By Lucy Ashton
The Bonnie Banks and welcoming waters of Loch Lomond will play host to the inaugural European Championships Open Water Swimming competition giving sports fans an opportunity to see some of the best aquatics stars on the continent take to water – for FREE.
The Glasgow 2018 European Championships – is a brand new multi-sport event being co-hosted with Berlin this August. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park will stage the European Open Water Swimming Championships at Drumkinnon Bay at Loch Lomond from tomorrow – 8th-12th August.
The competition starts on the morning of Wednesday 8th August with the men and women’s 5km race and culminates on Sunday 12th August with the men and women’s 25km race. And with trains running from Glasgow to Balloch every half an hour public transport is the easiest way to reach the event.
As well as bringing spectators from home and abroad, wall to wall live BBC coverage of all the sporting action will be broadcast to a TV audience of up to 1 billion and inspiring people to visit the area, further boosting the local economy.
To celebrate the sporting event coming to the area, on Saturday 11th August an exciting mix of local performers and international acts will entertain local residents and visitors at Festival 2018: Balloch Loch Lomond.
The event – part of Festival 2018, the cultural programme for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – will bring a fun, family friendly atmosphere to Balloch and is completely free to attend.
The festival kicks off at 10.30am at Moss O’ Balloch, with a parade of 160 participants, creating a carnival atmosphere, leaving Loch Lomond Shores at 11.15am and arriving at Moss O’ Balloch at 12 noon.
A diverse range of local and international acts are taking part in the festival programme including performances from Urbaniks, an award winning urban dance group from Balloch, Scottish Opera, Feis Phaislig, Nevis Ensemble, samba drummers from Awestruck Academy, Clydebank and local singer Chirsty Harkins.
There will also be a wide range of food and drink on offer from local producers and a bar run by Loch Lomond Brewery. Performances will take place throughout the day in various locations around Balloch, with Moss O’ Balloch hosting the main festival activity, followed by entertainment and special offers in local bars and restaurants in the evening.
The official mascot of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, Bonnie the Seal, pictured left, will be making a special appearance at 3pm to give her seal of approval to the event. Bonnie will also be making a splash and saying hello to spectators at the Open Water Swimming on Thursday 9th August and Sunday 12th August.
Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: “Being selected to host the Open Water Swimming competition at the inaugural European Championships is a huge boost for the local area and a fantastic opportunity to showcase everything Loch Lomond and the wider National Park has to offer to a worldwide audience.
“The festival will celebrate the work of local community groups and encourage spectators to spend more time in Balloch, boosting the local economy. It will be a fun filled day for the whole family with plenty to see and do and we look forward to welcoming visitors and competitors from near and far to what will undoubtedly be an exciting few days of events.”
There will be no dedicated event parking so the most convenient way to get to both the open water swimming championships and the Festival is via public transport. Trains run from Glasgow Queen Street direct to Balloch every half an hour. It’s then just a short walk to both the championships site and the Festival.
The Urbaniks dance troupe and Oscar Cascarino and Flora Munro who will be taking part in the Festival at Balloch on Saturday.