WITH Mother’s Day this week, Stena Line has lots of great ideas to help families spoil their mum and enjoy some quality time together that won’t break the bank!

Northern Ireland’s leading ferry company is also offering kids the opportunity to travel and stay for free with a great selection of hotel breaks in Scotland and England. As well as kids going free, adults can travel and stay from only £59* per adult, per night.

As part of National Ferry Fortnight, which runs March 2 – 16, families who book by March 16 can also take advantage of Stena Line’s great KIDS GO FREE offer which is available on all Economy, Flexi and Premium motorist bookings, for travel from March 16 until January 5, 2014.

Stena Line’s Diane Poole, OBE, Head of PR and Communications said: “Mother’s Day is the one day of the year us mums get to put our feet up and relax. I can’t think of a better way to make sure it’s a Mother’s Day to remember than treating your mum to a break in Britain to spend quality time with the family.

“During National Ferry Fortnight, Stena Line has a fantastic KIDS GO Free offer on travel booked by March 16 and in addition to that we have a great selection of hotel breaks to Britain from only £59* per adult, per night and many of which allow kids to travel and stay for free as well as the opportunity to enjoy three nights’ accommodation for the price of two. So with these fantastic money saving offers, they make the perfect present to help spoil your mum this Mother’s Day.

“What’s more, travelling with Stena Line means your mum can look forward to a stress free trip across the Irish Sea as no baggage limits means the family car can be packed to the brim and with a fantastic onboard experience to look forward to she can relax in style and enjoy a great meal and a glass of wine while the children are kept entertained in the Curious George children’s play areas and Teen , watch a free movie in the cinema or surf the net with the free Wi-Fi,” Diane added.

Stena Line has listed some of the hotel breaks on offer where KIDS GO FREE.

Travel from Belfast to Cairnryan and stay in the King James by Thistle hotel in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. In the heart of the city, close to Princes Street and the Royal Mile, this is the perfect location for mums to indulge in some retail therapy in Harvey Nicholls or go wild and take the family to Edinburgh Zoo.

Located in Glasgow’s fashionable West End, the 3* Glasgow Pond Hotel offers the most contemporary of bedrooms and has a bar and restaurant where you can relax after exploring the city. From shopping, to cultural landmarks and a lively nightlife, Glasgow has something for everyone.

Sail from Belfast to Liverpool and stay in the glamorous, boutique Hotel Indigo set in Liverpool’s commercial district. Enjoy a Marco Pierre White inspired meal in the hotel’s steakhouse or step out and explore one of Liverpool’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.

The newly refurbished The Queen Hotel, in the heart of Chester has been returned to its former glory. Offering a new restaurant, bar and Italian gardens, the hotel is minutes walk from the shops and attractions that Roman Chester has to offer.

To treat your mum to a break in Britain with Stena Line go to, call 08432 081 811or visit your local Stena Line office or travel agent.

*Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. Hotel break based on a minimum two night stay.

Stena Line

KIDS GO FREE National Ferry Fortnight offer

– Book by 16th March

– For travel from 16th March until 5th Jan 2014

– Available on Economy, Flexi and Premium motorist bookings

– To book go to / call 08432 081 811 / or visit your local Stena Line office or travel agent

Our pick of family events coming up this weekend!


The 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland have organized a short circuit meeting at Kirkistown Racing Circuit on Saturday 9th March from 10.00am to 4.00pm, featuring direct drive junior and senior classes. The event will be a round of the North of Ireland Karting Championship.


The Strule Arts Centre Omagh is the venue this Saturday for Children’s Story telling by local bilingual author Maria Boden followed by an Art Workshop with Bronwyn Moloney who will help the children prepare their own headpiece or decoration for St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Omagh 2013. 10.30am to 12.30 pm.


The Waterways Ireland Junior Angling Classis 2013 takes place this Saturday (and Saturday 16th March) in Enniskillen. The event is organised on an individual and school team basis.  Fishing skills will be incorporated into the event.


Castle Comealot’s jester, Mr Minute, has been found dead, but he didn’t die laughing – oh no – he was murdered! All the prime suspects have been gathered together and you are invited to help solve the murder of Jester Minute. “The Unprofessionals” present “The Last Laugh”.  Tickets £20pp (includes buffet) In Aid of NI Children’s Hospice. Dungiven Castle, Saturday 9th March 8.00pm.


Enjoy a Mother’s Day with a difference at Navan Centre and Fort this Sunday, as you lunch with Queen Macha, the only Queen of Ireland. Macha’s legacy in the City remains today as her name was given to ‘Armagh’, Macha’s Height.  During lunch Queen Macha will invite guests to savour an array of home cooked foods in a Royal Feast where they will be entertained with enchanting music and some Royal activities. Children will take part in a Bard Workshop, learning from one of King Conor’s Bards on how to script a verse for their Mother. Then simply relax and listen to storytelling with our Celtic characters.


How about a day out with a difference? Stena Line are setting sail from Belfast at 11:30 on Saturday 9th March (other dates available throughout the summer and beyond) with a new series of non-landing Pirates and Princesses Kids Cruises, offering families the chance to enjoy a day of fun from only £10 per person.  Young pirates and princesses can enjoy a day of swash-buckling fun from the minute they step onboard with a magic show, treasure hunt, face painting, balloon modelling and many more surprises before arriving back at Belfast Port at 17:45.  Ideal for birthday parties and the ferry giant even has your party invites wrapped up as these can be downloaded online and personalised.  There are even goody bags as the birthday guests depart.


WITH St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, Northern Ireland has a packed programme of festivities lined up to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.

ON THE HUNT FOR ST PATRICK’S DAY FUN... Aileen O’Neill of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Hannah McQuillan (10) explores the Shamrock Trail at Springhill House, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry, as part of the Shamrock Shenanigans event running in celebration of St Patrick’s Day. Northern Ireland has a packed programme of events lined up to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and NITB is encouraging people to make the most of the holiday and explore what’s on offer. From street carnivals to open air concerts and even wakeboarding leprechauns there is something for everyone during this year’s festivities. To find out more about Northern Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day events and festivals or for further information on places to stay or things to see and do, click on

From street carnivals to open air concerts and even wakeboarding leprechauns there is something for everyone during this year’s celebrations and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging people to make the most of the opportunity and explore what’s on offer.

“Every county in Northern Ireland will be putting on celebrations for St Patrick’s Day and will include a whole host of free activities and days out that the entire family can enjoy,” said NITB’s Destination PR Officer Pauline Gormley.

“Northern Ireland will come alive with celebrations, parades, concerts, traditional music and great craic guaranteed no matter which county you visit.  The focus is, as always, on family friendly, inclusive events and there really is something for everyone this St Patrick’s Day weekend” she added.

To help get the celebrations underway NITB has put together a guide to St Patrick’s Day events across Northern Ireland:


Belfast will host many events from March 15 – 18 as part of the St Patrick’s Festival including the annual St Patrick’s Day Carnival which will take to the streets on March 17.  Community groups from all areas of the city will join professional and amateur performers, musicians and acrobats. The spectacle will finish with a free concert in Custom House Square where visitors can enjoy traditional Irish, Ulster Scots, pop and multicultural music and dance.

The Ulster Hall is hosting a ceili with the Cathal McAnulty Ceili band and the McPeake Family, alongside singers, musicians and Irish dancers while St George’s Market will have live music and family entertainment throughout the weekend.

This year will see a special St Patrick’s Kiddie Zone at the Big Fish on Sunday March 17 from 1pm – 3pm which will allow toddlers and younger children to enjoy the buzz and music of the concert away from the crowds, plus enjoy lots of free, family entertainment.

Féile an Earraigh is Belfast’s leading traditional music festival taking place in the run up to St Patrick’s Day in the city every year.  The 10th Féile an Earraigh will run from March 11 – March 17 in various venues throughout the Falls area of the city and the City Centre.  With a mixture of gigs, dramas, exhibitions and discussions, Féile an Earraigh marks the beginning of Spring with something for everyone.  For the first time in 35 years Van Morrison plays in Belfast on St Patrick’s weekend too.  The intimate gigs, restricted to 250 tickets per show, take place in the Exhibition Centre at the Europa Hotel on March 16 – 17 and each event includes a two course supper prior to the show.

County Antrim

Slemish Mountain is a traditional place of pilgrimage and the annual St Patrick’s Day Walk will be taking place on March 17.  Visitors can learn about St Patrick and his historical legacy as well as the history, wildlife and geology of Slemish followed by traditional fayre and afternoon entertainment in the Ecos Centre, Ballymena.

Why not celebrate the St Patrick’s bank holiday on March 18 with the Ballycastle & District Horse Ploughing Championship on the Glenshesk Road, Ballycastle. This popular, traditional ploughing match has been taking place in the Ballycastle area for over 100 years and attracts ploughmen from all over Ireland. It is a great day out for the whole family.

County Armagh

Where better to celebrate Saint Patrick than his chosen city of Armagh?  The Saint Patrick’s Festival, Armagh, is jam-packed with traditional music sessions, busking, concerts and family entertainment across ten days from March 8 – March 18, making it one of the longest festivals in Ireland.

Join international singing sensation ‘The Priests’ at the spectacular setting of Saint Patricks Catholic Cathedral for an evening of classical music on Friday 8th March, enjoy live music at the City’s busking festival on Saturday 16th March and make sure you don’t miss the main event on March 17 which takes the form of a carnival parade, where marching bands, colourful floats, dance performances and music will fill the streets.

County Down

St Patrick’s Celebrations, Downpatrick, boasts a seven day programme of events from March 11 – 18 which includes the spectacular St Patrick’s Day Cross-Community Carnival Parade which attracts over 30,000 spectators as it makes its way through the streets of Downpatrick on the big day itself, March 17.  With over 50 events to choose from and a wealth of FREE entertainment on offer, Downpatrick’s St Patrick’s Celebrations has something for everyone including a range of concerts, exhibitions, sporting and family events.

Down County Museum in Downpatrick is also inviting people to join them for a day of family entertainment with Irish dancing, traditional and folk music, storytelling and circus style entertainment including clowns, acrobats and jugglers on March 17.  The Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick, is a must for anyone interested in the story of St. Patrick.  The state-of-the-art centre is an exciting interpretative exhibition which tells the fascinating story of Ireland’s Patron Saint.  Enjoy a truly traditional St Patrick’s Day with a unique festival of music, crafts, food, dance and song at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra on March 17.

The cross community St Patrick’s Day Festival parade in Newry has become a focal point on Newry & Mourne’s calendar of events. Live music, street theatre, comedy, and street performances of Irish Dancing will provide an exciting carnival atmosphere not to be missed, which promises to be a fun-packed day for all the family.

County Fermanagh

The St Patrick’s Day Parade in Enniskillen will see marching bands and floats parading through Enniskillen town on March 17 with a range of activities also taking place throughout the day, including the return of the popular wakeboarding leprechauns as well as RNLI displays and hovercraft, jet skiing and jet pack action on the water.  St Patrick himself will arrive and there will be face-painting, balloon modelling and other inflatable fun for the kids.  ‘Snakes’ is the theme this year and all participants must incorporate this into their floats or display on the day.  A Guinness World Record will also be attempted at this spectacular family fun day as the people of Enniskillen attempt to have the world’s largest snake on parade through the town.

Or why not celebrate with a St Patrick’s Family Day at Castle Barracks, Enniskillen – a celebration of the local history and culture with archaeological digs, siege machines, medieval food demonstrations, quill writing, bouncy castles and other activities.

County Londonderry

With Free entry for anyone who can prove they are called Patrick, Shamrock Shenanigans at Springhill House, Magherafelt, is the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Discover the shamrock trail around the grounds, enjoy craft activities for the children as well as traditional food, music and more.  The 2013 UK City of Culture St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival, Derry~Londonderry, will be a celebration of language, history, culture and tradition with a family friendly focus.  With carnival parades, concerts, dancing, storytelling and colourful characters the event is the perfect way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with the family.

County Tyrone

Shamrocks and Shillelaghs at The Argory, Dungannon, offers a fine way to celebrate St.Patricks Day in Tyrone.  Children will love the Shillelagh trail and craft activities and adults can enjoy the traditional music and Irish food – a fantastic day of fun for all the family.

The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh will be celebrating the tradition of The Emigrants Farewell on from March 17 – 19.  For many, the hours before departing Ireland for America during the 1700s and 1800s become known as the American or Living Wake and these scenes will be re-enacted with music, song and dance.

To find out more about Northern Ireland’s events and festivals, or for further information on places to stay or things to see and do in Northern Ireland, click on


Looking for a family day out this Easter?

Why not come to Bangor this Easter Monday, 1st April, for a day packed full with free family fun at the annual Easter Parade and Funday where Bangor’s seafront will have something to appeal to everyone from 10.00 – 6.00 pm.

This year, 2013, is a very special year for Bangor as 400 years ago The Town was first issued its charter by King James I and to mark this occasion, the spectacular parade will have a Bangor 400 theme and everyone is encouraged to join in the fun by coming along in fancy dress.

Bangor & Holywood Town Centre Management in partnership with North Down Borough Council will be hosting a Spring Fair in The Sunken Gardens where an array of local crafts and speciality foods will be available. This fair will also take place on Easter Saturday from 11am – 4pm and Easter Sunday from 1pm – 5pm.

Starting at 10am on Easter Monday, at The McKee Clock Arena, Eddie Irvine Sports will be running a special karting event. Everyone will have the chance to kart around on a specially created outdoor track, great for the budding F1 stars! The charge for this will be £5 per ride.

Taking a stroll down The Promenade, you can try your hand at Laserquest, the fast-paced action combat game which will cost £5 per go or check out the variety of animals at Phil’s Farm. This speciality farm will be in situ all day and children will be able to pet the animals and learn how to care for them. Just watch out for the giant Chic Eggs which will be making their way through the crowds, entertaining everyone along the way!

Finish your walk at Pickie Fun Park which will be open all day with lots to do and see, take a ride on a swan, play in the play park or just have a coffee and relax in the refurbished café.

At 3.00 pm over 200 children and young people from St Gall’s Brownies, North Down District Scouts, St Comgalls Primary School, St Malachys Primary School and many more will be taking to the streets as part of the spectacular Bangor 400 themed carnival Parade. Look out for Kings & Queens, a giant birthday cake, live music bands and lots more when this colourful spectacular makes its way around the Town. Get into the spirit by colouring in and cutting out the special 400 crown which can be found in this edition of The Junior Spectator. Wear the crown on the day and be part of the Bangor 400 celebrations!

This year, The Parade will be led by the The Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine who will be travelling in a beautiful horse drawn carriage.  The Parade’s route will start at The Town Hall, then onto Main Street, along Quay Street, turning into High Street and making its way back up Main Street to The Town Hall – an extravaganza not to be missed!

Speaking about the event, North Down Borough Council’s Tourism Manager, Alison Stobie said: “We’re delighted to be kicking off our events season with our Easter in Bangor event. This is the first of our 400 series of themed events and promises to be a fantastic day out for the whole family.”

So come on down to Bangor with your family and friends this Easter for lots of family fun!

For further information check


The phrase ‘Are we there yet?’ is a common one used by children when they travel, however families who book with Stena Line during National Ferry Fortnight, can look forward to free travel for the kids as well as  an action packed trip from the moment they step onboard, meaning that annoying phrase will be a thing of the past.

National Ferry Fortnight, which runs from March 2 – 16, highlights the benefits of travelling by ferry, and Stena Line’s Diane Poole, OBE, Head of PR and Communications, hopes that with the leading ferry company’s KIDS GO FREE* offer, which is available on all Economy, Flexi and Premium motorist bookings, families will be encouraged to find out for themselves the merits of ferry travel.

“National Ferry Fortnight is a great opportunity to showcase travelling by ferry which really is the best way to travel – especially with children.  Travelling by car with Stena Line provides people with the opportunity to make their holiday their own and explore Britain and Europe at their leisure. With so much to do on all our ships, the adventure starts as soon as you step onboard and we promise that children won’t get bored which means parents can relax and enjoy the journey also.”

“Families who book during National Ferry Fortnight have the opportunity of saving money with the fantastic KIDS GO FREE offer which is available for travel from 16 March up to January 5, 2014. What’s more anyone who is travelling by car with Stena Line between March 2 – 16 will automatically be entered into a draw^ to win a free family sailing, so there has never been a better time to enjoy an action packed trip with Stena Line,” Diane added.

There are lots of ferry good reasons for families to travel with Stena Line and to give people a better idea of how young passengers can be kept entertained when onboard, the leading ferry company has listed some of the things to do:

  1. Surf the net with free WIFI – you can even use your phone!
  2. Watch a movie in the cinema or in selected lounges onboard
  3. Be the Captain!*
  4. Enjoy fun and games in the Curious George children’s play areas and Teen Town
  5. Watch out for wildlife and landmarks as you sail with dolphins, porpoises and lots more!

Enjoy National Ferry Fortnight with Stena Line and never hear ‘Are We There Yet?’ again! To make a booking log onto, call 08447 70 70 70 or visit your local Stena Line office or travel agent.

*Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. Be the Captain is only available at certain times and details on how to enter are available onboard. ^Stena Line Irish Sea customers who are travelling by car between 2nd – 16th March and who booked by 28th February will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a return ferry crossing for a car + 4 (on the same route that they are travelling on).