Ronnie Greer and Blues In the Park

Ronnie Greer

This Sunday, August 14th, Ward Park Bandstand plays host to the legendary Ronnie Greer for Blues In The Park.

A superb blues and jazz guitarist, Ronnie is one of Northern Ireland’s favourite blues performers. His fingers have added passion and fire to some of the greatest blues bands in the country, including for a time the legendary Jim Daly. Ronnie never fails to wring the last drop of emotion out of a solo, while still keeping the toes tapping!

Ronnie will be joined by the fabulous Grainne Duffy who’s wonderful mix of blues-rock and soul repertoire are charged with true emotion, winning over any audience and leaving everyone wanting more! To complete the quartet, Ronnie will be accompanied by Alan Hunter on bass and Colm Fitzpatrick.

So make a day of it! Pack the picnic and get down to Ward Park from 3 – 5pm for an afternoon of relaxation and entertainment. This four-piece band are guaranteed to make your afternoon a good one and the smiles on the stage are sure to rub off on the audience – don’t miss it!

North Down Borough Council’s Summer Entertainment Programme will see live street theatre at The Sunken Gardens every Sunday in August (from 3 – 5pm) and also in August, there’ll be live music at The Bandstand in Ward Park every Sunday from 3 – 5pm.

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

I am Festival – Colin Geddis takes his stand up to Stendhal Festival of Art

STENDHAL Festival of Art is delighted to announce that one of Northern Ireland’s brightest young comedic talents will be fighting fit and ready to perform at the inaugural event at Ballymully Cottage Farm Limavady, on August 20.

Colin Geddis, the man behind the internet phenomenon ‘I am fighter’ will be bringing his own brand of close to the knuckle, adult humour to Stendhal in a set that promises to be a knockout.

Having amassed 3 millions views with his flagship programme featuring his alter ego Barry ’The Blender’ Henderson, Colin branched out into the world of Stand up and then television, with a slot on BBC comedy sketch show ‘LOL’, and is touted as the next big thing in Northern Irish Comedy.

No punches will be pulled with Stendhal’s headline comedy act this year that’s for sure.

In other festival news Stendhal is delighted to announce that the fantastic Echo Echo dance company will be adding their name to the dance organisations that will be taking part at the festival. Along with others such as Flemenco NI and the Heraghty School of Irish dancing, Echo Echo will be on site to showcase some sensational local dance talent.

For those looking to find Nirvana at Stendhal, Ashtanga Yoga classes will be available. This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures—a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.

In accordance with the Stendhal ethos that a festival is a community, the organisers have also announced that they have agreed a sponsorship deal with the local Danny Boy Rocks Battle of the Bands contest, which will see the winners of that particular event sponsored a website and a music video by Stendhal Festival of Art.

On top of that, site work at Ballymully Cottage Farm has begun in earnest. While everyone involved is hoping that the weather continues to be as sunny as it has been this weekend, the organisers have planned ahead just in case the bad weather returns.

“It’s all go at the minute,” says Event Director Ross Parkhill, “we have a lot of work to get through over the next couple of weeks, but it will all be worth it in the end.”

He continued: “Site work is underway and hopefully the sun comes out and stays with us for a while, but if it doesn’t we will have everyone covered on the day.”

National Trust Goes Green!

The public are being invited to support the National Trust and a leading local recycling company to clean up some of the province’s top beauty sites and in doing so protect wildlife which is under serious threat from waste this summer.

Tyrone-based, Envirogreen Recycling, will work alongside the Trust on a number of clean-up days aimed at recovering recyclables which are currently littering and posing an increasing threat to the wildlife in the site areas.

Pictured from L-R Envirogreen Recycling staff, National Trust’s Marketing Manager, Wendy Elliot and Envirogreen Recycling’s Managing Director, Conor Guy all getting ready to take part in the National Trust’s clean-up Event being held at Strangford Lough next Saturday 13th August.

The first event will take place at STRANGFORD Lough on Saturday August 13th from 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.

Members of the public can register for the clean-up by logging onto or alternatively emailing

With strong ‘green’ credentials, including, the Ulster Bank Best “Green Business of the Year”, Envirogreen is dedicated to helping develop conservation initiatives provincewide.

National’s Trust Fundraising Manager, Wendy Elliott, is delighted with the partnership:

“There is no doubt that the wildlife at our sites are under increased threat. The problem of waste – particularly from plastic and polystyrene – is getting much worse and we really need to be proactive in tackling this. Envirogreen are at the forefront of pioneering recycling techniques and are very proactive in exploring how we can process some of this waste.

“It’s a pleasure to work closely with such an innovative company. The clean up initiatives will help to conserve the sites for visitors but more importantly help protect the safety of our wildlife from the hidden danger of discarded waste such as plastic bags.”

Envirogreen Recycling MD, Conor Guy said;

“The National Trust is an exemplary institution and their outstanding conservation work enables visitors from all around the globe to enjoy the beauty of some of Northern’s Ireland most prestigious sites. However these sites are under threat and we want to do our bit to help protect them.”

Conor urged local people to join in the clean-up events which are taking place over the next number of weeks.

“Please join us on the clean-up campaign by registering to volunteer on our website. If you are unable to make the clean-up please show your support for this campaign by texting “GREEN” to 70003 and donate £3 to the National Trust to enable them to continue their excellent work. 100% of the donation goes to National Trust”.

The meeting point for the event this Saturday will be at Mount Stewart’s main car park.


Enjoy a ‘MAC’nificent day out in Belfast and find your One Good Reason to volunteer!

With summer finally here, there is no better time to enjoy a fun day out with friends or family and try your hand at volunteering.

Volunteers Meta Burns and Fred Bass helping Volunteer Now to encourage over 50s to sign up to a new volunteering opportunity at The MAC, Belfast’s new arts centre in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter when it opens in 2012.

Volunteer Now’s Unlocking Potential Project has teamed up with The MAC  – Belfast’s new arts centre, which will be a world-class home for the arts in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter when it opens in 2012, to invite people over 50 to have a go at volunteering.

The ‘One Good Reason’ taster day is free of charge and will take place on Wednesday 17th August at Saint Anne’s Square in Belfast from 10am-4pm, providing people with a unique opportunity to experience the range of exciting volunteer roles that The MAC will have to offer.

From ‘Meet and Greeters’ and gallery navigators to workshop support volunteers and ushers, participants will get an insight into the  roles essential to making the theatre and gallery function. Curator skills and a creative arts workshop will also teach volunteers how to study an exhibition and analyse art work. This is a fantastic way for anyone who loves culture to gain new skills while giving volunteering a go!

There will also be a chance to talk to existing volunteers on the day and everyone will be made very welcome, whether they come along by themselves, with a partner or friend.

The taster day is part of the One Good Reason campaign which encourages people over 50 in Northern Ireland to give volunteering a try and to see firsthand how beneficial and enjoyable it can be, both for themselves and for others within their community.

The campaign has been developed with the underlying thinking that we can all find plenty of reasons not to do something – but when we find one good reason to do something we usually do it!

Helen Connolly, Unlocking Potential Development Officer in Belfast said; “We hope that people over 50 across Belfast will embrace this unique and fun opportunity to become a ‘MACtivist’ while trying their hand at volunteering.

“By taking part in the day, participants will learn new skills, meet new people and find out what it takes to be part of a world-class cultural attraction which will offer blockbuster events, exhibitions and experimental new works.

Clare Lawlor, Learning and Participation Officer for The MAC said; “Belfast has never before had anything like The MAC and this is a great opportunity to be part of it.”

This One Good Reason Taster Day is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies through Volunteer Now’s Unlocking Potential Project.

To book your place at the MAC volunteering day please contact Helen Connolly on 02890200858 or email

To find out more about other volunteering opportunities and events like this throughout the year you can visit

Cool chimps!

It’s not just Belfast Zoo’s visitors that are enjoying the summer sun, but the animals too!

Keeping cool this summer, Phoebe the chimpanzee, at Belfast Zoo enjoys her fruit-filled ice lolly!

Keepers are making sure that the chimpanzees and gorillas stay nice and cool this summer by making fruit-filled ice lollies!  These tasty treats not only keep the apes cool, refreshed and hydrated during the hot weather, but they also act as a form of enrichment for the apes.

The chimpanzees certainly love the challenge of their ice lollies” said curator Julie Mansell, “I have worked with the chimpanzees and gorillas for many years now and they never cease to amaze me when a new challenge is put in front of them. They use a variety of tools to break the ice to get to the fruit; including their hands, feet, branches and they even use items in their enclosure as tools, such as their climbing frames.  The chimpanzees in particular love the ice lollies and their excitement can be heard across the zoo.”

This year Belfast Zoo are also fundraising for the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) ‘Save the ape’ campaign and they need your help!

Julie continues, “We are currently fundraising for the EAZA Ape Campaign.  Almost all apes are threatened in the wild and almost all are either endangered or critically endangered.  This campaign aims to make a contribution to the survival of apes and their habitats by raising awareness of the issues facing apes and to raise funds to support conservation projects.  As I am sure you can imagine all of the staff here at Belfast Zoo, where we are home to a number of apes including chimpanzees, gorillas and Moloch gibbons, are incredibly passionate about the campaign and we are all hoping to significantly contribute.”

The Belfast Zoo team will also host ‘Ape Week’ at the zoo between the 22 and 26 August. During ‘Ape Week’ activities will include:

  • keeper talks;
  • animal feeding times;
  • special enrichment activities;
  • arts and crafts;
  • birthday celebrations for Lizzy the chimpanzee; and
  • your little monkeys can swing through the air like the apes and zip line with our corporate partners, ‘The Adventure Team’.

As well as Ape week, the Belfast zoo team, including Gary the gorilla, Brian the lion and Spook the bear, will be onsite at Belfast City Hall on Saturday 20 August to raise awareness of the dangers facing the apes and to fundraise for the EAZA ape campaign.

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, explains the challenges that apes face in the wild “Undoubtedly the main reason for the rapid decline of apes is the destruction of their habitats. Apes are also victims of hunting and the live animal trade.  Over 300 gorillas are slaughtered each year for bush meat. These fascinating animals face an uncertain future and without the support of bodies such as EAZA, conservation projects and zoos around the world these animals could disappear forever.  I am very proud that Belfast Zoo is playing a role in this conservation campaign and I hope that our visitors will enjoy ‘Ape Week’ and support us in our efforts.”

You can find out more about EAZA’s ‘Save the ape’ campaign at or about Belfast Zoo’s ‘Ape Week’ at


Nominate your ‘Future Flames’ for the chance to carry Olympic Flame for Coca-Cola’s London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay

Pictured at the Northern Ireland launch of Coca-Cola’s London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay nomination campaign are ‘Future Flame’ nominees…Holly Hamill, Jamie McClelland and Dempsey Andrews with James Williams, Director, Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola.

The Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Tour touched down in Victoria Square, Belfast on Friday 29th July 2011 to launch a nationwide search for inspirational young people -– Future Flames – to carry the Olympic Flame during the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

To recognise and reward the positive contributions made by young people every day, Coca-Cola, a Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, is calling on everyone in Northern Ireland to nominate the Future Flames they know: young people who use their passion in areas like sport and physical activity, music and dance, and community and the environment; to spread happiness in their local communities.

Coca-Cola is encouraging everyone to nominate inspirational young people who they believe should be celebrated with the opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame, or to visit where they can nominate Future Flames until 5th September 2011.

The campaign is backed by music artists Dizzee Rascal, The Wanted, Eliza Doolittle, You Me At Six and General Fiasco, who are all calling on the people of Northern Ireland to nominate the Future Flames they know.

James Williams, Director, Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola commented: “We are delighted to be giving the people of Northern the chance to celebrate all the amazing things that local young people here are doing. We want everyone in Northern Ireland to nominate the inspirational young people they know and give them the chance to carry the Olympic Flame next summer.”

Throughout the summer, the Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Tour will be heading to some of the UK’s hottest festivals and venues, as well as visiting city centres and summer hot spots to call on everyone to nominate their Future Flames.

The music artists that are backing Coca-Cola’s Future Flames nominations campaign commented:

Owen Strathern from General Fiasco:

“It’s so cool that the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay is coming to Northern Ireland and we are proud to be part of it all! This is a once-in-a-life-time experience for teens to get involved with Coke’s Future Flames Campaign, giving them special recognition for the great things they do. So what are you waiting for…get nominating any Future Flames you know!

Dizzee Rascal:

“It’s time to recognise young people in this country and Coke’s Future Flames campaign does just that.  See the person, not the age.  I see young people judged all the time and there’s negativity about them.  But people should look at reality – many young people are making a positive difference but no one hears about it.  We can change that by nominating the Future Flames we know.”

The Wanted’s Jay McGuiness:

“If you know any brilliant young people that deserve a bit more recognition than they’re getting, let us know, because we want you to nominate them as Future Flames! We know there’s loads out there that slip under the radar, so if you have anyone in mind, don’t leave it to someone else, nominate them! Go onnnn!”

Eliza Doolittle:

“It’s great that Coke is giving young people the chance to be involved in something as amazing as the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. The youth of the UK get such bad press which I really don’t think they deserve.  We all need to recognise the huge amount of positive things teens are doing and what they give back to the community – everyone needs to nominate the Future Flames they know.”

Josh Franceschi from You Me At Six:

“All around the country young people are using their love of music, dance, sport and the environment to make a positive difference.  It’s amazing that along with Coke we’re going to celebrate them with the chance to run with the Olympic Flame – what an awesome experience!  Everyone should get involved.  Get nominating the Future Flames you know.”

The biggest Airshow in Ireland will be jetting back to Portrush this September for the tenth time with it’s strongest ever line-up.

Coleraine Borough Council launched the event at East Strand Beach on Tuesday morning as guests welcomed three planes at the location which has recently received investment of artwork and facilities for visitors while enjoying the blue flag beach. This year’s title sponsor of the International Airshow is SPAR, who cheered on as the planes landed.

Once again the world’s best display team, the RAF Red Arrows will return with their brand new 2011 routine but the big news is that organisers, Coleraine Borough Council, has secured the first appearance in Northern Ireland for nearly 30 years of the astonishing Vulcan bomber. She has only recently returned to the skies and has been the biggest story in display aviation over the past 3 years thanks to her unique shape and unforgettable roar.

During the weekend event, each day will feature over 20 aerial displays featuring current jets, historic aircraft and privately owned machines.

With support from SPAR, Causeway SPAR Retail Group, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Causeway Chamber of Commerce the hugely popular show will take place in Portrush during Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September commencing at 12 noon. In keeping with popular tradition, the family fun event will once again be free with no admission charge.

The strong line-up will guarantee another bumper weekend for the already busy town of Portrush and Council has hinted that there are still a few surprises to be announced.

Deputy Mayor of Coleraine Borough Council, Councillor William King attended the launch said, ”It is fantastic news to see our Airshow meet its 10th anniversary and this year’s line-up is the strongest I can remember. It is a sense of pride for Council and the residents to once again host the biggest Airshow in Ireland and we are grateful to Spar, NITB, the Chamber and our other sponsors for their vital support.”

Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at SPAR, said: “We are delighted to come onboard as the title sponsor at this year’s NI International Airshow. It is a fantastic event, perfect for the whole family and one which attracts thousands of tourists to Portrush over the two days. As neighbourhood retailers, we are keen to support events that bring the whole community together and the Airshow has proven, year after year, to be a must-attend event on Northern Ireland’s event calendar.

Wesley Wilkinson, Chairman of the Causeway SPAR Retail Group adds: “The International Airshow really has something for all the family and I would encourage everyone, whether a first time visitor or a seasoned air show aficionado, to come to the North Coast to enjoy this exciting programme of events.”

NITB Events Manager, Joy Bond, added “The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is delighted to support the 10th anniversary of this spectacular event.  In the past decade, this airshow has grown from strength to strength and has continued to increase visitor appeal to the North Coast.  We are confident that it will provide both locals and visitors alike with a truly memorable experience and we wish the organisers every success this year.”

The 90th Anniversary of the Royal British Legion will be marked with a parade of veterans and dropping of 4 million poppy petals from an Auster spotter plane during Sunday 4th September.  In addition to all the activity in the air and on the sea, the ground will be packed with family arena shows, street theatre, motor exhibitions and craft stalls.

For full details contact Coleraine Borough Council on 028 70347234 or or follow on Facebook at

Papa’s got a brand new FUNK!

8 venues across Northern Ireland are set for a FUNK invasion this month, as the award winning Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre prepares to launch FUNK, a new show touring nationwide, which is being described as the “most captivating, fun and downright funky shows ever attempted.”

Basing the spirit of the show on the immortal work of groundbreaking musicians like the Funkster George Clinton and James Brown, the original preacher of FUNK, the show is set to tour to Belfast, Portadown, Newry, Antrim, Dungannon, Enniskillen Armagh, Derry~Londonderry and Newcastle this August.

fThe show will not only be unique for what’s on stage, but also the stage itself, as the tour takes in some of Northern Ireland’s most usual venues available, including the Belfast Harbours Commissioners Office! Tickets have just gone on sale and are priced at only £6/£4(con) and can be purchased online at or via the ticket hotline on 028 6632 8686.

Dylan Quinn, founder and performer with the Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre stated “FUNK is going to be a truly unique performance that will captivate the audience and generate a fantastic feel good mood in the audience this summer. We will be using a superb cast of international dancers who have been locked in rehearsals for the last few months preparing a show that even the FUNK godfather himself would be proud off. We promise a captivating night of the very best in FUNK dance, blended with wonderful venues and an enthralling soundtrack played by one of Northern Ireland’s most up and coming DJ’s.”

Gilly Campbell, Dance and Drama Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Under the guidance of Dylan Quinn, one of Northern Ireland’s leading dance practitioners, FUNK! promises to be a highly engaging performance that will showcase some of the very best local and international dancers working in this genre. The Arts Council is pleased to support FUNK as it tours venues across Northern Ireland.”

“If you want to come along in your full FUNK gear, please don’t be afraid to dress up, sit back, dance and move to the sounds of James Brown, George Clinton and others.  After the performance the DJ will play on, drinks will be available at various venues and you can go back to those heady days of the 60’s when FUNK ruled!” concluded Dylan Quinn. For ticket, group discounts and tour date information call 028 6632 8686.

‘Bag It, Bin It, Don’t Flush It’ say beach clean volunteers!

The Marine Conservation Society volunteers hit Loughshore Park beach on Sunday to remove and survey its litter.  The 36 volunteers removed a grand total of 1620 items of litter from the short piece of coastline, including 156 cigarette stubs, 58 plastic bottles, 117 food wrappers and 33 drink cans!  Fortunately, the group was this time joined by teams from Virtual Visit Northern Ireland,, Newtownabbey Borough Council, The Art of Living and Bryson House Recycling.  Coca-cola, the sponsor of Tidy Northern Ireland, donated soft drinks for the clean-up volunteers.  Amanda Wilson, the organiser of the clean-up said, “It was brilliant to have the support of so many organisations that are concerned about the Northern Irish coastline.”  “The council litter picks the beaches regularly however it is a constant battle.  Events such as this, organized by Amanda, raises awareness of the problems facing our marine environment”, said Lindsay Matthews, Biodiversity Officer for Newtownabbey Borough Council.  Thomas McVea, the founder of Virtual Visit- NI said, “We have used our 360 capture technique to great effect on many of the great beaches that we have in NI. The presence of litter reduces the aesthetic appeal of a beach thus impacting on tourism.  We want be able to come back time and again to recapture and update our online visitors with the beauty of our beaches and show them off as they should be seen.”

Volunteers at last Sunday's beach clean at Loughshore with the Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society is currently supporting the ‘Bag it, Bin it, Don’t Flush It’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the problems caused when items such as wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary towels and other plastic items are flushed down toilets.  Not only are these items unsightly, but they can be ingested by marine wildlife, preventing them from feeding and ultimately resulting in their death.  Within an hour of litter collection at Loughshore, the group had removed 185 cotton buds, 157 wet wipes and 46 other items believed to have been flushed down the toilet.  “It’s clear that many people don’t realise the damage they are doing to our coastline.  Wet wipes and other plastic items should never be flushed down the toilet.  These wipes can also block your household sewerage systems, costing up to £250 to rectify” said Amanda.  Despite some wet-wipe packets claiming these items are flushable they don’t actually dissolve like toilet paper and can damage household sewerage systems.

The Marine Conservation Society Volunteers are currently gearing up for Beachwatch Big Weekend, a UK-wide litter survey and beach clean happening from 16-19th September.   With 23 beach cleans happening in Northern Ireland during the Big Weekend, there are plenty to choose from!  To get involved with future beach cleans or to organise your own clean-up, please contact Amanda at

Gypsies of Bohemia this Sunday in Ward Park!

Hard to believe but North Down Borough Council’s Summer Entertainment Programme has reached the halfway mark already! So far over 7,000 of you have been enjoying the top-class performances and we’ve only had two cancellations due to bad weather!

This Sunday, 7th August, the fun continues when Ward Park plays host to the superb Gypsies of Bohemia. This acoustic jazz quartet who specialise in the “Manouche Jazz” style take to The Bandstand from 3pm to 5pm when their unique-gypsy-style guitar playing is guaranteed to set the tone for a relaxing afternoon in the park!

The group were formed in 2005 when Manchester based jazz guitarist Jim Wallace met Matthew Whitaker of Manchester’s much-loved Gypsy-ska band ‘Whiskycats and began composing and arranging their own material in the gypsy guitar style. Today the band has grown to a four piece and their thrilling live shows are enjoyed by audiences all over the UK and Europe.

If an afternoon lazing in the park the sounds of jazz guitar appeals to you, then this is the place to be. So come along to Ward Park this Sunday and don’t forget your picnic!

North Down Borough Council’s Summer Entertainment Programme will see live street theatre at The Sunken Gardens every Sunday in July and August (from 3 – 5pm) and live music at The Bandstand in Ward Park every Sunday from 3 – 5pm during July and August.

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