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International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend Welcomes First-Time Lights


Marking its 21st anniversary this year, the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) in August will celebrate Amateur Radio operation at several lighthouses that will make debut appearances in this year’s event. So far, 300 groups or individuals have registered to indicate plans to participate from a lighthouse or lightship during the 2-day operating activity. Newcomers joining the list of perennials include the Ashdod and Mount Carmel lighthouses in Israel; Shabla Lighthouse in Bulgaria; Porthcawl Breakwater in Wales, and Tanjung Datu in Malaysia. Additional newcomers are in Mexico and Cuba, sponsors said.

ILLW is always held on the third full weekend in August. This year, it will get under way at 0001 UTC on August 18 and continue until 2400 on August 19 — 48 hours in all. The ILLW typically attracts more than 500 lighthouse entries in dozens of countries. Registration is not required for participation, but it does let other stations know which lighthouses and lightships will be activated.

Other lighthouses making a first appearance in ILLW include Malarrif in Iceland and Akmanrags Lighthouse in Latvia. The Lightship Huron on the St Clair River in Michigan also is a newcomer.

As the ILLW website notes, “August seems to have become the international weekend for lighthouses.” In the US, August 7 in National Lighthouse Day, which is marked by Amateur Radio operations at lighthouses during US National Lighthouse Week. In Britain, the Association of Lighthouse Keepers conducts International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend during the third full weekend in August, coinciding with ILLW.

Sponsors stress that the event is not a contest — and there are no prizes, certificates, or other enticements to participate. Each station’s operators decide how they will operate their station with respect to bands and modes, and participating stations do not have to be on the air for the entire weekend.

Activity does not need to take place inside the structure itself. A Field Day-style setup at the light or other building adjacent to the light is sufficient. Sponsors say the intent of that requirement is to make the station visible to visitors.