Open House Festival kicks off this Sunday in Ward Park

Coming down from the mountains to entertain Bangor’s music lovers, this Sunday, August 4th a special Bluegrass Picnic featuring all-girl Canadian group “Oh My Darling” will be taking place at Ward Park.

Oh My Darling, the all girl bluegrass group hailing from Winnipeg, Canada who will be performing at the Bluegrass Picnic taking place this Sunday, 4th August in Ward Park, Bangor. This event will mark the opening of the Bangor 400 Open House Festival which will see arts activities taking place all around Bangor for the whole month of August.

In place of the usual Summer Entertainment concert, this special event will mark the opening of the Bangor 400 Open House Festival which will run throughout the whole month of August.

Hailing from Winnipeg Canada, don’t be fooled by their sweet names and faces, the Oh My Darling girls are seriously good musicians, each of them virtuoso musicians in their own right who make it look so easy! Their prairie roots mixed with southern twang and Franco-folk create an American musical melting pot brewed from dynamic vocals, brilliant claw-hammer banjo, inspired fiddling and grooving bass runs.

As well as your country soul, we’ll be taking care of your country stomach, with lots of food available for sale on site. Choose from delicious pulled pork, French crepes, ice-cream, eton mess, tea and coffee, candyfloss and sweets – something for everyone!

To keep the kids happy, there will be face-painting and balloon modelling with co-ordinated games and crafts taking place on site too.

Speaking about the event and The Open House Festival, Kieran Gilmore, Festival Director, said: “Bluegrass picnic is just one afternoon in a full month of arts activity. Throughout August we have ninety events taking place in venues around Bangor town centre, including music, film, comedy, exhibitions, walking tours, boat trips and much more. We’ve got international performers alongside local artists, and more than forty free and family events. We’d encourage people to pick up a free copy of our full colour 100 page programme from the Tourist Office or North Down Museum and get booking soon – events are starting to sell out.”

The Bluegrass Picnic has all the ingredients for a fun family day out so get down to Ward Park, this Sunday from 2pm – 5pm to get in on the action at this totally FREE event.  And don’t forget to pack your picnic!


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (August 5 – 11).

  • Into the Deep, Titanic Belfast, Belfast, July 27 – August 11.  Enjoy family friendly talks with marine experts, explore the Titanic touch tanks which will give visitors the chance to get up close and personal with local marine creatures and take part in marine-themed arts and crafts and hands-on experiments.
  • Gasyard Wall Féile, various venues, Co. Londonderry, August 1 – 15.  Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this festival will have a range of events taking place with everything from music, literature, sport, education, visual arts, fun days, lectures and much more.
  • The Heart of the Glens Festival, Cushendall, Co. Antrim, August 3 – 11.  One of the most successful community festivals in Northern Ireland with a colourful programme of over 100 events including a themed street night, ceili, a family vintage day and much more.
  • 7 Hills Blues Festival, Armagh city centre, Co. Armagh, August 8 – 11.  Already an established event on the Blues calendar, this event showcases all types of music from Chicago Rhythm to Funk Style with local bands and international acts all taking part.
  • Sunflowerfest 2013, Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, Co. Down, August 9 – 11.  A family-friendly festival with the best local music artists, bands and international guests.  Performers this year include Henry Cluney (Stiff Little Fingers), The Screaming Eagle, Roll the Dice, Emerald Armada and many more.
  • Little Red Riding Hood, The Market Place Theatre, Co. Armagh, August 10.  A curious young girl weaves her way through the woods to her Grandma’s house on a journey full of surprises in this playful and imaginative re-telling of a timeless story.
  • Jane Austen Exhibition, Carrickfergus Museum Exhibition Gallery, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, until August 17.  Immerse yourself in this fantastic exhibition which celebrates the 200th year since the first edition of Pride and Prejudice was published.
  • Summer Scheme, Share Village, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh, every Monday – Friday in July and August.  A fun filled week of skills development for children aged 8 – 16. Choose from sailing, canoeing/ kayaking, windsurfing, rookie lifeguard, mountain biking and film making.  All levels welcome.  
  • William Carleton International Summer School, Clogher Valley district, Co. Tyrone, August 5 – 8.  Celebrating the life and works of the famous 19th century novelist, this is a must for literature lovers with talks and debates with Carleton scholars, a literary symposium and a coach tour of the Carleton country led by a historian.
  • Summer Street Art, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, August 5 – 9.  A week long workshop exploring the different techniques used by urban artists across the world, the reason behind street art and the difference between art and vandalism.

Super summer savings at Movie House Cinemas

This summer Movie House will have special morning matinee screenings every single day of the week throughout July and August.

Any movie starting before noon will cost just £3 at all five Movie House cinemas – Dublin Road, Yorkgate/Cityside, Glengormley, Maghera or at the Jet Centre in Coleraine. This great low price applies 3d movies as well though where required 3d glasses can purchased at the cinema for £1.

There are loads of fab family movies this summer – starting with Despicable Me (28 June), Monsters University (from 12 July), Smurfs 2 (from 31 July) and Planes (from 16 Aug).

There are loads more films to choose for older kids and adults as well. To find out what’s showing at Movie House go to The cinema offers free online booking – and you can now book from your smartphone!

Smurf Madness at Movie House!

Movie House Cinemas are braced for the arrival of the Smurfs on Wednesday!

The little blue characters are always a huge hit at the Movie House and the cinema has brought in a limited line of collectors’ Smurf Straws, which are available from the snack kiosk while stocks last.

In the Smurfs 2, The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation – creatures called the Naughties – into real Smurfs.

Did you know the Smurfs began life as Les Schtroumpfs in a Belgian comic and television franchise back in 1958?

Kids still love them today! So if you’re looking to dodge the rain showers, head to Movie House Cinemas (Dublin road, Yorkgate/Cityside, Glengormley, Maghera or Coleraine) to catch the Smurfs in action.

Find out more at




A spectacular line-up of blues events has been unveiled as part of Armagh’s 7 Hills Blues Fest at a special launch event in the city centre, where blues guitar legend Ronnie Greer and his powerhouse band were on hand to set a music-filled scene for a jam-packed preview of what’s in store over the festival weekend.

The launch saw the eagerly-awaited 7 Hills Gig Guide revealed for the first time, which includes details of more than 50 free gigs scheduled to take place at venues across the city from Thursday 8th August through to Sunday 11th August for what is already being billed as Armagh’s best summer blues fest yet.

Now in its third year, the 7 Hills Blues Fest has gone from strength to strength and includes a jam-packed programme of musical events planned over the whole weekend, including two ‘big ticket’ events – ‘The Blues Band’ in The Market Place Theatre, which will be a real treat for true blues fans, and the ‘7 Hills Great Gatsby Dance’ in Armagh City Hotel, which will revive the roaring 1920’s for one amazing night only.

The city will also play host to a clutch of fantastic free events for families on the hunt for more outdoor summer fun, with a Bluez 4 Kidz workshop, Picnic in the Palace Park, graffiti artist and an outdoor festival in the Shambles Yard all included in this year’s line-up.

City centre visitors who would like to shop while listening to the great music can get themselves down to the Shambles Market, Mall Shopping Centre, Market Square, Art on the rails and Vintage in the City – all of which will host a shopping experience with a difference. Many of Armagh’s fabulous cafes and restaurants will also have artists playing as part of the weekend-long event, so visitors are advised to check out the gig guide and book their table early.

The popular festival will see many of the city’s favourite performers return again, including Grainne Duffy, Pat McManus, Lee Hedley, Mark Black, Clive Barnes and Rab McCullough, as well as a host of exciting new acts such has Short Fuse Blues, Pilgrim Blues and Cold Porter.

Armagh City’s vitally-important local young talent will be showcased in Cup o’Joe and DANI, along with festival founder Simon Smith, who plays with the Crowbar Blues and Preacher Casey’s. Simon also teams up with Ian Sands and the Bluez Katz to create the Crow Katz which will set Market Square alight in the fabulous new Band Stand.

Speaking at the launch, Lord Mayor, Robert Turner, said:

“The excitement is really starting to build for this fantastic weekend festival which will bring many locals and visitors to the City Centre to experience the great atmosphere and wonderful venues Armagh has to offer.

“With over 50 free gigs and some fantastic fringe events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy – young and old.  I’m looking forward to seeing crowds of locals, visitors and blues fans enjoy the festival and I’ve no doubt it will be another major success for our city.”

Guides for 7 Hills Blues Fest are available at City Centre venues now or they can be downloaded from or for more information follow 7 Hills Blues Fest on Facebook or call the Armagh Tourist Information Centre for more details 028 3752 1800.

Superbikes set to put on super show at Dundrod this August

The fierce rivalry between last year’s Superbike race contenders Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin will be renewed at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix on August 17.

The Tyco Suzuki rider, who won the feature race in 2012, will face even stiffer competition this time as four-time 2013 TT winner Dunlop will be making his final appearance of the season on the Honda TT Legends Superbike that carried him to his first big bike win on the Island in June.

Dunlop won the second Superbike encounter in 2012 after crashing out of the battle with the 31 year old truck fitter at the Hairpin in the feature race. His recent defeat by Martin at the Southern 100 will ensure the 24 year old is even more determined to avenge those setbacks at this year’s Ulster.

However, the superfast Dundrod circuit has been a happy hunting ground for the English rider over the years and the Lincolnshire man will be focused on raising his tally of UGP victories into double figures this year.

No less than six of the 2013 TT’s podium finishers are also included in the rest of the line-up, with Cameron Donald winning the award for the ‘furthest distance travelled’ as he returns from his home in Australia to ride the Wilson Craig Fireblade he steered into second place in the Superbike TT.

William Dunlop and Manxman Conor Cummins will debut the fearsomely fast Milwaukee Yamaha YZFR1s at Dundrod, boosting the official factory entry for the Prix.

Cummins, a former lap record holder on the 7.41 mile circuit, has struggled to get to grips with the big Yamaha but the team will have been given a boost by the elder Dunlop’s double victory at Walderstown. William declared afterwards that the bike’s set up was “almost complete for the Ulster”.

The 27 year old will also have his CD Racing/Milwaukee rocketship R6 for both Supersport events which are always priority targets for the 600 specialist.

Both Bruce Anstey and Gary Johnson may have moved away from factory teams recently but it doesn’t appear to have diminished their speed. Johnson took his Lincs Lifting Kawasaki ZX10 to runner up spot in the Superstock TT in June and he is also entered on his own Honda Fireblade superbike at the Prix. He will also ride the iconic MV Agusta F3 machine in the Supersport races and he should be a podium contender in the both these races too.

The mercurial Anstey may be 43 years old but he is still the fastest man ever around Dundrod as his phenomenal 133.97mph lap, set in 2010 on a Relentless Suzuki, remains unbroken. Now on the HM Plant/Padgett’s Hondas, Bruce has kept up his winning ways on his favourite track, taking a Superbike win in 2011 and snatching a Supersport victory in 2012 after a race long dice with William Dunlop.

Although the Flying Kiwi was on the podium at both the North West 200 in May and at the TT in June, he has yet to win a race in 2013. It would be a very brave man who would bet against him doing so on 17th August.

Dean Harrison could be the dark horse of the competition. Although not a factory rider, the fast talking Bradford lad is coming to Dundrod in peak form. The 24 year old had a brilliant TT, finishing 4th in the Superstock race before scoring his first TT podium with runner up slot in the Lightweight race.

Harrison mixed it at the front with both Guy Martin and Michael Dunlop on his RC Express/MSS ZX10 Kawasaki in all three Superbike races at the Southern 100 and he dominate the Cock O’ the North meeting at Scarborough last weekend, winning the 600cc and 1000cc races.

With this much quality in the starting line-up for the 2013 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, picking a winner might be a bit of a lottery but the racing will be as fast and furious as ever on the world’s fastest road race circuit.

The Dundrod 150 Superbike race will be sponsored by Topaz Airport Road Service Station, the first Superbike race of the Ulster Grand Prix will be sponsored by McKinstry Skip Hire and the second by Ireland Freight Services.

Bike Week 2013 will run between 12th – 17th August in Dundrod, Co. Antrim. The main events are the Topaz Dundrod 150 races on Thursday 15th August and the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix races on Saturday 17th August.

Wristbands that allow entry to the course and the paddock all week cost £25. Under 16s are free.

For more details on the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, visit

Medieval Mayhem at Castle Espie (Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 August)

Join the world’s most famous outlaw – Robin Hood and come dressed up as one of his merry mob for a weekend of medieval merriment at WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre.

Images L-R Bob, Lanner falcon, credit Mantella Environmental Education, Merry Mob, Medieval crafts, Robin Hood.

The event takes place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August between 11am and 4pm each day.

Visitors can step back in time and experience medieval life with lots of demonstrations including traditional wood work with Welig Heritage Crafts, medieval armour re-enactment, and leather makers. Plus fair goers can take part in historical crafts including making their very own bow and arrow, Robin Hood and Maid Marion hats, and a scented bag or a protective amulet with our herbal wise women.  Other outlaw activities include a static falconry display, archery, face painting, a search for King John’s treasure on our woodland trail and of course and meeting the local bees.

Look out for our courtyard jester around the centre and grounds and our storyteller, Robin Hood, in the woods. Have a go at throwing horse shoes and join us for a game of tug of war at stone hedge plus have a go at archery see if you can hit that target! Visitors can also enjoy music from the period while trying our special pork and apple filled rolls from our medieval cooks. Watch out for Friar tuck who will be handing out prizes for the best dressed merry man or lady.

Learning Manager, John McCullough, said: “We like to ensure both our regular and new visitors have lots of new ways of discovering nature and the story of Robin Hood is ideal. According to legend he hid in the forest amongst nature to avoid the Sheriff of Nottingham and his not so merry men. Our intention is to bring all ages back to the point in time when they remembered having fun out in the wilds of their garden, local woodland, or town park.”

The event is included in the cost of admission and free to WWT members. Please refer to website for full event programme including timings for individual activities alternatively contact us on 02891 874146.   WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre is open every day from 10am to 5.00pm and parking is free of charge.

Keep kid’s imagination alive with the Dragons of Azrael!

Brought to you by the team at D-Signs and Displays, Coalisland and the Burnavon, Cookstown, The Dragons of Azrael is a brand new interactive puppet show that will be enjoyed by all the family on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th August.

If you are into Star Wars then D-Signs and Displays set and prop work will be familiar, as they have been responsible for among others, some of the most realistic and amazing Star Wars replica vehicles to be exhibited at conventions across Europe.

The show takes you on a magical journey to a distant world of Dragons, starring John Ryan as Ariel, it features the dragon planet Azrael where imagination has died and the great Master Argon sleeps awaiting the birth of the Imagination Child. It is a world of darkness where no songs are sung; no one dances or creates art. The dragons’ souls are dead but with the combined effort of a new born baby dragon and the imaginations of all the children of Earth they can save the day and keep imagination alive!

Laced with superb puppetry, special effects & beautiful music, the Dragons of Azrael is a great show for all the family. There are two shows each day, starting at 3pm and 4.30pm. Tickets are £7 and available at the Burnavon Box Office on the Burn Road, Cookstown, by telephoning 028 8676 9949 or online at

Idyllic Island Accommodation for Canoeists on Upper Lough Erne

An old derelict cottage on Trannish Island has been given a new lease of life, recently refurbished and launched as bothy accommodation for canoeists on the popular Lough Erne Canoe Trail in County Fermanagh.

Managed by the Share Discovery Village in Lisnaskea, this new bothy has been made possible with investment from the South West Action for Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme, Share Discovery Village and Fermanagh District Council and will cater for up to twelve canoeists with bunkhouse style sleeping space, a large living area and wood burning stove. A solar powered shower block and self composting toilet block has also been built adjacent to the refurbished cottage, providing a fantastic resource for canoeists and a wonderful addition to Fermanagh’s tourism draw.

Rory Martin, Marketing Officer at Share Discovery Village, explains, “It is fantastic to see such a great facility specifically catering for canoeists here in Fermanagh. Our waterways are ideal for visiting paddlers and we are delighted to now be able to offer unique bothy accommodation that successfully compliments our natural environment.”

Rory continued, “The bothy will be perfect for a wide range of canoeists both experienced and those heading out on their first paddle with a short introductory session from our instructors here at Share. Families and groups of friends will be able to get back to nature with canoe clubs and youth groups able to book exclusive use of the bothy and neighbouring campsite for larger group trips.”

Developed by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), the Lough Erne Canoe Trail is no stranger to winning innovation accolades and indeed was the first Northern Irish project to be recognised by the British Urban Regeneration Waterways Renaissance Awards in 2008.

Chris Scott, CAAN’s Activity Tourism Manager explains, “Of the five official inland canoe trails in Northern Ireland, Lough Erne would be the most popular by quite some distance. With sheltered bays, narrow channels and an abundance of islands, this 50 km trail is perfect for all levels of canoeists visiting the Fermanagh Lakelands.”

Chris Scott continued, “Now with comfortable accommodation and living space on a deserted island, this bothy project is set to become the feather in Lough Erne’s cap and exactly what canoeists visiting this quiet corner of Northern Ireland are looking for.”

With bothy accommodation on Salt Island remaining popular amongst canoeists on Strangford Lough and an old fisheries cottage currently being converted in Port Moon Bay on the Causeway Coast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland is continuing to set the standard for high quality canoeing facilities throughout Europe.

For more information on Trannish Island Bothy visit or contact the Share Discovery Village on 028 6772 2122.


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (July 22 – 28).

  • Fiddler’s Green International Festival, Rostrevor, Co. Down, July 21 – 28.  Based in the scenic village of Rostrevor, the annual festival will see free outdoor entertainment, an open air stage, art exhibitions, children’s entertainment, a literary pub crawl and much more.
  • John Hewitt International Summer School, Marketplace Theatre, Co. Armagh July 22 – 26.  Held in the honour of Northern Irish poet John Hewitt, this event will see a week-long feast of readings, talks, debate, drama, music and exhibitions, attracting people from Ireland, Britain, Europe and the United States.
  • Children’s and Youth Arts Festival, The Playhouse Theatre, Co. Londonderry, July 22 – August 2.  This festival will offer children and teens a unique opportunity to enjoy two fantastic weeks of workshops in drama, visual arts, dance and much more, all led by friendly local artists.
  • Gaels at the Gaol, Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, July 24.  A night of fantastic traditional music and song with two multi award winning bands.  Doors open at 8pm.
  • Bug Detectives, Mount Stewart House, Newtownards, Co. Down, July 24.  A drop off programme for children aged between 5 – 11 where parents and carers can relax while the children learn more about the world of bugs and beasties.  Book early to avoid disappointment.
  • An Evening of Country & Gospel Music, Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House, Co. Tyrone, July 27.  Take a stroll down memory lane with Kenny and ‘Colorado’ and revisit the sounds of Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Nanci Griffith, Marty Robbins and Merle Haggard.
  • Colours of the Causeway, Whitepark Bay Car Park, Co. Antrim, July 27.  Join the local biodiversity officer for a guided walk along the Causeway Coast from Whitepark Bay to the picturesque Ballintoy Harbour.  The area has a wide range of habitats including wild flowers, sand dunes and scrub.  Pre-booking is required.

  • Gig in the Garden, Minnowburn, Belfast, July 27.  This one day boutique festival returns to the beautiful setting of Terrace Hill in Minnowburn and will showcase some of Northern Ireland’s best musical talent, food, drink and crafts.
  • Slieve Donard Pilgrimage, starting in Newcastle, Co. Down, July 28.  A tradition that started as far back as 1645, you can help mark Trócaire’s 40th anniversary with an unforgettable experience on the beautiful Slieve Donard Mountain and recreate a unique tradition and make a pilgrimage of solidarity with women, men and children who face poverty and injustice every day.
  • Summer Buzz, Corralea Activity Centre, Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh, until July 31.  A daily programme of land and water activities to suit the whole family including archery, windsurfing, biking skills and a night time paddle.