Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s newest recognised destination, which surrounds the UK and Ireland’s largest lake, is getting ready to celebrate Christmas with a record number of twinkle filled activities scheduled for the enjoyment of visitors to Lough Neagh & Its Waterways in 2013.

Eimear Kearney, Marketing Officer at Lough Neagh Partnership, visited the much loved resident swans of Antrim Loughshore park to launch Christmas 2013 for the Lough Neagh destination. Along with a record number of festive events across the 7 local council areas that touch the UK and Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Neagh Partnership has for the first time created an e-greeting to be shared across the world by those who #loveloughneagh. Visit http://www.youtube.com/loveloughneagh

Visitors to the Lough Neagh destination can take a stroll around the Enchanted Winter Gardens in Antrim from 5th to 24th December, dash with Santa in Lisburn on 7th December, see Cinderella in Pantomime in Ballymena or take a road trip with the kids, right to Oxford Island, on the shores of the lough, where Craigavon will play host to a newly constructed magical Santa’s Wonderland.

The variety of events and activities available in Lough Neagh destination throughout December provide a sure way to get everyone excited about this special time of year, and offer young and old the opportunity to enjoy quality time with friends and family.

To investigate the age old claim of ‘something for everyone’ Lough Neagh Partnership asked a well-known local character to choose their top 5 things to do in Lough Neagh this Christmas and the findings were inspiring:

Con Law, former Isle of Man TT winner and owner of Lough Neagh’s largest passenger vessel, The Maid of Antrim, chose snow tubing with Santa at Craigavon Golf & Ski Centre, watching the Snow Queen at Ranfurly Arts & Visitor Centre in Dungannon, visiting the Festive Food Fair at the Burnavon in Cookstown, taking at trip to the Christmas Wonderland at the Jungle in Moneymore and taking in A Christmas Carol at the Old Courthouse in Antrim.

Eimear Kearney, Marketing Officer at Lough Neagh Partnership, said: “Lough Neagh & Its Waterways destination is delighted to be host to so many wonderful Christmas events which span right across our 90 mile circumference. As a mother of two young children myself it is a privilege to have so much for my family, our residents and our visitors to enjoy right on our doorsteps… and that is not all – for the first time ever Lough Neagh Partnership has tipped its cap in a nod to the environmental concerns of the Ramsar designation which positions our Lough as a wetland of international importance and has launched a community e-greeting card which can be shared from the Lough Neagh youtube channel at: www.youtube.com/loveloughneagh.

“Our classic e-greeting involved no culling of trees or emptying of pockets. We hope that the residents of Lough Neagh, our ex-pats and our cousins abroad spread the joy of a Lough Neagh Christmas and tip their own caps to all in a nod to their pride of their heritage.”

A full list of Christmas events across the Lough Neagh & Its Waterways destination can be found at: www.discoverloughneagh.com. You can also join Lough Neagh Partnership on facebook at:www.facebook.com/loughneaghanditswaterways and on twitter: @loveloughneagh

Crowds flock to Little Red Riding Hood at the Waterfront!

Little Red Riding Hood – the Christmas pantomime – has now opened at Belfast Waterfront, with crowds flocking to the venue to be among the first to see this magical, fun-filled adventure… and find out who’s afraid of the big bad wolf!

The atmosphere has been electric in the Waterfront Studio with excited children (and many ‘grown up children’ who should know better) raising the roof with their support of Little Red Riding Hood, her friends the Three Little Pigs, the loveable Nanny No Hood, the handsome Prince and a larger than life Goldisocks.

The decibel levels of the cheering have only been matched by the chorus of booing every time the big and very bad Wolf shows up… often when least expected!

Presented by LANA Productions, Little Red Riding Hood is bursting with catchy, sing-along songs, while the larger than life characters are brought to life by a fabulous cast.

Jolene O’Hara plays Little Red Riding Hood. A fabulous line up is brought to the stage by Ross Anderson as Nanny No Hood; Nicky Harley as Mammy Hood / Granny Hood; Julie Maxwell as Goldisocks; Matthew Forsythe as Prince Chopper and Adam Dougal as the Wolf. Produced by Martin Lynch and Joe Rea, written by PJ O’Reilly and directed by Lisa May, Little Red Riding Hood runs at Belfast Waterfront’s Studio until Saturday 4 January.

Tickets are available online, from the Waterfront and Ulster Hall Box Offices and by calling 028 9033 4455.


Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is set to welcome a vibrant addition to its cultural and culinary scene this week, as the Beannchor Group opens its newest venture.

Set on Hill Street, in a four-storey listed building dating back to the 18th century, the exciting new entertainment complex comprises a bar and live music venue called The Dirty Onion and an upstairs free-range rotisserie chicken restaurant, Yard Bird.

A thoughtful restoration of the building, to the tune of £1.25million, has transformed one of the city’s hidden architectural gems, giving it a new lease of life and creating 40 new jobs.

Dating back to 1780, the building was used as a bonded spirit warehouse from 1921. It was known locally as ‘STACK N’ – a reference to its position on the north side of Waring Street and bears a giant red painted ‘N’ on its brick façade. The distinctive external wooden structure is another original feature, which, following careful restoration will frame the venue’s beer garden to the front of the complex, with a new contemporary courtyard stretching out to Hill Street.

Inside, low ceilings supported by exposed wooden beams and original brick walls throughout nod to the past.  A sensitive partnership with Jameson Irish Whiskey will showcase the heritage of the building further – paying homage to the tens of thousands of Jameson barrels and crates that passed through the building, which was operated by Edward Dillon Bonders [now a subsidiary of Irish Distillers/Dillon Bass] until 1991.

A modern take on a traditional Irish pub, The Dirty Onion’s novel partnership with multi-award winning cultural centre, An Droichead will deliver a varied music programme each week.

Through open workshops in singing and various traditional instruments, and sessions with the highest quality traditional musicians, An Droichead will cultivate a weekly music focused programme that will welcome spectators, as well as those that want to take part.  From bodhrán lessons to live Bluegrass and the weekly meeting of Belfast Harpist’s Club, the venue will see established musicians sit alongside amateurs to reignite an inclusive culture of traditional music in Belfast city centre.

Whilst music feeds the soul, upstairs diners can get a taste of Northern Ireland, with local free-range rotisserie chicken on the menu in the complex’s standalone restaurant, Yard Bird. Hearty traditional lunches will also be served in The Dirty Onion.

Commenting on the launch, Bill Wolsey, managing director of Beannchor said:

“The opening of The Dirty Onion and Yard Bird this week follows years of work behind the scenes to breathe new life into one of Belfast’s most beautiful buildings. The old bonded warehouse that houses the two venues is one of only three wood-ridge buildings in Ireland; it has been unoccupied for quite some time now, so it is very exciting to watch its reincarnation take shape.

“We want to offer an alternative to the modern music venues in Belfast city centre; somewhere that people come not only to be entertained but to get involved and be part of creating the atmosphere.

“Our partnerships with Jameson Irish Whiskey and An Droichead will bring something new and exciting to the Northern Ireland social and cultural scene, set within a piece of living Belfast history.”

Come to Holywood for some Christmas Cheer!

The Holywood Christmas Switch On is taking place this Saturday, 30th November and will include an action packed programme with entertainment for all the family in Holywood Town Centre.

The highlight of the day will be Santa arriving on a Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service fire engine to help The Mayor, Councillor Andrew Muir switch on the lights at 4.30pm. The switch on will be taking place at the Christmas tree outside Holywood Library.

Throughout the afternoon, there will be performances outside The Library from The Red Hot Santas and The Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra. Wearing their fantastic Santa outfits, the festive Red Hot Santas will perform funk, ska and calypso with a serious sense of humour while the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra will be rocking the crowds with their usual mix of contemporary Christmas tunes. The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum will be providing some interesting characters to liven up the day and look out for the BBC Star Gazing Bus which will be paying a special visit to Holywood for the event.

There are a host of other things happening throughout the day too. Come along and enjoy The Christmas Market which is taking place on High Street.  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 situated at High Street, 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!

There are activities taking place inside The Library too where The Library & Holywood District & Community Council are running an action-packed programme (from 11am) which will include children’s activities, crafts and demonstrations.

Commenting on the event, North Down Borough Council’s Tourism Manager; “Alison Stobie said: Everyone is invited to come along to Holywood to soak up the atmosphere of the Christmas Switch On and enjoy a day of good cheer with lots of Christmas shopping and don’t forget the whole event is free!”

Also commenting on the day, Town Centre Manager Stephen Dunlop said: “Holywood always produces an excellent Christmas fair and every year it’s different and exceptionally well supported. Saturday 30th November will be a magical day and Santa will be on the street collecting Christmas letters from all the children so I would advise get there early and shop local this Christmas.”

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

David O’Doherty at the Alley This Weekend

This weekend TV Stand Up Comedian David O’Doherty will take to the stage this Saturday 30th November with his new show “Will Try To Fix Everything”.

In 2000 he wrote a book for children, Ronan Long Gets it Wrong that Mammoth Storybooks in London published and performed his first full show The Story of the Boy Who Saved Comedy at the Dublin and Edinburgh Fringes where it received a nomination for Perrier Best Newcomer.

2003/04 were spent travelling around to festivals in Melbourne, Montreal, New York, Kilkenny and Edinburgh. Gerry Mallon gave him his first headline spot at the Comedy Club in Galway and he supported musical acts such as David Kitt and some jazz artists. He wrote a radio series The Bees of Manulla with his brother Mark for Irish radio which ended up being horribly recorded and sounding terrible. He wrote a new stand up comedy show David O’Doherty Creates Something New Under the Sun which was based on a short story he had written about a lobster called Shelly.

His 2006 show David O’Doherty is my name was nominated for the if.comedy Award at The Edinburgh Fringe and was performed in Dublin, Melbourne and New Zealand. 2007 saw his first major Irish tour and a series of documentaries, The Modest Adventures of David O’Doherty on Irish television. As a part of the series he released a single, Orange which reached number 30 in the Irish charts. This was regarded as a failure as the aim had been to get it to 27.

2009 saw the launch of the book 100 Facts About Pandas, co-written with his friends Mike Ahern and Claudia O’Doherty. It came out in America in 2010 and was followed in 2011 by 100 Facts About Sharks. In June 2012 he became the first Irish comedian to have their own Comedy Central Presents show on US television.

Tickets are £14, £12 (con) and available from the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online www.alley-theatre.com

Essential information for Lumiere Derry~Londonderry

Thur 28th Nov – Sun 1st December

5.30pm – 10pm

Over four magical nights from the 28th November to 1st December, Lumiere Festival will be transforming Derry~Londonderry city centre. Having attracted over 175,000 people when it was held in Durham earlier this month, we are expecting a large volume of people to be coming to the city and have made the arrangements outlined below to cater for this increase.

To avoid congestion, visitors to the festival are encouraged to follow traffic information and directional signage as they approach the city. For those choosing to drive, extra Park & Ride facilities have been provided with regular shuttle buses into the city while many city centre car parks are extending their opening hours.

Essential tips for all

  • Dress warmly, wear comfortable shoes
  • Don’t try to cover everything in one night, take time to explore
  • There’s no set route, and visitors are encouraged to explore the installations in whichever order they please.
  • Tim Etchells’ A Stitch in Time (No. 6) can be seen from a distance.
  • Compagnie Carabosse’s Fire Garden (No. 1) at St Columb’s Park  will run Thursday – Saturday only, 6.30pm – 9.30pm
  • All other artworks will run 5.30pm -10pm across the four nights

For information on the night

  • Visit the Hub at the Millennium Forum which will be open from 10 am – 5pm Monday 25th November – Wednesday 27 December and 12noon – 10pm Thurs 28 Nov – Sun 1 Dec.
  • Festival maker volunteers on the streets, dressed in red, will be able to provide public with information on the artworks and help visitors find their way around the city
  • Visit the website lumiere-festival.com/derry-londonderry to plan your visit before you leave home
  • Use the mobile version of the website via your Smartphone when on the street and keep up to date by searching for #LumiereDerry on Twitter or following @LumiereDerry and  @derry2013. You can also visit facebook.com/artichoketrust and share your photos on Instagram using #ilovelumiere
  • Pick up a guide which includes a map or download one from the website

Road closures

Although there are no planned road closures there may be some disruption to normal traffic movements during the festival and drivers are asked to exercise caution in city centre areas. For live traffic and travel updates please tune into Q102 and Radio Foyle. Updates will also be available on the following social media channels @derry2013 @LumiereDerry and facebook.com/artichoketrust


  • Park and Rides

You’ll be able to find Park and Rides at the following locations:

  • 1. Limavady Road Site, 58 Limavady Road, Derry, BT47 6LT.

Bus stops at Ebrington.

  • 2. Fort George Site, Fort George Site, The Quay Trail, Derry, BT48 7QH.

Bus stops at Queen’s Quay.

  • Car parking

Foyleside Car Park – charged

Multi-storey head height restriction 1.98m
1600 spaces in total with 35 accessible bays over both East and West car parks with most in the East car park and notably in proximity to Shopmobility Derry. The bays are located close to the lift lobbies.

Car park opening hours for Lumiere:
Thursday: 7.30am – 11.30pm
Friday: 7.30am – 11.30pm
Saturday: 7.30am – 11.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 11.30pm

For more information please visit the Foyleside Shopping Centre Website.

Quayside Car Park – charged

Head height restriction 6’9’
450 spaces in total with 12 accessible bays on the ground floor and 2 on each of the other 6 floors located close to the lift lobbies.
Car park opening hours for Lumiere:
Thursday: 8am – 11pm
Friday: 8am – 11pm
Saturday: 8am – 11pm
Sunday: 1pm – 11pm

For more information please visit the Quayside Centre Website.

Other car parks will be open, with the exception of the Carlisle Road and Queens Quay car parks which will be closed to facilitate an installation.

  • Blue badge holders and disabled car parking

If you’re going to see Compagnie Carabosse’s ‘Fire Garden’ or Ocubo’s ‘Twice Upon a Time’ we have made available dedicated disabled parking in the car park located within the Ebrington site and in the St Columb’s Park just off St Columb’s Road.

For installations in other locations across the city centre, we recommend using car parks that have a number of disabled parking bays available such as Foyleside West, Foyleside East and Quayside.

  • Coach parking

To facilitate groups visiting the sites, Foyleside Shopping Centre has 5 spaces for large coaches or 6-7 mini coaches. A drop off arrangement is encouraged by Foyleside management as the coach parking site does not have the capacity to cater for large numbers of vehicles.

Coaches can access the coach park to drop off passengers and they are then encouraged to park at the Lumiere designated coach parking facility at either Fort George (Strand Road) or new Limavady Road Park & Ride sites.

By Rail

Translink NI Railways will be increasing the capacity on scheduled services and operating an additional late night return train services from Belfast.

On Saturday 30 November, there will be two magical family Lumiere train services from Belfast. These special services will include 3 carriages with children’s entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus. Pre-booking for these services is essential. To book please visit the Booking Offices at Central, Great Victoria Street and Coleraine stations from Monday 28 October.

Translink Family and Friends Ticket

Only £20 for up to 2 adults and 4 children (Minimum 1 adult and 1 child)

For more information on all Translink Lumiere deals please visit the Translink website.

For timetable and route information: www.translink.co.uk.

If you’re planning to travel around Northern Ireland, you might also want to check out Trankslink iLink which provides unlimited day, weekly or monthly bus and rail travel within 5 specified zones across Northern Ireland.

By Bus

Ulsterbus operates various scheduled services to and from the airport to the main Bus Depot on Foyle Street in the City centre. Services also operate to and from Limavady. Other Ulsterbus and Translink services from throughout Northern Ireland, including the Maiden City Express from Belfast, terminate in the City’s main bus station at Foyle Street.

Extra Bus Services for Lumiere

The 212 bus will be running at regular internals from Belfast over the Lumiere weekend.

The 274 bus will be running a daily service from Dublin at 1.30pm, returning at 11pm.

For more information please visit the Translink Website.

By Taxi

City Cabs
27-31 William Street, Derry, BT48 6EP
T: 028 7126 4466
E: info@citycabsderry.com
W: www.citycabsderry.com

Derry Taxis
21B Glenbrook Terrace, BT48 0DY
T: 028 7126 0247
E: derrytaxis@btconnect.com
W: www.derrytaxis.ie

Foyle Delta Cabs
10a Newmarket Street, BT48 6EB
T: 028 7127 9999
E: taxi@foyledeltacabs.com
W: www.foyledeltacabs.com

The Taxi Co
3A Lower Clarendon St, BT48 7AH
T: 028 7126 2626

E: ronnie2305@hotmail.co.uk
W: www.thetaxi-co.com

By Coach

Special Coach services to Lumiere will be available on Friday 29 November and Saturday 30 November from:

  • Europa Bus Centres
  • Enniskillen Bus Centres
  • Omagh Bus Centres
  • Strabane Bus Centres
  • Dungannon Bus Centres
  • Cookstown Bus Centres
  • Magherafelt Bus Centres
  • Dungiven Bus Centres

Coaches will depart Derry~Londonderry, after the event at 22:00 each night.

For more information visit the Translink Website and click here to book online

Food and Drink

Many shops, bars and restaurants will be open, so please call in and support your local businesses.

Hassle Free Christmas Shopping at Bangor Tourist Information Centre

Bangor Tourist Information Centre is your one stop shop for a stress free Christmas shopping experience, with an array of ideas for gifts and stocking fillers we can help make light work of any Christmas shopping list.

Bangor Tourist Information Centre located at Tower House on Quay Street is a treasure trove of beautiful jewellery, stocking fillers, unique Guinness & Titanic gifts as well as a range of the popular Bog Standard Candles, leather goods, local history books and so much more!

A fantastic new range of Lichfield leather purses and wallets are now available as well as locally crafted jewellery and handmade ceramics which will be sure to please all of your family and friends! For the foodies we have a tasty range including Jameson Fudge, Jameson Whiskey marmalade and Guinness Mustard – perfect stocking fillers.

During November and December our friendly staff will be delighted to offer you a complimentary gift wrapping service to make this a hassle free shopping experience from beginning to end.

Opening Hours:

Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri: 9am-5pm
Wed: 10am-5pm
Sat: 10am-4pm

Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 27 December and New Year’s Day

For more information on the range of gifts available at the Tourist Information Centre call 028 9127 0069 or visit www.northdowntourism.com

St Joseph’s Brass Band and Local Schools will bring ‘The Snowman’ to Life

A true piece of Christmas magic – believe it or not, this is the 31st anniversary of the film adaptation of Raymond Biggs enduring Christmas Tale ‘The Snowman’.

Delight your family this Christmas with the enchanting animated film, The Snowman, shown on a big screen, accompanied by St Joseph’s Brass Band as they inject tingle-down-the-spine magic into Howard Blakes uplifting music such as ‘Walking in the air’ – the soundtrack to every child’s Christmas.  Also accompanying St Joseph’s Brass Band will be children singing from Strabane Primary School, St Anne’s Primary School and St Mary’s Primary School, Strabane.

The Snowman tells the tale of when a young boy’s snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve, the two set off on a night-time quest for adventure, meeting penguins, reindeer and naturally, Father Christmas. Watch spellbound as the Snowman flies through the night sky above you, before escaping the clutches of the evil Jack Frost to return home for Christmas morning.  With festive music by the brass band and schools choir to join in with, it’s a great start to Christmas.

This magical event will be at the Alley Theatre from Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th December.  Tickets are £7, £5 (con) available from the Alley Theatre Box Office or online www.alley-theatre.com


The Strabane based, Black Air Theatre Group, has joined focus with a number of local preforming arts schools to script, choreograph and produce a Broadway musical blockbuster event.

Due to take place in December at the Alley Theatre, this special event will be raising money for  Northern Ireland’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, CLIC Sargent and its Home from Home Appeal.

The stage production will feature performances from the Class Act Theatre Group, the Muchado Stage School and the Pop Tap Dance Academy. Over the next few weeks the groups will be working together to select and practice songs from some of Broadway’s most famous musicals including ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera, ‘Mamma Mia’ and many more ahead of the gala opening on 6 December 2013.

The proceeds from the event will go to the CLIC Sargent Home from Home Appeal which is aiming to build  to build two specialist houses close to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the Belfast City Hospital, NI Cancer Centre that can be used by families of children and young people that are undergoing a cancer treatment.

A family dealing with childhood cancer in Strabane can face a round trip of 160 miles, several times per week, in order to receive the cancer treatment their child needs. This can lead to additional financial and physical stress at what is already an incredibly difficult time. The CLIC Sargent Homes from Home Appeal aims reduce this stress.

Commenting on the event, organiser, Ryan Quinn said, “Rehearsals are going well and the production is starting to take shape.  Each of the groups involved have been fantastic and are excited about taking to the stage in December and to preform with a live orchestra.

“We’re also delighted to have the opportunity to raise money for the CLIC Sargent, Homes from Home Appeal.  It is such a worthwhile cause and one that everyone is fully behind.”

Christine McClune, Fundraising Manager, CLIC Sargent added, “Having spoken with Ryan I know the show will be a tremendous success.  We’re delighted that the organisers want to help fundraise for CLIC Sargent.  Their efforts are greatly appreciated and will make a big difference in helping us to make the Homes from Home a reality.”

The event will take place on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December.  For ticket information please contact the box office at the Alley Theatre (028 7138 4444) or visit  www.alley-theatre.com.  Tickets are priced at £8(Full) £5(Conc.). If you would like any information on the show or for how to get involved visit www.ryanquinnmusic.co.uk or call Ryan on 07899964124.

Ulster Orchestra presents Moments of Mendelssohn at Theatre at The Mill

The Ulster Orchestra treats audiences to a very special evening of beautiful music featuring three of the composer Mendelssohn’s most popular pieces for one night only at Theatre at The Mill on Thursday 21st November.

The performance will open with Mendelssohn’s Overture, inspired by a boat visit to the isle of Staffa in 1829 despite the avid traveller’s seasickness on the journey. The ever-popular Violin Concerto will be played by Támas Kocis, who is also the Ulster Orchestra leader and conductor.

To conclude the evening there will be a piece inspired by Mendelssohn’s memory of a trip to Italy. Sunshine and happiness radiate in equal measure.

Don’t miss this evening of classical symphonies at Theatre at The Mill on Thursday 21st November. Tickets which cost £18, £16 and £14 can be booked online at www.theatreathemill.com or through Box Office on 028 9034 0202.