THE May Bank Holiday is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the long weekend with friends and family and to help people along, Tourism NI has listed some of the exciting events and things to see and do that are available all over Northern Ireland.
Rachel Quigg, Communications & Destination PR Officer, explains why everyone should get out and about this May Bank Holiday:
“With so much choice on offer from arts festivals and walks to family fun days and music events, everyone will find something they really want to go and experience.
“For those with an adventurous side there are a wide range of fun outdoor activities and events to choose from and if you prefer something a little bit more laid back there are lots of places to visit where you can kick back and enjoy some rest and relaxation.”
To help make the most of the May Day Bank Holiday, Tourism Northern Ireland has highlighted a number of fun events which are happening across NI.
The sound of laughter will be echoing all over Belfast this Bank Holiday weekend, as the 13th Festival of Fools comes to town. Over 120 performances will be taking place from April 29 – May 2, all free of charge with daredevil acrobatics, circus acts, comedy, magic and much more from some of the leading street theatre companies from Europe, America, the UK and Ireland.
On Bank Holiday Monday, line the streets to support over 17,500 participants in the 2016 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon, which will take in the north, south, east and west of the city.
The 17th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will provide a packed line-up of music, comedy and spoken word beginning on April 28, through May Day weekend and continuing until Sunday May 8. To celebrate Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, the festival will also include a one day meat-free mini-festival, Vegstock, taking place in the festival marquee on May 2.
Cushendun is one of the most picturesque villages in the Glens of Antrim and will be hosting four days of music, drama, exhibitions and family fun as part of Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend from April 29 – May 2. Showcasing the rich culture and spectacular landscape of the area, this fun and varied weekend is sure to have something for everyone.
For those who would like to do something more active over the Bank Holiday weekend, there is the Causeway Coast Challenge Walk on May 1, commencing at Portballintrae and following the coastal cliff path via Giant’s Causeway to reach Portbradden, before returning. Not for the faint of heart, the walk is 30km in length and is organised by local club Bannside Ramblers, attracting walkers from all over Ireland and beyond.
Visitors to Ballycastle can invigorate their senses and tickle their taste buds as the Naturally North Coast & Glens Artisan Market comes to Ballycastle Seafront on Sunday, May 1, featuring food and craft producers from all around the North Coast and Glens area.
The Orchard County celebrates its reputation as the Orchard of Ireland over the holiday weekend with the Apple Blossom Fair, taking place from April 30 – May 2. The festival comprises many different events at Ardress House and Loughgall Country Park, with shuttle buses to transport visitors between the two sites. Celebrate local food traditions with orchard tours, cider tastings, barbecues and entertainment for all the family.
Armagh is also home to plenty of places for a family walk or cycle on Bank Holiday weekend, such as the beautiful Gosford Forest Park and country estates like the The Argory or Derrymore House.
Enjoy the annual May Day celebrations in Holywood town centre with traditional May Day dancing by local school children, a selection of market stalls and fantastic family-friendly entertainment from 10am – 4pm on Monday, May 2.
Elsewhere in County Down, Newry will be holding its first annual Craft Beer Festival on April 30 and May 1, with ten craft breweries exhibiting over 30 craft products to taste including Mourne Mountain Brewery, Armagh Cider Company, Whitewater Brewery and more. Enjoy the best of local craft products with a top notch entertainment line-up.
The Newry and Mourne Museum is hosting the last weekend of its ‘The World Has Become Smaller – Transport in Newry and Mourne’ exhibition, examining all aspects of transport in the area over the centuries, and open to visit until May 2.
It is the golden jubilee of Castle Archdale Caravan Park and Camp Site, and the whole family is welcome to join in the celebrations, which on Saturday April 30 include balloon modelling with Mr Twister and a kid’s quiz with prizes.
April 30 will also be an exciting day for dogs, dog owners and dog lovers as Castle Coole holds Paws In The Park. Dogs are always welcome at Castle Coole, but especially on this day, when dogs and their owners can join in the dog walk, enter the pet dog show, and pick up some behaviour techniques and grooming tips.
The May Day weekend is also the perfect opportunity for families or groups to visit SHARE Discovery Village. The Share Extravaganza gives visitors an opportunity to try out an array of land and water activities in one-hour, two-hour or taster sessions.
Fun for all the family is on offer at The Jungle NI in Moneymore on May 1 as its popular Family Fun Day takes place, where visitors can buy tokens to exchange for a variety of outdoor activities on offer throughout the day.
During the evenings from April 29-May 1, music lovers should head to the village of Macosquin near Coleraine for the Big Marquee Weekend II. This year’s line-up features a thrilling mix of big name dance, indie, country and Britpop stars, in a purpose-built marquee in the grounds of Mary Pat’s Bar.
However if jazz is your musical style of choice, the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival is a must, with Derry~Londonderry reverberating to the sound of jazz from bars, theatres, shopping centres, restaurants and on the streets around the city from April 28 – May 2.
Pull on your wellies as rare and minority breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry make the Ulster American Folk Park home for the weekend in the Rare Breeds Show. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the variety of farm animals on show. The event takes place from April 30 – May 2.
Also this Bank Holiday weekend in Co. Tyrone, the number one country music festival in Ireland returns as Jamboree In The Park comes to Ecclesville Centre, Fintona. Taking place on April 30 and May 1, there will be headline performances from Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan along with many other exciting artists, making this a must for country music fans.
Finally, on April 30, beer enthusiasts can enjoy the North West Brew Fest at Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh. The inaugural event will showcase local beer, ale, stout and cider produced across the North West, with the hotel’s pavilion transformed into a beer garden theme with fantastic live music across the weekend.