After a fantastic summer of sport, it seems only fitting that North Down Borough Council should welcome one of the UK’s best known and respected sports writers to this year’s Aspects Festival.

The respected sports writer Kevin McCarra who will be reading and talking about what'€™s involved in covering the €Beautiful Game™ as part of the Aspects Irish Literature Festival which is taking place at Bangor Abbey on Friday 28th September 2012.

A man who has reported on football for many years for The Guardian, Kevin McCarra will be reading and talking about what’s involved in covering the ‘Beautiful Game’ on Friday 28th September 2012 at 7.00pm. Tickets cost £9 (£7 concession).

Kevin McCarra was born in Scotland and has for many years written for the Guardian on all elements of the ups and downs of each football season, also contributing to the weekly Guardian football podcasts. Working on matches at every level, from this summer’s Euro 2012 championships through to the weekly cut and thrust of goals given and disputed, transfer windows and reflections on the wider issues at play in football, Kevin has seen it all and written about it with his trademark insight and gift for making sport live on paper.

This is a great opportunity to hear a writer passionate about the sport he covers talk about writing and analysing football – and if you’re an intrigued Guardian reader, who knows? He may even offer some clues to the identity of the paper’s ‘Secret Footballer’!

This year’s Aspects line-up is packed with something for everyone; for the crime lover there’s Colin Bateman’s Crime Night featuring Chris Brookmyre, poetry lovers will love Bernard MacLaverty, or if you’re just looking for a laugh Owen O’Neill is the show for you. Actor Stephen Rea is also making an appearance narrating Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman.’ A show not to be missed! For the full line-up, please download a programme at

Tickets are available at, from the festival Box Office at North Down Museum (028 9127 1200) and from Bangor Tourist Information Office (028 9127 0069).

Our pick of family friendly events to look out for this weekend!

Check out this week’s pick of family events for the coming weekend – also available in the Parenting section of the Irish News, every Tuesday!


The 11th Festival of the Peninsula will take place from 12th to 16th September when the Ards Peninsula will spring to life with music, songs and stories. Concerts and events organised throughout the Borough will celebrate the heritage and culture of the Ulster-Scots and Celtic traditions found in the Ards.  The festival features both traditional and contemporary artists mainly from Ireland and Scotland but with the rest of the world not totally excluded.   Relax, experience the breath-taking scenery, marvel at our heritage and be entertained. The highlight of this year’s festival will be an open air concert at Mount Stewart on Saturday 15th September.


Naomh Pádraig G.A.A Club Lifford  present a Fashion Show at the Alley Theatre on Friday 14th September.  Fun for all the family as members, supporters and retailers will display their products and skills while providing entertainment and presenting upcoming fashion for the season.


Take the Fermanagh Castle Bus Tour on Saturday September 15th – visit all of the beautiful castles in County Fermanagh including Portora Castle, Monea Castle, Tully Castle, McGrath Castle Pettigo, Crevenish Castle, Castle Archdale, Enniskillen Castle. Tour departs 9am Enniskillen and returns at 5pm. Lunch is included at the Mayfly Inn, Kesh.


Country singer and yodeller Kenny Archer is the real deal, a genuine down to earth country singer with his feet firmly rooted in the mid Ulster farming community he comes from.  Join Kenny, his band and friends in the Faulkner Memorial Hall Tobermore on Saturday 15th September, as they bring you back to the early days of country when artistes like Slim Whitman, Marty Robbins, Gene Autry, Loretta Lynn, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Locklin, Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline ruled the airwaves.


The Emerald Garrison’s amazing Heroes & Legends event is coming to Armagh Planetarium on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September 2012.  This amazing family event is one not to be missed.  Meet and have your picture taken with some iconic costumed characters and see the amazing fan built sets and props from some of the biggest movies and television series including Ghostbusters, Dr Who, Star Trek, Batman, Aliens and Harry Potter. Come dressed up as your favourite character, the best costume will win a star prize! Opening hours: 10am – 5pm.


Sunday sees the return of the hugely popular Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair – this time at the Waterfront Hall! Meet with approx 80 exhibitors who can help you inject your personality into your wedding celebration.  The Quirky Team strive to bring you creative people who are passionate about what they do.  This event is about exploring new ideas and finding wedding things you LOVE. With something for everyone but especially couples who don’t feel they fit the ‘traditional’ image of a wedding.


Belfast to host unique 8-day comedy festival

Belfast can look forward to lots of belly laughs next month following the launch of the city’s only dedicated comedy festival. Festival board member and local comedian Nuala McKeever launched Belly Laughs which will run for eight days from 30 September - 7 October in 15 venues across the city with over 40 performances.

BELFAST can look forward to lots of belly laughs next month following the launch of the city’s only dedicated comedy festival.

Belly Laughs will run for eight days from 30 September – 7 October, in 15 venues across the city, with over 40 performances.

The full programme will be formally launched next week and festival organisers have promised a great line-up of new and established comedians with confirmed acts including local legend Jimmy Cricket.

Festival Director, Peter O’Neill, said he hopes Belly Laughs will provide Belfast with a unique comedy festival that will appeal to audiences of all ages with a programme that presents great value in these straightened economic times.

“It’s time for Belfast to have its own comedy festival and we can’t wait to showcase the new comic talent and the rich tradition of humour that characterises the city and its people. We aim to stretch the boundaries of comedy in the city and explore the history and role humour plays in the local community – both past and present.

“Not restricted to stand-up comedy, the festival hopes to challenge and inspire, showcasing genres such as poetry, magic, cabaret, workshops, seminars, club nights, book readings, events for children and even comedy bus tours – in fact, anything with a humorous angle!”

The festival hopes to become a permanent fixture in the city’s festival calendar and will profile local comedy clubs throughout the year. Working directly with performers, venues and other organisations to achieve its belly laughing mission, the festival has been organised by comedy enthusiasts and is not for profit.

The full Belly Laughs programme will be launched on Thursday 13 September.

Fermanagh Live Line-Up Confirmed (4th – 7th October 2012)

FLive: Fermanagh’s finest live entertainment and visual arts festival are thrilled to announce that their line-up for next month’s festival (4th – 7th October) has been confirmed, with music, drama and visual arts in abundance.

Supported by the Fermanagh District Council, Arts Council NI and local businesses, the festival is proud to announce that headlining the bill are Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine who are set to present a programme of Celtic, folk and eastern European music at the Ardhowen Theatre on Thursday 4th October, guaranteeing to kick off the festival in style.

Running until the 7th October, other confirmed performers include Omagh songstress Juliet Turner, Slovakian violinist Vladimir Jablokov, Fermanagh’s Pat McManus Band, L.A.W. and Gareth Knox, as well as late-night cabaret duo Yankee Panky and comedian Ardal O’Hanlon who will play Blakes of The Hollow’s Comedy Club night in celebration of their 125th anniversary.

Audiences too can get in on the festivities, by participating in various inspiring musical masterclasses and workshops from world-renowned tuba player Steve Stykes and organist Ian Keatley, to readings and discussions held by author Carlo Gebler and the Fermanagh Creative Writers group.

Embracing all art forms, FLive, formally known as the Fermanagh Arts Festival, has been designed to appeal to all ages and interests to include everything from dance, theatre and film to children’s entertainment, visual art exhibitions and more.

With this in mind, the four-day festival will feature dance in the form of Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, offer family fun with the beloved Dragon Parade and officially host the NI launch of ‘Portrait of a Zombie’, which will be screened at the Enniskillen Omniplex on Thursday 4th October at 8pm. In addition, and in association with The Fermanagh Trust, BBCNI will also screen a short series of BBC commissioned films about Fermanagh, each of which will celebrate local people and places sure to spark enjoyment and nostalgia.

Art lovers can also enjoy various exhibitions that will run throughout the duration of the festival in venues such as the Higher Bridges Gallery, Devenish Gallery and the Cooper Wilkinson Gallery which will house ‘Humbly Through The Dust’ – an awe-inspiring collection curated by artist Dr. Helen Sharp in accordance with the British Council. Others include a spectacular exhibition of paintings by ArtbyNorthwest, a print exhibition by the NIPA and the Enniskillen 400 showcase among others.

With all this and much more, the FLive Festival will provide a unique opportunity for audiences to experience an exciting and exhilarating weekend with an eclectic mix of events not to be missed. Mark the dates in your diary now!

For the full line-up and more information on events and tickets, visit / /


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 12 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (September 10 – 16).

For all events in ni2012 click on, visit your local tourist information centre or log onto

  • Walking with Dinosaurs, Odyssey Arena, Belfast, September 14 – 16.  Tyrannosaurus Rex and his awe-inspiring life size pals return to stalk UK and Ireland shores once more as these pre-historic giants get set to astound, thrill and educate a brand new generation.
  • Ulster Orchestra: Russian Romance, Ulster Hall, Belfast, September 14.  Principal Conductor JoAnn Falletta opens the new season with a concert of three great Russian masters.     
  • Fermanagh Castles Bus Tour, departing at 9am, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, September 15.  A bus tour of the beautiful castles in Co. Fermanagh including Portora Castle, Tully Castle and Castle Archdale.  Lunch in the Mayfly Inn is included.   
  • Family Garden Workshop, Mount Stewart House and Garden, Newtownards, Co. Down, September 15.  The last in our series of monthly garden workshops with something for the whole family to enjoy and great ideas on seasonal and topical issues to try out at home.
  • Artspace, Oxford Island Nature Reserve, Lurgan, Co. Armagh, September 15.  Come along and gain an insight into the working progress of the artists-in-residence and ask questions about their work.
  • September Morn, Divis Mountain to Colin Glen trek, Belfast, September 15.  Enjoy a good, hearty trek across the roof of Belfast city.  A robust trek to suit seasonal walkers.   
  • A Celebration of Irish Rock, Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, September 15.  A celebration of Irish rock with Harry Hamilton and guests as they pay homage to the musical heritage of Ireland and the music that has rocked the world from Van Morrison to Thin Lizzy and Snow Patrol.  
  • Castlerock Walking Festival, Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, Co. Londonderry, September 15 – 16.  A walking festival with guided walks over various terrains to suit a range of abilities. 
  • Autumn Fair, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, September 15 – 16.  Enjoy a weekend of food, flowers and family fun at one of the most beautiful gardens in the city with everything from live music to stalls on offer.  
  • Dunlap Broadside, Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, until September 21.  A rare copy of the text of the Declaration of Independence, on loan from The National Archives at Kew, London, has gone on display for the first time in Northern Ireland.    
  • FLAGS, the Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim, until November 4.  FLAGS by Hans Peter Kuhn is an art installation embedded in the dramatic landscape of the Giant’s Causeway which sees a series of flags randomly positioned along the banks of the cliff face that rotate freely in the wind.
  • Great NI Walk, various venues across Northern Ireland, until November 4.  Discover the great Northern Ireland countryside and green spaces with over 15 specially organised walking events this autumn.     


NORTHERN Ireland’s leading ferry company Stena Line has flexed its sporting muscles by signing up to a further year as title sponsors with the Elite League ice hockey champions, the Belfast Giants.

GIANT PARTNERSHIP: Northern Ireland's leading ferry company Stena Line has flexed its sporting muscles by signing up to a further year as title sponsors with the Elite League ice hockey champions, the Belfast Giants. The 2012/13 season, Stena Line’s first year of sponsorship, was the most successful yet for the Belfast Giants and the team will be hoping to retain the title this year. The Stena Line Belfast Giants will return to Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on 20th September to play their league season home opening game against the Dundee Stars. Pictured (centre) with the team is Stena Line’s Area Director Michael McGrath getting ready for the season ahead.

The 2012/13 season, Stena Line’s first year of sponsorship, was the most successful yet for the Belfast Giants and the team will be hoping to retain the title this year, after winning their first game of the new season against the Tilburg Trappers last Saturday (1st September).

The Giants will return to Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on 20th September to play their league season home opening game against the Dundee Stars.

Stena Line’s Area Director Michael McGrath believes the partnership is the perfect fit: “We have had a fantastic first year of sponsorship with the Belfast Giants and I’m delighted to announce a further year of the partnership,” said Michael.

“The Belfast Giants are much more than an ice hockey team. They are an outstanding example of how a professional sports organisation can mesh with the community.  Winning trophies is always the measure of sports teams but it doesn’t show their contribution to their community.

“The Stena Line Belfast Giants provide excellent family entertainment, work with schools and youth organisations across Northern Ireland and through the Giants Foundation they are dedicated to making a positive impact in the community. Stena Line is proud to be associated with them through this title sponsorship,” he continued.

“As a giant of the ferry industry, this is the perfect match for Stena Line as the Giants travel throughout the UK to play and we provide more connections between the UK and the Ireland than any of our competitors on the Irish Sea,” Michael added.

Todd Kelman, General Manager of the Stena Line Belfast Giants said:  “We are delighted to be going into our second season with Stena Line as our title sponsor.  They were part of our most successful season ever on and off the ice and the partnership has been a perfect fit for the Giants and hopefully for Stena Line as well.

“We are looking forward to another great season of action and hopefully we can give Stena Line and the people of Northern Ireland another championship winning team they can be proud of,” he added.

Stena Line is the market leader on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes from Ireland to Britain, including the Belfast to Cairnryan, Belfast to Liverpool (Birkenhead), Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Port to Holyhead, and Rosslare to Fishguard routes.  The company carries more than two million passengers on its Irish Sea routes each year, more than its rival ferry operators combined.

Apply for your Tourism Event Grant now!

Thinking of organising an event? Don’t know where to start?

North Down Borough Council are delighted to announce that the next round of Tourism Event Grants are now available and interested parties are invited to apply for these grants to fund upcoming local events.

The Tourism Grants programme is a small grants programme funded by North Down Borough Council.  The programme is part of the Council’s Tourism plan to ensure that the Borough will be in the top tourism destinations in Northern Ireland. In the past, The Council has supported events such as:

–       The North Down Model Railway Society’s Model Exhibition, North Down Cycling Club’s Grand Prix, The Cultra Hill Climb and The Ireman Triathlon to name but a few.

The Grants Programme is operated twice yearly and applications are now being accepted for events taking place from1 April to 31 October 2013.  The grants are assessed on the following criteria: number of bednights generated, positive PR generated, duration of event and projected spectator numbers.

An advertisement for applications for next round grants will appear in local press on September 6th 2012 and information is also available on and  Application forms can be downloaded from the websites so even if you’re just thinking about organising an event, we would encourage you to apply.

North Down Borough Council’s Tourism Manager, Alison Stobie commented; “we are really delighted that in the past, organisations have benefited from our grants and would urge other local groups with upcoming events to submit an application for the latest round of grants.”

Closing date for acceptance of completed applications is Friday 19th October 2012 at 5pm.

Animal Disco is Back!

That’s right folks, The epic midnight indie club that brought you bands such as ASIWYFA, General Fiasco, Not Squares, Duke Special, Cashier No.9, Ram’s Pocket Radio, Ham Sandwich, A Plastic Rose, Wonder Villains, Lafaro and loads more, are at it again! This time, Animal Disco will mix things up a tad, bringing the great party people of Belfast a one off party in Voodoo on October 20th with live performances from Ed Zealous / Go Wolf and DJ sets by Eatenbybears / Animal Disco dj’s. Expect Light shows, lazers, visuals and a Tropical Indie Electro Dance Party!! We are very excited!

Animal Disco presents


Go Wolf

Eatenbybears DJ’s

Saturday October 20th 2012

Voodoo Belfast

10pm / £5

Tickets available at

Four-piece Ed Zealous decided Belfast was the perfect breeding ground for their very own brand of disorder and have been locked away creating, to quote Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, “a slice of awesome electro that would fizz in your mouth if you took a bite”. With their blend of big kick drums, synthesiser chaos and erratic vocals they’re looking to set the live circuit alight when they set out in full force in October.

They’ve just finished recording their debut album with producer Eliot James who’s credits include fellow Irishmen Two Door Cinema Club,  plus Bloc Party and Mark Ronson. Having just finished playing a few gigs off the beaten track, Ed Zealous, who are currently working on finalizing release dates for both their album and its singles, are ready to take Belfast by the horns!

You can watch the video for ‘Diamonds For Eyes’

here: and download a free copy of the track via their Bandcamp page

Ed Zealous play Animal Disco with support from Go Wolf in Voodoo on Saturday October 20th, tickets are £5 and available at


PIGS might fly but according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board so too can the milk-providing variety of animal as its ‘ni2012 cows’, part of the world’s largest public art exhibition, are being herded to Belfast International Airport (BFS) this week.

The art exhibition involves up to 200 fibre glass cows being transformed into magnificent sculptures by local artists and community groups and NITB’s herd of cows have been designed using the now highly-recognisable ni2012: our time, our place colours of pink, blue and yellow.

The ni2012 cows have been visiting towns and cities around Northern Ireland during the summer for one week at a time.  After appearances in Portrush, Derry~Londonderry, Bangor, Warrenpoint, Omagh, Armagh, Downpatrick and Enniskillen, the cows are making a flying visit to BFS w/c September 3.

The cows will be grazing in the grounds of the airport until September 10 and NITB is encouraging people across the country to visit the cows until they mooove onto pastures new.

While the cows have been travelling over the summer they have been stopping along the way to visit some of Northern Ireland’s iconic locations and tourist attractions to have their photo taken including Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Marble Arch Caves, the Mournes and Slieve Gullion.

NITB’s ni2012/13 manager Siobhán McGuigan is thrilled that NITB is part of the Cow Parade.

“We decided to get involved in the Cow Parade as 2012 is such a momentous year for Northern Ireland.  It is a great way to showcase our towns and cities and encourage people to visit the public art sculptures as they graze in different areas,” said Siobhán.

“There has been a number of cows on display throughout the cities of Derry and Belfast but the ni2012 cows were the only herd that have been moooving across Northern Ireland to be displayed in different areas and we’ve had a fantastic response from people coming out to see them,” she added.

Make sure that you go and visit the cows so that they’re not lonely and post your pictures on our Discover Northern Ireland Facebook page.  To follow the cows as they travel around Northern Ireland and to see where they’ve already been, visit, where you can also see a behind-the-scenes video of Mooty’s very valiant attempt at surfing at Portballintrae’s Runkerry Strand.

More than 70 cities across the globe have hosted a Cow Parade since 1999 but this is the first time it has come to Northern Ireland as well as the first time it has taken over an entire region rather than just one city.

For more information on the Cow Parade and attractions in Northern Ireland click on or visit your local tourist information centre.  You can also keep up-to-date with the latest news, images, videos and competitions by visiting


In less than a week Van Morrison will be back in his native east Belfast headlining the Big Top Festival at Aircraft Park on Saturday 8th September.

The music event taking place as part of the East Belfast Arts Festival will have a full supporting line up including Shana Morrison, Brian Houston, Gareth Dunlop, Wonder Villains, Katie & the Carnival, Anthony Toner, Belfast Community Gospel Choir and Mama Kaz Band.

East Belfast will witness a number of ‘firsts’ during the festival period. It is the first year of the festival which promises something for everyone over the five days (5th- 9th September).

This is the first time that Van Morrison has played in the heart of east Belfast since his early days with Them, making his homecoming a show not to be missed. Morrison fans may be in for a special treat if he performs, for the first time, some material off the new album ‘Born to Sing: No Plan B’ (release date 2nd October).

Tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

The East Belfast Arts Festival through the array of events in the programme will celebrate the area through creativity, energy and arts. It will provide locals and visitors alike the opportunity to visit venues they wouldn’t normally for arts based events and will be an opportunity for these venues to showcase their offering. It will also provide local artists with the opportunity to showcase their talent, and will create new audiences interested in the arts.

For full programme, tickets and information visit
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