10 Things to Do Next Week in NI

Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (May 23-29).

Rathlin Island Boat Tour, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim May 24. Travel along the North Antrim coastline taking in the sights of the Causeway Coast, visiting Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy Harbour and more before disembarking on Rathlin Island for 45 minutes to explore this enchanting island. www.portrushseatours.com

• NI Countrysports Fair, Scarva, Co. Down, May 28-29. Country sports lie at the heart of the NI Countrysports Fair. With a variety of country sports on offer, experts will be on hand to introduce you to a field of new sports and explain how you can get involved alongside equestrian events, clay pigeon shooting and casting demonstrations.
• Belfast Spring Continental Market, Belfast City Hall, Belfast, Co. Antrim, May 27-30. With an array of delicious food from across the globe the Spring Continental Market returns to Belfast City Hall. This year, as part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink celebrations, the market will also be offering a selection of tasty local products to choose from and enjoy.

• Armagh Craft Fair, Market Place Theatre, Co. Armagh, May 28. This free event, now in its sixth year brings high quality craft to the heart of Armagh City and features over 45 high quality craft stalls from makers across Ireland. Craft at this year’s fair include textiles, knitwear, jewellery, wood ceramics and candles to name but a few. Starts at 10:30.

• The International Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival, Warrenpoint, Co.Down, May 25-30. The International Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival is back with an outstanding program of music and a food festival. Listen to some of the world’s leading blues and jazz performers including Belfast born Van Morrison as Warrenpoint hosts over 90 free gigs at the six-day festival.

• Belfast Maritime Festival, Queen’s Quay, Belfast, May 28-30. Ahoy there land lovers and seafarers! Celebrating the city’s unique maritime heritage, there’ll be lots of Titanic activities, live music, arts and crafts, street theatre and displays as Belfast’s quaysides play host to this family fun maritime festival.
• Circus of Horrors, Millennium Forum, Co. Londonderry, May 27. This frightening good show is set in Victorian London at a time when Jack the Ripper was still at large and the golden age of the Freakshow had begun. With Killer Klowns, Sword Swallowers, Death Defying Aerialists and a Hairculian Diva, this is a show not to be missed. Suitable for adults only. Starts at 8pm.

• Nature Macro Photography Workshop, An Creagan, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, May 28-29. Aimed at people wishing to refresh or progress their photography skills, these workshops hosted by wildlife photographer Debbie Deboo will mentor participants through techniques and equipment required for high quality close up images. £50 for two days – includes lunch. More info: www.an-creagan.com/

• Jungle Book, Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, May 28. The much loved story of Mowgli, the ‘man-cub’, is brought to life by Indigo Moon Theatre with inventive shadow theatre, original music and colourful digital projection as he learns to live by the Law of the Jungle. Suitable for ages 4+. Starts at 2:30pm.

• Twilight Market, St George’s Market, Belfast, May 24-25. The upcoming Twilight Market has been extended over two nights, allowing visitors even more time to feast on some of the unique food elements that make up Belfast’s thriving foodie sector featuring live music and DJs throughout the two days. Times vary per day.

Please note some of the events require pre-booking.

Sounds by the Shore at Sea Bangor!

The Shanty Shack at this year’s Sea Bangor Festival is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of the finest festival music around.

The Icarus Beach Patrol who will be patrolling The Eisenhower with their own brand of hilarious life-saving skills at Sea Bangor on June 4 & 5.

The event which is a highlight on Ards and North Down Borough Council’s events calendar is taking place on June 4 & 5 at the tented village in Quay Street Car Park, Bangor.

Programed by Open House, The Shanty Shack features a lively mix of eclectic music including such gems as Dolbro Dan, a local folk singer/songwriter, Wookalily, an all-female Americana folk band, Les Petits Hardchargers and loads more! The Shanty Shack will be a hive of music and entertainment for the duration of the festival so pop in and check it out!

And the entertainment doesn’t end there! Down on The Eisenhower Pier, a fantastic street theatre programme will take place all weekend. Look out for Maynard Flip Flap, with his coat hanger antics and legendary egg catapulting stunts and Gareth Jones who will be performing his strait jacket and escapology show. Beach Patrol will be guarding the pier with their special brand of life saving skills and so much more!

Other highlights of the festival include; “The Green Egg BBQ Competition,” a gourmet food tent, “The Dockside Emporium” a world of wonder created by local artists for people to experience and try out arts and crafts, “The Great Carmo,” a bespoke children’s theatre production from Cahoots NI, Jetlev demonstrations, a tall ship, aerobatic twister displays, Armed Forces activities, a coastal rowing challenge and lots more!

Sea Bangor will be open from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 4 June and Noon to 6pm on Sunday 5.

So whatever floats your boat, come along to Sea Bangor for a great family day out! This is a FREE event.

Flax Gallery Open Exhibition: A Celebration of Creativity

The Flax Gallery at Mossley Mill is holding an exciting new exhibition for 2016 with a whole range of different artists showcasing their talents.

Exhibitor Lillian Armstrong showcasing her paintings at The Open Exhibition

The exhibition opened on the 12 May and will run until Saturday 25 June.  The show is a celebration of creativity with works in a range of media with different interests expressed through each of the artist’s work.  Culture and Heritage Manager Samantha Curry commented “We are delighted to host this exhibition in the Flax Gallery. It’s an opportunity to open up the space to a whole range of artists, showcasing local talent and offering our visitors a unique experience. The additional benefit is that works are for sale so it’s a great opportunity for visitors to view and buy original art”.

The Flax Gallery is open Monday to Wednesday 10am – 5pm, Thursday 10am – 9pm, Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturday 11am – 4pm and admission is free.

For any additional information please contact Museum at The Mill on 028 9034 0129 or email museums@antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk


Children’s theatre company Cahoots NI are back at The Market Place Theatre, Armagh with their latest spectacular, ‘Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries’.

Prepare to be amazed, dazzled & bewildered by Cahoots NI’s mind-blowing production Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries – a spectacular show where Maths, Theatre and Digital Technology collide to create a fun and interactive performance proving that understanding maths can be fun!

Meet Danny Carmo – it’s not so long ago that he thought school and, in particular, maths wasn’t for him. He was more interested in dreaming about a future on the stage & perhaps the big screen – all he ever wanted to be was a famous magician! But when he knuckled down to learn all the tricks of the trade he realised that Maths was not only essential…but was the SECRET to a whole load of magic!

‘Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries’ is a multimedia and educational production featuring the magical world of Danny Carmo. The show will be staged on Saturday 4 June at 11am and 2pm. Tickets are priced just £5 each. Tickets for all performances can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.marketplacearmagh.com

And to keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplacearmagh) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/mptarmagh) where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.

Nuala McKeever is In the Window for Northern Ireland Hospice

Northern Ireland’s favourite comedienne Nuala McKeever returns to Theatre at The Mill for one night only on Friday 10 June, with a special performance of her black comedy “In the Window” in aid of Northern Ireland Hospice.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Thomas Hogg pictured with Nuala McKeever and Noreen Kennedy Community Fundraising Manager NI Hospice.

Noreen Kennedy, Community Fundraising Manager said: “Northern Ireland Hospice only exists because of the support we receive from local people in the community. I am continuously amazed and encouraged by the generosity and goodwill from local people, businesses and organisations. We are preparing to open your new hospice next week and we need your help to complete the fit-out”.

Nuala McKeever is no stranger to Theatre at The Mill having starred as Mrs Lovett in the opening show Sweeney Todd and returning with smash hits Carol’s Christmas, Eternally Scrooged , Christmas Eve Can Kill You and Tinseltown. Nuala McKeever also starred in Alan Bennett’s A Lady of Letters and Her Big Chance at The Courtyard Theatre.  We are delighted that Nuala is returning to Theatre at The Mill for this special charity performance of In the Window in aid of Northern Ireland Hospice after its success with us at The Courtyard Theatre in 2014.

Nuala delivers a poignant, hilarious, disastrous cocktail that’s to die for, about the resilience of the human heart in the face of …well, just about everything that can go wrong in our crazy modern lives…

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey commented “Northern Ireland Hospice provides an essential service to the whole community and I would ask the public to show their support and get behind this campaign. You are not only getting to experience a great night out at Theatre at The Mill, you are also helping to raise much needed funds for the new Northern Ireland Hospice”.

The Countdown is on to Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

Popular Maritime Festival is only days away

Ballycastle and Rathlin Island are anticipating over 15,000 visitors to descend upon the coastal locations for a week long maritime themed festival packed awash with family fun, food and sea-going antics.

Pictured in their maritime themed costumes for the Fancy Dress Parade as part of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is Patrick, Sarah and Anna Carey.

The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, now in its fourth year, is a celebration of Northern Ireland’s rich and diverse maritime history and the unique stretch of water lying between Ballycastle and the magical island of Rathlin.

The festival will run from 27th May to 5th June and features a bustling schedule of events perfect for families, local foodies and boating enthusiasts, beginning with a unique boat blessing to open the festival.

From then on the activities are endless! Kids can take a ride on the famous Tall Ship, The Johanna Lucretia. Take part in a pirate-themed Children’s Treasure Hunt, learn about the tales of Vikings and the myths and legends around the Causeway Coast’s famous giant, Finn McCool.

Foodies shouldn’t miss Ulster’s inaugural Chowder Cook Off featuring live cookery demonstrations from none other than Paula McIntyre, and music lovers will want to hear country music sensation Lisa McHugh’s latest tunes.

All of this in addition to racing yachts and fishing trips, powerboats and traditional hand-crafted rowing boats (curraghs) – every pace and taste is catered for over the festival’s busy itinerary.

Caroline Carey, Tourism Development at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, shared her excitement for this year’s event, saying: “We are delighted to invite visitors back to Rathlin Island and Ballycastle for the fourth year of this superb festival. It is a fantastic mix of culture, entertainment, nature, sport and, of course, seafood.”

This year’s festival has been organised by the Council, Ballycastle Community Development Group, the Rathlin Development & Community Association, and the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sponsors include Tourism Northern Ireland, Malin Waters, Rathlin Boat House Partnership, Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, Marine Hotel Ballycastle, Naturally North Coast & Glens Market and Causeway Coast and Glens Food Network.

For more information on the full Festival programme of activities in Ballycastle and on Rathlin Island, between 27th May and 5th June, visit www.rathlinsoundmaritimefestival.com.

Become a Celtic Apprentice this Bank Holiday @ the Navan Centre & Fort

This Bank Holiday become a Celtic apprentice, when under the guidance and instruction of our Celtic characters you will get the chance to try many of the activities necessary for daily life in an iron age dwelling.

Have you ever tried to build a cobb oven? Ever cooked with a Fulacht Fiadh? Tried wicker weaving or wattle & daub?  Made pottery or helped build a boat?  We suspect not, but this is your opportunity to try these new skills and see first-hand how life was for a Celtic family.

On Monday 30th May from 11.00am – 5.00pm the Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh are offering you the chance to become a Celtic Apprentice for the day!

This promises to be a great family day out as our Celtic characters show how they live from day to day and train you on how to be a Celt.  They will be making a cobb oven and need you to get your hands dirty to help them out.  How creative can you be with your wicker weaving? The Celts used this to make fences around their homes, garlands etc. and now is your opportunity to try this new skill.

Make some pottery and paint a shield to get ready to go to battle.  See how the Celts cook and even try using a bread oven, fire pit and fulacht fiadh.

No booking is required, just drop in and enjoy all the fun!  Normal admission charges apply.

For information please contact: Navan Centre & Fort, 81 Killylea Road, Armagh.  BT60 4LD.  Tel 028 3752 9644 or www.navan.com

What’s on in Ards & North Down this weekend and next.

THIS WEEK, Friday 20 May-Thursday 26 May

Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 May, Family Fun at Cockle Row Cottages

Groomsport Harbour

Free entertainment, 2pm-4pm.

Sat 21 – Brick4Kidz and children’s crafts

Sun 22 – CSI Detective workshop K’nex workshop

Cottages open to the public 11am-5pm. Free admission

Info: Bangor Visitor Information Centre, (028) 9127 0069, bangorvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Sunday 22 to Wednesday 25 May, Spring Continental Market

Conway Square, Newtownards

Sun 1pm-6pm, Mon –Wed 9am-7pm

Info: Ards Visitor Information Centre, (028) 9182 6846, ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Saturday 28 May, Tea with the Lord, Ballywalter

Part of the Experience Ards and North Down Tours

£18Ad, £9ch. 1pm-5.30pm

Become a member of the gentry for the afternoon as the affable Lord Dunleath guides you around his remarkable home and joins you for a chat over tea and scones, in the historic conservatory of Ballywalter House.

Info and tickets: Ards Visitor Information Centre, (028) 9182 6846, ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Until 24 May, Exhibition: We are Sailing

The Saddlery, Portaferry

Admission Free. North Down Museum presents an exploration of local sailing clubs and their history.

Info: Portaferry Visitor Information Centre, (028) 4281 9882, ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Until 29 May, Exhibition: A Sense of Place

Art in the Loft, Portaferry

Admission Free. An Exhibition of Work by Studio E

Info: Portaferry Visitor Information Centre, (028) 4281 9882, ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

NEXT WEEK, Friday 27 May-2 June

Saturday 28 May, Craft in the Hub

Project 24, Queen’s Parade, Bangor

11am-5pm. Admission Free

Info: Project24ni.com

Saturday 28 – Monday 30 May, Puppet Festival 2016

Various locations in the Ards and North Down Borough

The Puppet Festival is back with a jammed programme of puppet performance, workshops and general puppetry shenanigans. Taking place at venues across the Borough this is a unique and fun filled treat for children of all ages.

Info: Ards Arts Centre, (028)  9181 0803, arts@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, ardsarts.com

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May, Family Fun at Cockle Row Cottages

Groomsport Harbour

Free entertainment, 2pm-4pm.

Sat 28: Magic Show

Sun 29: Archery and traditional crafts

Cottages open to the public 11am-5pm. Free admission

Info: Bangor Visitor Information Centre, (028) 9127 0069, bangorvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Until 29 May, Exhibition: A Sense of Place

Art in the Loft, Portaferry

Admission Free. An Exhibition of Work by Studio E.

Info: Portaferry Visitor Information Centre, (028) 4281 9882, ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com

Tickets on sale now…

Sea Bangor – Tall Ship Sailings – Sat 4 and Sun 5 June

Sailing into Bangor for the event is the impressive tall ship “The Mercedes” which will be moored alongside The Eisenhower Pier and open to the public for both days of the festival. If you fancy sailing the high seas on the spectacular “Mercedes” there are opportunities available for hour-long sailings on both the morning and evening of June 4 & 5. There will be morning sailings at 9am on both days (£15), then Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 8pm (£20).

Tickets are available now at Bangor Visitor Information Centre, Ards Visitor Information Centre, North Down Museum and online via visitardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Download the leaflet

Theater in the Walled Garden: David Walliams ‘Ratburger’ – Tues 19 – Wed 20 July

£6, 2pm & 6pm

Voted the top children’s book of the year in 2012, David Walliams’ “Ratburger”

Heartbreak Productions returns this summer with the theatrical premiere of “Ratburger”, adapted for the outdoor stage.  Recommended for 7yrs+

Info and tickets: Bangor Visitor Information Centre, (028) 9127 0069, bangorvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk, visitardsandnorthdown.com


Sea Bangor Festival

Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 June

Download the leaflet

Comber Earlies Food Festival

Saturday 25 June

Download the leaflet

Peninsula Food Showcase

Sat 30 July – Portaferry, Sat 13 Aug – Portavogie, Sat 10 Sept – Donaghadee, Sun 9 and Mon 10 Oct – Ballywalter, Sat 29 Oct – Greyabbey

Download the leaflet

The Big Ards and North Down Footie Family Picnic

Ards and North Down Borough Council is inviting families to join the ranks of the ‘Green and White Army’ and enjoy a family friendly screening of the Northern Ireland UEFA Euro 2016 matches in parks across the borough.

As players representing our wee country play their hearts out in France, families can dress from head to toe in green and white and cheer them on at the picnic events.

Of course fans supporting Poland, Ukraine, Germany or any of the other teams competing are very welcome to come along also!

Mums, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all the kids can enjoy the games in a fun environment on big screens, and bring along their picnics with deckchairs and blankets.

Families can view the matches and soak in the great atmosphere at the following venues:

Sunday 12th June at 5pm                NI v Poland in Ward Park, Bangor

Thursday 16th at 5pm                      NI v Ukraine in Londonderry Park, Newtownards

Tuesday 21st at 5pm                        NI v Germany in Millisle Beach Park, Millisle

Gates open 90 minutes prior to kick-off.

Tickets are free but in order to ensure a safe environment there are some restrictions.  Strictly NO alcohol allowed onsite, under 18s should be accompanied by adults, no dogs, no knives or metal cutlery and no umbrellas or seats with spikes.

Tickets can be booked on www.visitardsandnorthdown.com or are available in Ards and Bangor Visitor Information Centres and Ards Arts Centre.

Jacqueline from whatsonni.com shares her pick of What’s On this weekend across NI


Have a great family day out at the Granshaw Country Fair this Saturday in Comber. Activities for all ages, animal displays, vehicle displays, Arts, Crafts and Specialty goods. Live Music, Food and so much more.


Prepare to enter the enchanted wonderland of Portadown People’s Park at the Enchanted Park Trail this Saturday, and meet some very special visitors who will transport you to a magical, fairy-tale world!  Enter through the grand gates of the park to find yourself at the start of the mystical Pixie Trail full of puzzles and clues for you to solve, with the promise of a sweet treat reward by the end. Meet Tinkerbell, Tobey the Gnomey and lots of their charming friends who will help you along the way and spread a little magic!  When you have finished the trail you can then enjoy a multitude of exciting activities on offer. Bring a blanket and check out the puppet shows at the amphitheatre, take part in traditional maypole dancing and make something to treasure at the arts and crafts workshops. Children will also delight at the fairground rides, face painting and balloon modelling to make it a memorable afternoon.


Experience Fermanagh’s newest visitor attraction and be immersed in the Lakeland landscape of Lough Erne on the Erne Water Taxi. Sit back, relax and see Lough Erne your way with our chauffeur driven boats. The taxi service provides a pick-up and drop-off from any accessible jetty on Lough Erne.  They also offer specialty tours of the Lough Erne, including a heritage trail and Food Trail. More info at ernewatertaxi.com.


Relive and remember the 1970s! Join artist and tutor Bill Gatt on Drawing Day at the Ulster American Folk Park Omagh Saturday 21st May, and celebrate their 40th anniversary. This is your chance to draw Clare, our life model, dressed like a visitor from 1976 when the Folk Park opened. With pastels, charcoal and pencils, add a splash of colour to your weekend in the company of our charismatic and well-known tutor Bill. This event is open to children, adults and family groups with a special focus on animals for the children who will have a chance to learn more from Bill. Free event, materials supplied: usual admission prices. Booking is not necessary; drop in – and try your hand at drawing!


Celebrate the sights and sounds of the Sperrins with a weekend of FREE events organised by Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership (SGLP) on May 20th and 21st at An Rath Dubh Hall in Moneyneena, Draperstown.  The ‘Spring Into the Sperrins’ weekend promises something for everyone with a packed two-day programme featuring tours and talks, workshops, live animals, gold panning and a dawn chorus walk to name just a few of the many FREE attractions on offer. All of the events are open to all ages. However, booking is essential for the Friday events and Dawn Chorus Walk.


BSPA present Fame Jr with its high- energy, contemporary pop score this Saturday at the Island Arts Centre Lisburn.  Set during the last years of New York City’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street (1980-1984), Fame Jr id the bittersweet but ultimately inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of gruelling artistic and academic work. With candour, humour and insight, the show explores the issues that confront many young people today. A show for all the family to enjoy!


Chinese Dragon Boats will be making their way around Northern Ireland to help raise vital funds for TinyLife with the second dragon boat race on Saturday 21st May 2016 at Cutters Wharf, Stranmillis.   This is an excellent opportunity to get friends and colleagues together for a great day out.  Teams of 15 – 20 will battle it out to be crowned the Dragon Boat Champions.

Remember to add your events free at www.whatsonni.com. Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at fb.com/www.whatsonni.com for news, competitions and what’s on near you.