Come to Holywood for some Christmas Cheer!

This year’s Holywood Christmas Switch On is taking place on Saturday 24th November and will include an action packed programme with entertainment for all the family in Holywood Town Centre.

The Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine and Santa give Fire Fighter Craig Mayne a helping hand ahead of this year’s Holywood Christmas Switch On which is taking place this Saturday, 24th November. This year, Santa’s mode of transport for the event will be a fire engine kindly provided by the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service.

The highlight of the day will be Santa arriving on a Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service fire engine led by The Friendship band to help The Mayor, Councillor Wesley Irvine switch on the lights at 4.30pm. The switch on will be taking place at the Christmas tree outside Holywood Library. They will be joined by local choirs who will be performing some traditional carols by candle light to add to the Christmas spirit.

There are a host of other things happening throughout the day too. Come along and enjoy The Christmas Market which is taking place this year along Sullivan Place. From 11am, over 30 unusual stalls, from local traders, will be selling their Christmas themed wares with plenty of delicious food on offer too. Also placed at the bottom of the market will be the Love Food Hate Waste demonstration kitchen and you will be guaranteed to pick up some great tips and advice to help you eat, drink and be merry this Christmas with Love Food Hate Waste.
Also situated at Sullivan Place, there will be a giant inflatable snowman which kids can enter and enjoy a disco complete with flashing lights! Guaranteed to be a hit with the little ones!
A static display and demonstrations by 253 Northern Irish Medical Regiment will take place outside Queens Hall where a Battlefield Ambulance and a SimMan will be on display for everyone to explore, you can learn about and practice being a medic and test your first aid skills!
There are activities taking place inside The Library too where The Library & HDCC are running an action-packed programme (from 11am) which will include Magic George and City Reptiles for the kids, Christmas Floral Demonstration, Creating Christmas Cards and Cake Decorating. For more information, please contact the library as booking for these events is essential. Or if your children are craft-minded, head down to The Queen’s Leisure Centre (1pm – 3pm) where there’s a host of children’s crafts and face painting on offer.
Adding to the festivities, choirs will be dotted around the town, singing at key locations on the High Street and will come together at the library at 3.30 pm to join forces and create a big choir for a community sing-song of carols by candlelight until the switch on at 4.30 pm.
Commenting on the event, North Down Borough Council’s Tourism Manager; “Alison Stobie said: We’re offering a lovely traditional feel to this year’s Christmas celebrations and we’re delighted that so many local groups are taking place. So come along, join in and enjoy a day of good cheer and lots of Christmas shopping and don’t forget the whole event is free!”

For more info contact Bangor Tourist Information Centre on (028) 9127 0069 or visit

SNOW PATROL ACOUSTIC CHRISTMAS Waterfront Hall: Sunday 23rd December

After taking their very special acoustic tour to Australia earlier this year- Snow Patrol’s Gary, Nathan & John McDaid, have announced a very special home-coming acoustic Christmas show at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

Tickets for this very different but very festive show go on-sale on Friday 23 November at 9am.

Not to be missed this Christmas.

Tickets on-sale Friday 23 November at 9am from:

Waterfront Box Office: Tel. 028 90 334455
Book On Line at:

Or in person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By telephone (24 Hour): Northern Ireland – 0844 277 44 55 / ROI – 0818 719 300
Book On Line at:

For more see: / / /

All Profits from the show will be donated to local children and music charities.

Limited to four tickets per person.


TAKE a step back in time and enjoy the grandeur of the Georgian era with horse-drawn carriages, children’s street games and theatre, living history characters, a spectacular light projection show and much more at Armagh Georgian Day on November 24.

More than 20,000 people are expected to flock to Armagh for its annual Georgian Day which celebrates the city’s historic roots with a modern twist and also marks the start of its Christmas celebrations.
Georgian Day will be in full swing from 10am and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging people to join the celebrations.

NITB’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley says Armagh Georgian Day is a great opportunity for people to find out more about the city’s history while also enjoying a family day out in the run-up to Christmas.

“Georgian Day marks the start of Armagh’s Christmas celebrations and promises to be a fantastic day out for the whole family.  This year will be bigger and better than ever before and the city will be bustling with people and entertainment,” said Pauline.

“The streets will be filled with the smells of mince pies and mulled wine and there will be stalls from all over Northern Ireland packed with unique, handmade gifts.

“There will also be horse-drawn carriages around the mall area, children’s street games and theatre as well as living history characters in full Georgian dress that will entertain the crowds throughout the city,” she continued.

“The day is one of the most exciting and unique celebrations in the festive calendar and offers a truly special atmosphere that everyone will enjoy,” Pauline added.

Georgian Day will run from 10am until 6pm and will also include a spectacular light show which will bring the city centre to life with special effects and colour, the Christmas light-up and a surprise visit from Santa Claus.

There will be a free Park & Ride scheme running from Palace Demesne and Elim Church.  Thomson Street, Scotch Street to the junction with Linenhall Street and Market Street will be closed to traffic during the celebrations.

A winter city break in Armagh starts from only £49 per room.

For further information on Georgian Day click on or visit your local tourist information centre.

Mid Ulster Calendar Boys Calendar Launched and ON SALE NOW!

Fundraising champion Emma McCann has launched her latest fundraising project bringing together some of Mid Ulster’s best known male personalities for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s 2013 ‘Mid Ulster Calendar Boys’ calendar.

The team - Cathy Dempster (Cathy Dempster Photography), Emma McCann (Community Fundraiser Cancer Focus NI) and Fiona Stewart (Bohemian Tree Design) getting a sneak preview of the finished product!

Emma says the idea came about after the Magherafelt & Cookstown Lions Club all-male fashion show for testicular cancer last year. She says “I felt the response was so great that I wanted to repeat it in some way, but to use my expertise in advertising to raise funds for Cancer Focus. It was a eureka moment and I believed that if I could convince several men in the area to participate then I was on to a winner. I knew that on the back of the male fashion show the Lions Club ran last year, there would be no problem getting willing models. I must say that the males in Mid Ulster are not in any way bashful!”

Emma then approached Cathy Dempster Photography in Cookstown to shoot the calendar and Fiona Stewart from Bohemian Tree Designs in Culnady to make up the art work; confident in knowing that the finished result would be a premier product. Emma says she wanted the calendar to feature well known males in the area showing them at work and play but also carrying a subtle health message relating to each image.

She says “I believe that Cathy achieved this so well and hope that the messages come through clear. There was the temptation to be a little risqué, however we held back on that though I think there is still a little bit of something for the ladies!”

Emma says the fundraising project was a lot of fun – “It has been a difficult job coordinating all these gents and locations but possibly a labour of love!”

The calendar aims to showcase men of all ages from all sorts of backgrounds as the health messages could affect anyone at any time. Body builders, bakers, butchers, truckers, bikers, veg growers, cyclists, rugby players, chefs, walkers, farmers and fitness instructors have all come together to support the calendar and highlight the affects of cancer and how to prevent it. Emma says she is so grateful to her good friend Dr Mark Holloway for his input and advice on the appropriate health messages for each month.

Traditionally, it is said that men are not generally good at getting themselves checked on a regular basis so Emma and the team at Cancer Focus hope the calendar will help highlight the need to keep an eye on things and make an appointment with their GP if they are worried or concerned about anything. Emma says “I feel that if only one person could potentially be helped as a result of this calendar, then it will have been a worthwhile venture.”

All proceeds from the calendar are in aid of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, which is the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.  The charity provides help and support to  over 3,000 cancer patients in Northern Ireland – men and women, young and old, with all types of cancer and at all stages of illness.

Services include counselling, support groups, stop smoking clinics, walking groups, bra fitting services, journaling and art therapy, Beauty for Life, helpline and health checks in workplaces and community venues. All services are free of charge.

When Emma started this project she was a volunteer for Cancer Focus, but is now delighted to be employed by the charity as their Community Fundraising Officer in Mid Ulster. And no better woman for the job as Emma has a wealth of fundraising and event organising experience behind her and this, coupled with her advertising background, can only mean good news for the charity in this area.

Projects like this though could not happen if it wasn’t for the very generous sponsors and Emma can’t thank them enough. The Moneymore woman has many plans and new ideas for the forthcoming year and is looking forward to working with local businesses and individuals to make them happen.

The Mid Ulster Calendar Boys 2013 calendar was launched on the 2nd Nov as part of Local Women’s Pre-Christmas Celebrity Fashion-Off at The Terrace Hotel, Magherafelt. Calendars can also be purchased at the following outlets: Burnavon Theatre Cookstown, Red Groomswear Cookstown, Sheehy’s news agents Cookstown, Moneymore Pharmacy, Moneymore Post Office, Christie’s Printers Magherafelt, O’Briens in Magherafelt, Sarah Jane Boutique Magherafelt and all Toner’s Spar shops in Castledawson, Magherafelt, Draperstown and Maghera.

For more information on Cancer Focus click on or follow them on Facebook or Twitter @CancerFocusNI

Family events for the weekend ahead!

Jacqueline from shares her pick of events across the North this week and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Remember if you are organising a festive event to add it free to the site by registering as a new user on the home page.


Gina’s Santa Cottage is the home of Santa and his Elves in the heart of Newry’s countryside.  Children can come along to meet Santa, sing Christmas songs by the fireside and even receive their very own special gift while parents are treated to tea and refreshments in the tranquil setting of Sheeptown Road.   All proceeds from the cottage go directly to The Southern Area Hospice in memory of Georgina Boyd. To book your visit to meet Santa in Gina’s Cottage email  Opens Thursday 15th November.

Don’t forget the fantastic annual fireworks display following the switch on of the Christmas Tree Lights by Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine in Bangor this Saturday 5.30pm to 7.00pm. Wrap up warm and enjoy the start of this festive season in Bangor!


Hanover House in Coagh are hosting a craft fair in aid of chest, heart & stroke in Hanover House on the 17th of November 2012 from 11 till 4pm refreshments served.


On Wednesday 14th November The Belle Isle Cookery School Lisbellaw invite you to cook with the best of Winter’s crop with the freshest of the season’s vegetables and herbs from the cookery school walled garden, as well as locally reared meat and fish from Co. Donegal. Winter Wonders is full of delicious recipes to cook for your family and friends. At a time of year when most of us prefer to stay at home and entertain round a blazing fire rather than venturing out, why not invite some friends round for a casual meal .


Magherafelt High School is the venue for the Autumn Craft and Food Fair on Saturday 17th November from 10.00am until 1.00pm.  Available will be crafts, cards, jewellery, wood crafts, giftware, face painting, nail art, home bakes, jams and chutneys. There will be music and refreshments for your enjoyment and proceeds are in aid of the Life Stand Wheelchair Appeal.


The Bard Of Armagh Festival Of Humorous Verse final takes place in Armagh City hotel on Friday 16th November. Here you can escape from the many false, contrived, imported and predictable forms of entertainment and engage in an evening of true and original hilarity provided by the ordinary people. There are no celebrities, no glossy publicity stunts, just a guarantee of uproarious laughter and a magical night to relish.


There will be lots of family fun before Miss Piggy switches on the Christmas tree lights this Saturday in Glengormley.  There will be live entertainment with local radio presenters Stuart Robinson and David McCammond with live band performances from Soul Train and FreeFall, a short programme of Christmas readings, carols and music and Santa will arrive with Miss Piggy and the Mayor to switch on the Christmas lights. There will be more fun with a Bungee Trampoline, Rodeo Bull, ‘The Flying Snowman’ simulator experience, face painting and festive tattoos – ALL FREE!!  Kids can also visit Santa’s Grotto which costs £4 per child and includes a gift from Santa (in aid of charities supported by the Newtownabbey Rotary Club).

Ulster Bank launches 2012 Business Achievers Awards

Start-ups, food & drink firms, agri-businesses, SMEs, social enterprises and all other companies called on to embrace popular scheme

Ulster Bank has launched the 19th Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards with a call to companies to embrace the full benefits of the programme – the networking, the development events and most importantly, the positive publicity it can bring.

Igniting the hunt for top achievers were: Ian Jordan, Ulster Bank; Thomas Hunter McGowan of IntertradeIreland; Barabra Ann Hitchens of last year’s overall winner TG Eakin; and Dr John Miller of Invest NI.

For the past three years, over a third of all entries to the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards have been in the ‘Best Business Start Up’ category, which highlights the relevance of awards programmes, and the resulting profile, to new businesses, the bank says.

Categories including those for Innovation & Emerging Technology have also been increasingly popular, with many companies entering important categories for social enterprises and international businesses as well.

This year, Ulster Bank has added some new categories to celebrate the growing diversity and strength of the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) sector – a Woman-Led Business category, a Best Established SME category, and a division into two separate categories of Agri-Business, and Food & Drink.

The awards, which are run in Northern Ireland in association with Invest NI, InterTradeIreland and The Belfast Telegraph, as well as, are supported by organisations including the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland, and The Prince’s Trust.

Speaking at the launch of the awards at Riddel Hall, Belfast, Ian Jordan, Director, Corporate Banking Division, Ulster Bank said: “Almost nine out of 10 companies we surveyed told us that they enter awards for the PR and profile. For start-up companies, who made up a third of entries from Ulster in last year’s Business Achievers, the awareness of their business and its achievements that winning awards can bring is crucial.”

“To make entering the Business Achievers Awards even more worthwhile for start-ups, and other companies, this year we are enhancing the programme to include a new ‘Business Achievers Roadshow’, when companies can benefit from workshops, seminars, and networking, as well as the experiences of past winners.

“We will also be providing additional PR opportunities for companies who may not make the all-island final. Every day there are successes and positive stories in the business community and we want to highlight and support them,” he adds.

Ian Murphy, Director at Invest NI, said:  “Invest Northern Ireland is delighted to be associated with the awards again this year.  They are an important platform for recognising both entrepreneurs and businesses who have, despite a challenging economic environment, worked extremely hard to grow and boost their competitiveness, find new customers in new markets, diversify their product offering and take the necessary steps to secure their future position.”

Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO of InterTradeIreland said: “InterTradeIreland is an organisation that continues to support small businesses, both North and South, in terms of innovation and cross border trade. We are delighted once again to be involved in these prestigious awards to help recognise the efforts of some of the best SMEs across the island. I would encourage local SMEs to enter this year’s Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards and to benefit from the fantastic support and assistance offered.”

In addition to the Ulster stage of the awards, Northern Ireland companies have been highly success in the All-Island Final. Comber-based TG Eakin was the overall winner last year, as well as the International Business Award winner. At the same awards, North West company Budget Energy won the Best Business Start-up category.

This follows successes the previous year for Belfast-based Andor Technology (Overall Winner and International Business Category winner), and North West firm BubbleBum (Best Business Start-up). Other Northern Ireland companies to meet with success at the all-island stage in recent years include First Derivatives and Mash Direct.

The 2012 Ulster Bank Business Achiever will receive a comprehensive prize package including a publishing bursary with the Irish Independent, business mentoring, a full service communications workshop, as well as much positive PR coverage at both the provincial and all-island stages of the awards through media partners the Irish Independent and Belfast Telegraph, as well as other media.

Ulster Bank’s Awards are open to all SMEs.   Businesses can enter at and entries will close on 28th February.

For full details and to enter, visit or find us on twitter @ulsterbank_BAA / #businessachievers. The Business Achievers Roadshow will take place in January and February,  and details will be made available at

Magherafelt serving up a treat this Christmas!

Magherafelt District Council will once again be serving up a treat with their Speciality Christmas Food and Craft Market on Saturday 1st December from 12noon to 9pm and Sunday 2nd December from 12noon to 6pm in the Old Market Yard, Rainey Street Magherafelt. Funded by D.A.R.D through the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, the Christmas Market is a truly seasonal experience.

Come along and enjoy browsing and sampling the locally produced artisan food and drink.  Or take time to unwind in our heated lounge where you can experience a craft beer, hot mulled wine or even just sit and relax.  Complete with a bandstand where musicians, local carol singer and school children will perform over the weekend.

Magherafelt District Council is pleased to host, for the second consecutive year, a craft fair as part of the Christmas Market.   Visitors to the Christmas Craft Marquee will be inspired and amazed by the variety, quality and originality of the hand-made craft products and gifts on display.  There may even be a few special characters on display too!

Children will have the opportunity to enter the magical world of chocolate at the Aunt Sandra’s Candy workshops, and learn how to make seasonal chocolate lollipops.

Local Butchers are participating, with the hope of being crowned the winner of ‘Battle of the Butchers 2012’ Christmas sausage competition.  Each participating butcher will be creating a new festive sausage just in time for Christmas.  These sausages will be on sale in the participating Butchers on the run-up-to the Christmas Food Market, with people being encouraged to sample and vote for the one they like best.

Once again, the very popular ‘Cup Cake Challenge’ will be taking place.

There will be three categories, “The Most Delicious”, “The Prettiest” and “The Most Festive”. The only criteria for entering the competition is that the cupcakes must be homemade, so get your wooden spoons at the ready and prepare for the ‘Cup Cake Challenge’.  To enter just bring your cupcakes along to the Craft Marquee before 2 pm on Saturday 1st December.

So mark the date in your diary, as the aromas of the food accompanied by live Christmas music drifting through the market, will create a magical atmosphere that all the family will enjoy.

Christmas Lights Switch-on

On Saturday the 1st December at 7.00pm join Cool FM for a captivating evening of festive fun, with prize giveaways, the arrival of Santa at part of the Christmas Wonderland Carnival.   Santa will switch on the lights and illuminate the sky with a fanfare of fireworks.

Together these events will bring a fabulous atmosphere to Magherafelt and an even better aroma.

For further information contact The Bridewell T: 7963 1510 or visit or follow

Sasha to Switch on Bangor’s Lights

A lucky pupil from Rockport School will have another reason to celebrate Christmas this year after being chosen by North Down Borough Council to switch on Bangor’s Christmas Tree Lights.

Sasha Sharma, a year 6 pupil at Rockport entered the recent Junior Spectator competition to draw a Christmas tree and her beautiful creation was chosen by The Mayor as the lucky winner. As well as switching on the lights on November 17th, Sasha’s picture will also be used as the design for this year’s Mayor’s Christmas card.
The annual Christmas Light Switch On will commence at 5.30pm on Saturday, 17th November, when crowds will gather in Castle Park in front of The Town Hall to watch the skies above Bangor come alive with a spectacular fireworks display before the Christmas tree lights are ceremoniously switched on.

Commenting on the event, Alison Stobie, Tourism Manager, North Down Borough Council, said, “The switching on of the Bangor Christmas tree lights is the perfect event to make everyone in the family feel like the festive season has arrived, wrap up warmly and come along and enjoy the show.”
She went on to say; “On a more serious note, please make sure to follow all safety instructions on the night. As well as producing an amazing show, safety is our priority at this Christmas Show, so it is extremely important that you obey health & safety rules and co-operate fully with the marshals. Remember also that due to the volume of people it may be necessary to close some roads and the Omniplex cinema and leisure centre should be temporarily accessed from the Gransha Road between 5pm and 6pm.”

This year, a variety of food traders will also be on the site providing an array of hot food and beverages to stave off the cold. Treat yourself to a crepe, a baked potato or a coffee to keep warm whilst watching the fireworks.

Also commenting on the event, The Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine said: “I am really looking forward to Christmas in Bangor on November 17th and I’m delighted that such a worthy winner will be switching on the lights. Congratulations to Sasha on winning our competition and I am delighted to have her beautiful picture as my Christmas card this year.”

For further information, please phone our Tourist Information Centre on: 028 9127 0069 or visit


Winter Warmer Menu Now Available Onboard

LEADING ferry company Stena Line is dishing up a new onboard menu this week with a heart-warming, high quality and comforting range of food to suit all tastes in time for the winter season.

The menu is available for customers in the Taste, Met, Food City  and Stena Plus lounges on all Irish Sea routes and features dishes designed by celebrity chef Kevin Woodford including Butternut Squash soup with Ginger and Coriander, Beef & Ale Pie with Mash or Chips and Root Vegetables.

New additions to the Stena Plus menu range include Butterfly King Prawns in Filo Pastry with sesame dressed leaves, chilli and coriander dipping sauce and New Zealand Lamb slowly braised in a port wine jus with root vegetables and nutmeg mash.

Dave Williams, Executive Chef with Stena Line, said: “I am delighted with the high quality and freshness of the ingredients on offer and look forward to hearing some feedback from our customers.”

Jamie Christon, Stena Line’s Route Director Holyhead to Dublin/Dun Laoghaire and Head of Onboard Services Support, welcomed the new menu.

“Food is a very important part of our overall customer service experience,” said Jamie. “In recent years we have invested heavily throughout the Irish Sea in our ships and ports and it is important that our food proposition keeps pace with this development. We are committed to constantly reviewing and refreshing our menu and this launch is the third this year.

“Our ongoing investment shows our commitment to providing our customers with a top quality dining experience as they travel on our ferries. This quality approach will continue into the future,” he added.

The new Winter Warmer menu is available on all five of Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes; Belfast to Cairnryan, Belfast to Liverpool, Dublin port to Holyhead, Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead and Fishguard to Rosslare.


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 12 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (November 12 – 18).

  • Calendar Girls, Alley Theatre, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, November 14 – 15.  This hilarious play is based on a true story of a group of Yorkshire women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research under the auspices of the Women’s Institutes.
  • Christmas Flower Demonstration, Ardhowen Theatre, Co. Fermanagh, November 15.  A wonderful evening of stunning floral displays is demonstrated by the very talented Richard Haslam.   
  • Death or Circus, MAC, Belfast, November 15 – 17.  A satire on modern culture using traditional circus skills performed by the fabulous Tumble Circus, this unique live show is described as theatre from the dark side of feel good.         
  • Christmas Craft Fair, The Old Post Office, Lisbane, Co. Down, November 16.  Take the chance to do some early Christmas shopping with stalls showcasing work from local artists and craftspeople.
  • Guildhall Craft Fair, Guildhall Square, Co. Londonderry, November 16 – 18.  This annual event celebrates the cream of Irish craft and features a host of distinguished designers and makers with unique and unusual gift ideas.
  • William Kennedy Piping Festival, various venues, Co. Armagh, November 16 – 18.  A festival celebrating the worldwide community of piping traditions from all over the globe with a range of events and music.
  • Belfast Christmas Lights Switch On, Belfast City Hall, November 17.  Come along to join this year’s festive celebrations when the ZingZillas of CBeebies fame will be lighting up Belfast for Christmas.
  • Parliament Buildings’ 80th Anniversary, Stormont Parliament Buildings, Belfast, November 17.  This iconic landmark will be throwing open its doors to take visitors on a tour of the building and grounds.  You will get to see the Assembly Chamber, Senate Chamber, the Speaker’s Office and much more.
  • Christmas Continental Market, Belfast City Hall, November 17.  The Christmas market will be returning with dozens of market stalls offering a range of crafts, food and decorations from across Europe and beyond including Dutch, French and Irish cheeses, German sausages and beer, toasted baguettes and crepes, pastries and cakes and plants and flowers.
  • Bangor Christmas Switch On, Bangor Town Hall, Co. Down, November 17.  Why not make a day of it in Bangor and stop off in one of the many delicious eateries, do some Christmas shopping and then enjoy a spectacular fireworks display at the Town Hall followed by the switch on of the Christmas tree lights.
  • Porcelain Tea Lanterns, Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, November 17.  Join this hands-on workshop and create a stunning white porcelain lantern to add warmth and ambience to your home throughout the winter months.
  • The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick, Co. Down, November 18.  George Grossmith, the actor who created the comic roles in the Savoy Operas, gives us an insight into both W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and enables us to meet the Sergeant of Police, Ko-Ko, The Lord Chancellor, Major-General Stanley and others.