to be ours and whenever anybody mentions puffins, you always smile.

“We have already received international interest, with people from America saying that it is a really good idea, and they might be there.

“There has also been some interest from people in Australia too.

“We hope it will bring in a lot of tourists and we are hoping that they will stay locally, rather than just passing through.

“We need to draw up a proper programme but we have got lots of ideas and we want to engage the community and get everybody involved.”

Ideas for the event include exhibitions, demonstrations and a regatta.

The money for the festival has been awarded by the Department for Communities and Local Government through its Town Team Partners scheme.

It follows Amble’s successful application to become a Town Team Partner – a scheme set up to support those who had not been successful in the Portas Pilot programme, launched last year to try to regenerate high streets.

Amble’s bid had two strands, which included the puffin festival, as well as The Try Amble First campaign to encourage locals to use shops and amenities in the town, instead of going further afield.

Craig Weir, chairman of Amble Action Group, said: “The festival will be the only one of its kind in this country.

“The only other one that we have managed to find is in Newfoundland, in Canada.

“We are hoping this will be a massive event and really put Amble on the map. I would like people to say ‘Amble, that’s where they had the puffin festival’ and hopefully we can make it an annual event.”