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


Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has announced that its first Hillsborough Christmas Market will take place in the idyllic setting of the Dark Walk at Hillsborough Fort, for one evening only this December. Visitors can expect to feel festive as they will be greeted with the sights and sounds of Christmas as soon as they walk through the gates.  A host of local artisan food producers and crafts people will be ready and waiting to proudly present their products as dusk descends from 3.00pm – 9.00pm on Friday 14th December.


Grainne Duffy is a blues and roots artist hailing from Castleblayney. She is a pioneer of her own style while also paying sincere homage to her roots, soul, blues, country and rock traditions. She is a seasoned artist and has been spending the last number of years touring in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Canada.  With a voice that is as passionate as it is raw and honest, accompanied by simple, melodic and well-phrased guitar lines, this is what you have in Grainne Duffy. See her perform live at the Market Place Theatre this Saturday 15th December evening in the Studio Theatre with an unreserved, cabaret-style seating layout.


This Saturday 15th December, Enniskillen Castle will showcase a wide range of bespoke craft items created by craft designer-makers and artists from the Fermanagh & Omagh District at their festive Christmas Craft Fair.


Join the Silverbirch Hotel s this Christmas for a festive celebration for the whole family, with their Santa Sunday Lunch.  Children will be thoroughly entertained with the kids Christmas party, disco and entertainment by the fabulous Mr Majestic from  2.00pm to 4.00pm. Includes 4 Course Sunday Lunch.  Adults – £18.95pp | Kids – £9.80pp | Under 3 – £5.00pp.


George Hutton will play a special hometown concert in the city of Derry this Friday 14th with support from Paul Casey at the Guildhall.  George encompasses that of an extremely versatile performer. Having received classical training under the tutelage of tenors Ciáran Kelly, Eoin O’Callaghan and Benito Rodriguez he has developed a depth of control that allows him to sing across a great range of musical genres. Tickets £13.00.


Carrickfergus Christmas Market takes place this Saturday 15th December.  Enjoy the seasonal atmosphere and find your Christmas in Carrickfergus, where there will be carefully selected, delicious artisan food and unique, locally produced Arts and Crafts. The markets are managed by Mid and East Antrim Borough council in partnership with award-winning Naturally North Coast and Glens Touring Artisan Markets. Admission is free.


This Christmas will see J.M. Barrie’s magical story of Peter Pan brought to life in gigantic proportions at the SSE Arena.  Reprising his role as the ultimate baddie Captain Hook is acclaimed actor and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp, and playing Hook’s simple-minded right-hand man Mr Smee, is the pun-tastic hilarious comedian and star of BBC Two’s Mock The Week, Milton Jones, who will be swashbuckling his way across the seven seas for the very first time. Matt Knight, who is once again playing the role of Peter Pan was in the band Iron Sun, who were semi-finalists in the BBC entertainment series Let It Shine. 15th and 16th December.

For more 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.com for news, competitions and what’s on near you.

Jacqueline McGonigle


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.


  • Shop and Stay Offer, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast from £50 per person sharing

The ideal place to stay when you come to Belfast, this three-star, family run hotel is located in the fashionable Malone Road area. The Wellington Park Hotel offers a personalised service and is famous for a casual and relaxed atmosphere with value for money. The Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens and many great restaurants are just steps away. Offer includes an overnight stay, a complimentary taxi fare into Belfast City Centre so you can shop until your heart’s content, a complimentary drink on your return and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 9038 1111. Offer available until 21 December 2018.

  • Seamus Heaney Package, Ardtara Country House, Maghera from £116.50 per person sharing

The four-star Ardtara Country House is nestled in ten wooded acres in the heart of Mid Ulster. The nineteenth century country house has been lovingly restored to provide guests with an authentic experience. Offer includes an overnight midweek stay, a three-course evening dinner, a cooked breakfast the following morning and two tickets for admission to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace. To book call 028 7964 4490. Offer available until 31 January 2019 (Available on Wednesday/Thursday evenings only)

  • 3 Night Weekend Break, Glenavon House Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £109 per person sharing

The three-star Glenavon House Hotel is situated on the outskirts of Cookstown. Overlooking the Ballinderry River and set in nine acres of its own mature grounds, this luxurious hotel offers a wide range of high standard facilities. The hotel’s central location makes it an ideal base to explore Northern Ireland. Offer includes overnight accommodation for three nights and a cooked breakfast each morning. To book call 028 8676 4949. Offer available until 31 December 2018.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland

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 (10 – 16 December)


  1. Christmas Twilight Market, Belfast, 11 – 12 December. Sample local food, drink and craft stalls, and enjoy a programme of live entertainment and cookery demonstrations against a spectacular backdrop of twinkling twilights at St. George’s Market.
  2. Enchanted Winter Garden, Antrim, 7 – 17 December. Antrim Castle Gardens are transformed into the Enchanted Winter Garden, creating a magical Christmas experience for family and friends. Bigger and better than before, the Enchanted Gardens includes a Festive Fayre, a 35m Ferris Wheel, a Victorian Helter Skelter, street theatre and much more.
  3. Christmas Winterland Markets, Derry~Londondery, 13 – 16 December. The popular Christmas Winterland Markets in Guildhall Square welcomes the best of artisan traders, offering visitors a family friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of specialty Christmas foods and handcrafted products.
  4. Brass On Your Doorstep, Bangor, 14 December. The Ulster Orchestra’s brass section presents an informal concert at Bangor Abbey that mixes seasonal classical music from across five centuries, with carols and popular tunes from the Great American Christmas Songbook.
  5. Winter Circus, Belfast, 14 December – 1 January. The wonderful, wacky folk at Tumble Circus are back again with The Winter Circus Show in the fantastic, central location of Writer’s Square. Never ones to conform, the Tumble Circus troop will treat you and your family and friends to a winter extravaganza unlike anything else on offer in Belfast.
  6. Festive Vintage Afternoon Tea, Holywood, 16 December. Set at the very heart of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra Manor retains much of its traditional architectural splendour. Experience the Edwardian ritual of afternoon tea with your nearest and dearest this festive season.
  7. Family Festive Film, Limavady, 15 December. Join Roe Valley Arts Centre for the modern classic Christmas film Elf, starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, an elf who discovers he’s human and sets off on an adventure to find his real family. Heartwarming and hilarious.
  8. Santa’s Magical Kingdom, Dungannon, 6 – 16 December. Santa and Mrs Claus are looking forward to meeting all the good boys and girls this Christmas when they return to The Argory. Listen to a festive tale from Mrs Claus and meet some elves before you pop in to see Santa.
  9. Christmas Wonderland, Magherafelt, 1 – 23 December. This festive family event, at The Jungle, is unique in its offerings. Not only can visitors share a meet and greet with Santa, but they can also have a giggle with his colourful Elves, enjoy exciting adventure activities, get creative with a spot of arts and crafts or grab a cuddle with the curious creatures in the Woodland Petting Farm.
  10. Days of Christmas Past, Omagh, 8 – 16 December. This Christmas celebrate the yuletide season at the Ulster American Folk Park at the Days of Christmas Past event. With a range of traditional festive activities, including fireside story readings, sing-a-longs, seasonal treats and visits to Santa and Mrs Claus, it offers something for all the family.


For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com.

BEN ELTON – Ulster Hall, Belfast: Saturday 28th September 2019

Ulster Hall, Belfast: Saturday 28th September 2019

More than 30 years ago, Ben Elton exploded into the national consciousness hosting Channel 4’s ground breaking Saturday Live. Now, after a 15 year absence, the Godfather of modern stand-up returns to the medium he did so much to define. Back on the road with an all new stand-up show, Ben promises to try and make sense of a world which appears to have gone stark raving mad.

As Ben says: “The last time I toured I was still smarter than my phone. Things have definitely taken a funny turn.”

The 53 date tour kicks off in Dublin on 27 September and then travels across the UK culminating in Torquay on 30 November.  Tickets for all shows will go on sale on Monday 10 December.

‘Just give him a stage and a microphone and Ben Elton is the best. No contest.’

The Sunday Times

‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing to beat Ben Elton live!’

Evening Standard


Tickets for the Ulster Hall are available:

In person at the Ulster Hall box office

By Telephone: 028 9033 4455
Book On Line: www.waterfront.co.uk / www.ulsterhall.co.uk

In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour): Northern Ireland – 0844 277 44 55
Book On Line: www.ticketmaster.ie

Celebrate Christmas with Whitehead Railway Museum


Travel in style from Whitehead or Carrickfergus to Belfast to do your Christmas shopping! Leave the car at home and enjoy the coastal scenery from your steam train as you head up to Belfast, where the attractions range from St George’s Market to the Christmas Market at City Hall, and of course all the shops and restaurants.

Produce your ticket and get a free Tea/Coffee on your way to Belfast.

Adult £10 / Child £5

For more info on tickets visit: https://bit.ly/2BSCsY6



The perfect Christmas present for an Afternoon Tea lover. Share this experience with a loved one and spend quality time together between Christmas and New Year!

🍰Dine in our atmospheric Edwardian Tea Room
🍰Enjoy delicious homemade treats
🍰Tea is served in our finest china
🍰£18 p.p
🍰Sat 29th Dec @ 2pm

☕Booking is essential as spaces fill up fast! Book now to avoid disappointment!☕ For more info and to book visit: https://bit.ly/2UhqXjV



Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye


Conleth Hendron and Annie Campbell get ready to ring in 2019 in Belfast’s most luxurious cocktail lounge, the Observatory in the Grand Central Hotel, where there will be a fabulous Roaring 20’s Cocktail Party on New Year’s Eve. Book your table for the night and you can sip on the finest cocktail and drinks selection and take in the unique views of Belfast and beyond. Tickets are priced at £100 per guest and include a welcome cocktail, 1/2 bottle of Bollinger, seasonal Tapas at 10pm and live musical entertainment from jazz & swing singer, James Huish and a piper at Midnight. To purchase, call the Observatory on 028 9023 1066.

NYE package availablepackage – £170pp sharing to include your ticket to the Roaring 20’s Cocktail Party, luxurious overnight accommodation with a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room, Full Irish Breakfast and 1pm check-out on New Year’s Day


If you’re looking for a festive night out in December then Portico in Portaferry is the place to be. It’s got a cracking line up of Country music celebrities coming plus not one but two carol concerts!

Country music stars Hugo Duncan, Dominic Kirwan, Owen Mac, Stephen Smyth and Country Harmony are all coming to Portico on Thursday 13 December. Starting at 7.30pm, the concert will be full of festive favourites all delivered in fine Country style.

Tickets cost £17 or £5 for the Under 25s. Concerts at Portico always finish in good time for the last ferry. For further information or to buy tickets visit www.porticoards.com or buy in person at The Rock Bakery in Portaferry.

On Tuesday 11 December ‘The Peninsula Choir Sings Christmas!’ Starting at 7.30pm, this all female choir are launching their new Christmas CD with a celebratory concert singing songs from the new album. The choir will be joined by special guests including Kirkistown Primary School choir. Tickets cost £6 or £3 for Under 18s and can be purchased online www.porticoards.com or at the door.

Begin the Christmas break, on Saturday 22 December at 7pm, with the NewQuay Singers at Portico’s beautifully atmospheric annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols. This year the choir will sing works by Lauridsen, Rutter, Wilcocks and Shaw amongst others plus the usual favourites for the congregation to sing. No tickets but donations will be requested (suggested donation £10).



Tickets are flying out the door for this year’s pantomime spectacular, ‘Aladdin’, at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre.

‘Aladdin’, will combine dazzling costumes, stunning sets, mischievous fun and thrilling musical numbers all wrapped up in an adventure unlike any you will have ever witnessed….oh yes it will!!

Production Shots
Market Place Theatre Armagh Co.Armagh
25 October 2018
CREDIT: www.LiamMcArdle.com

Leave winter behind this Christmas and escape to balmy oriental nights as The Market Place Theatre takes you on a high-flying, magical carpet ride headed for the exotic and mystical lands of the East.

Join a cast of well-loved characters including old Widow Twanky and her poor son Aladdin, and let your imagination take flight with this action-packed and mesmerizing pantomime. Times are tough but Aladdin’s life is dramatically changed when he falls in love with the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom. Enter the evilest baddie in the Kingdom, Abanazer. Will the evil Abanazer destroy Aladdin’s dreams to get rich and marry the Princess? A high-flying adventure you won’t want to miss.

Performances will run from Saturday 1 December, right up to Sunday 23 December, at a variety of times to suit all ages! Ticket prices range from £10 to £15.

To book your tickets for the most exciting pantomime of the season, phone the Box Office now on [028] 3752 1821. The house is sure to be packed to the rafters for this annual festive hit, so book now, before it’s too late! There are BSL signed, captioned and relaxed performances during the run. Please contact the Box Office for full details.

Tickets for all performances can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.visitarmagh.com/marketplacetheatre And to keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplacearmagh) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/mptarmagh) where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.

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


Gina’s Santa Cottage is Santa’s very own home in Newry, Co. Down run in aid of the Southern Area Hospice. Owned by the Boyd Family, the cottage was renovated in memory of Gina Boyd who lost her life to cancer in September 2010. Nestled in the sleepy hills of Sheeptown Road, the cottage is run entirely by volunteers and welcomes over 2000 people each Christmas to meet Santa and his helpers. Over the years of operation the cottage has raised over £60,000 for the Hospice through the dedication of the Boyd Family and the Hospice staff and volunteers. Book your visit to meet Santa and have an experience which your family will never forget. Open from 7th to 23rd December.


The Christmas Tree Festival at the First Presbyterian Church Armagh will tell the story of the life of Christ through Christmas trees. The  theme of the event is “Joy to the World”.  Light refreshments will be available throughout.  Proceeds will be divided between Church Organ Restoration Fund and Newry Hospice.  The event opens on Thursday 6th December 2018 at 1.00pm attended by the Lord Mayor and will remain open until 7.00pm. Further opening times are as follows: Friday 7th 12.00 noon to 7.00pm, Saturday 8th 10.00am  to 7.00pm and Sunday 9th 1.00pm to 7.00pm.


Cancer Connect Enniskillen runs until the 9th December. Families will begin their experience at the railway station located at Hollyhill. Once checked in at the ticket booth, you will be greeted by Mrs Claus and her elves who will treat everyone to complimentary mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and cookies. Following some games and fun entertainment you will be invited to board the new Polar Express and travel through the beautiful town of Enniskillen, discovering the festive windows along the route and ending at Santas Grotto at the Buttermarket. Santa will have a special gift for each child and a photographer will be on site in Santa’s grotto to capture the moment.   The Enniskillen Christmas market will be open to the public in The Buttermarket. Following a visit with Santa you are welcome to browse through the market and have a ride on the carousel or enjoy a stroll through the town centre and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Families can avail of an “open return ticket” on the Polar Express returning to your parking area at the railway station at your leisure.


This festive season take the family back in time to experience the magic of a traditional Christmas at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh. Gather around the warmth of the turf fire and enjoy readings from The Night before Christmas, singalong with the Christmas Mummers, taste seasonal treats and meet Santa and Mrs Claus in his workshop. Day and evening tours available from 8th to 16th December.


The Staff of Specialist Joinery Group Maghera invite you to Project Santa 2018 on 8th and 9th December – even bigger and better than before! Over two days Specialist HQ will once again transform into a winter wonderland where Santa will be visiting to ensure that the “MAGIC CHRISTMAS SPRINKLER” has been fixed by the Specialist team!  As with last year’s event all proceeds raised will go directly to the charity legacy initiative’s 10 charities. It’s going to be MAGICAL!


The Award Winning Enchanted Winter Garden returns to Antrim Castle Gardens from  7th to 17th December with an evening of Inclusive Enchantment on Tuesday 18th for children and adults with specific needs.  See the gardens transformed into an Enchanted World! Returning this year is the ‘Antrim Wheel’ – a 35m Ferris Wheel offering breath taking views over Antrim and beyond, just one of the highlights of the dazzling array of attractions. This year there are a number of new attractions, including a Vintage Wave Swinger a Victorian Helter Skelter and an Extended Wonderland Wood.. To book tickets visit enchantedwintergarden.com


Shelter NI Film Festival is back! As part of Homelessness Awareness Week events, Shelter NI in partnership with Belfast Film Festival will be hosting a 3-day film festival. Every day across Northern Ireland 50 families and individuals present as homeless.  You are invited, with your friends,  colleagues and family to help to combat homelessness and poor housing conditions by supporting Shelter NI on the 6th-7th-8th December 2018 at the Bean Bag Cinema, Exchange Place.  Doors at 7.00pm.


For more 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.com for news, competitions and what’s on near you.


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.


  • January Special Offer, Horseshoe Cottage, Co. Down from £150 per stay

Enjoy a relaxing two-night stay in the four star Horseshoe cottage, located on the shores of Strangford Lough. You will be welcomed with freshly made traditional Northern Irish breads and homemade jam to help you settle in. This self-catering property sleeps up to four people and provides the perfect retreat to kick back and recharge your batteries after Christmas. Offer includes a two night stay with welcome pack of bread and jam. To book call 028 9754 3224. Offer available from 1 – 31 January 2018.

  • Foodie Delight, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges, Co. Fermanagh from £109 per person sharing

The award winning four star Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel is idyllically set on the shores of scenic Lough Erne. Bordered by private grounds and gardens, yet only one kilometre from the historic town of Enniskillen, it offers the perfect setting to relax whilst exploring the area. Offer includes a two night midweek stay, a cooked breakfast each morning and a four-course dinner each evening. To book call 028 6632 3481. Offer available until 22 December.

  • Winter by the Waves, Bayview Hotel, Co. Antrim from £70 per person sharing

Relax and enjoy a seaside break on the Causeway Coastal Route, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at the three star Bayview Hotel. Situated at the heart of the picturesque village of Portballintrae, one mile from Bushmills and close to the Giant’s Causeway, Old Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle, this is the perfect base for exploring the area. Offer includes overnight accommodation, an Irish coffee or hot chocolate on arrival, a three-course meal in the Porthole Restaurant and breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 2073 4100. Offer available until 31 March 2019.