Baroness Shirley Williams visits Theatre at The Mill for an evening of disclosures on her past civic triumphs and challenges and her outlook on today’s political arena. Come along on Thursday 6th February and witness interesting insights into current affairs of past and present.
Baroness Shirley Williams believed that being an MP would give her the power to bring about all kinds of good things for society. Such aspirations might sound naïve but Shirley Williams has achieved more by sticking to her principals and core values. Now into her ninth decade, she has seemingly singlehandedly forced the coalition government into a U Turn over their plans to restructure the NHS.
In this remarkable show Dame Shirley Williams talks about a fascinating life lived through turbulent political times.
Don’t miss ‘An Audience with Shirley Williams’ at Theatre at The Mill on Thursday 6th February. Tickets which cost £15, £13 and £11 can be booked online at www.theatreathemill.com or through Box Office on 028 9034 0202.
The Market Place Theatre in Armagh will be swinging to a mix of folk, rock and bluegrass music over the coming weekends, with music by ‘The Four Shuck Men’ and ‘The Curtis Blackwell Bluegrass Band’.
‘The Four Shuck Men’ are Malachy O’Neill, Adam Costa, Aidan McGillion and Paul Meehan. All members are based in Armagh City and perform widely around Ireland and abroad. Formed in ‘Red Ned’s Bar’ in Armagh by a group of friends who share a passion for music, they have managed to carve out quite a reputation in the local music scene. The band play a lively mix of original material, folk, rock and traditional Irish music.
The Four Shuck Men will perform on Saturday 1st February at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced £10 each.
After more than forty years of playing bluegrass music, Curtis Blackwell still captivates audiences with his high, powerful voice and the sincerity expressed in his singing. Curtis Blackwell is a member of the Atlanta Country & Bluegrass Music Hall Of Fame, a former member of Bill Monroe’s ‘Bluegrass Boys’, and is honoured in the Atlanta Country Music Hall Of Fame. He has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and at many of the U.S. historic Bluegrass festivals. As many have said, he’s the real deal!
Curtis here performs with multi-instrumentalist Chuck Nation who plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and bass, Susan Nation on vocals and acoustic upright bass and Gary ‘Biscuit’ Davis who has won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship many times.
You are promised an evening of toe-tapping music that will engage and entertain from the moment the band take the stage until the rousing applause at the end! Close harmony vocals and superb instrumentals are their trademark of The Curtis Blackwell Bluegrass Band. They know how to draw, entertain and engage a crowd. Whether it’s a well known ballad with that high lonesome sound that is a trademark of a great bluegrass band or a rousing fast-paced instrumental like Orange Blossom Special, this band can deliver!
The Curtis Blackwell Bluegrass Band will perform on Saturday 8th February at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced £10 each. Tickets can be booked by contacting the Box Office on  3752 1821, or online at www.marketplacearmagh.com
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (January 20 – 26).
Nightrider: Mountain Biking by Moonlight, Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down, January 23 and February 6 & 20. Have a go at the fun and quirky activity of mountain biking by moonlight on the bike trails around Castle Ward. Top quality mountain bikes and lights will be available.
A Musical Evening of Song and Dance, Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, January 25. Following a sell out concert, St. Mary’s and Ballyreagh Silver Bands are back with another evening of music with the aim of bringing communities together. This year the bands are joined by compere Sean McCaffrey and conductor Stephen Crooks.
An Evening of Popular Music with local band Crush, Square Box, Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, January 25. Family band Crush’s mix of popular songs and original material makes it one of the most popular bands in NI and earlier last year it supported the number one selling UK group The South on tour.
Burns Dinner Night, SS Nomadic, Hamilton Dock, Belfast, January 25. Come and enjoy a traditional Burns Night celebration onboard the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Starline ship, in celebration of one of the UK’s finest poetry legends with haggis, neeps and tatties.
Ulster Orchestra: Burns Night Celebration featuring Eddi Reader, Waterfront Hall, Belfast, January 25. The Ulster Orchestra has put together an evening of traditional music in partnership with the Ulster-Scots Agency. It will feature music by acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader who is well known her interpretations of the songs of Scotland’s national poet.
Learn to Kitesurf, NI Kitesurfing School, Ards Peninsula, Co. Down, January 25. Learn to kitesurf in a structured and safe environment with Northern Ireland’s only dedicated school. All equipment provided on the day.
Adult Pony Camps, Tullynewbank Stables, Glenavy, Co. Antrim, January 26. These camps are a great way to refine a skill or to learn something completely new about equestrianism. Remember to bring a warm jacket and your riding boots.
Way Back Then, Millennium Forum, Co. Londonderry, January 26. Local entertainers come together for a special 50th anniversary show to commemorate one of Bishop Daly’s famous Sunday night variety concerts. Featuring the talents of the Foyle Showband and the ex- Rosemount Boys School Choir.
The Story of Belfast, Falls Road Library, Belfast, until February 13. An exhibition exploring the development of Belfast from pre-Christian times until the present day and recount how the city grew from a small settlement into a major industrial city in the late 1800s and how it became a world leader in heavy industry including shipbuilding, engineering and textiles.
Jan Powell’s Plathian Mythologies, the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, Co. Armagh, until February 15. Jan Powell is an artist from Armagh who has exhibited throughout NI from the early 1980s. Her exhibition ‘Plathian Mythologies’, made up of 84 works, is inspired by the poetry of Sylvia Plath.
On 23 January, Theatre at The Mill presents THE ONLY WAY IS DOWNTOWN, written and performed by Luke Kempner and produced by Seabright Productions.
Following a sell-out run Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 and a West End season, impressionist Luke Kempner (star of YouTube hit Downstairs At Downton and West End shows Les Mis and Avenue Q) brings his solo show The Only Way is Downton to Newtownabbey.
‘A fine impressionist, giving a splendid display of Downtonry.’ Stephen Fry
As celebrities start appearing at the Abbey, cultures clash and eras hilariously collide in this brilliant new parody. Building on the multi-character original scenario of his YouTube video, Luke has created an original story in which the characters of Downton Abbey are in crisis and have to call upon modern celebrities in their appeal to save the Dowager’s country pile from certain closure.
Writer/performer Luke Kempner has recently appeared in Sleeping Beauty for Salisbury Playhouse, the UK tour of South Pacific, LIFT at the Soho Theatre, the UK tours of Avenue Q and Les Miserables, directed by Laurence Connor. Luke is a graduate of the Guildford School of Acting.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (January 13 – 19).
Jack and the Beanstalk, Ardhowen Theatre, Co. Fermanagh, January 13 – 18. The classic tale of Jack who exchanges his cow for magic beans which grow into a gigantic beanstalk. Jack climbs the beanstalk and arrives in a strange land high up in the sky and so the adventure begins – will Jack survive his journey to the Giant’s land?
Watercolour Painting Workshop, Londonderry Arms Hotel, Carnlough, Co. Antrim, January 14 – 16. Enjoy a fun filled workshop with well known artist Paul Holmes, offering a mix of good humour and good teaching. The class is suited to both experienced artists and those new to watercolour painting.
Jesus Christ Superstar, Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, January 16 – February 1. Ballywillan Drama Group performs a unique new staging of this iconic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, telling the emotional story of the last seven days of Jesus of Nazareth.
Arenacross 2014, Odyssey Arena, Belfast, January 17 – 18. Enjoy the crazy indoor variation of motocross racing with shockingly spectacular jumps as the arena is transformed into a purpose-built dirt track.
A Bit on the Side, The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh City, Co. Armagh, January 17 – 18. Funny man Conal Gallen stars in his very own comedy play, taking his hilarious humour to a new level in this side-splitting two-act comedy farce taking place in the household of 30 years married Bridie and Willie Murphy.
Northern Irish Photographic Annual Exhibition, The Braid, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, January 18 – 22. On display at The Braid, the exhibition comprises of 76 prints selected from the work of members of Northern Ireland camera clubs with a variety of subjects represented from landscapes and sport to architecture.
Titanic: Window on Emigration, Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, untilJanuary 26. Find out about the Irish emigrants who boarded Titanic and explore their stories as well as their surroundings on their ill-fated journey to the New World.
Homegrown, Millennium Forum, Derry, Co. Londonderry, January 17. Join three of Derry’s best loved musicians in a special concert celebrating the city’s musical talent, with Paul Casey, Bronagh Gallagher and Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas.
Burns: The Belfast Connection, Linen Hall Library, Belfast, until January 31. The largest collection of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns’ materials held outside of Scotland. With a selection of rare and valuable items including the 1787 Belfast edition of Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.
Meet the Quackers, Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre, Co. Down, until April 27. Let the kids explore the exciting world of the largest collection of rare and exotic geese, ducks and swans in Ireland and make the most of the Meet the Quackers tours every Saturday and Sunday.
Join BBC Northern Ireland and Radio Ulster on Thursday 9th January for a free Stargazing LIVE event at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra. Are you baffled by the universe? Do you know your moons from your planets? How about an evening with the stars! See the night sky through the lens of impressive telescopes, take off and land with the rocket science shows and learn all about galaxies and comets. Meet the astronomers and ask them anything. All this and much more. Outdoor activities will be weather dependent. Entry to the event is free but will be on a first come first served basis and places on some activities are limited.
Can the beautiful Snow White escape the evil clutches of the Wicked Queen and marry her Prince? She can with the help of seven helpful (and not so helpful!) dwarfs. For 2014, Stewartstown Panto are producing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 10th to 25th January at the Burnavon Theatre Cookstown. You can be assured of wonderful costumes, amazing sets, great music and lots of laughs making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs unmissable entertainment.
The Lakeland Players return to the Ardhowen with their 27th annual pantomime, the classic tale of Jack, a young lad living with his poor widowed mother. Their only means of income is a cow called Daisy but when Daisy stops giving milk one morning, Jack is sent to sell her at the market. On the way he meets an old man who offers to give him “magic” beans in exchange for Daisy. And so the adventure begins…..from 9th to 18th January.
The classic Saturday screening this weekend at the Roe Valley Arts Centre is All About Eve. A ruthlessly ambitious ingenue, Eve (Anne Baxter), insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress Margo (Bette Davis) and her circle of theatre friends. Starring Davis and Baxter in what might be their best roles, this is a wonderful, glamorous classic film with a scintillating script including the famous line “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”. Dress-up period glad rags in honour of the film welcome!
An Antiques and Collectables Vintage Fair will be held on Saturday 11th January in Brownstown Community Hall, Brownstown Road, Portadown. Doors open from 9am to 3pm and admission is only £2.
The Galgorm Resort and Spa Ballymena is the venue for a glittering Gala Ball in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society this Friday 10th January. Dancing to the Big Kahuna Band and a 4 course dinner. The fun kicks off at 7pm.
Family skating Saturdays at Dundonald Ice Bowl from 5 – 6 pm. Suitable for all ages – introduce young / novice skaters to ice skating without the hussle & bussle of public sessions. Games, Hockey, Speed skating, Music. £4 per session, £1 skate hire.
Following the sell-out success of their 2013 UK Tour it is apocalypse now The Reduced Shakespeare Company set their reductive sites on the good book with The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) and visit Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey for two performances only on 29 and 30 January.
Yes, it’s an affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment as the Reduced Shakespeare Company tackle the great theological questions: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston?
Whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, Atheist or Jedi, you will be tickled by the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s romp through old time religion.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a three-man comedy troupe that takes long, serious subjects and reduces them to short, sharp comedies. Since 1981, ‘The Bad Boys of Abridgement’ have created eight stage shows, two television specials and numerous radio pieces – all of which have been performed, seen, heard and translated into Klingon the world over.
The company’s first three shows, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) enjoyed a nine-year run at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. Not only were they London’s longest-running comedies, but at one point the Reduced Shakespeare Company had more shows running in the West End than Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some of them were funnier too…
And comedy fans will think they’re in heaven as ticket prices for The Reduced Shakespeare Company are £16 and £14. The Reduced Shakespeare Company visit Theatre at The Mill for two nights on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 January. Book tickets online at www.theatreatthemill.com or phone Box Office on 9034 0202.
Grab your walking shoes and woolly hats and work off the excesses of Christmas by heading outdoors to discover some of Northern Ireland’s most scenic locations this winter, says the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB).
Whether it’s a relaxing stroll along the banks of the river, a hike up a mountain, a ramble through the forest or even a mad dash after your dog, Northern Ireland has a walking route to suit the whole family.
NITB’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley says there are hundreds of walking paths and trails to explore.
“After a busy festive season there is no better way to blow away the cobwebs than to wrap up warm and take a winter walk,” said Pauline.
“Whether you are a hardcore hiker or you enjoy a relaxing Sunday stroll, there are hundreds of options and areas for you to explore in Northern Ireland.
“Walking is a fantastic way to take in the natural beauty of an area at your own pace so wrap up well and enjoy the winter backdrop and beautiful scenery,” she added.
To help walkers on their way, NITB has put together a list of top walking routes this winter.
A winter morning is arguably the best time to walk the Lagan Towpath as the mist hovers just above Belfast’s main river. The towpath starts in Stranmillis, just minutes away from Belfast City Centre, and sets off along the river and canal systems through a variety of wetland, riverside meadows and mixed woodland. After passing through Lagan Meadows and over Shaw’s Bridge this section of the towpath finishes at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, one of Belfast’s most popular parks.
Divis and Black Mountain rest in the heart of the Belfast Hills and provide a backdrop to the city’s skyline, offering spectacular views across Northern Ireland, Belfast Lough and as far as Donegal and the coast of England, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Suitable footwear is necessary.
Winter creates the perfect backdrop to explore the mature woodland of Glenariff Forest Park with freezing waterfalls and open, frosted moorland. The trail first takes you down the Inver River gorge, to the edge of the Ess-na-Crub Waterfall and your path back offers spectacular views straight down the misty Glen to the coast and the sea beyond.
Follow a stretch of breathtaking coastline between Ballintoy and Bushmills for a great 12.4 mile walk. The route includes walking on beaches, across rocks and along cliff top paths following the Causeway Coast Way, one of the most spectacular cliff top paths in the UK.
Co. Antrim also boasts Croaghan, a 6.5 milecircular stroll, with a variety of hills, forest tracks and stunning panoramic views of Rathlin Island, just off the Antrim Coast.
The Slieve Gullion walk is 9.5 miles and located within the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Beauty. Rising to 573 meters, Slieve Gullion is the centrepiece of the volcanic landscape and is a Special Area of Conservation. The Ring of Gullion and Slieve Gullion have rich associations with Irish legends and myths.
Gosford Forest Park comprises of 240 hectares of diverse woodland and open parkland set in gentle rolling drumlin countryside. It was designated as the first conservation forest in Northern Ireland and has a number of way-marked nature trails and treks to explore.
Located in the dramatic setting of mountains and sea, Castlewellan Forest Park is one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. Many walkers enjoy its mile-long lake which gives a great insight into eighteenth-century landscaping.
Covering an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, Tollymore Forest Park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle. Tollymore has some very interesting features to look out for while on your walk including a barn dressed to look like a church and gothic-style gate arches that all show the influence of the highly individualistic designer, Thomas Wright of Durham.
North Down Coastal Path extends from Holywood in the west to Orlock in the east and passes through coastline and parkland. Historic relics and flora and fauna can be found in abundance and grey seals can be spotted offshore.
Murlough Nature Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust, it is an excellent area for walking due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum and the Mourne Mountains and was Ireland’s first Nature Reserve.
Castle Archdale Country Parkoffers a variety of walks on a 5 mile trail with lots to see as it goes along the shore passing the deer park enclosure, wildfowl ponds and butterfly garden. Winter is a great time of the year to explore this unique setting.
Crom Estate offers walks amidst a tranquil landscape of islands, woodland and historic ruins. Take the walk which follows the main estate path through stunning parkland towards the old castle, steeped in history. As you continue along the shoreline to Crom’s beautiful boathouse you can enjoy stunning views up to the 19th Century castle which sits to the right of the trail dominating the landscape.
Peatlands Park, close to the southern shores of Lough Neagh, can be explored by over 10 miles of paths and wooden walkways which leads the visitor through many varied habitats. The park is rich in butterflies, moths and dragonflies as well as many woodland and wetland birds and several species of waterfowl.
Dungannon Park is a 70 acre oasis centred round an idyllic still-water lake and its magnificent scenery invites you to enjoy leisurely walks along the park trail. High grounds offer the walker splendid views of the surrounding townlands and countryside with views of Lough Neagh on a clear day.
Visitors looking for a great off-road, winter hill walk across rolling hills and frosty moorland should go to Robber’s Table. The highest point of this route provides superb views of the Bluestack and Derryveagh Mountains of Donegal to the west and the high Sperrins to the north east. As the 9 mile route climbs south over Ballynatubbrit Mountain it passes Robber’s Table, the site where supposed local seventeenth century Highwaymen met up to divide their spoils after raiding the postal carriages that traversed this upland landscape.
Port Path follows a stretch of scenic coastline between Portstewart and Portrush and the winter seascape is an experience not to be missed. As well as the magnificent offshore views, this route also passes by a number of interesting features such as traditional ice houses, stone built, turf roofed houses where ice was stored in the winter in order to preserve salmon in the summer.
Prehen Wood is one of Northern Ireland’s rare and irreplaceable ancient woods and it has a series of numbered way-markers that offer an environmental trail encouraging people to develop an awareness and appreciation of the natural and built environment.