Ards and North Down Get Geared up for Ulster-Scots Festival Week

Ards and North Down celebrate their Ulster-Scots heritage with a week of activity beginning on Sunday 4th September at Cockle Row Cottages, Groomsport, and culminates with a spectacular finale, “Donaghadee Lights Up”, on Saturday 10th September.

Photo caption: Cup O’Joe. Just one of the bands taking part in Septembers Ulster-Scots Festival, playing in Holywood and Bangor.

The Ards and North Down we all know today was shaped in a large part thanks to the influences of Sir James Hamilton and Sir Hugh Montgomery; arriving here in 1604 with Scottish settlers they brought with them new techniques in building, farming, and of course culture, arguably creating the “home” of the Ulster-Scots.

Their influences have stayed with us ever since in our music, food and even language, all of which will be celebrated during the first week in September across the Borough.  From talks, including Time McGarry’s “Ulster-Scots Odyssey” and the history of Bluegrass, to music, from ever popular groups such as Cup O’Joe and Down and Out Bluegrass Band, coupled with historic walks and family fun; there should be something for all tastes throughout the week.

The activities, being run in conjunction between Ards and North Down Borough Council and the Ulster-Scots Agency, culminate on Saturday 10th with “Donaghadee Lights Up”, a free event featuring the world-renowned Red Hot Chilli Pipers and a spectacular display of fireworks.

Catriona Holmes from the Ulster-Scots Agency, commenting on the festival said, “We are delighted to be working with the Council on the week-long festival. The influences of the Scottish settlers on the area are something that is still evident today.  With many unaware of our heritage and culture, we hope that through the week’s activities we can both entertain and educate visitors and locals alike on how the Ulster-Scots shaped where many of us call home”.

For the full program of activity and tickets log on to or

T: 028 9127 0069 or 028 9182 6846 for more information.


You could be forgiven for thinking that Portrush was in the midst of a remake of the film “The Italian Job” this weekend as hundreds of Minis are destined for the ‘ports on Sunday for the annual Causeway Coast Mini Event.

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary the Causeway Coast Mini Club have added several new features including a draw that is hoped will raise considerable funds for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children and the Paddy Hopkirk Children’s Charity Trust.

The organisers are quick to thank their sponsors Morellis Ices, J.K.C. Minis and Minisport and Club Chairman Andy Shaw enthused “their help is staging this has been nothing short of brilliant and I really don’t know what we’d do without them”.  The local Council are equally supportive and have even engaged Dynamic Audio Visual to supply a concert sound system.  Brian Moore has also been brought on board this year as Compere and says he “can’t wait as it’s always such a great day”.  The Mini Enthusiasts come in their hundreds from all over the island and beyond and it all starts with a fun run from Bushmills Distillery Car Park to Portstewart on Saturday night.

Then on Sunday they congregate on Dunluce Green from 10.00am where the day will feature stalls, stands and music.  The show features over seventeen classes of cars both classic and new-style minis and JKC Mini supply awards with a 1st and runner up in each one.  The Minis will depart the site in their usual style at 4.00pm and follow a route through the town with the classic minis actually crossing the bridge at Portrush Harbour before making their way along Main Street.  Morellis Ices generously take care of the “pit stop” in Station Square with a free Morellis Ice Cream for every occupant of each mini!

Attendance at the event is absolutely free and this year there’s a chance to win a £500 Sealey Tool Chest supplied by Minisport, £100 worth of shopping Tesco Shopping Vouchers donated by Morellis Ices and a voucher for Dinner for Two at The Anchor Complex.

Can you spare an hour a week for the Causeway Coast Dog Rescue?

Do you have you an hour or so to spare each week? The Causeway Coast Dog Rescue are calling out for volunteers, to work with dogs, come and work in their charity shop, or to help fundraise, any support is welcome. They are your local charity which rescues and rehomes hundreds of dogs each year in your area. For more information, go onto their Facebook page causewaycoastdogrescue, Twitter CCDogRescue, or telephone 07595602702.

End the Summer in Bluegrass Style! – This Sunday in Ward Park!

This Sunday 28 August, the Bluegrass Picnic will take place in Bangor’s Ward Park.

The event which is becoming a bit of an annual institution marks the end of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s popular Music In The Park programme and is a highlight on the Open House Festival calendar  – an end of summer party to end them all!

The headline act is the fabulous Prison Love – on mandolin, flat-picking guitar, fiddle, doghouse bass, washboard and harmonies, this Dublin based five-piece play Bluegrass, Old-time, Gospel and Cajun like a fast train a comin’! The Open House Festival Choir will also be performing.  The perfect way to spend your Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon, picnicking in the park with family and friends, and chilling out (or dancing) to fabulous Bluegrass sounds!

As well as your country soul, we’ll be taking care of your country stomach, with lots of food available for sale on site.

To keep the kids happy, there will be face-painting and balloon modelling with crafts taking place on site too.

The Bluegrass Picnic has all the ingredients for a fun family day out so get down to Ward Park, this Sunday 28 August, from 2.30pm – 5pm to get in on the action at this totally FREE event.  And don’t forget to pack your picnic!

Russian Fighter joins Air Waves Portrush Airshow lineup

Air Waves Portrush has added another star to its airshow lineup for 3-4 September, with the cold war soviet fighter jet, the MiG-15 UTI, known as the Midget.

This particular display aircraft was manufactured in Poland and its unique RED 18 markings are a nod to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space in 1961, who carried out his fighter pilot training in the aircraft before becoming a cosmonaut.

Now operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron to showcase the cold war ‘enemy’ of NATO, the two-seater MiG-15 UTI is one of the most widely produced jet aircraft, with over 18,000 manufactured and was used as the main training craft for soviet fighter pilots.

This year will be its first appearance at Air Waves Portrush, the biggest free airshow on the island of Ireland. Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council have also pulled out all the stops to deliver a packed programme of aerial entertainment, as well as a host of land and water based activities and events.

Visit for info.

Flash Harry set to return to The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival!

Northern Ireland’s top Queen tribute band, Flash Harry, is set to return to the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s line-up on the evening of Saturday 3rd September 2016.

Harry Hamilton, the band’s front-man and Oyster Pearl, Shannon Graham (pictured), have started warming-up for the live concert and BBQ which is supported by New City Cabs.

Performing all the top Queen tracks, Flash Harry will entertain guests with hit records like Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, and Don’t Stop Me Now, while local chefs will be serving up a sizzling barbeque menu produced with premium Northern Irish meats for concert and BBQ ticketholders.

To book your tickets and further information on the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s full programme visit

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.

Operation Banner Veterans Museum 1969-2007

A new exhibition is set for Mossley Mill this bank holiday weekend.

Operation Banner was the Operational name for the British Armed Forces operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007, as part of the Troubles.

Operation Banner Veterans Museum serves to remember this period of the service and sacrifice of all Military and Police who served during this difficult period, especially those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

The exhibition is made up of regimental and police uniforms, personal kit, deactivated and replica weapons all of which would have been worn and used during Operation Banner.

This exhibition will for many Veterans recall both happy and sad memories but, more importantly it will tell the true story of this troubled period in Northern Ireland History.

The exhibition will run in The Linen Suite at Mossley Mill from Friday 26 – Sunday 28 August during the following times;

Friday 26 August – 12-6pm

Saturday 27 August – 10am – 6pm

Sunday 28 August – 12-6pm

Quilter Cheviot invites guests to attend the annual Pearl and Oyster Ball

Hillsborough International Oyster Festival committee member Sarah Waugh, Oyster Pearl Shannon Graham, and Nigel Crawford, Executive Director, Quilter Cheviot toast the launch of the exclusive Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball which will take place on Friday 2nd September as part of the Festival’s 2016 programme.

Hillsborough International Oyster Festival committee member Sarah Waugh, Oyster Pearl Shannon Graham, and Nigel Crawford, Executive Director, Quilter Cheviot toast the launch of the exclusive Quilter Cheviot Pearl and Oyster Ball which will take place on Friday 2nd September as part of the Festival’s 2016 programme.

With world-class entertainment from the American Supreme Dream Girls, guests will enjoy a six-course gala dinner with boutique Chateau de la Ligne wines. A raffle will also take place to raise funds for the Festival’s 2016 charity, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust with one lucky winner receiving a stay at the luxurious Chateau.

Nigel Crawford, Executive Director, Quilter Cheviot said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Pearl and Oyster Ball and helping to support the Festival’s charity. The festival is a huge draw for visitors to our region and we are proud to give our backing to the Ball, which is a key part of the event and a much-anticipated date on the local social calendar. We’re looking forward to greeting guests to what is set to be a fabulous evening.”

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. The ball gown worn by Oyster Pearl Shannon Graham (pictured) was generously provided by leading Irish designer Maryrose McGrath.

To reserve a table contact Sean Hall on 0044 (0)7802 311388 or email

For further information on the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s full programme visit

Say Hello to this year’s Shoreline Festival

Jordanstown Loughshore Park is the place to be over the August Bank Holiday weekend for some musical treats.

: Northern Ireland’s number one Adele tribute act, Suzanne Pavis.

Northern Ireland’s number one Adele tribute act, Suzanne Pavis, kicks off the live music offering at 8pm on Saturday 27 August as she performs smash hit songs by Adele to get the Bank Holiday party started.

The musical entertainment continues from 3pm on Sunday 28 August with Laganvale Metal Technology Brass Band taking to the stage.  Fiddler Adam will get your toes tapping from 4pm and at 8pm, rock sensations Con Jovi will be belting out Bon Jovi’s classic hits to ensure everyone has the time of their lives!

Join us from 1pm until 6pm over the long weekend for a festival of fun with something on offer for all ages to keep you entertained during the Bank Holiday weekend.  The family fun includes bouncy castles, face painting, magic shows, foam party and a petting zoo.

Admission to the festival is free of charge and for a full festival line-up visit


Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (August 22 – 28).

  • Hilden Beer Festival, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, August 26 – 28. The Annual Hilden Beer and Music Festival will be held during the August Bank Holiday, featuring live music and beer and ale tasting from Lisburn’s premier microbrewery.  Musical acts include Rackhouse Pilfer, Kaz Hawkins Band, The Emerald Armada and David C. Clements with many more to be announced.
  • Ultimate Strongman, Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, August 25 – 28. Feats of human strength and endurance will be played out in some of Belfast’s most historic venues when the Rudridge Ultimate Strongman Giant Weekend takes over the city. Over four days’ contestants will be put through their paces in a series of gruelling challenges – including tyre flips, truck pulling and a car deadlift.
  • Lap the Lough, Peatlands park, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, August 28. Lap the Lough is an annual cycle event around Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland and Britain taking place each year on the August Bank Holiday weekend.  Organised by the Upbeat Agency, Lap the Lough aims to increase participation, bike usage and fundraising.
  • Northern Ireland Speed Weekend, Eikon Exhibition Centre, Co. Antrim, August 28 – 29. The Northern Ireland Speed Weekend returns for 2016 in what promises to be an adrenaline fuelled, motoring extravaganza.
    The Northern Ireland Speed Weekend will be jammed packed with rally cars, race cars, drifting, sport cars, go-karting, super cars, dragsters, helicopters, stunt shows including parachute displays from the Wild Geese parachute display team, plus lots more to keep you entertained!
  • Heretics and Head the Balls, Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, August 26. Comedy stalwart Neil Dougan attempts to compress over five hundred years of culture into his new one-man show. Packed with ‘head the balls’ and ‘heretics’, his show is not to be missed. Show contains adult references. Suitable for 18+ years.
  • Belfast Mela Festival, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, August 27 – 28. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in colourfully eclectic style, this year’s Mela will be the most ambitious festival ever! Bringing a wonderful world of international cultures to Botanic Gardens, Belfast, featuring music, dance, arts and performance, including a return of the hugely successful ‘Little Bollywood’, an exciting sensory experience designed for families with babies, toddlers and young children.
  • Charles Wood Festival & Summer School, various locations, Co. Armagh, until August 28. This year’s festival marks the 150th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated composer of church music. During the week, churches across Armagh will host some 30 events, with international and local musicians performing side by side delivering a feast of choral and organ music, under the expert guidance of Artistic Director, David Hill.
  • City of Derry Guitar Festival, various locations, Derry~Londonderry, August 25 – 28. This unique festival is great for all music lovers featuring concerts, guitar master classes, workshops and lecturers in a relaxed atmosphere. During your time at the City of Derry Guitar Festival you will meet and befriend a multitude of musicians and you will take away many valuable experiences.
  • Tennents Vital, Boucher Road, Belfast, August 25 – 26. Tennents Vital has been tipped as one of the highlights of the summer in Belfast. Global superstars Avicii, Jess Glynne, Fall Out Boy and Red Chilli Peppers will take to the stage at this year’s music extravaganza. Suitable for ages 16+.
  • Summer Jazz, Castle Ward, Co. Down, August 28. Castle Ward’s annual jazz series continues throughout August. Bring a rug and a picnic and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a tranquil and beautiful setting listening to the sounds of jazz. It’s the perfect way to spend.

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