At Friday night’s dazzling Fate Awards in association with Diet Coke, the crème of the Northern Ireland hospitality and entertainment industry was recognised, as 22 winners walked away with coveted Fate awards.

Winners announced at the Fate Awards Party of the Decade were:  Best Classic Bar: Laverys, Belfast; Best Style Bar: McCrackens Café Bar, Belfast; Best Cocktail Bar: The Merchant Hotel, Belfast;  Best Gastro Pub: John Hewitt, Belfast; Best Regional Bar: Grace Neills, Donaghadee; Best Restaurant: No 27, Belfast; Best Regional Restaurant: The Plough, Hillsborough; Best Club: Rain, Belfast; Best Regional Club: Sallys, Omagh; Best Live Venue: Empire, Belfast; Best Hotel: Ten Square, Belfast; Best Front of House: Andy Carson, Bar Retro, Hillsborough; Best Chef: Danny Millar, Balloo House, Killinchy; Best Gay Friendly Venue: Kremlin, Belfast; Best Newcomer: Slide, Belfast; Best DJ: Stevie Simpson and Media Personality of the Year: Gerard McCarthy.

Special awards of the decade went to Club of the Decade: Thompsons, Belfast; Restaurant of the Decade: Deanes, Belfast; Bar of the Decade: Apartment, Belfast and Best Overall Venue: Café Vaudeville, Belfast.

From a staggering 50,000 votes, the expert panel of judges visited shortlisted venues across the province to judge the outstanding achievements of the eventual winners.

Michael Deane, head of the judging panel, commented; “We’ve spent the last couple of months on the road judging each and every shortlisted person and venue and it’s a joy to see the wealth of talent out there.  I was overcome to see so many working hard day in and day out to serve their customers with excellence and, although our job has been a difficult one, we’ve enjoyed the journey and are so impressed with each and every winner of this year’s Fate Awards.”

The excitement and anticipation reached fever pitch when Julian Simmons and Pamela Ballantine walked on stage to announce a very special Legend award.  The recipient, a very stunned and almost speechless Eamonn Holmes, was overwhelmed to be receiving such an award which, in previous years, has gone to Terry Hooley, founder of Good Vibrations Records and James Kelly, founder of Lush.

Eamonn Holmes receiving the Legend Award Presented by Julian Simmons and Pamela Ballantine
Eamonn Holmes receiving the Legend Award Presented by Julian Simmons and Pamela Ballantine

Michael Mervyn-Jones, Publisher of Fate Magazine, said; “The build up to this year’s awards has been the most exciting yet.  Each year we raise the bar of the event and strive for bigger and better but this year especially, we wanted to really celebrate the achievements of our industry in a very special way.

Michael Mervyn-Jones and Christopher Biggins
Michael Mervyn-Jones and Christopher Biggins

“I am extremely proud to be applauding the people who have worked through one of the most difficult trading years of recent times, to contribute to Northern Ireland’s thriving entertainment and hospitality and I am thrilled to see so many of the crème of the industry here, under one roof, recognising and celebrating the successes of the past year.

Honouring Eamonn Holmes with the Fate Legend Award is so important for me as he is, without question, one of our homegrown talent’s biggest household names and greatest ambassadors.  With an international television career spanning three decades, it is only but right that we acknowledge Eamonn with this special Fate Legend Award in recognition for all that he has done and continues to do for this province.”

The Fate Awards in association with Diet Coke were presented by a host of celebrities, the largest turnout of homegrown talent and celebrities from the across the UK since the Fate Awards started four years ago.  The sold out event was hosted by Christopher Biggins who was assisted on the biggest ever Fate Awards stage by former Miss Great Britain, Gemma Garrett.  Nominees and winners were announced by none other than the ‘voice of the X Factor’ Belfast’s Peter Dickson.  Guests partied the night away to Duran Duran legend, drummer Roger Taylor who made his Irish dj-ing debut at the aftershow party.

The star-studded Party of the Decade was proudly supported by Peroni, BMI, Bacardi Brown-Forman, Tigi and UTV.