FESTIVE CHECK-IN FOR POLAR EXPRESS AT CULLLODEN ESTATE

Popular family Christmas event to take place at Culloden & Slieve Donard Resort

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – Tuesday 17th September 2019 Picture by Matt Mackey / Press Eye POLAR EXPRESS RETURNS TO HASTINGS HOTELSÉElle Brown (age 3) and Ron‡n Daly (age 3) helped Hastings Hotels launch Polar Express which is taking place at the Culloden Estate & Spa from 19th – 23rd November and the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa from 14th Ð 22nd December. The popular festive event promises lots of fun for all the family, including a winter wonderland, story-telling with Mrs Claus and the Polar Express train adventure which will take guests on a magical journey to visit Santa and his elves in their busy workshop as they prepare for their busiest time of the year. Families are advised to book early to avoid disappointment for this sell out event and tickets can be purchased by going to www.hastingshotels.com/polarexpress Fiona Brown Fiona Brown Communications (t) +44 (0) 7887 864641 ?(e) fiona@fionabrowncommunications.com? (w) fionabrowncommunications.com

DUE to overwhelming demand from families across Northern Ireland for Polar Express at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa over the last five years, Hastings Hotels has announced that the popular festive event will also take place at the Culloden Estate & Spa in the lead up to Christmas.

The Polar Express is a fun festive occasion with a host of attractions for all the family, including a winter wonderland, story-telling with Mrs Claus and the Polar Express train adventure which will take guests on a magical journey to visit Santa and his elves in their busy workshop as they prepare for their busiest time of the year.

The much-loved Christmas event will take place at the Culloden Estate & Spa from Tuesday 19th November – Saturday 23rd November and at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa from Saturday 14th – Sunday 22nd December. Booking is essential and early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. 

Julie Hastings, Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Polar Express to the Culloden Estate & Spa in November before its annual visit to the Slieve Donard Resort in December. Families from across Northern Ireland have been visiting Polar Express at the Slieve Donard for the last five years and we are delighted to be able to give more children the chance to visit this exciting Christmas experience by running it at the two hotels over the festive season.

It’s a magical event that gives families the chance to make special festive memories with lots to keep everyone entertained from movies and letter writing, to Christmas stalls and face painting before hopping on board the train to meet Santa and his Elves with gifts for the children and a personal photo.”

Both hotels will also be offering a fabulous selection of festive dining options including Santa’s Buffet and Afternoon Tea.

To hop on board for some Christmas magic at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa and Culloden Estate & Spa tickets can be purchased by going to www.hastingshotels.com/polarexpress andare priced £18 per adult, £25 per child (under 14) and £10 for children under one.

Lost Boys found for new musical production of Peter Pan at Lyric

The search is over as the ‘Lost Boys’ have been found for an exciting new musical production of Peter Pan at Lyric 29 Nov – 4 Jan. 

Adapted from the play by JM Barrie Peter Pan The Musical by Paul Boyd sees fairies, crocodiles, flying children, and mermaids, embark on the most magical adventure – where Hook and the crew of the Jolly Roger come face to face with all of Neverland and the boy who won’t grow up.

Fly away on an awfully big adventure where anything is possible if you just believe.  Visit www.lyrictheatre.co.uk for details.

Getting ready to take you on a journey to Neverland were, from left,

‘BOUNCERS’ BACK AT THE MAC BY POPULAR DEMAND

Bouncing back for a two-week run at the MAC, John Godber’s unapologetically provocative play can be experienced once again, in the exclusive setting of the Luminaire Club. Running from 21st September until the 5th October, Bouncers is a unique co-production between the MAC and Big Telly – a world famous play, told the Belfast way.

Set over the course of one night in a 1980s nightclub, Bouncers is a darkly funny play about the characters and shenanigans of a Belfast disco, told in Northern Ireland’s distinctive humour by the club’s doormen. This ‘slick, atmospheric production’ (The Stage, ★★★★) runs close to the bone, highlighting some dark references mirrored with 80s nostalgia. High-energy performances are coupled with an amazing era-specific soundtrack that takes the production in an ominously funny direction.

New bouncer, the acclaimed Sean Kearns will join the original trio of NI’s finest comedic actors Ciaran Nolan, Conor Grimes and Chris Robinson, putting a new spin on the quick-witted show. All the familiar characters from a typical night on the tiles make an appearance and, of course – the brilliantly brash bouncers tell each of their stories.

Ticket holders can experience the show within the exclusive Luminaire Club, which transform the MAC’s usual theatre space into an intimate jazz-club experience. For a great night out, customers can enjoy the show from premium cabaret seating complete with at table waiter service.

The MAC’s Creative Director, Simon Magill said:“Bouncers has been described as one of the funniest plays written in the last 40 years, but also promises to be a no-holds barred theatre experience. We were overwhelmed with the response to the show in April, and are delighted to have Bouncers return to our stage this Autumn.  

“We are especially excited to introduce a new twist to the play with the addition of renowned actor Sean Kearns, playing Lucky Eric. We’re sure that he will only add to the magic that was created on stage by the Big Telly creative team and existing cast members Conor Grimes, Ciaran Nolan and Chris Robinson.

“Like the previous run, the immersive 80s soundtrack will take you back in time, especially as we are hosting the play in our intimate Luminaire Club to echo that eclectic vibe.”

Tickets are set to sell out fast, so book now to avoid disappointment! The earlier you book, the cheaper the seat. For this show, the standard price seats start as low at £12.50 and rise over time to a maximum of £25 the closer it gets to the performance. Premium tickets are priced at £27.50.

Cirque du Soleil® presents CRYSTAL The first acrobatic show on ice, in Northern Ireland this spring!

The SSE Arena, Belfast, 25th March to 29th March, 2020

Tickets available exclusively to Cirque Club members today;, General publich on-sale begins Friday 20th September at 9am

Belfast, 16th September – Cirque du Soleil is thrilled to present its coolest arena show yet – CRYSTAL – in Belfast. This one of a kind arena show blends circus arts and the world of ice skating in a stunning new production that will take the audience on a journey into a whimsical frozen playground where ice skating of all kinds mingles with acrobatics and aerial feats. CRYSTAL will perform at The SSE Arena, Belfast from 25th March for sixperformances only.

Tickets for CRYSTAL are now available exclusively to Cirque Club members. Cirque Club membership is free and includes access to advance tickets and special offers – to join please visit : www.cirqueclub.com 

General tickets will be on-sale in Belfast beginning Friday 20th September at 9am.

Tickets are available for purchase online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal

Ticketmaster in person:from 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):   0844 847 2455 (ROL: 0818 719300)

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

  • Wednesday 25th March: Show begins at 8pm
  • Thursday 26th March: Show begins at 8pm
  • Friday 27th March: Show begins at 8pm
  • Saturday 28th March: Show begins at 4pm
  • Saturday 28th March: Show begins at 8pm
  • Sunday 29th March: Show begins at 1pm

MORE ABOUT CRYSTAL – A BREAKTHROUGH ICE EXPERIENCE

Created by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila, Crystal, our misfit heroine, takes you on an exhilarating tale of self-discovery as she dives into a world of her own imagination. Feel the adrenaline as she soars through this surreal world to become what she was always destined to be: confident, curious, and creative. CRYSTALinvites you to suspend reality and glide into a world that springs to colorful life with astounding visual projections and a soundtrack that seamlessly blends popular music with the signature sound of Cirque du Soleil.CRYSTAL is suitable for all ages.

The international cast of CRYSTAL features 43 artists, plus more than 40 crew members from 24 different countries.

Follow #CRYSTAL and #CirqueduSoleil on social media:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

OFFICIAL PARTNERS

We gratefully acknowledge our official partners ŠKODA and Panasonic Batteries.

Jacqueline shares her pick of what’s on this weekend across NI

Down

Cycle in the Park for Knockevin is an all ability cycling event in Castlewellan Forest Park, hosted by Kilmegan VC this Sunday 22nd September.  There are cycling adventures for everyone from the novice to the seasoned lycra-clad warrior.

Armagh

From Thursday 19th to Sunday 22th September, Armagh Food & Cider Festival visitors to the iconic city of Armagh and its surrounding fruit-laden orchards can expect to raise more than a glass to an incredible spread of mouth-watering events.  An international extravaganza featuring multiple can’t-miss events in venues right across Ireland’s Orchard County, the Armagh Food & Cider Festival is this autumn’s hottest ticket.

Fermanagh

Festival Lough Erne takes place for the fifth year on 21st & 22nd September.  Ireland’s only island town, Enniskillen, will host Festival Lough Erne, a celebration of the very best of local food and the Fermanagh Lakelands. The weekend will see a host of activity on and off the water with cookery demonstrations by celebrity and local chefs, local artisan food and drink producers and live entertainment all taking place at Enniskillen Castle. 

Tyrone

The Showman is coming to the Strule Arts Centre Omagh this Friday, starring Peter Corry!  Combining the passion of Moulin Rouge, the spectacle of Barnum and the magic of The Greatest Showman, this new show brings an eclectic mix of iconic songs from ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘Your Song’, ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, ‘The Show Must Go On’, ”Spanish Train’ to ‘This is the Greatest Show’.

Derry/Londonderry

Different Drums of Ireland come thundering onto the Playhouse stage this Saturday with a show not to be missed!  Feel the power of indigenous Lambeg and Bodhran drums, paired with Uileann pipes and whistles, guitar, world percussion and more.

Antrim

Larne Museum & Arts Centre will be open on Saturday 21st September.  See the permanent exhibition gallery which explores the agricultural, industrial, military and maritime history of the area. You will also have the ‘not to be missed’ chance to explore Discworld and the Charmed Realm in the temporary exhibition ‘Paul Kidby, Discworld and Beyond’. 

Belfast

With 53 producers in attendance, the Tesco Taste Festival 20th – 22nd September will be showcasing the very best local food and drink Tesco has to offer, all under one roof. Custom House Square, admission free.

For further details on these events and to add your events free go to whatsonni.com. Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at fb.com/www.whatsonni for news, competitions and what’s on near you.

OFFERS OF THE WEEK

Northern Ireland boasts an irresistible collection of places to stay including beautiful B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and great value self-catering properties. Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week to help you plan a short break.

·         1 x Night B&B, Bushmills Inn Hotel, Co. Antrim from £120 per room per night

The four-star Bushmills Inn Hotel is conveniently located on the Causeway Coastal route, providing the perfect base to explore the area and visit key tourist attractions such as The Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle. Originally a Coaching Inn in the 1600s for saddle sore travellers, this Hotel is steeped in history with a myriad of places to explore. From inglenook turf fires to hayloft snugs, there’s something to find behind every door. Offer includes overnight accommodation and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 2073 3000. Offer available until 15 November 2019.

·         1 x Night B&B, Seagoe Hotel, Co. Armagh from £119 per room per night

The four-star Seagoe Hotel is situated just outside of Portadown. This modern, yet homely hotel has maintained a high standard of service and attention to detail over its many years of business. The hotel is conveniently located close by to local shopping areas and parks, while Lough Neagh is only a short drive away. Offer includes one night’s bed and breakfast accommodation. To book call 028 3833 3076. Offer available until 15 November 2019. 

·         Autumn Stays, Belle Isle Estate, Co. Fermanagh from £250 per room per night

Stay at the four-star Belle Isle Estate in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands.  Belle Isle Estate is a designated Special Area of Conservation and the castle itself is a fantastic 17th century country house. Explore the walled gardens and relax in idyllic accommodation in this beautiful area of Northern Ireland. Offer includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast each morning plus complimentary tickets to Enniskillen Castle and 2 for 1 admission to Belleek Pottery. To book call 0286 638 7231. Offer available until 15 November 2019.

Food Focus: 10 things to do in Northern Ireland

As part of the ‘Taste the Island’ initiative for the next 12 weeks DiscoverNorthernIreland.com will have the top three food experiences and events in their weekly  10 things to do listing. DiscoverNorthernIreland.com has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are ten exciting things taking place this week including three food experiences and events (16-22 September)

1.       Armagh Food and Cider Festival, Armagh, 19-22 September. An international extravaganza featuring a huge spread of unmissable events in venues across the county. Festival visitors to the iconic city of Armagh and its surrounding fruit-laden orchards can expect to raise more than a glass to an incredible range of mouth-watering events.

2.       Wee Buns – Preserve the Season , Dungannon, 20 September. Capture the essence of Autumn in this preserving class using foraged damsons, rose hips and blackberries from the local hedges and locally grown fruit.  Learn about the fundamental techniques and skills of home preserving, make your own soda bread and take home a jar each of jam and pickles.

3.        Gins and Poitins of the Mournes, Newry, 19 September. Brendan Carty of Killowen Distillery will host an evening dedicated at traditional bar, Crawfords, to the top quality craft gin and poitín he produces in the heart of the Mournes. Several sample drinks will be served, including cocktails and mixers. The final sample will be a Poitín Irish Coffee. Food will also be paired with each drink.

4.       Art in the Orchard with Deborah Malcomson, Portadown, 21 September. Suitable for the complete beginner, budding or seasoned artists, this workshop will provide the opportunity for participants to apply their creative response to the surroundings – trees, apples and landscape. Deborah Malcomson, a professional visual artist will guide and support each participant through the process of exploring line, colour and form through a range of media.

5.       Festival Lough Erne, Enniskillen, 21-22 September.  The tranquil setting of Enniskillen Castle will see a hustle of families and foodie lovers sampling local produce and enjoying the tranquil setting of the River Erne. From live cookery demos with chefs and experts to entertainment on the bandstand, it’s set to be a fun weekend for all the family.

6.       Mourne Mountain Marathon, Newcastle, 21-22 September. Ireland’s only two-day endurance and navigation event for teams of two. Enter one of four categories, covering between 35km and 55km over two days. Camp overnight and be self-sufficient. The Marathon is open to everyone from walkers to elite runners.

7.       Culture Night and Day Belfast 2019, Belfast, 20-21 September. Over 200 free, family-friendly events across the city centre including gigs, talks, tours, walks, activities, screenings, workshops, children’s events and more.

8.       Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, Belfast, 22 September. Over 5,000 participants are expected to take part in the largest half marathon event in Northern Ireland.  Entrants will take on the popular flat and fast 13.1 mile route, which weaves its way throughout the four corners of Belfast city.

9.       Montalto Foraging Experience, Ballynahinch, 21 September. Take a walk with NI Survival School and be introduced to some of the most common plants and trees that inhabit our island and discover some of their secrets that make them useful to us in edible or medicinal ways. After the return to the woodland camp and enjoy making tea and a light lunch from the foraged species.

10.   Kilkeel Walking Food Tour, Newry, 19 September. Enjoy a three-hour walking tour of Kilkeel, led by an enthusiastic and experienced local tour guide. The vast history of Kilkeel’s fishing and farming town is served up through fascinating facts and insightful stories whilst you enjoy some local delicacies.

For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com. For additional Taste the Island events, please visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/tastetheisland

Everything You Need To Know About Pasta

When you think of Italian cuisine, pasta in one of its glorious forms is probably what springs to mind.

Pasta is the staple food of Italians and has found a place as the ultimate comfort food for many more people. Made simply using flour, eggs, and salt it comes to life when accompanied by the wonderful sauces from the region.

Marco Polo is often credited with introducing pasta to Italy from China in the 13th Century, however pasta was already gaining popularity in the region before that. Others believe the nomadic Arabs brought it westwards, but wherever it originated, it found its place in Italy as an affordable, versatile food.

Chef Luigi, head Italian chef at Belfast’s newest Indian/Italian fusion restaurant Mumbai Milano said: “Pasta dishes vary depending on the region of Italy they come from with stronger flavoured dishes containing lots of garlic and chilli being popular in the south, fish-based sauces from the coastal areas, and more delicate, creamy sauces with filled pasta such as ravioli and tortellini in the north.

“Pasta comes in a range of shapes and in authentic Italian cuisine long pastas such as spaghetti and linguine are used in quick-cook, light sauces while short shapes such as penne are paired with more robust sauces.”

What varieties of pasta shapes are there?

Spaghetti

Long strands of pasta often serves in Italy with a fresh tomato sauce or just drizzled in olive oil with garlic and chillies, or with cheese and pepper. You will never find Spaghetti Bolognese on an authentic Italian menu

Linguine 

Long like spaghetti, but thicker and flatter which makes it a good pairing with creamier sauces, giving them a larger surface area to coat.

Penne

Short, hollow tubes of pasta cut at an angle often served with thicker tomato and vegetable sauces.

Fusilli

Little corkscrew twists of pasta which are perfect for sauces containing meat, or for use in pasta bakes.

Conchiglie 

Shell shaped pasta, their cup like shape perfect is perfect for catching heavier sauces or for using in baked pasta dishes.

Farfalle 

Twists of pasta with crinkly edges hold sauces on their wing like shape. They are also great to use in pasta salads.

Macaroni

Tiny tubes most commonly found baked in a luscious cheese sauce in what has become one of the world’s favourite dishes.

Lasagne

These sheets of pasta give the name to one of the most famous dishes when layered with meat or vegetable sauce, topped with white sauce and cheese. 

Mumbai Milano, 11 Wellington Place, Belfast is open 7 days a week. Lunchtime is an all-you-can eat buffet every day and their a la carte menu is available from 5pm. Book your table by calling 028 9031 1101 or log onto mumbaimilano.co.uk for more information.

Enchanted Winter Garden will Light up your Christmas

Power NI ‘Light Up’ Enchanted Winter Garden as official sponsors of this year’s Spectacular Christmas Event. Mayor Alderman John Smyth is joined by Stephen McCullly Managing Director (Power NI) and Sarah McIlmoyle at the official launch at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Power NI ‘Light Up’ Enchanted Winter Garden as official sponsors of this year’s Spectacular Christmas Event. Sarah McIlmoyle and her fire pictured at the official launch at Antrim Castle Gardens. Northern Ireland’s Premier Christmas Event will run from Friday 6 – Sunday 22 December. Tickets go on sale Friday 13 September at 10am from www.enchantedwintergarden.com or in person from Clotworthy House, Antrim, The Old Courthouse or Theatre at the Mill or T: 028 9448 1338. Picture John Murphy Aurora PA

Northern Ireland’s Premier Christmas Event, Enchanted Winter Garden returns to the award-winning Antrim Castle Gardens from Friday 6 to Sunday 22 December from 4.30-9.30pm, where the gardens are transformed into a magical world of enchantment, bigger and brighter than before with an array of dazzling attractions to brighten up your Christmas.

Our star attraction ‘The Big Wheel’ will keep on turning offering breath taking views over Antrim Town and beyond. Other attractions such as the Victorian Helter Skelter, Victorian Wave Swinger and Wonderland Wood, The Enchanted Express and Mallow pit will all make a welcome return spreading warmth during the festive season.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth commented, “Each year Enchanted Winter Garden exceeds all expectations, attracting thousands of visitors to our Borough. I am thrilled to have Power NI as the headline sponsor and with their support we will collaboratively light up lives across Northern Ireland in the magical run up to Christmas”.

Stephen McCullly Managing Director (Power NI) commented “I am delighted with the opportunity given to Power NI to be associated with this Fantastic Christmas Event in the heart of Antrim.  Antrim Town is particularly special to our Company given that we are a proud local employer with over 100 employees located here”.

An Evening of Inclusive Enchantment will return on Wednesday 18 December with reduced numbers, lighting and sound levels, Sensory & Quiet room, ideal for children and adults with additional needs.

Tickets for Enchanted Winter Garden go on sale on Friday 13 September (lucky for some) from 10am from enchantedwintergarden.com or in person from Clotworthy House, The Old Courthouse Theatre or Theatre at The Mill, or by telephone 028 9448 1338.

This year we are offering a discounted rate for all advance bookings; £4 per adult, £2 per child and £10 for a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) or alternatively £6 per adult, £3 per child and £15 for a family ticket (if purchased at the gate). So be a bright spark and secure your tickets in advance for this Christmas extravaganza.

We are also offering a special discount for advance token sales (required for the main attractions) which are also available from enchantedwintergarden.com.

Session times for this year’s event will run every 30 minutes from 4.30pm finishing at 7pm however you can arrive up to a maximum of 45 minutes after your session time with last admission 7.45pm.

Get your Christmas off to an energetic start with a visit to Enchanted Winter Garden where memories are made, lighting up lives across Northern Ireland and beyond. It’s going to be ‘Powerful’.

No Parking on site. Free Parking in Town Centre Car Parks, including accessible parking.

Please note Tokens are required for some of the main attractions including the Big Wheel.

Biggest Q-Con Ever Attracts More Than 7,000 Visitors

The UK and Ireland’s premier gaming and anime convention, Q-Con, celebrated its 26th year with a record number of visitors to the Queen’s campus, including loads of successful events for all ages.

More than 7,000 people attended over the August Bank Holiday weekend, an increase of 10% on the 2018 event.

Hosted by QUB Dragonslayers, Q-Con included a host of events, including an appearance from the creator of the classic game ‘Doom’, John Romero, who challenged people “to beat him at his own game”.

“Since we began in a few rooms at Queen’s and 150 people, Q-Con has exploded in popularity and excitement…” said Ben Harrison. “We are delighted to see so many enjoy the weekend.

“After this year’s success we promise we’re working hard to make sure that 2020 will be even better!”

Among the many successes for 2019 were the family events.

“The family tickets proved really popular,” said Ben. “We worked hard to make sure that families and people of all ages interested in anime and gaming had events they could enjoy and take part in.”

Designed by gaming and anime fans Q-Con attracts people from across the UK and Ireland and further afield, with last year seeing a five percent increase in attendees from other countries. People from all ages are present throughout the weekend, with Sunday having extra events for families.

With BBC airing a special on cosplay as part of its True North Series (10th September), Q-Con also saw several events showcasing the talent of fans and designer making and wearing the costumes of their favourite games, anime, TV and film characters.

“We saw so many people around the university district coming in on trains, buses and in cars dressed up as their favourite characters showing just how popular gaming and anime has become, and how Q-Con caters for a demographic so often missed by the mainstream media,” added Ben.

Taking place across the Queen’s campus, including the Whitla Hall, Elmwood Hall, Queen’s Film Theatre, the Computer Science Building and many other venues, planning for 2020 is already underway