Open House Opens For Business

The seaside town of Bangor will be opening its doors on Monday for the month-long 2016 Open House Festival.

Tuning up for this year’s Open House Festival Bangor are local musicians Davy Lennon (left) who will be performing at Folk on a Boat and Irish Tapas, and Stephen Macartney who’ll be heading up the free Thursday, Saturday and Sunday Sessions, with Festival volunteer, Katie Rose Gilmore.

The annual Bangor festival is now in its fourth year, and with more than 120 events taking place in 40 venues and locations across the town, it has become something of an institution.

“The Festival attracts more and more visitors with each passing year,” says Open House Director, Kieran Gilmore. “Last year we welcomed over 20,000 people to the town, nearly 40% of whom were from outside of Bangor, and 3% from outside of Northern Ireland. We’re confident the numbers attending this year will be even higher, especially as the programme is more varied and diverse than ever.”

Highlights include appearances by an eclectic range of literary, comedy and musical icons such as Alexi Sayle, Tom Robinson, Suggs, The Damned and Ian Rankin. There’s home-grown talent in the form of West End star, Niamh Perry, mentalist, David Meade, and Derry based indie band, Ports. Acts from across the pond include US singer-songwriters Sam Beam of Iron and Wine with Jesca Hoop, collectively known as Iron and Wine, the popular six-piece American roots band, Spirit Family Reunion, and redneck folk group, Foghorn Stringband. There will be Shakespeare in a garden, theatre in an auction room, outdoor cinema, magic acts, literary events, music on boats, in parks, on an island and in plenty of pubs.

In the Tourism NI Year of Food and Drink, wining and dining will play a huge part throughout the month, with a total of 26 food and drink events, including the Sundown Market on Friday 19th August. “This will be one of the biggest and best celebrations of local artisan produce that Northern Ireland has ever seen,” says Kieran. “There’ll be over 50 producers visiting Bangor that night, with a selection of street-food stalls, a pop up craft beer bar, and some great live music.”

Aine Kearney, Director of Business Support and Events Tourism Northern Ireland commented: “To coincide with the Year of Food and Drink 2016, the Open House Festival has an impressive program filled with 26 food events, 23 of which have already sold out. From pop up restaurants to the biggest artisan market in Northern Ireland, the Sundown market, Open House Bangor’s food events offer tourists from at home and abroad the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the best of local produce.”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Deborah Girvan said: “Ards and North Down Borough Council is delighted to be supporting the festival for the fourth year running. As the festival grows it continues to bring an exciting mix of both local and international artists to the area. I wish the festival every success for the month ahead and I am thoroughly looking forward to experiencing all that this years’ programme has to offer.”

Many events have already sold out, but there is still plenty of availability, and as over half of the events are free, there’s plenty of opportunity to grab a slice of the festival atmosphere.

The growing sense of excitement throughout the town is palpable. “This festival has made the people of Bangor proud of their town again,” says Kieran. “They want to be a part of it; they’re proud to say ‘look what we have here, look where we live – isn’t it great!’ The sense of ownership the festival brings is very real, and extremely contagious. We can’t wait!”

Open House Festival Bangor 2016 is supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and NI Year of Food and Drink.

For more information and tickets, go to

Armoy Races 2016 to be aired on Channel 4

ARMOY Road Races will be aired on Channel 4 as a one hour highlights programme for the third year running.  The programme will be shown at 07.30am on Saturday 13th August 2016, just two weeks after the races.

Renowned for its coverage of sport, Channel 4 and its on demand service, 4OD, sees the Armoy Road Races as a great fit for its programming and hopes to continue to build on last year’s strong viewing figures, which saw over 250,000 people tuning in.

William Munnis, Chairman of the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club said; “We are delighted that Armoy Road Races will feature on Channel 4 again this year.  The coverage provides many existing and potential new fans with the opportunity to view the races from a different perspective.

“Television coverage has become crucial in promoting our sport, especially as there are many fans from around the world who can’t make it to Armoy and it may also encourage new fans to come along next year. The Club could not achieve such coverage on their own and this deal could not have been struck without the aid of Tourism Ireland.

“It is important that we continue to highlight road racing and would like to thank Channel 4 for agreeing to feature the Armoy Road Races again.”

Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Northern Ireland said; “Tourism Ireland is supporting the production of a highlights programme of the Armoy Road Races, which will air on Channel 4 for the third year running.  Last year’s programme was seen by more than 250,000 viewers across Great Britain – with wonderful images of the Causeway Coast and Glens area, as well as the exciting racing, shining a spotlight on Northern Ireland.

“Armoy attracts a number of the sport’s top riders and this year includes some from Australia, Canada and mainland Europe.  The highlights programme on Channel 4 is part of Tourism Ireland’s activity to leverage the tourism benefits of sporting events – showcasing the spectacular scenery of Northern Ireland and encouraging potential overseas visitors to come and see it for themselves.”

Local man, Graham Little and his team at NPE Media will once again be responsible for the production of the programme. Graham is an experienced sports presenter who covered road racing during his time at UTV and is also well known for his work with Sky Sports and with the BBC’s Moto GP coverage a few years ago.

He said;  “Armoy Road Races goes from strength to strength each year and we really enjoy working with the Club as they work tirelessly to promote the event. To see both local and international riders return year on year is testament to the calibre of the racing and we are looking forward to being part of the event once again. The programme featuring on Channel 4 gives the event a huge deal of publicity, which can only encourage more people to support it in the future.”

Armoy Road Races is part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Bike Week runs from Sunday 24th July until Saturday 30th July 2016 with the SGS International ‘Race of Legends’ featuring on the Saturday 30th July 2016.

Channel 4 will be showing the Armoy Road Races coverage at 07.30am on Saturday 13th August 2016 and on 4OD thereafter.

For more information visit or search for ‘AMRRC’ on Facebook and join the official fan page and you can also follow us on twitter at @ArmoyRoadRaces.


Summer slapstick comedy is back at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh with one of Northern Ireland’s leading amateur theatre companies, Belvoir Players, and their production of Sam Cree’s ‘Separate Beds’.

Judy Marshall is facing the biggest day of her life with her wedding to Alan Rea fast approaching. Judy’s actress mother, currently separated from her father Arthur, is planning to return to the family home for the nuptials. Alan’s mother is a rather straight-laced North Antrim woman who steadfastly believes that marriage is “till death us do part!”

Can they keep the separation secret? With Ivy, the maid, who has a fondness for Arthur’s Brandy; an interior decorator, Andy Crawford, who has already spent three weeks re-painting the bedroom while awaiting the arrival of his eighth off-spring; an amorous neighbour, Madge Wirsall who has her eye on Arthur and a retired vicar who is standing in for the local minister and gets very confused with the facts, and you have the pot-pourri of characters to make a hilarious evening’s entertainment from the pen of Ulster’s favourite playwright, Sam Cree.

‘Separate Beds’ will be staged on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th August at 8pm. Tickets are priced £11 and £9 (concession), and can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821 or online at

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

Wickerman Gathering – A festival of fire and flames

On Saturday 6th August, the Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh will celebrate the ancient Celtic Festival of Lunasa in style with a Wickerman Gathering.

Lunasa was a time when the Celts called on the sun god Lugh to bring them sun and warm weather guaranteeing a bountiful harvest.
Join us for this celebration with living history performances, live music, the Armagh Rhymers, dancing, crafts, fire & flame demos and finish the evening with the burning of a 30ft Wickerman.

Live music from local band Tamna Ceili, and foot tapping tunes from the Down & Out Bluegrass Band, and some great sounds from the Trad & Folk Experience.

Take part in some taster sessions to relax, rejuvenate and refresh in our Mindfulness area. Try your hand at pottery making, adorn your head with your very own creation in our head dress making workshop and enjoy some story telling with the amazing Armagh Rhymers.

Paint by numbers, Celtic style, and see a masterpiece develop as the evening progresses.  Browse our craft stalls, with unusual crafts from NI producers including Origami Rita who creates wonderful shapes and structures using the ancient skill of origami.  Be amazed at the range of paper flowers and hand poured candles by local artisan Kimaria, they even have an ‘Armagh’ fragranced candle!  Just a few ideas of the crafts on display.

Get involved in our ceili dancing sessions, never danced before?  Don’t worry, we will guide you step by step, through this…great fun for all the family.

The sounds of the Sambanimals and the sights of the breath-taking fire-dancers Fire Poise will signal the highlight of the evening, the burning of the 30ft Wickerman.

Pre-Booking Essential on

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


Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (August 1 – 7).

  • GI Jive Festival, Various locations, Co. Down, until August 5. Step back in time to the nostalgic sights, sounds, smells and music of the 1940s, including American GI re-enactments, planes, tanks, vintage cars and children’s entertainment. There is something for everyone at GI Jive, even for those who simply want to relax on the grass and soak up the sun in the lovely family-friendly atmosphere!
  • August Féile, Various locations, Belfast, until August 14. Féile explodes into colourful life across West Belfast and beyond. Ireland’s biggest community festival and summer school will feature over 400 events from live music and comedy to sport, exhibitions, drama, discussions and debates in over 30 venues.
  • Maiden City Festival, Various locations, Co. Derry~Londonderry, until August 13. The Maiden City Festival will bring the old city to life through music, dance, theatre and pageant. Now in its 18th year, the festival will once again bring an exciting mix of entertainment throughout the week and some new highlights for 2016.
  • Festival of Flight, Central Promenade, Co. Down, August 6 – 7. The world-famous Red Arrows will be making a welcome return to the 2016 Festival of Flight which promises attendees a feast of family fun and entertainment, in the sky and at ground level.  Other aviation crafts to soar across the Mourne Mountains and swoop over Dundrum Bay include a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane.
  • The Wickerman Gathering, Navan Centre & Fort, Co. Armagh, August 6. Enjoy a celebration of the ancient Celtic sun god Iugh with a programme packed with live bands, art workshops, fire dancers, ceili dancing, craft demonstrations and not forgetting the burning of a 30ft wickerman.  Booking essential. To book call (028) 3752 9644.
  • Belfast Pride Festival, Various locations, Belfast, until August 7. Celebrating diversity over ten days, there’s an exciting programme of events as well as the Belfast Pride Parade which will bring a rainbow of colour to Belfast City Centre.
  • SunflowerFest, Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, Co. Down, August 5 -7. Alongside 60+ live music performances there will be live art & sculpture, a range of talks and workshops, media installations lots of family activities, a silent disco and the ‘Bliss’ well-being area at this year’s festival. To coincide with the NI Year of Food & Drink, local chefs will be hosting cooking demos and workshops throughout the weekend.
  • Anthony Toner and Frank Ormsby, Ardhowen Theatre, Co. Fermanagh, August 6. A rare chance to enjoy a thought-provoking, moving and funny evening of words and music, as County Fermanagh-born poet Frank Ormsby and Belfast songwriter Anthony Toner read and perform, taking turns in the spotlight in the Gallery Bar.
  • Celebrating Ulster Meats, Suitor Craft Gallery, Co. Tyrone, until August 31. Celebrate Love NI Meat month in the NI Year of Food and Drink with local, quality meats in our snacks and lunches to keep you going on your busy day. Panini, toasties, baked potatoes filled with high quality locally sourced Ulster ham, bacon and chicken. Spend a little time in our Designer Gift shop and enjoy seeing our Irish hand made products.

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

Jacqueline from shares her pick of What’s On this Weekend across the NI


The Ards Peninsula takes centre stage as part of the NI Year of Food and Drink this summer and autumn, when the Peninsula Food Showcase rolls into five towns and villages. Come along for Chef demonstrations, tastings, artisan food producers and food-themed family fun! It’s all happening this Saturday 30th July at Market Square, Portaferry from 12.00pm to 6.00pm. The Showcase will complement the Skiffie Worlds 2016 World Coastal Rowing Championships with a variety of food and fun.


It’s Family Super Saturday this weekend at the Market Place Theatre.  In Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre’s ‘The Elves & The Shoemaker’, one good turn deserves another, in this magical story of kindness that will delight the little ones. A magical adaption of Grimms’ tale is performed with puppets and of course, lots of lovely Shoes! Ticket price includes post-show one hour of fun activities including Themed Craft Workshop, Face Painting, Balloon Modelling & Fancy Dress Competition with prizes For Best Dress Boy & Girl. Great value for money! Super Saturdays are recommended for age 4+.


Looking for adventure and fun this summer? Share run an annual Summer Adventure camp including the Junior Adventure Camp and Bushwacker Camp which starts on Sunday 31st of July to Sunday the 7th August 2016.


Join Strule Arts Centre’s all new Summer Camp where you will have lots of creative fun and variety during a packed week of activities.  Each week the children will take part in a different art form, followed by singing and creative movement and after a supervised lunch they will take time to relax and watch a movie in the afternoon. 1st to 12th August.


Whether you want a relaxing, fun-filled or adrenaline-pumping, exciting summer holiday day out with a difference, they have it all at Foylehov Activity Centre, Limavady.  With lots of activities that everyone can enjoy, Foylehov is perfect for families, friends, birthday celebrations, or just getting together for a fun day out. Multi activity packages available.


The world-famous Armoy Road Race takes place once again this weekend, in and around the picturesque County Antrim village close to the breathtaking Glens of Antrim.  The three mile circuit harks back to the 1970s and the days of the legendary Armoy Armada – Joey Dunlop, Mervyn Robinson, Frank Kennedy and Jim Dunlop but has been brought bang up to date by organisers.  This Road Race is getting bigger and better every year with competitors from all over the world. Spectators also come from far and wide and extend their stay to enjoy the beautiful Causeway Coast and Glens area. A thrilling two day experience for all to enjoy!


The Mac will transform their theatre into a retro roller disco once again, in the school’s out Summer roller disco for families.  Suitable for age 4 years plus. £7 per ticket, even for mums and dads who would like to skate too. Parents who would prefer to watch/supervise are very welcome to come along for free.  Fun for all the family, this special MAC event is run by a professional roller company. With sessions starting on the hour from 12noon on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July, this is a family day out you won’t forget. Ticket price includes a 45-minute skate session and the hire of your roller boots and protective gear.  Remember to arrive 15 mins before your session begins so that you can get kitted out!

For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.


NORTHERN IRELAND boasts some of the most magnificent gardens in Europe that are perfect for family days away, inquisitive horticulturalists and lazy summer picnics.

To celebrate our great green spaces Tourism Northern Ireland has created a green-fingered list of stunning gardens to visit and exciting events to attend.

Tourism NI’s Communications & Destination PR Officer Rachel Quigg explained why everyone should experience some of the beautiful gardens that NI has to offer:

“During the summer months, there is no better time to get together with friends and family and spend some time outdoors. From grand ornamental gardens to charming walled gardens, award-winning rose gardens and woodland meadows, there are a wide range of magical open green spaces all over NI just waiting to be explored.

“So whether you are a gardening enthusiast or just love to be outdoors there will be a garden to suit the experience you are looking for,” Rachel added.

Must See Gardens

Benvarden Garden in Ballymoney Co Antrim, is a beautiful walled garden which dates back to the 18th century and includes a woodland pond and a small stream with a waterfall. The garden is one of the finest and best maintained in Northern Ireland and visitors can take in the stables, coach houses, cart houses and tea room which is converted from a former stable.

Antrim Castle Gardens are renowned as a historical gem and are the perfect way to spend a day out for a leisurely stroll with friends or family. Visitors to the gardens can explore many beautiful features such as the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond.  After a walk around the gardens why not stop for a rest at the Garden Coffee Shop where you can sample a treat from the menu before visiting the nearby shop which has a unique range of goods.

Bangor Castle Walled Garden was officially opened as a visitor attraction in April 2009. The gardens have four distinct sections which are the kitchen garden, the herb and topiary garden, the swamp garden and the flower garden so there is plenty for visitors to uncover and explore.

Lisburn Castle Gardens was once the site of Lisburn Castle, a 17th century fortified manor house. The upper 19th century gardens and the 17th century terraces have recently been restored by Lisburn City Council with aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the gardens main features include mature trees and many historic monuments.

Seaforde Gardens in Co Down is the perfect destination for families as it hosts a Tropical Butterfly House which has a large flight area with hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies as well as reptiles and insects available to view behind glass.  The Tropical Butterfly House is set in beautiful grounds with avenues of mature trees, a maze set in the middle of an old walled garden and many tropical plants.

Glenarm Castle Gardens in Co. Antrim is part of the Antrim Garden Trail and is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens dating back from the 18th century.  This stunning garden is a centre of horticultural excellence with water features, fruit and vegetable gardens and colourful displays of flowers. As no visual records of these gardens remain, the new physic garden at the 12th century Cistercian monastery of Grey Abbey is a notional reconstruction based on much general research on gardens of its period.

Florence Court in Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh is set against a dramatic backdrop of mountains and forests. Visitors can discover the many serene and beautiful areas such as the Pleasure Grounds and the Walled Garden within this magnificent demesne where garden lovers will also find the famous Florence Court Yew. Other interesting features include a saw mill, original ice house and charming summer house.

Rowallane Garden in Saintfield, Co Down is an enchanting garden enclosed within a demesne landscape. The garden reflects the beautiful natural landscape of the surrounding area with spectacular displays of shrubs and several areas managed as wildflower meadows.

Castle Ward in Strangford Co Down has 40 acres of parkland and contains many beautiful historical garden features such as the Temple Water, the Sunken Garden and the Irish Yew Trees. The grounds at Castle Ward are perfect for those with an interest in garden history and keen gardeners will revel in the trails, stunning vistas and a picturesque farmyard as well as woodland, lakeside and parkland walks with breath-taking view points.

Mount Stewart in Newtownards, Co Down is one of the most popular gardens in Northern Ireland. Visitors can enjoy formal gardens of clipped topiary, impressive colour schemes and a picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful areas of woodland.

Garden lovers should keep an eye out for the Ulster Gardens Scheme which sees a number of private gardens open each year to raise funds to support work in the gardens cared for by the National Trust in Northern Ireland. Some gardens open for one or two days every few years whilst others make their gardens available throughout the summer months ‘by appointment’.

For information on which gardens are open, go to
Green Fingered Events

Orchid Walk, Belfast, July 31. Enjoy a beautiful walk along the western shore of Lough Beg which is just one of a handful of sites in NI that is home to a rare type of orchid known as Irish Lady’s Tresses. Walkers are sure to be delighted at the delicate scents and stunning scenery.

Kids Mini-beasts Nature Trail, August 6. Join local naturalist ‘Woody’ for a creative exploration of Killynether Wood in Newtownards, Co Down and look out for the mini–beasts that make the parkland their home and find out more about the flora and fauna.

Creatures of the Night Picnic, August 10. Enjoy a picnic with a difference at the Ring of Gullion and find out what goes bump in the night. Families can watch mammal expert David Tosh as he tries to catch bats with his nets as well as listen out for them with special bat detectors. Those that are lucky enough may even see an elusive pine marten or a fox.

Edible Geology Bus Tour, August 16. This fun event will be hosted in Mullaghbane, Co Armagh and attendees will join geologist Kirstin Lemon and accompany her on an edible geology tour of key sites in the Ring of Gullion. There will be lots of home baked delights on offer, all in the form of different geological features!

For further information on things to see and do in Northern Ireland click on


NOW that the schools have finished for the summer, families in Northern Ireland will be thrilled to hear that ferry company Stena Line has launched its latest range of Theme Park Breaks to Britain, which for the first time includes Drayton Manor (featuring Thomas Land), alongside existing favourites LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and Alton Towers Resort, home to CBeebies Land.

Cerys and Ben O’Neill get ready for a thrilling summer as they learn that ferry company Stena Line has launched its latest range of Theme Park Breaks to Britain, which for the first time includes Drayton Manor (featuring Thomas Land), alongside existing favourites LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and Alton Towers Resort, home to CBeebies Land. Families can set sail to these world renowned resorts, all of which are named in Trip Advisors Top 10 Amusement Parks in the UK, from only £499 per family (two adults and two children), including return ferry crossing from Belfast with car, two nights’ stay at a 3* or 4* hotel and a day pass for the theme park of their choosing. For further information or to book, click on, call Stena Line on 08445 768 889 or visit your local travel agent.

Families can set sail to these world renowned resorts, all of which are named in Trip Advisors Top 10 Amusement Parks in the UK, from only £499 per family (two adults and two children), including return ferry crossing from Belfast with car, two nights’ stay at a 3* or 4* hotel and a day pass for the theme park of their choosing.

Stena Line’s Key Account & Product Sales Manager Ian Baillie believes that the company’s Theme Park breaks offer families an accessible and affordable way to experience some of the best family resorts in Britain.

“A theme park break to the likes of LEGOLAND, Alton Towers or Drayton Manor really is a wonderful holiday for all the family, with Thomas Land and CBeebies Land for younger kids and a huge range of exhilarating rides and attractions for older thrill seekers” said Mr Baillie.

“With this in mind, we’ve put together a range of breaks that will make it easier for families to enjoy a theme park break, as well as making it more affordable.

“As a ‘one stop shop’, Stena Line takes all the hassle out of booking your break, covering transport, accommodation and entry to the various theme parks with just a single phone call or visit to our website.  What’s more, by working closely with our theme park and accommodation partners, we are able to offer these packages at prices that we believe are simply impossible to match if you’re trying to assemble all the various aspects of such a break yourself,” he added.

“We launched our Theme Park breaks last summer and so popular have they proven with Northern Ireland families that we’re delighted to extend our programme this year to include Drayton Manor in Staffordshire, which is big news of course for fans of Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends.

“If you haven’t been to a theme park before or if you are a seasoned thrill seeker, there’s never been a better time to go and our great value prices mean you can give your family a holiday to remember without breaking the bank.

“We promise with one of our theme park breaks, you won’t hear any cries of I’m bored, this summer,” concluded Ian.

With over 50 rides and attractions Alton Towers in Staffordshire has something for everyone with fast-paced rollercoasters such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Rita – while CBeebies Land will keep younger visitors entertained on the Runaway Mine Train, ‘In the Night Garden’ Magical Boat Ride and lots more.

At Drayton Manor there are a huge range of attractions waiting to be explored such as Drayton Zoo and a 4D cinema as well as rides like the Buffalo Coaster, Dodgems and Splash Canyon.

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor offers fun-filled experiences like Cranky Crane, Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem and Emily’s Play Adventure that fans of the show will just love.

Fans of Lego and its associated movies won’t want to miss a visit to LEGOLAND® Windsor with attractions such as Castaway Camp, Olivia’s House and Drench Towers and rides such as Viking’s River Splash, Longboat Invader and Pirate Falls Treasure Chest guaranteed to keep families entertained for hours.

For further information or to book, click on, call Stena Line on 08445 768 889 or visit your local travel agent.


Line up for Armoy announced!

Michael Dunlop has confirmed that he is set to race at the Armoy Road Races on the 29th and 30th July 2016 on his MD Racing BMW.

Pictured on the podium following his successful win in last year’s SGS International ‘Race of Legends’ at Armoy Road Races is Michael Dunlop (centre) with fellow winners, second place Guy Martin (left) and third place Dean Harrison (right).

27-year-old Michael Dunlop has raced at the Armoy Road Races year on year and will be entering the two First4Printing and Bayview Hotel Supersport races, the Torquetronix Open Race and the biggest race of the day, the SGS International ‘Race of the Legends’.

Having won the SGS International Race of Legends for five years in a row, Bill Kennedy, Clerk of the Course, Armoy Road Races, thinks that Michael will be looking to retain the title at Armoy. “Michael wasn’t sure whether he could make Armoy due to other commitments but we are absolutely delighted that he is joining us.

“He’s had some great wins this year, more recently four out of four at the Southern 100 and with wins at Walderstown and the Skerries and of course that great win at the Senior TT I’ve no doubt Michael will be on fine form at Armoy.”

Ballymoney rider, Michael Dunlop, will be joining his brother, William Dunlop, Dubliner Derek Shiels and Mullingar man Derek McGee at the Armoy Road Races. Mar-Train’s Dan Kneen is also set to ride at Armoy, having broke his arm earlier in the year and having had to sit out the NW200 and the Isle of Man TT.

“This is shaping up to be a really good event we’ve riders from all over the UK and the South and I am confident that we are going to see some exceptional road racing again this year. Of course it has been confirmed that Guy Martin can’t attend this year. He and the Tyco team have been great supporters of the Armoy Road Races and whatever Guy is doing presently we will always send him our good wishes, but let me reassure you that there still will be plenty of fine racing,” added Bill.

International riders include Michal Dokoupil from the Czech Republic, Fabrice Faivre from France and Canadian Darren James who will be on a SGS International bike, along with some 30 newcomers including local man Gary Dunlop and Cornwall’s Forest Dunn.  Other riders include Christian Elkin, Paul Jordan, James Cowton, Adam McLean, Michael Sweeney and Neil Kernohan.

This year there are two races in the Senior Support, Bill Kennedy explains, “It’s always difficult when so many enter a race and they don’t get to participate as the Club can only put 27 bikes on the grid. The Senior Support always has an incredible entry.  I put it to the governing body and they’ve agreed we can run the two races and I’m happy as this gives everyone a race, however it’ll only be Race A that gets the podium. Those involved will find out more during the racers’ briefing.

“Bike week is already well underway with a great turnout at the motorcycle run out on Sunday and the service at Lagge Hall on Sunday evening. We are expecting big crowds, Facebook has been lit up with folk coming across from Scotland, England and Wales with different requests and letting us know they are on their way. Our VIP Corporate Hospitality marquee is full and we’ve local food and drink producers showcasing their products organised by Naturally North Coast and Glens’ Shauna McFall.

“At this stage I’d like to thank everyone who’s been involved from the sponsors to the club members and volunteers, their help has been invaluable. The course is just about there so all we have to do is pray for a few dry days, some great racing and everyone returning home safely with smiles on their faces.

“Lastly, I’d also like to take this opportunity to publicly wish Ryan Farquhar all the best and a return to good health soon. Ryan has been a great supporter of Armoy and the club from day one and he will be very much missed this year.  We would also at this time like to send our best wishes to Seamus Elliott and his family and hope that he makes a good recovery following the recent incident.”

The event is part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Bike Week runs from Sunday 24th July until Saturday 30th July 2016 with the SGS International ‘Race of Legends’ featuring on the Saturday 30th July 2016.

Please support the Armoy Road Races by buying a programme. They are available from the AMRRC office and the Petrol Station in Armoy costing £10.00 or €15.

For more information visit or search for ‘AMRRC’ on Facebook and join the official fan page and you can also follow us on twitter at @ArmoyRoadRaces.

Peninsula Food Showcase for Portaferry

Ards and North Down Borough Council’s first Peninsula Food Showcase will take place in picturesque Portaferry on Saturday 30 July (12noon – 6.00pm). The showcase will be the first in a series of events which will take place around the Ards Peninsula from July until October to celebrate Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink.

The Giant Seagulls who will be visiting Portaferry on Saturday July 30 as part of The Peninsula Food Showcase Event. The event will complement the Skiffie Worlds 2016 World Coastal Rowing Championship and the exciting programme will include local chef demonstrations, food tastings, artisan food producers and family-themed fun.

The Portaferry Showcase will complement the Skiffie Worlds 2016 World Coastal Rowing Championships which will hold its closing ceremony in Strangford on the same day and the exciting programme will include; local chef demonstrations, food tastings, artisan food producers and family-themed fun.

Come and watch local chefs prepare delicious food at the live cookery demonstrations, sample some local produce from the artisan producers, kids will love the Giant Seagulls and the two-metre long friendly seal which are part of the street-theatre programme or find a good vantage point to enjoy the rowing on beautiful Strangford Lough and welcome the Skiffs ashore for their closing ceremony.

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Deborah Girvan, is looking forward to the festival.  She said:

Ards and North Down has around 115 miles of coastline: one of the longest stretches in Northern Ireland.  Fishing has been a major industry in the area for many years.  Local communities such as Portavogie – which is the second largest fishing port in Northern Ireland after Kilkeel and home of the Portavogie prawn – remain at the centre of the trade today.  It’s no surprise that we catch and cook some of the best seafood imaginable.  The food showcase will give us a chance to do just that – show off what wonderful food we catch and cook.  As well as providing a full day of free, fun, family entertainment.”

The Skiffie Worlds Rowing Championships are being hosted by The Strangford Lough Partnership & Lecale Partnership (SLLP) working closely with the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA) and part-sponsored by Ards and North Down Borough Council. The event which runs from 25 to 30 July, will be a colourful and friendly celebration of coastal rowing including competitors from all over the world. On July 30 at 4.30pm, come and see an incredible spectacle, never seen before in Strangford Narrows, as 50 beautiful, colourful, traditionally styled coastal rowing boats enter The Narrows and come in to Strangford and Portaferry accompanied by the Johanna Lucretia tall ship.

Portaferry Visitor Information Centre are holding a family fun day on the same day with ‘Clayrazy’ and glitter tattoos. This free event runs from 2pm to 4pm. There will also be an Open Day and Marine Discovery at the Queens University Lab running from 10am to 4pm.

If you fancy a family day out with some food, fun and rowing, come to Portaferry on July 30. The Food Showcase is a free event and runs from 12 noon to 6pm. The Skiffie Worlds Closing Celebrations runs from 4.30pm to late in Strangford.

As part of The Peninsula Food Showcase, special events will also be taking place in: Portavogie on 13 August, Donaghadee on 10 September, Ballywalter on 9 & 10 October and Greyabbey on 29 October.

For more information, phone Ards Visitor Information Centre on 028 9182 6846 or visit