NORTH Ayrshire Council has declared the opening night of a new event Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light as a thrilling, dazzling success showcasing Irvine Harbourside at its finest.

The four-day event, organised by the Scottish Maritime Museum, kicked off with an eye-catching illumination Light Trail, with a Saltire blazing across the night sky, and some death-defying aerial acrobatic performances on St Andrew’s Day.

More events are scheduled until the climax tonight with a finale dinner at the Puffers Café, where guests will be treated to top-class food and stunning views of the illumination lights before a closing fireworks display.

Leader of North Ayrshire Council, Councillor Joe Cullinane, said: “The Irvine Harbourside is a beautiful stretch with enormous potential. The Festival of Light has captured that potential and shown what can be achieved here. Developing the Harbourside is a priority for us and we are working with the Scottish Maritime Museum, along with other partners and investors, to try and realise the potential both at the Harbourside and Ardeer Peninsula.

“A huge congratulations to everyone involved for a brilliant opening night and we’re really looking forward to what promises to be a brilliant four days.”

The council, which provided funding and resources for the event, has already made a firm commitment to support the event next year.

Plans are already afoot for a Maritime Mile next year – as part of their Ayrshire Growth Deal submissions – which would see a range of exhibitions, cafes and other attractions developed in the area.

David Mann, director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received to create a new national celebration for St Andrew’s Day and showcase Ayrshire and Arran as an exciting, year-round destination.

“Illumination, which centres on beautiful, internationally-commissioned design and complements our growing art collection, was a perfect start to the festive season for visitors from Scotland and beyond. An amazing, multi sensory celebration, we hope illumination goes on to grow into a must-see annual event.”

Three of art and design collective Aether and Hemera’s internationally-commissioned installations twinkle at the heart of the illumination trail – Voyage, On the Wings of Freedom and Dreamt Vessels.

Floating on Irvine Harbour, once one of Scotland’s most important ports, the glowing sculptures of boats and butterflies symbolises our freedom to travel to all the places our imaginations care to roam.

Voyage, a fleet of tiny boats made of recyclable polypropylene and lit by vibrant yet low-energy LED lights, was created as part of a project to transform city waterfronts in the USA, Spain, and Australia. On the Wings of Freedom, a kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies, which symbolises renewal and freedom, was commissioned for Amsterdam Light Festival 2014. Dreamt Vessels, a flotilla of sculpted blue luminescent boats, was inspired by the spirit of the great explorer James Cook and the iconic Yorkshire beacon Roseberry Topping, which he climbed as a young boy.

The installations, illuminated boats and buildings along the Harbourside take visitors on a magical journey before the free illumination Lantern Parade, created in collaboration with Harbour Arts Centre and Ayrshire Youth Arts, at 6pm tonight.