Santa calls in for a Coffee Cure!

Santa on his black Harley Rudi calls in to North Down Museum ahead of the Christmas Market.

The popular Christmas Market makes a return to North Down Museum this Christmas to offer a great range of gifts for the festive season on Saturday 30th November 2013 and Sunday 1st December 2013.

There will be a diverse range of stalls offering festive gifts. Products include jewellery and bags, handmade wood, fabric and knitted products, photography, cards and lots more.

Museum Manager Heather McGuicken said “We hope that people will take this opportunity to visit the Christmas Market as they go about their Christmas shopping in Bangor Town Centre. There will be a whole host of unique gifts to buy from talented artists and craftspeople. With the addition of Coffee Cure serving a festive menu with seasonal coffees and it really is well worth a visit and the added bonus of free admission and car parking, you never know, Santa may even make an appearance!”

For further information, please phone the Museum on: 028 9127 1200 or visit

Christmas Card Winner to Switch On Bangor’s Lights

Bangor’s annual Christmas Light Switch On will commence at 5.30pm on Saturday, 23rd 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.

This year, Myah Nihell, the winner of The Mayor’s Christmas Card Competition will have the very important job of switching on the lights in front of a packed Castle Park.

Myah, a P4 pupil from Ballyholme Primary School, entered the recent Junior Spectator competition to design a Christmas card and her beautiful “Santa’s Pickie Puffer” creation was chosen by The Mayor, Councillor Andrew Muir, as the lucky winner. As well as switching on the lights on November 23rd, Myah’s picture will also be used as the design for this year’s Mayor’s Christmas card. Commenting on her win, Myah exclaimed: “I’ve never won anything before!  I’m looking forward to pressing the big button to turn the lights on; I hope The Mayor has checked all the bulbs!”

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

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 event, 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 The Aurora should be temporarily accessed from the Gransha Road between 5pm and 6pm.”

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


The search to find Northern Ireland’s top pubs came to a dramatic conclusion this week, as the cream of the local hospitality industry gathered at La Mon Hotel & Country Club to toast the trade at Pubs of Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards 2013.

Pub of the Year Award – which was clinched by The Harbour Bar in Portrush.

Forty shortlisted premises from right across Northern Ireland went head to head to be named the best in a range of categories. There could only be one winner for the coveted overall Pub of the Year Award – which was clinched by The Harbour Bar in Portrush.

As well as taking the top Pub of the Year title on the night, The Harbour Bar also won the Best Charity Initiative Award for their extensive fundraising work for various charities.

Celebrating the award wins, Fionn McAlpine, The Harbour Bar said:

“Being named Northern Ireland’s Pub of the Year is a real honour; we’re delighted, especially as we were up against some tough competition. We are also thrilled to be awarded for our charity work, led by Willie Greg, who has raised so much for various causes, including Willie’s Orphan Fund, which he set up after the Boxing Day tsunami to help Thai orphans.

“Our entire team works so hard and to have this dedication and commitment recognised by Pubs of Ulster is a tremendous achievement; it provides a real incentive for us to keep up our hard work and live up to the prestigious title of Pub of the Year.

“It is always our top priority to showcase Northern Ireland hospitality at its best and I would like to thank all our great staff for their hard work and dedication, which made these award wins possible.”

A further six awards were handed out at the ceremony, hosted by Apprentice star, Jim Eastwood.

In a first for the Pub of the Year Awards, there was a double winner in one of the categories, with two of the five shortlisted for Best Barperson (in partnership with The Sunday Life) being crowned winners. Margaret Ferguson from The Lakeside in Ballydugan, Co. Down and Maggie McGaughey from The Front Page in Ballymena were both deemed to be exemplary and were named winners in the category, which was the only category that invited nominations from the public – through The Sunday Life newspaper.

Belfast was strongly represented on the night with three of the big winners from the city: The Limelight (Best Entertainment); The Garrick (Best Big Idea) and The Hudson Bar (Best New/Improved).

Further afield, The Elk in Toomebridge clinched the Best Food Award and The Wild Duck Inn won the Best Marketing Initiative Award.

Commenting on the awards, Mark Stewart, chairman of Pubs of Ulster, said:

“The standard of entries received for this year’s Pub of the Year Awards was exceptionally high and the 40 shortlisted premises are prime examples of the world-class pubs that we have here in Northern Ireland.

“Our pubs play a vital role in their communities and an even more important role in our economy and as part of our cultural, leisure and tourism offering. Pubs of Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards recognise and reward excellence in our industry and shine a spotlight on the best businesses in the hospitality industry.

“I would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners, and in particular The Harbour Bar on their success at the Awards. I would also like to commend all of our shortlisted pubs and Barpeople from across Northern Ireland, which each play their part in creating a rich and diverse pub trade of which we should all be proud.”

The Pub of the Year Awards is the culmination of an extensive search for the best pubs in a range of categories across Northern Ireland.

The Pub of the Year’s expert judging panel consisted of mentalist and hospitality expert, David Meade; drinks industry veterans, Padraig Cribben (CEO, Vintners Federation Ireland), Norman Trotter (former head of C&C), Terry Loughins (former Diageo) & Maire Campbell (former Coca-Cola); marketing whiz, Enda McShane (Velocity Worldwide); retail specialist, Hugh Black (formerly Victoria Square, Belfast); Martin Breen, editor, Sunday Life, Nicola Daly, Hospitality Review, Symon Ross, editor, Ulster Business and top business journalists from Northern Ireland’s main daily newspapers.

After rigorous judging by the panel, the shortlisted pubs from across Northern Ireland were put through their paces with mystery shoppers visiting their premises, ensuring they adhere to best industry standards before the winners were decided.

The Pub of the Year Awards are the only industry recognised awards. This year’s awards were supported by Belfast Distillery Company, Britvic, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dillon Bass, Drinks Inc, Heineken Northern Ireland, Molson Coors, Richmond Marketing, Tennent’s NI and media partners, Sunday Life, U105 and Hospitality Review NI.

For more information on the Pub of the Year Awards 2013, visit

Comedian David O’Doherty Coming to the Alley with his new show David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything

TV and Stand Up comedian David O’Doherty will be coming to the Alley Theatre on Saturday 30th November with his new show ‘David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything’.

David O’Doherty, the Ryanair James Bond, the Kevin McCloud of the tiny keyboard, former Miss Ireland, the offspring of Shannon/Pete Doherty, his new look is ‘Jaws era Steven Spielberg’, recipient of the 2008 Edinburgh Comedy Award and inventor of the last remaining swimming stroke ‘the squid’ (on back, feet first), has written a new comedy show with both talking and songs.

Having scaled the heights of telemarketing and temping, David O’Doherty first stepped on stage at Dublin’s Comedy Cellar in 1998. In 1999 he won the Channel 4’s ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ award for new comedians and was runner up in the BBC New Comedy Awards.

His first full show ‘The Story of the Boy Who Saved Comedy’ was performed at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2000 and received a nomination for Best Newcomer. He has returned to the festival six more times, his 2006 show ‘David O’Doherty is my name’ receiving a nomination for best show and his 2008 show ‘Let’s Comedy’ won the if.comedy Award (former Perrier) for Best Show.

He has performed around the world at festivals in Melbourne, Montreal, New York and Wellington. He has toured around Ireland with Tommy Tiernan, around Britain with Rich Hall and recently around America with Demetri Martin.

In 2006 he recorded his first CD “Giggle Me Timbers (or ‘Jokes Ahoy!’)” at home in his flat in front of 35 people. His first television series ‘The Modest Adventures of David O’Doherty’ was transmitted on RTE in Ireland in 2007.

He has written widely for newspapers and magazines, published a book for children, written a play (‘Saddled’, with Bryan Quinn – the world’s first theatrical production to feature live repair of audience members’ bicycles), and a radio series about bee detectives with his brother Mark (‘The Bees of Manulla’ RTE). He is currently writing a book about panda.

Don’t miss David in action in his new show.  Tickets are £14, £12 (con).  For more information and to book tickets contact the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online

Working in Partnership for Holywood Christmas

This year’s Holywood Christmas Switch On which is taking place on Saturday 30th November will see a number of local organisations working together in partnership to bring the event to the people of Holywood.

North Down Borough Council, Bangor & Holywood Town Centre Management, Holywood & District Community Council, The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and Holywood Library will all be coming together to provide various aspects of the day which will kick off Christmas in Holywood Town Centre.

The event’s action-packed programme will include entertainment for all the family and 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 lively performances outside The Library from The Red Hot Santa’s. Wearing their fantastic Santa outfits, this festive group will perform funk, ska and calypso with a serious sense of humour! The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum will be providing some interesting characters to liven up the event also.

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.

There are activities taking place inside The Library too where The Library & Holywood District & Community Council are running an action-packed programme (from 12) 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

Santa is on his way to Coleraine – with TV stars, Connor Grimes and Alan McKee!

SANTA is ‘ho ho ho ing ’ all the way to the Borough of Coleraine to switch on the Christmas lights and officially kick off the Festive Season! He has told Coleraine Borough Council that he has dusted off his big red suit and will be coming to Coleraine on Friday 29th and Portstewart on Saturday 30th November.

The Christmas Lights Switch On is the biggest event in Coleraine Town Centre and is expected to attract thousands of people to mark the official countdown to Christmas in the Borough. Residents and visitors can look forward to an evening of festive fun and entertainment. In addition to Santa and the Mayor who will be leading the countdown, TV stars, Connor Grimes and Alan McKee, will be hosting the event. The two comedic actors who have recorded several TV series and currently appear in insurance advertisements will get the crowd in the festive mood from 6pm on stage in The Diamond. It will be a home coming of festive sorts for Coleraine man, Alan McKee a former resident of the Borough.

This year’s glistening street parade which will feature 100 local school children is entitled “Memories of Christmas”. The parade is based on iconic images and experiences of the season.  The centre piece is a large Snow Angel and will also feature fairies, top-hatted gentlemen lantern bearers and angelic angels.

Mayor Harding and Santa will make their way through the Town arriving in style in a carriage pulled by two beautiful Clydesdale horses to switch on the Christmas lights at 7pm.

Riff Raff, the band for the evening and will then take to the stage for a set of popular hits while the young children can get to meet Santa in his Grotto and receive an early Christmas present!

Speaking ahead of the switch-on events, Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor David Harding commented, “Christmas is a special time for families and I would encourage everyone to come along to help get this joyful season off to a captivating start, by adding a touch of festive sparkle to Coleraine town centre. This FREE magical Christmas light switch-on party is one event not to be missed. I would also like to remind the children to have their Christmas lists at the ready and pay a visit to our special guest, Santa, who will be in his Grotto after switching on the Christmas lights.”

The festive frolics continue in the seaside town of Portstewart on Saturday 30th November when Santa and the Mayor arrive to light up the town at 4.30pm. This is an earlier lighting up ceremony than usual, so it is hoped the local Community will come out and support the event and their local retailers who will be open for business during these hours. A seasonal craft and collectable fair in Portstewart Town Hall from 10am until 5pm will also add to the festive activities.

Local man Brian Moore will take to the stage from 3.45pm hosting some fun and games and a little dance routine or two with festive characters before the big countdown. FREE festive face painting will also be available for the children to avail off while they wait for Santa’s arrival.

Santa who will once again be travelling with his trusted Clydesdale horses will make his way along the promenade to The Crescent, where accompanied by the Mayor he will switch on the Christmas lights at 4.30pm.

Following the switch on Santa will once again make his way to the Grotto where children of primary school age can make a special visit and avail of a Christmas gift. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Festivities continue courtesy of Portstewart Community Association.

For full details see or call Coleraine Borough Council on 028 7034 7234. Alternatively log onto Council’s website for more information


The award-winning Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, has unveiled their Christmas programme. Bursting at the proverbial seams this year’s festive offering focuses on the remaking of classic Christmas Tales – Hunchback the Musical and Eternally Scrooged.

: Pictured at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast are Quasimodo, played by Christopher Finn, and Esmerelda, played by Ciara Louise Baxter, stars of the Theatre at the Mill’s festive show Hunchback The Musical. Running from December 2 – 14 this energetic and enchanting Musical features circus style acrobatics, swashbuckling drama and beautiful West-End style ballads which will have would-be theatre-goers dancing in their seats. To book tickets log on to or call 028 9034 0202.

Based on Victor Hugo’s inspired Gothic masterpiece ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, Hunchback The Musical is a world-premiere for the Theatre and a record-breaking 20th production for Writer, Composer and Director Paul Boyd.

Running from December 2-14 Hunchback the Musical is an enchanting show suitable for all the family. Featuring circus style acrobatics, swashbuckling drama and beautiful West-End style ballads which will have would-be theatre-goers dancing in their seats.

Ballyclare-born Director Paul Boyd said;

“We are delighted to be premiering a new musical at Theatre At The Mill.  The cast have been working hard in rehearsals learning the songs, the words, and the dance routines in preparation for a very exciting opening night in December.  ‘Hunchback’ is developing into a show that is great fun and has enormous heart.

“A great pre-Christmas treat for musical theatre lovers of all ages.” Paul added.

Starring Christopher Finn as the tormented hunchback Quasimodo, the all-star cast also features local talent in the form of 20 pupils from Belfast-based Drama school Stagecoach.

Exploring themes of unrequited love, forbidden desire and most of all friendship this beautiful heart-warming and tragic story is not to be missed this December.

For those who enjoy a little pre-Christmas humour, look no further than the Theatre at the Mills Christmas Comedy. Based on Dicken’s classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ meet Evangeline Scroogé a romance writer with a heart of stone, all big shoulder pads and even bigger hair.

Starring Nuala McKeever, Caroline Curran, of Fifty shades of red, white and blue fame, and Abigail McGibbon, fresh from the hit comedy Can’t forget about you at the Lyric Theatre audiences have the chance to enjoy this age-old classic as never before. With a 1980’s inspired soundtrack pumping in the background, enjoy the hilarity as Evangeline learns that tough lesson – it really is all about having a big heart.

Tickets are now available for Eternally Scrooged and ‘Hunchback The Musical’ – recommended aged 9+. Book your tickets online at or by calling 028 9034 0202


By Bertolt Brecht, translated by Alistair Beaton

Directed by Lisa May

“My duty as judge is to choose a mother for the child.  We will have a test.  Place the child in the circle…”

‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ is a master-piece of 20th Century drama, powerfully demonstrating Bertolt Brecht’s pioneering theatrical techniques and will be at the Alley Theatre on Friday 29th November.   A servant girl sacrifices everything to protect a baby abandoned in the heat of war. Order restored, she is made to confront the boy’s mother in a legal contest over who deserves to keep him. The comical judge calls on an ancient tradition “the chalk circle” to resolve the dispute. Who wins?

Bruiser is delighted to be presenting this modern classic with a brand new musical score licensed by the Brecht Estate, composed by Matthew Reeve, who has previously worked with Bruiser on ‘Sweet Charity’, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ and ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’.

Matthew says, “The music for ‘Chalk Circle’ has been a real creative challenge.  The entire score will be sung and played by the actors themselves live on stage.  We wanted to create something both haunting and anthemic, reflecting the hard-hitting action of the play.  A lot of the music has been developed in rehearsals with the actors too.  We can’t wait for people to hear it.”

From the Company that brought you last year’s hugely popular ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ tour – Bruiser’s innovative performance style coupled with Brecht’s superb play is guaranteed to produce a first class winter’s night at the theatre!

Gilly Campbell, Dance and Drama Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland says, “The Arts Council is pleased to support Bruiser Theatre Company with this excellent production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle.  With the play touring a number of towns and cities across Northern Ireland, I encourage everyone to go along and experience this renowned play which will take audiences on an emotional and moving journey.”

Tickets are £9, £7 (con) and available from the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online

North Down Borough Council Signs up to International Cultural Route

On Friday 15th November the Mayor of North Down, Cllr Andrew Muir, will join with Mayors and dignitaries from Italy and France, along with international and local Church and Cultural bodies, in signing up to the establishment of an association to create an European Cultural route, “The Columban Way”, based on the life and travels of both Bangor, and central Europe’s most famous Saint, Columbanus.

The Abbey of St Columban in Luxeuil, France.

The signing will take place in Bangor Town Hall and will see the start of a process that over the next number of months will develop an application to be presented to the European Cultural Committee in Luxembourg that will see the union formally recognised as an official European Cultural Route.

The initial route is to comprise of Bangor, Luxeuil-les-Bains (France) and Bobbio (Italy) and will recognise the influence of Columbanus’ work within central Europe and is to be formally established by 2015, the year that will mark the 1400th anniversary of the passing of St Columbanus. This anniversary year one that will be marked with events throughout the European countries he was influential in.

After the initial route is formed it is envisaged that it will then expand to take in the additional countries of Switzerland, Austria and Germany where Columbanus also left his mark through the establishment of monasteries and settlements.

Bobbio Abbey, close to Milan. Columbanus’ final Monastery

Mayor of North Down, Cllr Andrew Muir; “I am delighted to be welcoming my counterparts from Italy and France to Bangor for this occasion. Not only did Columbanus play a pivotal role in the spread of Christianity in mainland Europe but his importance both here and in Europe has been recognised in that he was the first person to use the term “European”, was notably our first “man of Letters”, famous for his poetry, and was the first Irish man of whom a biography was written, by fellow Monk, Jonas. The creation of this route will be a fitting testimony on a European scale to the man and his work”.

His importance to the Church and European Christianity as a whole is also none more so evident by the formal proposal in 2012 to the Vatican to see St Columbanus bestowed with a Patronage of Europe title to mark the anniversary in 2015.

The signing of the Cultural Route agreement will take place in Bangor Town Hall at 4pm on Friday 15th November 2013.

In the Footsteps of Heroes returns to Theatre at The Mill

Back by popular demand, this WWI and WWII musical, In the Footsteps of Heroes, takes you on a nostalgic, thought-provoking journey at Theatre at The Mill on Saturday 23rd November.

Follow in the footsteps of Jimmy (Andrew Burnside) as he enlists into the 9th Battalion of the RIF and recounts his experiences in letters home, through to the battle of the Somme and ultimate death.

Talented vocalists include the Tin Hat Tenors, Nicola Moody and The Moodettes showcasing their upbeat American style, and Winston Churchill and the 9th Battalion RIF Band. The Airborne Division land in a 10m Horsa Glider, followed by the epic battle scene The Taking of Pegasus Bridge.

Don’t miss this truly moving performance at Theatre at The Mill on Saturday 23rd November. Tickets which cost £15 can be booked online at or through Box Office on 028 9034 0202.