Wanted – ‘Giant’ talent for NI’s largest arts event!

Sally Maidment of Young at Art is on the look out for more than 500 creative cast and crew to participate in an epic, ambitious event, Land of Giants which is scheduled to take place on Belfast’s Titanic Slipways on 30th June 2012. Combining acrobatics, aerial dance, carnival, circus, physical performance, music, multi-media and pyrotechnics, the event will present a spectacular production to an audience of over 20,000 people at the City’s newest open air events space. Also pictured are Will Chamberlain of Belfast Community Circus School and David Boyd of The Beat Carnival.

Giant Events Company, organiser of Land of Giants, the largest arts event ever seen in Northern Ireland, is on the look out for more than 500 creative cast and crew. An epic, ambitious event, Land of Giants is scheduled to take place on Belfast’s Titanic Slipways on 30th June 2012. Combining acrobatics, aerial dance, carnival, circus, physical performance, music, multi-media and pyrotechnics, the event will present a spectacular production to an audience of over 20,000 people at the City’s newest open air events space.

As the planning and preparation work for the event are building speed, the organisers are asking for local creative talent to get in touch to find out how they can be a part of this unique opportunity, working either behind the scenes or centre stage in a wide range of paid and voluntary roles.

From musical director and costume designer through to health and safety and stage management there are numerous backstage opportunities available. An array of performers will be required including aerialists, circus and physical performers, drummers, musicians and singers. Land of Giants also hopes to offer a series of apprenticeships in areas such as design, production, lighting, sound, special effects and community engagement.

Land of Giants has been awarded £750,000 by Legacy Trust UK and is one of only four UK Community Celebrations to be funded by the organisation. The four national events, which are taking place in Scotland, the East Midlands and South East England as well as Northern Ireland, will enable communities across the UK to come together to stage large-scale outdoor celebrations as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Dugald Mackie, Chair of Legacy Trust UK, said: “The Olympic games are about more than sport. They are a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to millions of people across the world. We believe that Land of Giants will inspire and encourage people throughout Northern Ireland to get involved and will leave a lasting legacy for the region.”

Partnership funding has also been committed from a range of sources including Belfast City Council, Arts Council for Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Fund and Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
The consortium behind Land of Giants represents a wealth of talent in the fields of creativity and event management. This consortium, comprised of Beat Initiative, Belfast City Council, Belfast Community Circus School and Young at Art, aims to deliver a world class event to put Belfast firmly on the map for quality outdoor arts and community engagement.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall O’Donnghaile, applauded their work in coming together to create one of the biggest community arts initiatives seen in Belfast commenting: “The drive, energy and passion for delivering a unique high quality experience will engage tens of thousands of people and is a welcome investment in the arts in the city.

“Belfast City Council and the Land of Giants partners regard this as a first step towards creating extraordinary experiences for audiences in 2012, but with potential for 2013 City of Culture, the World Police and Fire Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”

Speaking about the opportunities available Will Chamberlain from Belfast Community Circus School said: “Land of Giants is just one year away today and we would like to invite people from throughout Northern Ireland to get in touch and get involved. The abundance of indigenous creative talent has an amazing opportunity to be part of a unique event being developed here, staged here, and delivered by people based here.

“Investment in the project is an investment in the future of the arts and events industry as we anticipate that those who join the Land of Giants Creative and Production teams will be inspired to use their skills to contribute to the major events set for Northern Ireland in 2013 and beyond. The training and development opportunities on offer throughout this project will result in the arts and events sectors becoming more confident and enabling them to promote the highest quality product both at home and for export. We want to encourage people to push themselves and to be ambitious for the future of outdoor arts and events in Northern Ireland.”
In addition to the personnel required to deliver the events on the 30th June 2012, the three partner organisations Young at Art, Belfast Community Circus and Beat Initiative will be employing their own teams to create and deliver a 12 month long programme of training and community participation to deliver the cast of hundreds for the final event.

To express interest in getting involved in Land of Giants please visit www.landofgiants.info

Have a SUPer summer on the Causeway Coast – learn Stand Up Paddleboarding!

Learn to Surf SUP! Stand up Paddleboarding is great fun – it’s great exercise for all ages (over 12s) and abilities, it’s real adventurous and leaves you feeling so positive after you get up and SUP!

What's SUP?

Here’s a short introductory video about what you’ll learn.

Enjoy this cool experience in Summer with NI’s premier Surf SUP School – SurfSUPNI.com, who are based in Portballintrae on the Giants Causeway Coast. Here are some of our sizzling summer packages! (Sorry couldn’t resist that one!).

Learn to Stand up Paddleboard (approx 2 hours) – £30

1. SUP’er weekender experience (1 lesson + 1 hour follow up 2. SUP that weekend) – £40

3. SUP it and Sea Weekly pass (1 lesson + 3 x 1 hour follow up SUP’s that week)- £55

4. SUP’r Club – bring along a full group and get 20% off or 1 person free

Can it really be this SUP’er dooper? Yes.. and some! Don’t forget if you book any of our online packages and you use discount code ‘supdude11’ we’ll give you £5 off! So why not SUP it and Sea this summer with SurfSUPNI.com. Book online or call John on 07796614844 for more details.


Guests at last night’s programme launch for the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival were told that the event – which has been two years in the making – aims to attract thousands of visitors to exhibitions being held in 25 different locations across the city. With famous names such as Simon Norfolk, Paul Seawright and Sophie Ristelhueber exhibiting alongside up and coming local artists, the Festival hopes to promote Belfast and Northern Ireland as a hub for photographic arts.

Supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, business advisors PwC, the University of Ulster and Iris Colour, the Belfast Photo Festival is Northern Ireland’s first major photographic event celebrating some of the finest national and international contemporary photography and visual culture and will be held in the city from 4th – 14th August 2011.

3. Michael Weir, Chair and Director of the Belfast Photo Festival and Howard Hastings, Chair of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board look through a selection of photos which will be displayed as part of the Festival which runs from 4th – 14th August

Through exhibitions, interactive events and the open submission section – which attracted 600 entries – the organisers hope to inspire future photographers, artists and entrepreneurs and offer new, exciting, welcoming and sometimes challenging experiences to audiences through the Festival’s programme of events. Within these events the Festival also aims to also foster and develop critical debate, analysis and documentation of photographic arts practice in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Mayor, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, voiced Belfast City Council’s support for the event. “In this part of the world we are proud to boast many award-winning and internationally renowned contemporary photographers,” he said.

“This festival will present their high standard of work as well as highlighting the importance of photography in recording and documenting our colourful history”.

Howard Hastings, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “Exciting new events such as the Belfast Photo Festival are very important in attracting domestic and international visitors to spend time in our vibrant cities.  The visitors that come to these events, and the financial benefit they bring, are of vital importance in stimulating growth and delivering economic value to many sectors of the local economy.  I’m pleased NITB is supporting the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival through the Events Funding Programme.”

PwC Managing Partner Hugh Crossey praised the festival as showcasing the regional image: “PwC is delighted to support the Festival and to be part of an event that is building a prestigious international reputation. Expanding Northern Ireland’s international reputation as a cultural centre builds investor credibility, expands tourism potential and facilitates economic regeneration. This is a great example of how culture and the economy can converge.”

Festival Director and Chairman of the Board, Michael Weir explained what the Belfast Photo Festival aims to “The event will offer photography in Northern Ireland’s visual culture and history is something we aim to highlight, while also embracing and showcasing upcoming photographic talent both at home and abroad through seeking out new/emerging talent.

“We aim to deliver Northern Ireland’s first festival of photography and visual culture, while helping to provide a forum and promote the growth of the current photographic infrastructure and practice throughout the country. We will also be supporting audience development across the arts and cultural sectors, which will be aided through our mobilization of the existing visual arts infrastructure.”

The full programme of events is available at www.belfastphotofestival.com

Laugh Til You Burst With Pete Dobbing & the Hilarious Beautiful Su!

Looking for something to do with the kids this Saturday, 2nd July? Then come along to The Sunken Gardens where North Down Borough Council’s Summer Entertainment Programme continues with the hilarious Pete Dobbing.

After being abandoned by his mother and father and raised by wild audiences, Pete quickly picked up valuable life skills such as (a) balance on top of a 10ft ladder while strumming Hendrix on a ukulele and (b) escaping police issued handcuffs. (All of which are surprisingly useful!).

This charming kilted gentleman, a Covent Garden stalwart, has a show which will have you laughing until you burst… absolutely, completely and utterly brilliant street theatre.

Pete’s show starts at 3pm and runs til 5pm so don’t miss it!

Then the fun continues on Sunday, 3rd July, at The Sunken Gardens, with the fabulous Beautiful Stu!

Stu won the hearts of every crowd he entertained at the World Championship in 2008, and in the process sneaked a surprise 2nd place.

With lightning improvisation and a frankly disrespectful lack of actual skill, this charming scamp will win a place in your hearts and in your pockets. Stu is naturally hilarious and a true crowd pleaser!

Stu’s show kicks off at 3pm and runs til 5pm so come along for an afternoon of pure entertainment!

The Summer Entertainment Programme will see live street theatre at The Sunken Gardens every Saturday & Sunday in July and August (from 3 – 5pm). There will also be live music at The Bandstand in Ward Park every Sunday from 3 – 5pm during July and August.

Keep an eye out in local press for details on each artist or for more information phone our Tourist Information Centre on 028 9127 0069 or visit: www.northdowntourism.com

Get ready to Groove in Groomsport!

Put  Saturday 2nd July in your diary for Groomsport’s annual Music & Fireworks display.

This free event has all the elements for a fantastic evening out with three top-class live music acts, food & drinks available on-site, a funfair for children. The evening will conclude when an amazing Motown-themed fireworks display will illuminate the night sky.

Compering the evening’s entertainment will be Radio Ulster’s Hugo Duncan who will guide the audience through the event’s performers. The evening will kick off with The Dirty Blues Band, a brilliant bluegrass modern country outfit.

Ronnie Greer Almost Big Band showcases the superb blues and jazz guitarist Ronnie Greer, the band has the added talent of Anthony Toner and will guest star Grainne Duffy, it will be pure quality with an all- star line-up.

The headline act will not disappoint, The Soul Foundation are a captivating, energetic and emphatically in your face 11 piece soul band that encapsulates the raw power of the sixties soul megabands. They will be belting out recognisable songs from that era, think Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and the Commitments and you are on the right track. Groomsport is sure to be alive with the sound of Soul!

Commenting on the event, Alison Stobie, North Down Borough Council Tourism Manager said, ‘I’m thrilled with this year’s line-up. We want everyone to have a good time but please stay safe, please be aware that there is a strict no glass bottle policy, so any drinks consumed must be from the bar area.’

‘to help make it an even more enjoyable evening, our partners Translink are putting on a special late night service with buses at 11.30pm and 12midnight back to Bangor.’

The event kicks off at 7pm and will conclude at 11pm with a magnificent fireworks display.

For further information on this event please contact Bangor Tourist Information Centre on (028) 9127 0069 or email tic@northdown.gov.uk.

TT stars on the grid to launch Ulster Grand Prix 2011!

TT winners Bruce Anstey, Michael Dunlop and Cameron Donald were in Dundrod, Co. Antrim today to mark the official launch of the McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix 2011.

They will be joined at the World’s Fastest Road Race this August by fellow TT winners Gary Johnson and John McGuinness as well as road racing greats such as Guy Martin, William Dunlop, Keith Amor, Conor Cummins and many more.

Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course at Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club, said; “I am delighted to see Bruce, Michael and Cameron in Dundrod, fresh from the Isle of Man TT, to launch Bike Week 2011.

“The exciting thing about this year’s event is that the competition is wide open and anyone could win, if the TT is anything to go by. Visitors to this year’s Ulster Grand Prix won’t be disappointed, we’re working very hard to match the great success of last year and fans can expect more exceptional racing round the seven mile long Dundrod circuit.

“Of course we wouldn’t be able to put on a great show without the help of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Lisburn City Council as well as our title sponsor, McKinstry Skip Hire, Dundrod 150 sponsor Topaz and race sponsors Maxwell Freight Services. Without the support of these organisations, the Ulster Grand Prix just wouldn’t happen,” he said.

Joy Bond, Events Manager at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “Exciting events such as the Ulster Grand Prix are very important in attracting domestic and international visitors to spend time in Northern Ireland.

“Visitors that do come to watch these events, and the financial benefit they bring, are of vital importance in stimulating growth and delivering economic value to many sectors of the local economy. I’m pleased NITB is supporting the Ulster Grand Prix through our Events Funding Programme.”

Councillor Thomas Beckett, Chairman of Lisburn City Council’s Leisure Services Committee, speaking about the Ulster Grand Prix, said: “The Ulster Grand Prix is a key event in the Northern Ireland sporting calendar and it is fantastic that the world’s fastest road race takes place in Dundrod, Lisburn.

“Lisburn City Council is looking forward to the top riders and race teams participating in this year’s event and bringing thousands of people to our City. The Council is looking forward to working with the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club on the 2011 event and it hopes that it will be another successful year.”

Mr Johnston added; “As ever, safety around the circuit is paramount and I am always looking for ways to improve this. 2 and 4 Wheels have funded £40,000 worth of additional safety bales, which will be strategically placed around the course.

“ All our risk assessments are updated and we are working closely with Lisburn City Council to ensure all aspects of health and safety are strictly adhered to.

“While we hope for thrilling road racing, the most important factor is the safety of both spectators and competitors,” he said.

Bike Week 2011 will run between 7 – 13 August in Dundrod, Co. Antrim. The main events are the Dundrod 150 racing on Thursday 11 August, and main race day on Saturday 13 August. There will be other practice sessions throughout the week, and entertainment each night in the paddock.

Wristbands that allow entry to the course and paddock all week cost £25. Under 16s are free. Those who wish to pre-purchase wristbands can do so before 30 June at www.ulstergrandprix.net and will receive a free programme worth £5.

For more details on the McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix visit www.ulstergrandprix.net. Further updates can also be found every Tuesday in Keep ‘Er Lit and via www.whatsonni.com.

AOVC Classic show 2011, goes out to grass!

The AOVC Classic show will take place in Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday 25th June 2011 – with sponsorship this year is from Autoline, Irish Vintage Scene and Ballymena Borough Council.

Thanks to Ballymena Borough Council and showground’s staff, we can now confirm that weather permitting, entrants will be on grass this year, however the beauty of the showground’s means that if it ‘dared’ to rain we have hard standing and the show would go on…no need to cancel.  To make the best use of all the space provided, the Autojumblers/stall holders will be set up closer to the main display area, near the Slemish Hall, central to the event, so anyone wishing to book a stand please visit www.aovcclassicshow.co.uk for an entry form – or better still book on line with your credit card  If you need any further information phone Janet on 02838350539 or e-mail assistant secretary@aovc.co.uk and we will aim to assist you.

The event this year is open to all PRE 1990 cars, commercials, motorcycles, scooters, tractors, stationary engines etc, all are more than welcome, if you have not received an entry form then please feel free to use the above information.  Also bear in mind if your club would like a club stand, these are free, ask your Secretary to contact us for details. Wither you are entered individually or as a club, there will as in previous years be a prestige Finishers Award at the end of the event for all pre-booked entrants [so make sure you get your entry in as soon as possible] add to this a FREE FRY breakfast with tea/ coffee for the first 100 PRE-BOOKED entrants to arrive through the gates of the showground on the morning of 25th June 2011- so don’t delay folks, get there early the early bird gets the worm or in the case a fry.

At this moment in time entries are arriving daily, we have even received one from the Isle of Man – will they be the furthest travelled? – don’t forget there is an award for the furthest travelled, so come along and find out.  So far we have only covered entries, but there’s more – a new attraction for this year is the ‘Trial Stars Motorcycle Display Team’, who will be putting on exciting displays throughout the day – so make sure to take time out to watch them in action, but be warned ‘don’t try this at home!’, just enjoy spectating.

Add to this the usual features of the food village, where you can re fuel at any time throughout the day or the Des Allen suite for those who prefer a sit down meal, also music all day for your entertainment, the children have not been forgotten with amusements being provided for them and of course the ever popular Craft Marquee, again anyone wishing a stand for this, follow the previous advice, we would be more than happy to hear from you.

All in all this is a great Family day out, one to be enjoyed by the whole family with something of interest for everyone.
We look forward to seeing you at Ballymena showground’s on Saturday 25th June, 2011, so make a note of the
date in your dairy.

Sea Bangor On the Horizon!

Bangor’s Seafront is definitely the place to be this June.

On 18th and 19th June, the Tented Village will have all the ingredients for the perfect seaside day out with superb local food, live music, celebrity chefs, street theatre, kids zone and amazing Water Walkerz.

New to the event, is The Baby Rave at Kids Zone at Sea Bangor. This unique child-sized rave is complete with DJ, lighting, projections and dancers to help you and your babies move and groove.  The Baby Rave, which lasts for one hour will be held at 12.00, 1.30 pm and 3.00 pm.  The event is free and suitable for under 5s.  Also in the Kids Zone is Tall Tales and Tea interactive storytelling with a difference! This will be held from 10.00 am until 11.30 and from 4.00 – 6.00 pm.

The Tall Ship Pelican will also be joining the line-up and will be open to visitors at The Eisenhower Pier. The ship will be sailing from a Festival in Liverpool, to arrive in Bangor on Friday 17th June where it will be open to the public 10am-6pm throughout the Festival.

The Pelican is a sailing ship for all ages. She was originally built in France in 1946. Her conversion from Arctic trawler to tall ship was completed in 2007. She now sails thousands of miles each year crewed by people of all ages taking up the “Pelican Challenge

For a world of mystery & curiosities experience Bangor Bob’s Maritime Marvel Tent hosted by Firsty?, (an exciting new collective of local artists)  In here you’ll see a collection of art exhibitions and interactive demonstrations brought together in a unique, atmospheric way.  One of the exhibition highlights will be the amazing Wall of Curiosities, a collection of sculptures and paintings from local artists which will be displayed behind a wall of “peep-holes”.  Children will be thrilled by the sound installation, a large painting which responds to the sense of touch and the giant blackboard mash wall which will allow people to leave their own mini-works of art! Or for the budding writers, how about swapping words for art?

Market Kitchen and Saturday Kitchen’s Matt Tebbutt will be wowing the crowds with 3 live seafood cookery demonstrations in the Live Cooking Area.  The programme will last all day with demonstrations from a selection of Local Chefs.  A full programme will appear on our website.

On Sunday, Matt will be joined by Johnny Stevenson, Northern Ireland’s own Masterchef finalist on the panel for Sea Bangor’s very own Masterchef style competition.  Three catering pupils from local SERC colleges will be pitching their talents against each other during three rounds for the spectacular prize of a day’s work experience with Matt Tebbut. Based on the Professional Masterchef model, contestants will have to make the same seafood dish for round one, a dish for under £10 for round two and finish off with their own signature dish.

Over in the Music & Yarns Tent on Saturday, there will be talks on coastal birds and wildlife from Exploris and the RSPB and on the Sunday, award-winning journalist and author of “Titanic Port,” Alf McCreary will be giving a talk on the history of Belfast Harbour. Following Alf’s talk on the Sunday afternoon, BBC Radio Ulster’s Cherrie McIlwaine will be introducing a special gardening segment, featuring some local experts with talks, demonstrations and a Q & A session afterwards. Afternoons in the Music & Yarns Tent will feature a line-up of top class live music acts, including local artists like Gareth Dunlop and Matt McGinn.

Top quality local food will be on offer from 10.00 – 6.00 pm.

On Saturday 18th June there will be a chance to get up close to a Gannet SAR Sea King on Bangor’s Long Hole – and at 3.00 pm – prepare to be thrilled by a flypast by two Tornado GR4s.

There’s lots happening on The Eisenhower Pier too, which will be animated with quirky maritime-themed Street Entertainment and Water Walkers; inflatable ‘walk on water’ balls which let you run, roll, flip and spin on water without even getting wet! So whatever floats your boat, come along to the year’s Sea Bangor, guaranteed fun for all ages!


For a band who has opened for some of the most commendable acts on the planet and who have graced some of the most prestigious festival stages that young bands can only dream of, Ed Zealous have been very quiet as of late. Truth is, the band have been getting down to business and masterminding their long overdue debut album. Ed Zealous made a collective decision seven months ago to stop gigging and concentrate on the most important asset a band require; songs.

This August the band will be working with the Winner of this year’s MPG Breakthrough Producer of The Year award – Eliot James. You will know him from his work with Two Door Cinema Club’s debut album “ Tourist History” along with the likes of Bloc Party, Does it Offend You Yeah?, Noah and the Whale and Kaiser Chiefs. There are no dates as of yet for an album release but expect a single release in early Autumn followed by an extensive U.K tour.

Word on the street is that the EZ demos are complex but utterly danceable, like a fine blend of Bowie & Justice.

“We worked with a lot of great producers across the U.K but in the back of our minds we knew Eliot was really the only guy for the job. We’ve been fanatical about these songs and now that Eliot is on board it feels like the final piece of the puzzle is in place” Stephen McAvoy Ed Zealous

Cruse Bereavement Care Memorial Walk.

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, at Belfast’s Ormeau Park, Cruse Bereavement Care-Belfast will hold its third annual Memory Walk, to raise funds to continue its work supporting bereaved children and adults in the local community.

Cruse Belfast was established in 1984 and has been at its current location, 10 College Green, since 1996, where it sees around 1200 people each year, providing counselling and emotional support to anyone having difficulty coping after experiencing a death.

Sponsorship of last year’s walk totalled over £4,000, which was used to train and develop new volunteers to provide services at Cruse Belfast. In the past year more than 6300 hours of time has been given by volunteers carrying out the work at Cruse’s Belfast office. It is hoped that this year’s walk will be an even greater success.

Over 100 people came out to take part in the sponsored walk in 2010, and as with last year’s walk, there will be a balloon release at the end of this year’s walk. As well as being able to dedicate their sponsorship donations in memory of someone who has died, walkers can also attach a personal message to their balloons, in memory of a loved one departed.

There is still time to register and take part in the walk. Contact Cruse Belfast on 02890 434 600 or email them at crusebelfast@btconnect.com to get more information and a sponsorship pack. Registration on the day will begin at 10:00 am at the Ozone Leisure Centre in Ormeau Park, with the walk beginning at 11:30 am. The short course is completely accessible and suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Registration costs £10 for adults and children are free; it will also be possible to register on the morning of the walk.

For fifty years Cruse has been helping to restore hope to bereaved people and demand for its services is continuing to increase. Last year in Northern Ireland, Cruse took over 9,000 enquiries from bereaved people and Cruse volunteers conducted over 7,500 one-to-one bereavement support sessions.