Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (July 4 – 10).

  • Race To The End Of The Earth, Titanic Belfast, Belfast, Aug 28. Travel back in time and follow in the footsteps of Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Robert Falcon Scott as they embark on a 1,800 mile journey to be the first to reach the South Pole. Booking essential.
  • Birthday/Anniversary Celebrations, Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone, Jul 6. Celebrate the 40th birthday of the Folk Park in style and only pay 1976 admission charges. There will be special costumed tours of the museum site, food tasting, historical re-enactments, traditional games, exhibitions, displays, informative talks and live music sessions all jammed into this one special day.
  • Wild Cookery, St. Patrick’s Church, Cushendun, Co. Antrim, Jul 9. Discover a multitude of edible goodies and learn how to make wild garlic pesto, nettle soup and a whole variety of wild salad and greens with Rachel Craig, whilst exploring the beautiful surroundings of Creagagh Woodland in Cushendun. Booking essential. To book call (028) 2075 2100.
  • The Knotty Pine String Band, Ardhowen Theatre, Co. Fermanagh, Jul 9. With a strong country roots influence with songs from the likes of John Pine and Kris Kristofferson, The Knotty Pine String Band have been bringing bluegrass and American roots music to audiences for the past twenty years.
  • Causeway Coast and Foodie Tour, Coleraine Visitor Information Centre, Co. Londonderry, Jul 9. Stopping at five stops along the Causeway Coastal Route, this guided tour will showcase some of the best local produce and hidden gems the North Coast has to offer including samples at the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery to feasting on local fish prepared by fabulous chefs.  To book call (0)7912 408 256.
  • Armagh City Walking Tour, Armagh Visitor Information Centre, Co. Armagh, Jul 6. For those who want to explore everything the city has to offer, a guided walking tour is a must. You’ll walk through Armagh’s rich history as you hear stories and anecdotes about the area, learn about the city’s renowned Georgian architecture and stroll along the distinct cobbled streets as you unearth some of the city’s hidden gems along the way.
  • Go Mountain Biking, Life Adventure Centre, Co. Down, Jul 9. Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie or easy rider, get out and see what it’s all about in this fun Mountain Biking introduction session.  The intro is a 90 minute session on the national MTB trails set within the stunning surroundings of Castlewellan Forest Park. To book call (028) 43 770714.
  • La Bayadère, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, Jul 8. Second Chance Adult Ballet presents a classical ballet charity performance in aid of Alzheimer’s Society. Join the dancers on a journey to a world of love, magic and jealousy, and be transfixed as they prove that it’s never too late to be a ballet dancer.
  • Portaferry Fun Days, Portaferry Visitor Information Centre, Co. Down, until Aug 27. Don’t miss the free family fun day at Portaferry Visitor Information Centre every Saturday, each week there will be something different for everyone to enjoy, from children’s craft activities, a super science show, amazing animals with Tales from the Wild, Aldo the Magician or Princess Else and characters from the Minions.
  • Big Houses, Green Lane Museum, Limavady, Co. Londonderry, until Sept 24. Taken from the ‘Big Houses, Hidden Gems of the Causeway Coast’ exhibition, this selection of photographs represents various Big Houses of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough, from Drenagh to Dundarave. Free admission.

Please note some of the events require pre-booking. For more details on these and other events click on www.discovernorthernireland.com/events, visit your local tourist information centre or log onto www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland.


Belfast based artist Kevin Hamilton opened his striking exhibition Kaleidoscopic Views at the Conservatory Gallery in Clotworthy House on Tuesday 28 June.

; Deputy Mayor Councillor Noreen McClelland and artist Kevin Hamilton at Kaleidoscopic Views Exhibition.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is delighted to present this exhibition of photographs which ask the viewer to look at what we see every day in a different way.

Taking landmarks that the people of Northern Ireland see regularly, Kevin explores the detail and beauty of our built environment by creating a kaleidoscopic view of colour and pattern. Kevin commented My work emphasises the positive aspect of our culture. The legacy of the past has been a source for many artistic works, through my work I want people to appreciate the strength and beauty of our environment showing what we all know but in a very new and dynamic way.”

Kevin’s work aims to encourage the viewer to realise the beauty in our everyday surroundings, from the Grand Opera House to City Hall, Belfast Castle to the Titanic Centre. This fantastic exhibition urges us to stop and take a closer look at what is around is in our daily lives.

Kaleidoscopic Views will be on display in the Conservatory Gallery, Clotworthy House until Saturday 23 July 2016.

For further information please contact Clotworthy House on 028 9448 1338 or by email Clotworthy.reception@antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk

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


The Irish International Fly Fair is again hosted by the Dibney River Conservation Trust this Saturday and Sunday.  The ethos of the Fair is to continue to highlight the Trust’s struggle in its attempt to restore the infrastructure of the Dibney River that flows through the village of Killyleagh then into Strangford Lough and the strengths of this Fair are that it has a strong emphasis on involving the young people of the district. This year the main venue is the impressive Killyleagh Castle.


M.D Rafferty Guitar School is holding its annual music showcase on Saturday 2nd July in the Armagh Market Place Theatre.  This year’s show promises to be bigger and better than ever.  Students from the school will have the opportunity to show off their talents to a packed out audience in the main auditorium and there will also be special performances from the Armagh Men’s Shed and local rock band Shoot The Preacher, who are currently kicking up quite a storm in the states.  Up and coming local Artist Jennifer Rafferty will also be showing off her work on the night too with a mini exhibition.


Jump on board one of the Geopark Landrovers and explore the stunning scenery of Cuilcagh Mountain Park at this Sunday’s Cuilcagh Mountain Safari! Ranging from the rugged upland cliffs to the weathered limestone landscapes on the lower ground, this safari is a chance for you to experience and explore the patchwork of landscapes found on Cuilcagh Mountain.  This event is not suitable for children under 12 years old.


This weekend at the Ulster American Folk Park,  be transported back in time to the 1770s as the British Redcoats battle American Militia Sharpshooters to bring to life the American War of Independence. Stroll through the encampments and meet the troops but make sure to take cover when the dramatic skirmishes begin. 2016 is the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America and the 6th July is the museum’s 40th birthday so this double celebration will be greeted with live music, traditional Punch and Judy Shows, food-tasting and American games! Major event day pricing applies.


Join Martina Mullan this Saturday in the Lurach Centre Maghera for her Yummy Mummy Make Up Workshop. A make-up workshop in a relaxed environment where you can experiment yourself after Martina’s demonstrations on how to apply the perfect foundation, use concealer correctly, highlight and contour, as well as perfect a natural day time make up look which can then be updated into a night time smokey look…..all using your own make up…..


On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd July, the streets of Portrush will be transform into a wonderland where Pirates, Vikings, Medieval Knights and Jacobean Soldiers will welcome and entertain children of all ages.  Pirates Off Portrush is an entrance free carnival for all ages and gives opportunities for individuals, groups, families and all sectors of the community to participate in have a go events. Discover the shenanigans of Tavish Dhu, a Scottish Pirate through drama, costumed characters, floats, music, street parade and children’s entertainers.  A Medieval tented village will play host to a display of ancient crafts, skills, tastes and sounds while locally caught fish on the day will be used for the cookery demonstrations on the Sunday.


W5 need the help of budding architects, builders and engineers in their new hands-on block play area – BUILD IT! You can build it really big with Imagination Playground’s Big Blue Blocks. You can build it in all sizes with KAPLA or build it small with a wide range of natural wood blocks, bricks, logs and shapes. Build bridges, towers, animals, abstract structures, whatever you want! Whatever your age, whatever your experience, whatever inspires you – just BUILD IT! 1st July to 31st August.

For more details on these events and to add your events free go to 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.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh Make First Visit to Giant’s Causeway

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed to the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site today as The Royal party visited County Antrim.

It was the first time that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had visited The Giant’s Causeway where they were met by National Trust rangers, volunteers, local crafters and some lucky visiting tourists.

Heather McLachlan, Northern Ireland Director for the National Trust said: “It was a huge honour to welcome Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to Northern Ireland’s most famous natural wonder for the first time. The Giant’s Causeway welcomes more than 880,000 visitors a year from across the world. However today’s visitors were certainly extra special.

“As a conservation charity it was a great opportunity to share our conservation work on the north coast and of course to extend our famous Northern Irish welcome.”

The Royal party met with local craft producers who take the opportunity to sell authentic, Northern Irish products to the huge number of international and local visitors to the Causeway Visitor Centre.

Max Bryant, National Trust manager at the Giant’s Causeway said: “The Giant’s Causeway is a huge motivator for visitors to the island of Ireland and there is no doubt that a high profile visit like this will raise the profile of Northern Ireland as a world class destination even more.”

“We play a big role in the local economy and it was a proud moment for our volunteers, staff and local business people to tell The Royal party about the part they play in the community here. It was also important for The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to simply enjoy this very special place. I am sure they will take home some lasting memories of our stunning Northern Ireland landscape and the world famous Causeway stones.”

Local school children presented gifts to The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh including a piece of north coast basalt and a hand carved bowl made from oak by wood turner Gerard Gray of Taisie Crafts based in north Antrim.

Pirates Off Portrush and Medieval Fair

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd July, the streets of Portrush will be transform into a wonderland  where Pirates, Vikings, Medieval Knights and Jacobean Soldiers will welcome and entertain children of all ages.

Portrush Heritage Group announced, at the official launch reception in Portrush Yacht Club, its ambitious plans for this year’s Pirates Off Portrush and Medieval Fair. In attendance at the reception were the Mayor Councillor Maura Hickey, Alderman Hillis, Actors, Volunteers and Sponsors.  The festival weekend is jointly funded by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and local Business and Community Organisations.

The Mayor praised the local traders for backing the initiative and stated that the Council were supportive of Portrush Heritage Group in their efforts to bring new events to the town. Arnaldo Morelli commented that Morelli’s were delighted to be asked to be the lead sponsor and they had plans to create a special pirate ice-cream sundae to celebrate their involvement in the event.

Details of the free family weekend were revealed by Event Director John Moore .

On Saturday morning there will be a Treasure Hunt  around the town, Street Dancing, Story Telling, Competitions for Pirate Fancy Dress and Dancing, Big Head Characters, Climbing Wall for the more adventurous, roving Samba Band.

The afternoon begins in the Amphitheatre and Kerr Street Green with a rollicking tale of Piracy on the high seas where the all female crew of Grace O’Malley takes on the all male crew of Tavish Dhu. Their Pirate Ships set sail around Portrush in a grand chase followed by a parade of floats, actors, dancers, a Giant Pirate, music colour and excitement. To find out who will win the battle of the sexes you will have to come along and find out.

Sunday starts at 12 noon with Dragoons firing Cannon and Muskets, a Medieval Village with Minstrels, a food stall, blacksmith, barbour / surgeon, medieval crafts and games, a battle workshop, weapons & armour, a basket weaver, story-telling monks, a coracle maker, viking  camp and long ship, have- a-go archery, currachs and monks at a medieval well. To cap it all there will be a giant Marquee with the Palais Big Swing Band and a Throne of Swords set and medieval drama.

Chairman of Portrush Heritage Group John Mc Nally stated that Pirates Off Portrush is…

  • a free-entrance carnival weekend to be enjoyed by all
  • a programme of drama, dance, music, walkabout entertainers, re-enactment and fun.
  • a celebratory atmosphere for all the community
  • a wide range of opportunities for groups, individuals and families to participate in the have-a-go events.

Race to the End of the Earth is Here!

This year’s must-see summer exhibition, ‘Race to the End of the Earth’ has arrived at Titanic Belfast.

Thomas Costello (aged 9) from Holywood is pictured with Chief Executive, Tim Husbands MBE, explores the Amundsen camp at Titanic Belfast’s Race to the End of the Earth exhibition, which is on loan from American Museum of Natural History from 25th June to 28th August, for the first time in UK and Ireland. To book, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.

This is the first-time an exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History, which has been described by the New York Times as “engrossing”, has visited the UK and Ireland.

The word-class exhibition in Titanic Belfast’s Andrews Gallery, from 25th June to 28th August, is a must-see for kids, parents and explorer enthusiasts alike to learn about the most stirring account of Antarctic exploration of all time – Scott versus Amundsen.

Through a series of interactive, multimedia experiences, hands on activities and life-size recreations, the world-class exhibit explores the ‘Race to the End of the Earth’ by two teams with one goal. Visitors for the first time will be brought back in time to follow in the footsteps of Norway’s Amundsen and Britain’s Scott as they embark on a 1,800-mile journey to be the first to reach the South Pole, showing what life was like for the explorers on the ice 100 years ago as they faced not only the ultimate limits of human endurance but some of the harshest weather conditions in the world, as well of the risk of starvation and frostbite.

Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast, Tim Husbands MBE, said “The Race is certainly on – we are delighted to bring this American Museum of Natural History exhibition to UK and Ireland for the first-time! Scott and Amundsen were at the forefront of the heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, now audiences can follow in their footsteps and experience one of the greatest challenges of exploration at our must-see ‘Race to the End of the Earth’ exhibition. Antarctica is no longer the last place on earth – it’s right on our doorstep this summer.”

Race to the End of the Earth is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), in collaboration with Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France, and Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Titanic Belfast’s continues to raise its profile on the national and international stage as a world-class attraction and has now welcomed approximately three million visitors. It was recently nominated alongside Buckingham Palace, La Sagrada Familia, The Eiffel Tower and The Roman Colosseum to become Europe’s Leading Visitor Attraction at the World Travel Awards. As well as included in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist of 500 of the world’s most striking locations, featuring everything from imposing temples to hidden gems, after only three years in operation and was named the ninth best rated museum in the UK Travellers’ Choice™ awards, announced by TripAdvisor. For more information visit www.titanicbelfast.com

More acts announced for Stendhal Festival

Stendhal Festival of Art has announced the second raft of musical acts which will take to the stage at Ireland’s Best Small Festival in Limavady, Co. Derry/Londonderry on August 12 and 13.

Joining the likes of Badly Drawn Boy, Therapy?, DJ Yoda, Hayseed Dixie and Lynched are a Meteor Music Prize winner in Paddy Casey, the energetic and crowd pleasing Booka Brass Band and perhaps the finest exponent of Irish Americana currently on the scene in The Henry Girls.

Added to that are a galaxy of established and up and coming acts covering a multitude of genres including; Errol Walsh and Ted Ponsonby, Monkey Bath, A Traditional Keady Clachan Session, Roe, Emmet Mcgongle, Great White lies, Lo Major, Ria McGuire, No oil paintings, Tokyo Empire, R51, Cup O’ Joe, Lonesome George, Oracy, DSgrace, Northern Soles B-Boys, Militant Vinalyst, CM88 and Queen and Disco.

Festival director Ross Parkhill said that he is thrilled with the finalised line-up for 2016, stating that it is without doubt the strongest bill from top to bottom the festival has ever had.

“Traditionally we have always looked to have one or two well-known or bigger names on our bill to complement some of the up and coming talent which we always promote, but this year we have six or seven acts that we would have happily had headline the festival in years gone by.”

He added: “It’s a statement from us that says that not only are we are looking to continue in our growth but it also shows that we are constantly striving to better our line-up year after year and I really think we have put together something pretty special for this year.

“We still have more announcements to come regarding our comedy, poetry and family line-up and so stay tuned for more over the coming weeks and we hope to see you at the farm in August.”

Stendhal Festival of Art takes place on August 12 and 13 at Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady. Tickets are on sale now. See Stendhalfestival.com for details.

~ Tourism Ireland’s 2016 Game of Thrones® campaign continues to promote Northern Ireland to millions of fans worldwide ~

The final dramatic moments of season six of Game of Thrones® aired last night (Monday, 27 June) and have now been immortalised in Tourism Ireland’s tenth and final ‘Door of Thrones’ – in The Dark Horse on Hill Street, Belfast.

This week’s door marks the culmination of Tourism Ireland’s hugely successful 2016 Game of Thrones® campaign, created in partnership with HBO, which has been promoting Northern Ireland to millions of the show’s fans worldwide since season six began back in April.

The huge popularity of Game of Thrones® presents a fantastic opportunity for Tourism Ireland to promote Northern Ireland. The organisation’s innovative campaign has been bringing Northern Ireland to the attention of fans of the fantasy drama everywhere – spiking their curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspiring them to come and explore them for themselves.

This year’s campaign saw Tourism Ireland unveil a different door every week as season six unfolded – with each door referencing key scenes from the latest episode and incorporating various symbols from the show. The ten doors were all carved from the trees blown down in Storm Gertrude at the Dark Hedges in Co Antrim – which serves as the backdrop for the Kingsroad, perhaps the most iconic Game of Thrones® location. Tourism Ireland saved the trees that fell that day to turn them into ten intricately carved doors – legacy pieces which are now hanging in pubs and other venues near filming locations across Northern Ireland, giving visitors a brand new Game of Thrones® Territory trail to follow.

Tourism Ireland has also unveiled its tenth and final – limited edition – Game of Thrones® stamp, another element of its 2016 GoT campaign, produced in conjunction with the Royal Mail.


You can celebrate Lough Neagh Eel all this week!  An elite group of Northern Ireland restaurants are offering the delicacy during the first ever restaurant week aimed at celebrating Lough Neagh Eel because eels are tasty.

Lough Neagh Eels have been awarded for their heritage, tradition and authenticity and the inaugural ‘Eel-Eat’ week will culminate in the third annual River to Lough Festival on Saturday 2 July.

Organisers have been overwhelmed by the interest in the event and Eimear Kearney of Lough Neagh Partnership says this is proof that we are all keen to taste and enjoy Lough Neagh Eel.  Eimear said:  “The concept has been cooking for a while but the discussions about whether to host a restaurant week dedicated to Lough Neagh Eel and the reality of Eel-Eat shows that the general public in Northern Ireland either already love Lough Neagh Eel or their curiously hoping to tempt their taste buds with Lough Neagh from now until Saturday 2 July.”

Participating restaurants include:

CO ANTRIM: Deanes Love Fish, Belfast; The Londonderry Arms, Carnlough; The White River House Hotel, Toomebridge; Safari Grill, Junction One, Antrim; Daniel’s at Tweedies, Ballyclare; La Scala at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast; The Causerie at the Europa Hotel, Belfast; The Garden Restaurant, Ballygally Castle, Larne; Truffles Restaurant, Randalstown; Slemish Market Supper Club, Glenariff; River to Lough Festival Eel Eatery, Antrim; Paula McIntyre Cookery School, Antrim

CO ARMAGH: The Moody Boar, Armagh; Uluru Bar & Grill, Armagh

CO DOWN: The Downshire Arms Hotel, Banbridge; The Percy French at the Slieve Donard Resort, Newcastle; The Cultra Inn at the Culloden Estate and Spa, Holywood

CO LONDONDERRY:  Whoosh, Coleraine; The Grill at the Everglades Hotel, Derry~Londonderry; Lime Tree Restaurant, Limavady; Beech Hill Country House, Derry~Londonderry

CO TYRONE: The Cellar Restaurant at Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown

You can also celebrate the delicacy at the River to Lough Festival at the end of Eel-Eat on Saturday 2 July.  Foodies and families will be able to enjoy the family festival right in the heart of Antrim at Antrim Castle Gardens.  Festivities will run from 12noon until 5.00pm with a cookery school hosted by celebrity chef Paula McIntyre, a pop-up restaurant, cookery demonstrations and a craft and artisan food market.

Eel-eat is supported by Tourism NI, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Food NI and The Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society.

www.eel-eat.co.uk; www.twitter.com/eel_eat; #EelsAreTasty

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival returns for 2016

The world-famous Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, supported by principal sponsors Turkish Airlines, Phoenix Natural Gas and Quilter Cheviot will return on Tuesday 30th August to Sunday 4th September 2016, with a spectacular showcase of the best in hospitality, local produce, arts and entertainment.

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival returns for 2016  (L-R) Nicole Campbell (age 5) and Katie McCabe (age 5) celebrate the launch of the world-famous Hillsborough International Oyster Festival which will return on Tuesday 30th August to Sunday 4th September 2016, with a spectacular showcase of the best in hospitality, local produce, arts and entertainment. Now in its 24th year and supported by principal sponsors Turkish Airlines, Phoenix Gas and Quilter Cheviot, this important event in the Northern Ireland Tourism calendar attracts over 14,000 visitors annually from across the world and this year boasts a packed programme of popular events and activities. Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com. Now in its 24th year, this important event in the Northern Ireland Tourism calendar attracts over 14,000 visitors annually from across the world and this year boasts a packed programme of popular events and activities including;

Oyster Masters Golf Day, supported by GMcG Chartered Accountants

The ‘Magic of the Movies’ – Musical Evening in association with Lockton

The Smeg Pop-up Restaurant

The Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball

The Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship

The Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby

The Flash Harry Live Concert and BBQ, supported by New City Cabs

Supercar Sunday, supported by Charles Hurst Premium

Don Spence, Chairman of the Festival’s organising committee, said: “We are thrilled with the support the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival is receiving in the run-up to this year’s event. The number of big-name brands coming on-board in 2016 is testament to the Festival’s long-standing position as a successful and prestigious event. We are confident this additional support will help continue the Festival’s reputation as one of the best Festivals in the UK.”

The Festival’s signature oyster-eating showcase will be returning as challengers take on the reigning champion and Guinness World Record Holder, Colin Shirlow, at the Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship on Saturday 3rd September 2016. Julienne Marie Curran from sponsor, Turkish Airlines said: “The World Oyster Eating Championship attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe and Turkish Airlines is looking forward to partnering-up with the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival to welcome them to Northern Ireland.”

The Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball is a fabulous evening and a famous element of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s longstanding calendar of events. Nigel Crawford from Quilter Cheviot said: “We are excited to be supporting one of Northern Ireland’s landmark events and Quilter Cheviot’s Belfast team looks forward to welcoming guests to the Ball.”

Community and youth groups are being invited once again to enter the Festival’s renowned Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby which is staged on Hillsborough’s Main Street on Saturday 3rd September 2016 and sees budding racers go bumper to bumper. Alastair Pollock, Business Development Director, from sponsor Phoenix Natural Gas said: “Phoenix Natural Gas is excited to be involved in this year’s Soapbox Derby. The competition is great fun and attracts support from local communities all over Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to seeing how creative, inventive, and passionate the entering teams are this year.”

This Festival is delighted to announce the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising activities.

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival also kindly acknowledges the support of Tourism Northern Ireland and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in the staging of this year’s event.

Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com.