THE popular Lady of the Lake Festival is returning this year with a mini festival featuring an exciting programme of socially distanced events.

There was great disappointment last year when it was announced that the festival in Irvinestown had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but with restrictions easing, the Lady of the Lake Festival is making a welcome return to the town with online activities, on-street festivities and planned drive-in events.

With the festivities usually more than a week long, taking in two weekends, organisers have decided to reduce the number of days for this year's festival, with it running from Friday, July 9 to Tuesday, July 13.

However, although the number of days have been reduced, the quality and variety of events certainly won't be.

This year's programme features an eclectic selection of events, starting off on the Friday night with the unveiling of the Lady of the Lake, who will wear the traditional blue velvet cape, and arrive by a secret mode of transport not to be revealed until that evening.

Talking about this year's festival, Joe Mahon, a member of the festival's organising committee, said: "A lot of people locally were asking me, 'Is the festival on, we missed the festival last year'.

"We met with the Council last week and then announced that the festival was going ahead on Facebook – the whole reaction over the weekend was 'It'll be great to get some normality back, to see something happening again because we missed the festival last year'.

"Everybody said they were looking forward to some sort of event, even if it wasn't a big festival," he added.

He went on to outline some of the events that will take place at this year's mini Lady of the Lake.

"We have the fancy dress parade on the Friday night, on the street. Saturday, we're having the pet show, and there's a [drive-in] concert in Necarne that night, and Sunday night [there'll be Jamboree at the Castle, in conjunction with Rocky Top Productions].

"On Saturday, we'll also have watersports, including a raft race at Castle Archdale," said Joe, adding: "There'll be a treasure hunt on Monday, and then on Tuesday there'll be a Fair Day down at Necarne."

He went on to note that the festival will adhere to all social distancing and Covid-19 guidelines.

With a great selection of events, there'll be something for everyone as the Lady of the Lake Festival returns this July.