Armagh’s Georgian Day spreads Christmas cheer from yesteryear!

Locals and visitors alike are invited to step back in time some 300 years as Georgian Day returns to Armagh this November.

Local children Katie (8) and Billy (6) prepare to sprinkle a little festive magic on Armagh - with a helping hand from Lynd Roper. The youngsters were warming up for the cold season as they help Armagh City Council launch this year's Georgian Day. The free family fun day on 29 November in Armagh City Centre will boast 50 festive market stalls, craft work-shops, walking tours and festive fun for everyone - Georgian style! For more information on Georgian Day go to

Heralding the beginning of the Christmas season, the renowned festive family fun day will be lighting up the streets of the city on 29 November from 10am – 8pm and transporting families back to the city’s Georgian past.

Armagh, Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital, will enjoy a Georgian Christmas ‘make-over’; with everyone from market traders, musicians, craft experts and even a reindeer and his trusty elves getting in on the act.

The annual Georgian Christmas Market is not to be missed. With around 70 stalls brimming with gifts, artisan crafts, gourmet delights and steaming mugs of mulled wine and mince pies – it’s the perfect opportunity to indulge in some Christmas shopping or simply browse and soak up the yuletide atmosphere. And in keeping with the historic theme, Armagh’s stall traders are getting into the spirit of the occasion sporting Georgian attire as they welcome their customers.

One of the main attractions will be the free lightshow which will be ticketed this year to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the spectacular exhibition. Set to festive music and with a few surprises planned ‘A Winter’s Tale’ will be a show to remember as it transforms the beautiful Georgian building, Market House, into a shimmering canvas for images and special live stage action.

The light show will be shown at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm and 8pm with gates opening 15 minutes before each show and access from Market Street only. Wristbands for each show are available from Monday 10th November at 10.00am online at or from Armagh Visitor Information Centre on 028 3752 1800 or in person.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Cathy Rafferty, said: “Armagh City is set to shine on Georgian Day. The whole city really gets into the festive spirit and, as always, extends the warmest of welcomes to locals and visitors alike. We are always looking at new and exciting things to bring to Georgian Day and this year’s packed itinerary is hard to beat.”

“As well as showcasing everything our beautiful historical city has to offer, the event gives visitors a glimpse of the past and a sense of the history and tradition that has helped forge the Armagh we know and love today. With so much on offer, not just on Georgian Day but all the way through the festive period and beyond, it’s easy to see how we attract around 25,000 visitors to this wonderful showcase event.”

Families can also enjoy live music on the bandstand or treat themselves to a Georgian-style tour around the Mall on a beautiful Regency horse-drawn carriage. For the more energetic, Georgian themed walking tours and the chance to explore several of the city’s oldest Georgian buildings including the magnificent Archbishop’s Palace and Armagh Gaol are not to be missed.

The Georgian period was when Christmas really became the celebration that we recognise today – decadent decorations, tasty treats and generous gifts. A packed schedule of Georgian craft workshops at The Shambles Yard will help visitors hone their festive home-making, with everything from Christmas Cookery demos to advice on how to make the most covetable centre-piece.

Cathy Rafferty added: “Georgian Day is the star in our festive events calendar and we’re confident that this year’s celebration is going to be the bigger and better than ever!”

For more information on Georgian Day and what’s happening throughout the year in Armagh, go to


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (November 17-23).

  • Bangor Christmas Lights Switch On, Bangor Town Hall (Bangor Castle), Co Down, November 22.  Watch the skies above Bangor come alive with a spectacular fireworks display before the Christmas lights are ceremoniously switched on at 5.30pm.
  • Melodies and Musicals, The Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, November 18-22.  Fortwilliam Musical Society returns with a showcase of songs from the world of musicals and beyond.  This award-winning company has been entertaining sell-out audiences for over 35 years. With their unique blend of family favourites and the latest musical hits, there is something for everyone.
  • Gay Byrne – Live On Stage, Canal Court Hotel, Newry, Co Down, November 20. Ireland’s king of broadcasting, Gay Byrne, will reminisce about his star-studded 50 year plus showbiz career in what will be an intimate and enthralling event filled with fun and laughter!
  • Limavady Christmas Illuminations, Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, 24 Main Street, Limavady, Co Londonderry, November 21. The countdown is on for the Limavady Illuminations!  Christmas entertainment, music, games and DJ Ned will help set the scene before Santa and the Mayor of Limavady, Alderman Alan Robinson press that all important magic button at 7pm.
  • The Snow Queen, Alley Theatre, Railway Road, Strabane, Co Tyrone, November 22-24.  Enjoy this ever popular Christmas favourite of a magical tale filled with spells and action that conjures up a captivating mix of fantasy, fable and love triumphing over evil.
  • Giving Nature a Home in Fermanagh, Enniskillen Library, Co Fermanagh, November 26. County Fermanagh is home to a rich diversity of birds and wildlife which makes it the perfect setting for RSPB area manager Brad Robson to talk about the work the charity is doing to help give nature a home on up to 40 islands in Lower Lough Erne.
  • Baskets for Beginners, Museum at the Mill, Carnmoney Road North, Mossley, Co Antrim, November 22. Experience basket weaving using locally sourced willow to make your own traditional Irish skib or potato strainer. Absorbing and incredibly satisfying, this activity will allow you to learn a new skill and leave you with a great sense of achievement.
  • The Bard of Armagh, Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Co Armagh, November 21.  Now celebrating its 20th year, the annual Bard of Armagh Festival of Humorous Verse has become an institution. The event, which began in humble circumstances in Keady, quickly spiralled into a national phenomenon with bards from all over Ireland coming to Armagh to take part in the ancient Irish art of satirical versification.
  • C.S. Lewis Festival 2014, various locations, Belfast, November 20-23. Enjoy this family festival filled with art and craft workshops, film and documentary screenings plus theatre and talks to celebrate one of Belfast’s most famous sons. A variety of venues will be used to house the great events lined up this year including St Mark’s Church, Holywood Arches Library, Ulster Hall and many more!
  • Mistletoe & Crime, Lyric Theatre, 55 Ridgeway Street, Belfast, November 22 – January 11. “T’was the night before Christmas the city is heavin’, there’s shoppin’ and gurnin’ and drinkin’ and thievin’…”  It would be a crime to miss this comedy drama written by Marie Jones and directed by Dan Gordon at the award winning Lyric Theatre. It’s a new time, a new place, a new police service and two WPC’s try to keep order amongst the mayhem that is a Belfast Christmas!

Please note some of the events require pre-booking.

Jacqueline’s pick of What’s On this week across the North.


Bjorn Identity, NI’s premier tribute band, will be playing the hits of 70’s supergroup ABBA at the Bannville House Hotel this Saturday 15th November, followed by a 70’s Disco. This fundraiser promises to be a great night out, with tickets from just £8.00.  Meal deal with Bannville House Hotel also available.


The world-renowned Moscow Ballet returns to The Market Place Theatre for the most special, festive and magical ballets of all time ‘Nutcracker’ Thursday 13th November.  All is quiet in the great house…Clara creeps Downstairs…The Christmas Tree stands alone…In the darkness, through the curtains, the moonlight beams onto the colourful presents offered there.



Borderline Players are back at the Ardhowen Theatre 13th, 14th and 15th November with Neil Simon’s ‘Rumors’. This riotously funny farce centres around the efforts of eight party guests to spare their unfortunate host, and themselves from scandal.  The play opens with Ken and Chris who have found their host for the evening Charley, a prominent Government official, in his bedroom, too dazed to speak, with a bullet wound in his ear lobe! His wife, Vivian and domestic help are nowhere to be seen. The evening descends into a chaos of epic proportions before a surprising explanation to the evening’s turn of events proves more incredible than anyone could have imagined.


Enjoy an Eclectic Evening of Earthy Folk and Gypsy Jazz featuring Camhanach and Cup O’Joe  at the Square Box, Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre Dungannon on Saturday 15th November at 7.30pm. Tickets £10.  Camhanach are a traditional folk group playing both new and traditional tunes and songs cast in modern sounding arrangements.  Cup O’Joe is made up of two brothers Benjamin, Reuben and sister, Tabitha, who play an energetic style of Bluegrass & Gypsy Jazz music.


Enjoy four days of melodic revelry and eclectic sounds as Coleraine Borough Council hosts the Atlantic Sessions 13th – 16th November. Now in its fifth year, Atlantic Sessions on the North Coast is a high quality, musical feast, showcasing original music interpreted by artists in a number of ways from traditional to contemporary, from electric to acoustic. The FREE Music Trail, will feature over 40 live original music gigs at various venues, while headline ticketed acts will perform at Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart.


After the success of last year’s craft fair, the PTA of Wallace High School Lisburn is hoping for a repeat performance at this year’s Christmas Craft Fair this Saturday 15th November. You will find unusual presents, lovely food, or you can just meet up with friends and catch up over a cup of tea or coffee. Please come and join the Wallace High community from 10.00am to 2.00pm.


The Schola Cantorum join forces with the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus to present the Fauré Requiem in a gala concert at St Peter’s Cathedral on Saturday 15th November, featuring music by Blow, Parry, Gjeilo and Wilberforce.  This is a performance not to be missed! Admission is £15.00 in aid of The Order of Malta’s Maternity Hospital in Bethlehem.

This Little Piggy Went to Market – Magherafelt Christmas Market Moves to Town Centre

Magherafelt came over all Christmassy on Monday 3rd November at the Official Launch of Magherafelt Christmas Market.

Magherafelt District Council will once again be serving up a treat with their Speciality Christmas Market which will run over three days  from Friday 28th November (6pm-10pm), Saturday 29th (10am-10pm) and Sunday 30th (2pm-6pm). In addition, Council has arranged FREE car parking in the Pay and Display Car Parks from Thursday 27th November until Sunday 30th November 2014.

Chairperson, Kate Mc Eldowney said “This is one of our flagship events, of which we are very proud. It is events like this that that really helps to breathe life back into our struggling town centres and I’m particularly pleased that this year the market has moved to Market Street, which has been the trading heart of Magherafelt since 1425.”

With the move to the new Town Centre location of Market Street,   it is hoped that we will exceed last year’s 16,500 visitor numbers, which generated £288, 750 back into the local economy

Our Little Piggy will go to this very special Christmas Market. He’s a hungry little creature, so he’ll be delighted to see more than 35 food and drink traders including the Lough Neagh Fisherman’s  Co-Op (Eels), Comber Potato growers, Indian Nights Inn, Mange Tout and Sweet Sensations, Papa J’s, to name but a few.

Come along and enjoy browsing and sampling the locally produced artisan food and drink.  Or take time to unwind in the Lounge, where you can experience a craft beer, hot mulled wine or even just sit and relax.  Complete with local bands including Rightly On and Limavady Big Band and local school children will perform over the weekend.  There will also be lots of hints and tips for Christmas fa with cookery demos funded by Love Food Hate Waste.

Visitors to the Christmas Craft stalls will be inspired and amazed by the variety, quality and originality of the hand-made craft products and gifts available.  There may even be a few special characters on display too!

This will be one of Northern Ireland’s largest outdoor markets, so don’t miss it and get into the Christmas spirit in the heart of Magherafelt.

Christmas Lights Switch-on

On Saturday the 29 November at 7.00pm join Cool Fm for a captivating evening of festive fun, with prize giveaways and the arrival of Santa and illuminate the sky with a fanfare of fireworks.

Together these events will bring a fabulous atmosphere to Magherafelt and an even better aroma.

For further information contact The Bridewell T: 7963 1510 or visit or follow

Why Derry’s in fashion this Winter!

The countdown is on to Derry-Londonderry’s first dedicated fashion festival – Fashion Fest 2014 – which will bring the catwalk to some of the city’s most stunning historic buildings, from November 20 – 23.

Top industry gurus and designers including Wayne Hemingway, Sonya Lennon, Una Rodden and Oliver Doherty, are just a few of the well-known names among an inspirational line-up of fashion figures who will be on hand to pass on their knowledge of the industry over four days of creative events.

All the action kicks off on Wednesday evening, November 19, with a magical Winter Wonderland Collaboration Catwalk event at the Maldron Hotel, and some beautiful Christmas couture heralding the beginning of Derry’s festive programme.

The city’s inaugural Fashion Fest celebration features a wide array of highlights for fashion fans including a special industry focus workshop for budding designers and fashion retailers, taking place on Thursday November 20.

A  stunning Irish Wedding Fashion Showcase will follow on Friday set against the spectacular backdrop of St Columb’s Cathedral and showcasing some of Ireland’s best designers and the latest wedding designs.

This leads on Saturday November 22, to an exclusive Designer Fashion Showcase in St Columb’s Hall, featuring top design names Edel MacBride, Una Rodden, Oliver Doherty and Tamsin Blackbour among a formidable array of talent, topped off with drinks, music and dancing.

Throughout the festival, the city’s historic Cathedral Quarter will play host to dozens of eclectic stalls, pop-up shops and exhibitions during its quirky Vintage Fair which brings some Portobello Road style to the city! While a rich programme of workshops, fashion demos and exhibitions will take place in a variety of venues.

If you would like to be part of some of the exclusive events, a limited number of tickets are still available to purchase at For more information on all the events contact Tara Nicholas on:  028 7136 5151, ext. 6980.


The local hospitality sector is to receive a significant jobs boost thanks to a new investment announced today by Beannchor, Northern Ireland’s largest hospitality group.

Pictured unveiling plans for the latest addition to the Beannchor group’s portfolio are Conall and Petra Wolsey. Sixty6 - Belfast’s newest cocktail bar and nightclub - will open in early December, situated above the company’s highly successful National Grande Café on High Street. Representing an investment of over £400,000, the launch of the second phase of Beannchor’s newest entertainment complex, will create 60 new jobs and complete a total investment of £1.1m in the venue.

Sixty6 – an exciting new cocktail bar and nightclub – will open in early December, above the company’s highly successful National Grande Café on High Street, Belfast.

Representing an investment of £400,000, the completion of Sixty6 will create 60 new jobs.

The launch of the second phase of the Cathedral Quarter entertainment complex, based at 66 High Street, Belfast, will complete a total investment of £1.1m by Beannchor in the venue and the creation of 120 jobs (including 60 created when The National Grande Café opened in September 2013).

Set over three floors, Sixty6 will conjure the glamour of a classic Victorian’s Gentleman’s Club; bringing upper levels of the Grade B listed former National Bank building back to their former glory.

Original features including high ceilings with intricate cornices, carved wooden pillars, original doors and a distinctive wrought iron and stone staircase have been sympathetically restored. Plush fabrics, furnishings and fittings have been added to update the interior of the striking venue, which dates back to the 1890s.

On the first floor, an intimate cocktail bar will serve a range of innovative drinks seven nights a week. On the upper two floors, a nightclub will feature live DJ entertainment from Thursday to Sunday, with access to the venue’s exclusive rooftop terrace via the third floor.

The luxury, high-end venue will bring a new dimension to Belfast’s booming evening economy.

Commenting on the announcement, Conall Wolsey, director, Beannchor Group, said: “The launch of the National Grande Café in 2014 was an exciting development for Beannchor and Belfast’s social scene.

“Our £1.1m investment in the venue will be completed with the launch of the second phase of the development this month. The opening of Sixty6 will provide an economic boost not just to the Cathedral Quarter but to the wider hospitality industry as a whole.

“As we continue to grow, we are creating a solid foundation for the development of rewarding long-term careers. As a major employer of over 650 people, Beannchor is committed to investing in its people; these new roles  – and all of our employment opportunities – are underpinned by ongoing staff training, development and rewards schemes that will drive the improvement of service standards in our own venues and right across the industry.”

Sixty6 is the latest venue to be added to the Beannchor portfolio, which includes over 50 pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland, including The Merchant Hotel, The National Grande Café and The Dirty Onion.

Located directly below Sixty6, the highly successful National Grande Café and Garden opened in September 2013 and offers a classic continental café bar experience; open for breakfast at 8am, food and high quality coffees are served throughout the day until 7pm, with relaxed entertainment provided late into the evening.

Sixty6 will officially open to the public on Saturday 28th November 2014. For further information visit

C.S. Lewis Festival returns to enchant East Belfast and beyond!

The C.S. Lewis Festival, the colourful celebration of one of Belfast’s most famous sons, returns for an extended weekend of theatre, tours, talks, films, storytelling and family events across the east of the city and beyond.

C.S. Lewis Festival 2014 officially launched at Belmont Tower Left to right - The White Witch; and Edmund played by Josh from Campbell Prep.

The second C.S. Lewis Festival, which takes place from 20-23 November 2014, has been generously funded by Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

It marks the 51st anniversary of the death of the renowned author, theologian, academic and creator of the incredible Chronicles of Narnia series.

Across 4 days of Lewis-related events will be reflections and assessments of the cultural significance of Lewis’ rich legacy, the impact he had on Belfast, as well as the strong influence his native city had on his vast body of work.

Festival Organiser Wendy Langham said:

“C.S. Lewis is one of those figures that everybody has heard of, but perhaps few realise that he was born, and for a time, was schooled in east Belfast. The 2014 C.S. Lewis Festival seeks to discover and celebrate those connections and invite people to come on a journey with us across the east, and hopefully have a lot of fun in the process!”

The highlights of the 2nd C.S. Lewis Festival include the Great Story Quest which takes the award-winning Replay Theatre into local primary schools, a CS Lewis Bus Tour, where local Lewis expert Sandy Smith takes intrepid travelers on a very personal journey into the heart of Lewis’ Belfast. Campbell College – the young Lewis’ alma mater, and the inspiration behind the famous Narnia lamp, will play host to the C.S. Lewis Nearly True Tours, hosted by Young at Art, as children big and small are invited into a magical realm of exploration and adventure amidst the enchanted grounds of the famous college. There will be screenings including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and the gripping documentary – The Man, The Myth and the Wardrobe, featuring an introduction from east Belfast director Moore Sinnerton.

Actor David Payne brings his acclaimed one man show An Evening with C.S.Lewis to the festival for the first time. Early-birds can enjoy the Narnia Breakfast at the Park Avenue Hotel. There’s also an opportunity to enjoy an evening with two experts who will expand your knowledge of Lewis the man and his meaning for today during C.S. Lewis- The Bigger Picture. This year’s Lewis at Lunchtime in the Ulster Hall, will have a timely focus on C.S. Lewis and the Great War.

St Mark’s Church, Lewis’ much-loved original place of worship, will be hosting a suitably seasonal Winter Wonderland Craft Fair and the Holywood Arches library will offer up a range of storytelling and creative writing workshops and displays for kids big and small.

Elsewhere there’s more creative workshops, screen printing and exhibitions throughout the east of the city!

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “C.S. Lewis left a legacy which appeals to those of different generations, religious beliefs and social circumstances. His work creates a common bond between us all, where we can share in the enjoyment of his literature Everyone can take ownership of his work, but there is a particular pride in his birthplace of East Belfast, where C.S. Lewis spent his formative years. Now in its second year, the C.S. Lewis Festival is a celebration of this link to a literary great. My department is pleased to support a community festival which underlines the vibrancy of East Belfast, and enhances the cultural infrastructure in an area which has historically suffered from under-investment.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council is pleased to support this annual celebration of one of the most important writers of the 20th Century and a son of East Belfast.  Lewis’s ability to inspire generations globally through his unique storytelling is reflected in the impressive festival programme which offers something for everyone. I would encourage all to go along and enjoy this rich series of events which boosts the cultural offer of the city as a whole.”

Councillor Guy Spence, deputy chair of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee added:

“The CS Lewis Festival has a great range of events which will appeal to all tastes and all ages.  From kippers and Turkish delight at a traditional CS Lewis breakfast; to making Aslan the Lion mini sculptures; to touring Campbell College with two uniquely funny comedy tour guides; films, talks, and readings;  – you’ll be spoilt for choice! Well done to the organisers and all the best to the Eastside of the city.  I’d encourage you all to spread the word and support as many events as you can.”

The C.S. Lewis Festival runs from 20-23 November. Full Programme details can be found at Keep up to date with the latest information via and Twitter @CSLewisFest

Make all your dreams come true!

Join Mr Hullabaloo and Jingles The Jester for the most magical pantomime of them all- Sleeping Beauty.

From the creative team that brought you Jack and The Beanstalk, Snow White, Aladdin and Cinderella: Sleeping Beauty will be a fun filled family adventure that will have you and your family singing, dancing and clapping along!

Featuring an outstanding cast of live performers, puppetry, dazzling sets and lavish costumes, children of all ages can join in the excitement and enter a fanciful world as our spectacular story unfolds!

Full of laughter and fun; don’t miss out on the truly magical experience of a Christmas Pantomime. There is also a special visit and present from Santa at the end of the show!

The Courtyad theatre in partnership with Mr Hullabaloo has produced four sell-out pantomimes and received rave reviews from families, schools and youth organisations. With just 180 seats, this intimate venue is perfect for children to get up close to the action.

The Dogs are back!

Four Men and a Dog are true legends of Irish traditional music.

From the moment they burst on the scene at the Belfast Folk Festival in 1990, with their high-energy approach that combines furious traditional dance tunes with irreverent new music and inimitable covers, the tunes have just kept coming. For one night only, the band is appearing at the Burnavon, Cookstown Saturday 29th November at 8pm.

Their first album, Barking Mad was the founding reason for the respected Cross Border Media label, and took Folk Roots best new album award in 1991, the first Irish band to ever do so. The band has been touring internationally seemingly ever since.

Their fiery tune sets are second to none for passion & precision, while the songs are full of surprise – anything from traditional ballads to American folk songs to acoustic rock n’ roll (in the words of the band “Blame it on the radio”). Each musician is recognised as one of the foremost on his instrument anywhere in traditional music – most notably banjo wizard Gerry O’Connor and fiddler Cathal Hayden. Frontman Gino Lupari on vocals and bodhran is one of Irish music’s great characters, a true performer who engages and draws audiences into the show wherever the band plays.

Four Men & a Dog only play a very selective number of dates together each year, so this is a genuinely rare chance to catch one of Irish music’s greatest live acts. Tickets, priced £20, are on sale now at the Burnavon Box Office (028 8676 9949) or online at


Two dance companies, one from Belfast and one from Dublin, come together at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh, to premiere a new dance work that looks at the predicament of living out two conflicting states of mind at once.

Choreographed by Liz Roche and set to Neil Martin’s score, ‘Neither Either’ identities, beliefs, emotions and aspirations are put to the test in this poignant blend of dance, poetry and music.

There will also be a Post Show Talk, where audience members will have the opportunity to meet the Dancers and Choreographer after the show at 9pm for a discussion about the themes of the work and working in the creative industry today.

‘Neither Either’ will be staged on Thursday 20th November at 8pm. Tickets are priced £7 each, with special ticket prices and educational workshops available for school groups. Tickets are available through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at