Northern Ireland boasts a unique collection of irresistible places to stay including quirky B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and hidden gem properties for an ideal short break and Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week for you to choose from.

  • The Urban Escape, Bishop’s Gate Hotel, Co. Derry~Londonderry. From £165pps. The exquisite Grade B1 listed hotel is perfectly positioned within the historic city walls in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. The Urban Escape package offers total sanctuary in the city whilst ensuring you’re right in the heart of the action too.  Indulge in two nights’ luxurious accommodation, breakfast each morning, dinner one evening, traditional afternoon tea on one afternoon and a choice of treatments at the Natural Touch Treatment Spa. Available until December 31.  To book call (028) 71 1140300.
  • Belfast Zoo Family Break, Jurys Inn, Belfast. From £109. With its excellent city centre location, Jury’s Inn Belfast is close to shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and is an ideal location for a fun family break in the city. Your family short break includes an overnight bed and breakfast stay for up to two adults and two children sharing at the three-star hotel and a family pass to Belfast Zoo.  Available until August 20. To book call (028) 90 533500.
  • Pamper Package, Burrendale Hotel, Co. Down. From £119pps.
    With beautiful manicured gardens, the four-star Burrendale Hotel is located a ten minute walk from Newcastle which boasts miles of sandy beaches and great shopping. Escape from your everyday life and experience an overnight bed and breakfast stay in a Mountain View Room, evening meal in the restaurant and 90 minute spa treatment. To book call (028) 43 722599.

For further information log on to

*All offers are subject to availability.

Party in the Park this Summer

Get ready to party this summer as Party in the Park returns to Antrim Castle Gardens on Saturday 6 August.

This free family fun event, now in its fifth year, has something for the whole family to enjoy. This year’s line-up features live music, bean bag cinema, bungee trampolines, swing boats and a range of culinary delights from the food fayre.

Music lovers are in for a treat as The Jukebox Jurors headline this year’s Party in the Park. The Jukebox Jurors are one of Northern Irelands premier party cover bands, covering all the hit songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and right through to the present day giving you the ultimate party performance.

Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House will be awash with activity for both young and old alike.  The little ones can take a journey to wonderland in our Alice in Wonderland show, visit the kids’ petting zoo or go fly their kite. These are just a number of things to keep the children amused on the day. Engage with the street entertainers or relax and enjoy some of the great food on offer whilst listening to the vibes of The Jukebox Jurors.

Join us for a festival of fun at Party in the Park, Antrim Castle Gardens Saturday 6 August from 1-5pm.  Free Admission.

Don’t miss Stendhal or you might need Therapy?

So what do you do when you are afflicted with Stendhal Syndrome? This summer get yourself some Therapy? at Ireland’s Best Small Festival, Stendhal Festival of Art.

Northern Ireland’s most successful Alternative Rock act Therapy? will be bringing their frantic, pulse racing signature sound to Ballymully Cottage Farm on August 12 as part of the line-up for the sixth instalment of the multi-award winning showcase of the arts.

Having notched an incredible 2 million Album sales worldwide during their amazing career, Therapy? have had numerous top ten singles and albums, while building a reputation as one of the best and most revered acts to ever emerge from Northern Ireland.

Mercury Music prize nominees, Oh Yeah Centre Legend Award Winners, Kerrang award winners, Therapy? have produced 14 studio albums, garnered critical acclaim and were the soundtrack to the lives of many a child of Generation X.

Troublegum is without question one of the greatest albums ever by a Northern Irish act, tracks such as ‘Screamager’, ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Die Laughing,’ helped cement their place in Irish rock music history.

Their most recent offering, 2015’s Disquiet saw the band back in the UK album charts and tracks like ‘Deathstimate’ and ‘Still Hurts’, show that the band are as razor sharp with their riffs as ever.

Lead singer from Therapy? Andy Cairns says that the band are eager to get to Stendhal in August as playing new venues is one of the bands favourite aspects about gigging.

“We are excited to see what Stendhal has in store for us,” said Andy. “It’s a lot more exciting for the band to come and play new places than go back to venues they have been in hundreds of times before.

“Shows in new venues and towns where we have never played before present new challenges and as a band we like to be challenged.

“Having never gigged in Limavady before we have a new crowd to perform for, new people to work with and a new experience to look forward to.”

Having toured the globe and played at all the biggest festivals around the world, Andy says that he and the band usually enjoy festival shows a bit more than their own tour gigs, simply because they feel a lot less pressure and can really let loose.

“Festivals are great because they aren’t our gig,” he laughed, “when you are not having to worry about all the things that surround touring such as ticket sales, travel, set up, promotion, introducing new tracks, playing for over two hours a night,  festivals provide us with an opportunity to just go out and perform with the pressure off.

Therapy? have played the likes of Reading and Leeds, Donnington, Download and many other huge gigs throughout the world but Andy cites the bands appearance at Monsters of Rock in Sao Paulo as a festival highlight.

“We opened for Alice Cooper and Megadeth that night,” recalls Andy. It was in the Sao Paulo Football Stadium and it was a 70,000 people sell out. It was incredible. That said, my favourite part of it all was going to watch Megadeth at the very top of the stadium. The security allowed us access to a part of the ground that allowed us to look one way and see the whole of Sao Paulo and then look behind us to see Megadeth playing in front of a monster crowd. The sun was setting and everything. It was an amazing moment and I always remember thinking to myself at the time, “You aren’t in Antrim anymore kid.”

Regarded by many within Northern Ireland as the Godfathers of Northern Irish Alternative Rock, Therapy? Have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt and Andy has high hopes that some other Northern Irish Acts can break through and achieve the level of success Therapy? has.

“Festivals are an important showcase for bands trying to breakthrough,” he said, “for such a small place Northern Ireland has so many amazing bands and musicians so events like Stendhal are a great opportunity to get noticed.

“At the minute I really like Axis Of, Goons and I think that Robyn Shiels is one of the best and most important song writers in Northern Ireland. I like Boxcutter and Space Dimension Controller too but to be fair I could name loads of home-grown acts that I have plenty of time for.”

Event director of Stendhal Festival of Art, Ross Parkhill is thrilled to have Andy and Therapy? as one of the headline acts of the festival this year, saying: “Therapy? are one of the best known and loved rock bands to ever come from our shores so we are of course delighted to be welcoming them to the farm on August 12.

“They have played all over the world at some of the biggest festival’s and have one of the most electric live sets I’ve ever seen, so they will no doubt be a real highlight at Stendhal this year.”

Tickets for Stendhal Festival of Art are on sale now. Visit for details.


This weekend will see the return of the massively popular Family Super Saturday at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh. 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 poor shoemaker has not enough money to pay his rent. He has enough materials to make one last pair of shoes or he will lose his shop! With the help of two mischievous Elves, he makes some unusual shoes that are very much appreciated and rewards the Elves in return.

But that’s not all you get for the tiny entrance price of £6. In addition, children can partake in a post-show hour of fun activities including themed craft workshop, face painting, balloon modelling and fancy dress competition with prizes. Great value for money! Super Saturdays are recommended for age 4+. This Family Super Saturday event takes place on Saturday 30 July at 11am or 2pm.

Then something for the grown-ups with Ireland’s unabashed and hilarious new comedy star, Micky Bartlett and his new show ‘Blissfully Ignorant’. Micky is entering the last year of his twenties and he isn’t prepared. Come join him in a journey through his own head.

‘In years to come, people will be talking about the time they first saw Micky Bartlett… one of the most consistently funny people I’ve ever worked with’ [Adam Hills].

Micky Bartlett will take to the stage on Saturday 30th July at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced £13 each. This event is recommended for age 18+ as may contain material that some people could find offensive.

Tickets for all performances 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.


Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (July 25 – 31).

  • Supercup NI, various locations, Co. Londonderry and Co. Antrim, July 24 – 29. Super Cup Northern Ireland (formerly Milk Cup) has been hosting youth football competitions since 1983 at various venues across Northern Ireland attracting youth teams from the British Isles and Ireland. There is a colourful parade of the various teams as they walk together round the town of Coleraine on the Sunday evening before the contest begins the following day.
  • Armoy Road Races, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, July 29 – 30. The world-famous Armoy Road Race takes place once again in and around the picturesque County Antrim village close to the breathtaking Glens of Antrim, charming Ballycastle and the world famous Giant’s Causeway.
  • Northern Ireland Open, Galgorm Castle, Co. Antrim, July 27 – 31. A golf tournament for all the family; the Northern Ireland Open is Northern Ireland’s annual professional golf tournament attracting players such as Michael Hoey, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie. Away from the fairways, tournament week will be buzzing with activity, especially at the dedicated food festival, which this year will become part of the main golf village and serving up a range of culinary delights in Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink.
  • Bog Day Celebration, Cuilcagh Mountain Park, Co. Fermanagh, July 30. Find out more about the fascinating bog habitats that dominate the Geopark.  Learn of refresh your memory on how people hand cut peat, listen to stories from days gone by and take in some bog pool dipping activities. This event promises to be a great day out for all the family.
  • Afternoon Tea at The Argory, Moy, Co. Armagh, July 31. Discover the fascinating history and explore the beautiful grounds of the National Trust’s Argory and dine on a delightful afternoon tea of sandwiches, cake, scones and seasonal delights. Booking essential.
  • John Hewitt International Summer School, Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Co. Armagh, until July 30. The John Hewitt International Summer School celebrates culture and creativity, with a newly-expanded festival programme over six days exploring diversity in contemporary Northern Ireland, through talks, readings, theatre, writing workshops and debates. Booking essential.
  • Summer Fun Days, various locations, Belfast, until Aug 5. Come along to a selection of free summer fun days in various locations throughout the summer holidays. There will be fun games for five to twelve year-olds from 2-4.30pm including wall climbing, face painting, street entertainers and much more.
  • Londonderry Agricultural Show, Limavady, Co. Londonderry, July 30. This long established agricultural show features livestock classes, home industries, trade stands, children’s entertainment, horse and pony showing. There is also a marquee displaying a large array of local crafts from bespoke jewellery, patchwork, handmade candles through to hand made cards and health products.
  • Red Sails Festival, Portstewart, Co. Londonderry, until July 30. This week-long festival includes a variety of entertainment and competitions for children, nearly all of which are free to view or participate in, with the fireworks finale one of the most popular in Ireland.
  • Sherlock Holmes, Solitude Park, Co. Down, July 28. Enjoy an unforgettable evening of mystery and suspense, meet the world’s most famous of detective, Sherlock Holmes himself, as he is called upon to solve a great mystery in this snappy adaption. Bring a picnic and your best detective skills for an unforgettable evening of mystery, suspense and theatre under the stars. 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


As the summer holidays continue, why not enjoy quality family time at one or more of the exciting events taking place in Lisburn City Centre this August!

If you are out relishing Lisburn City Centre’s bustling shopping atmosphere, why not make your way to Market Square to enjoy a host of family-friendly events. Bricks 4 Kidz will be hosting workshops on Saturday 6 August, teaching children the basic principles of engineering and architecture with all the added fun of Lego. With workshops split across four different activity zones, let the kids’ imaginations run free! To register for this FREE Lego workshop, please email Places will be filled on a first come first served basis.

On Saturday 20 August, the stunning Frock Around the Clock Vintage Fair will take over Market Square located in front of the Irish Linen Museum, with a ravishing selection of vintage clothing, accessories, crafts and oddities. With over 20 individual traders offering everything from homewares to clothing, it is the perfect place to add some sparkle to your wardrobe and home.

If you still find yourself in need of more, a spectacular events programme is planned throughout the month of August. Have a read below to see what’s happening in Lisburn near you!

Take a trip to Wallace Park where a new adventure awaits each week. Brought to you by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, this host of free family events includes Pirates & Princesses (August 3), Peter Pan in the Park (August 6), Mini Mela (August 13) and the adorable Flower & Animal Fun Day (August 20).

If that’s not enough there’s not one, but two music festivals to dance the night away! The iconic Sunflowerfest, running August 5-7, returns to Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, and the Hilden Beer & Music Festival, running August 26-28, returns to delight craft beer lovers and concert-goers alike. Each of these three-day festivals celebrate the best in local music, with thriving atmosphere and divine food and drink.

Have you ever wanted to be a world record holder? Well, now is your chance! To mark the opening of the 2016 Ulster Grand Prix taking place August 8-13, the organisers will be attempting to break the world record for the most makes of motorcycle in one place on August 6 at Market Square. Only one make for each brand of motorcycle can register, so contact today to find out more information and secure your place.

If the Ulster Grand Prix doesn’t get your engines revving, then the Northern Ireland Speed Weekend running August 27-28 certainly will!

As the summer comes to a close, go out in style with the Colour Dash 5K on August 21. Raising vital funds for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, this all-new fun run will certainly brighten up your summer at Balmoral Park’s Eikon Exhibition Centre.

In one final farewell bid to the summer the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival returns to Hillsborough village from August 30 for a 6-day extravaganza of festival favourites including the World Oyster Eating Championship and Soapbox Derby.

For more information on any of these events, visit or contact Lisburn City Centre Management on 028 92447543.

All Set for Red Sails 2016!

The weeklong Red Sails Festival organized by the Portstewart Community Association in conjunction with Causeway Coast and Glens Council and The Department For Communities, will take place from the 24th-30th July.

The 2016 festival includes over 60 free events for all ages.


Ritchie Remo’s Big Band, The Errol Walsh Band, Wllie Drennan’s Ulster Scots Folk Band and a reggae band from Scotland-Leanne and The Radix

Also included are 2014 Britain’s Got Talent Semi Finalist’s-The Innova Irish Dance Company and Hugo Duncan’s Radio Ulster Road Show, featuring several guest artists.

Plus lots more music including tributes to Status Quo and Ska. There will also be a variety of artists performing music in the local cafes.

Plus lots for the Kids-Workshops, Street Theatre and Talent, Sandcastle, Pavement Art, Fishing and Fancy Dress Competitions.

New for 2016 is a singer/songwriter competition on Thursday 28th July.

There are also a couple of special events this year. Planned for Wednesday 27th July (with a four day window to allow for weather conditions)-Heather Clatworthy attempts to repeat an historic swim from Moville in Donegal to Portstewart. The original swim was completed by Mercedez Gleitze (the first British women to swim the English Channel) back in 1929. From 10am-5pm on Thursday 28th July there will be A World War I exhibition in Portstewart Town Hall. The exhibition includes a slideshow and members of the public can bring along their own family photos and newspaper memorabilia to be added to the show. The exhibition will also include a special Battle of the Somme tribute dance by the Bright lights Scottish Dancers.

It all finishes on Saturday 30th July with a spectacular Fireworks display at 10.30pm

For full details of the program visit


Gin lovers are in for a treat this summer as The Merchant Hotel plays host to a very special event in its Rooftop Garden.

The Shortcross Twilight Picnic event will take place on Wednesday August 10 at 7.30pm and will showcase the locally crafted Shortcross Gin which is distilled just outside Downpatrick.

Gin connoisseurs will hear the story behind the brand from one of its founders and will have the opportunity to discover more about the distilling process, while enjoying gin cocktails, signature serves and delicious picnic food that will complement the drinks.

There will also be a specially made gin cocktail that has been inspired by a luxury summer picnic with gooseberry, elderflower yogurt and lavender hued Parfait Amour all making an appearance.

Michael Patterson, Manager of the Cocktail Bar at the Merchant Hotel is looking forward to the event;

“Northern Ireland, along with most of the world, is currently experiencing a gin revival and this event is designed to give gin lovers the opportunity to really find out about the brand.

“We’ve purposely selected the locally distilled Shortcross Gin and hope that the event will provide an educational experience for those attending.

“The event is set to be very popular and what better way is there to spend a summer evening than in relaxing surrounds of The Merchant’s Rooftop Bar.”

For further information, or to book a ticket, call The Merchant Hotel, Belfast on 028 9023 4888 or visit

Phantom of The Opera to Haunt Newtownabbey

Following on from the success of last year’s production of Oliver, Theatre at The Mill’s successful Summer Youth Group performs Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Now in its 30th year, Phantom of The Opera is one of the most successful pieces of entertainment of all time and will run from Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 August at 7pm.

Far beneath the majesty and splendour of the Paris Opera House, hides the Phantom in a shadowy existence.  Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all, the love he holds for his beautiful protégée Christine Daaé is so strong that even her heart cannot resist.

Under the direction of Anna McNamara, director at the leading conservatoire for musical theatre GSA, this summer treat will feature some of the most talented young artists and musicians in Northern Ireland.  In a fully staged production, this youth group production will include outstanding musical numbers All I Ask of You, The Music of the Night, Think of Me and Phantom of the Opera.

Tickets are available from Box Office 028 9034 0202 or online

Phoenix Natural Gas fuels Hillsborough International Oyster Festival Soapbox Derby

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival is gearing-up for the 2016 Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby which will be held on Saturday 3rd September 2016 as part of the Festival’s annual showcase.

Now in its 24th year, Hillsborough International Oyster Festival is one of Northern Ireland’s premier events, attracting thousands of visitors each year from across the world. Set in the historic, picturesque Georgian village of Hillsborough, Co. Down the event takes place from Tuesday 30th August – Saturday 3rd September 2016 and visitors can look forward to food and festivities with a packed programme of activities and entertainment.

Sponsored this year by Phoenix Natural Gas, the Soapbox Derby is a highlight of the Festival with community and youth groups from all across Northern Ireland entering the race each year. The competition is calling for entries from racers of all ages and backgrounds who are keen to design and race their own soapbox at the event for a chance to win a variety of cash prizes as well as a surprise prize from Toyota which be unveiled in the weeks leading up to the race!

Don Spence, Chairman of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival organising committee said: “The Soapbox Derby is always a highlight of the Festival; it really encourages team spirit amongst entrants and promotes community interaction. We are very grateful to Phoenix Natural Gas for coming on-board to support this long-standing Festival favourite and look forward to working together to make this year bigger and better!”

The competition is now open for entries to all community groups, youth clubs and children accompanied by an adult. Teams are being invited to design and construct their own soapbox before racing it down Hillsborough’s Main Street for a chance to win one of the event’s sought-after prizes.

Alastair Pollock, Business Development Director from sponsor Phoenix Natural Gas added: “The Soapbox Derby is one of the most exciting aspects of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival and we’re delighted to be helping to put the wheels in motion. The competing teams are very imaginative and are always thinking outside the (soap) box with their designs!”

There will be a number of race categories on Saturday 3rd September with drivers able to enter the following classes:

  • Junior Race – open to drivers aged 12-17 years old.*
  • Senior Race – open to drivers 18 years old, and over.
  • Best Warm up performance.
  • Best Overall Team.

Runners-up from the Junior and Senior Races will also receive cash prizes and their marks will be based on finishing times. The Best Overall Team will speed home with £500 and the special Toyota prize will be awarded to the group that demonstrates an exemplary spirit of comradery.

Entries will incur a fee of £40 (Junior) and £60 (Senior) and the deadline to enter is Monday 19th August 2016. Full competition entry details and terms and conditions can be found at  Completed entry forms should be sent to: Stephen Patterson, C/o ER Wilson’s Grocers, 1 Main Street, Hillsborough, BT26 6AE.

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival programme runs from Tuesday 30th August – Saturday 3rd September 2016 and is proudly supported by principal sponsors Turkish Airlines, Quilter Cheviot, Phoenix Natural Gas and Tourism Northern Ireland.

For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit