Titanic Belfast named “king of the world”!

Titanic Belfast has been crowned the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards in the Maldives.

Having already beaten the Colosseum, the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower to become Europe’s official Leading Tourist Attraction, Titanic Belfast sailed its way to victory to become the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.

With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was awarded the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction title. It beat off stiff competition from eight global finalists, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland. It is the first time an attraction from Ireland, North or South, has won the prestigious accolade.

Tim Husbands MBE, Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive, said; “Over the past few years, we have continued to go from strength to strength but to be voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by both the industry and the public for excellence and for our original product, is really the jewel in our crown. We are delighted that this award firmly shines a spotlight not only on Titanic Belfast but Belfast and Northern Ireland, and celebrates our authentic insight and connection to RMS Titanic.

“The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception. Our interpretation of the story and ability to engage with visitors on many different levels has been fundamental in winning this award. With the award, we hope to attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover it. A huge thank you to our staff and all our supporters that voted, locally and across the world, to help us reach this iconic goal of being the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.”
Northern Ireland got behind Titanic Belfast in the bid to become ‘King of the World’, with the public, industry partners, well-known personalities, politicians, sports stars and businesses providing their support to put the local landmark on par with previous winners including the Taj Mahal, Las Vegas Strip and the Pyramids of Egypt.
First Minister the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster, said: “In just four short years, Titanic Belfast has become an iconic tourist ‘must see’, attracting over three million visitors from all over the world.

“We always knew that in Titanic Belfast, we were home to a world class attraction that would become a global brand. While it’s no surprise to me it has been recognised in this way, it is a wonderful achievement to win the ‘world’s best’ accolade ahead of other venues like Machu Picchu and the Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World.

“I had the privilege as Tourism Minister of being involved with the project since its inception, and this award is further proof that the investment and imagination that went into this attraction keeps paying dividends for the whole of Northern Ireland.

“I congratulate Tim Husbands and his entire team for the hard work and professionalism which has put Titanic Belfast, quite literally, on top of the world.”

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “This is terrific news for Titanic Belfast and will help in our global pitch to make the north of Ireland one of the world’s top tourism destinations.

“The Titanic story is well known but it is greatly enhanced and enriched by the visitor experience at Titanic Belfast.

“I commend Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive and all his team who are the face of Titanic Belfast. The welcome and hospitality they provide to all visitors who walk through the door is an important part of what we have to offer.

“Rest assured whether it is at home or abroad we will take every opportunity to promote the award winning Titanic Belfast.”

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation Limited, the charity that owns the attraction, commented; “This year has been one of the most successful to date for Titanic Belfast from welcoming its three-millionth visitor, winning the European award and now positioned at the forefront of global tourism. We would like to say a heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated and talented staff at Titanic Belfast who help deliver an unforgettable experience for all our visitors, the future is certainly bright for Titanic Belfast and Titanic Quarter as a maritime destination.”

This year, Titanic Belfast has welcomed over 84% of its visitors from outside Northern Ireland and  has been described by The Guardian as “an inspiring testament to the Titanic and the city that built it”. More than three million people from around the world have already visited Titanic Belfast since opening in 2012, underpinning Belfast and Northern Ireland’s growing credentials as an unrivalled visitor destination, supporting thousands of jobs and a thriving hospitality sector. For more information, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.


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.

  • New Year’s Eve Break, Charlemont Arms, Co. Armagh, from £99 per room. Established in 1936 as The Charlemont Arms Hotel this elegant town house hotel sits at the heart of the historic Georgian city of Armagh. As a family hotel The Charlemont has a proud tradition of offering the best in local hospitality. Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco on arrival and full Irish breakfast the next morning.  Subject to availability. Quote ‘Discover NI’ when booking. Valid until December 31. To book call (028) 37 522028.
  • Luxurious Autumn, Westville Hotel, Co. Fermanagh, from £125pps. The four-star modern, boutique style Westville Hotel is ideally situated in the centre of Fermanagh Lakelands. Use the chic surroundings of the hotel as your base to explore the historic town and its many nearby attractions such as Castle Coole, Crom Estate and the Marble Arch Caves. Enjoy a two-night break with breakfast on both mornings and a delicious three-course dinner on the evening of your choice. Available until 31 December. To book call (028) 66 320333.
  • Festive Break, Maryville House Tearooms & Boutique B&B, Belfast, from £180. With the arrival of Belfast’s bustling Christmas market, why not get into the festive spirit and treat yourself to a relaxing two-night winter break at Maryville House? When checking in for your two-night stay, guests will be treated to a complimentary glass of mulled wine and homemade shortbread. On an afternoon of your choice enjoy a festive afternoon tea consisting of some of the bed and breakfast’s fresh canopies and tray bakes. Valid until 29 December. To book call (028) 90 681510.

For further information log on to www.discovernorthernireland.com/offers.

*All offers are subject to availability.


Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland this week (December 5 – December 11).

  • Night at the Museum, Ulster Museum, Belfast, December 9 – 10. Ever wondered what happens in the Ulster Museum at night? The night will begin with a 45-minute lighted tour of the Museum, followed by a movie and sleepover. Free popcorn will be provided for all guests for the cinema event only, as well as a light buffet breakfast for those staying over. Suitable for ages 7 – 12.  Children to be accompanied by an adult.
  • The Nutcracker, Playhouse Theatre, Derry~Londonderry, December 8. The Royal Ballet’s glorious production of The Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1984, is the production par excellence of an all-time ballet favourite. Tchaikovsky’s glittering score, the gorgeous festive stage designs and The Royal Ballet’s captivating dancing – including an exquisite pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince – make this Nutcracker the quintessential Christmas experience.
  • Festive Flowerworks, Banbridge Old Town Hall, Co. Down, December 10. A fun and creative morning of floral design suitable for beginners. Romaine Hodgen of Flowerworks will guide you through a Christmas themed design which you can take home to be the centrepiece of your Christmas display. All materials supplied but please bring scissors or secateurs.
  • Santa’s Magical Kingdom, Argory, Co. Armagh, December 7. Take a magical journey to see Santa in the grotto and meet his team of helpers from the North Pole. Passports to Santa’s Magical Kingdom issued to each child on booking and stamped on arrival. Includes complimentary festive refreshments. Booking essential.  To book call (028) 8778 4753.
  • Belfast Community Gospel Choir Christmas Show, Belfast Waterfront, Belfast, December 11. Get in the festive spirit with BCGC at the Belfast Waterfront! This show will feature everything from Christmas classics to big gospel ballads. Audience participation is encouraged, so warm up your vocal chords, bring your baubles and prepare for a very BCGC Christmas! Belfast Community Gospel Choir (BCGC) is Northern Ireland’s first and only multicultural gospel choir. Their dynamic performances are charged with joy, passion and energy.
  • Fermanagh Choral Society Christmas Concerts, Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh, December 9 – 10. Join us for an evening of traditional Christmas songs and some not so traditional as the Fermanagh Choral Society put on their annual Christmas concerts. Castle Coole provides a stunning backdrop and a festive atmosphere for the evening, setting the tone for the rest of the season. Come for the music and stay to enjoy some seasonal treats in the Breakfast Room by the fire afterwards.
  • Arco String Quartet, Clandeboye Estate, Co. Down, December 7. One of Ireland’s leading quartets invite you to an evening festive music by candle light, that will leave you full to the brim of Christmas spirit. Expect to hear music from all the ages, from traditional carols to current Christmas pop favourites, all originally arranged and handcrafted and in the unique Arco String Quartet style. With special guest appearance from singer/songwriter David C Clements, this promises to be a truly magical evening.
  • Days of Christmas Past, Mellon House, Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone, until December 18. Looking for a traditional Christmas Santa experience where the kids meet Santa, Mrs Claus and all their festive friends? Step back in time to a traditional Christmas in Omagh with this magical family Christmas experience. Special pricing applies, please check website for details. www.nmni.com/uafp
  • The Winter Fair, Eikon Exhibition Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, December 8. The Winter Fair is the meeting place for the dairy industry in Northern Ireland, where top class cattle compete for the title of supreme champion and trade stands display innovation industry advances. Visitors will see the highest quality of dairy cattle livestock on show as well as having the opportunity to find out what the industry has to offer.
  • Maghera Christmas Festival & Lights Switch On, Derry~Londonderry, December 10. Enjoy street entertainment, craft workshops, face painting, balloon modelling and prize draws as you wait for Santa Claus to arrive and turn on the town lights.  Following the big switch on, join in on a lantern walk in the Walled Garden, followed by storytelling and hot chocolate.

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


Make magical memories at WWT Castle Espie with a day out to see Santa and his elves from 3rd to 18th December.  Tickets are available to purchase online and include refreshments, access to the Santa experience and nature reserve plus children receive a gift from Santa.


‘Santa’s Magical Solstice Christmas‘ at the Navan Centre & Fort will take you on an enchanted Christmas journey to the magical land of Lapland as day quickly turns to night and the wonder of the Solstice takes place from 3rd to 22nd December.  Santa will be waiting to meet all the boys and girls, and of course, he has a gift for all the children!  Planning to go to the Cinderella at the Market Place Theatre?  Buy your Theatre ticket at the Market Place Box Office, showing your Santa’s Magical Solstice Christmas ticket and get £2.50 off per ticket for the panto for the following performances:

Friday 9th Dec. at 6.30pm, Friday 16th Dec at 6.30pm & Friday 23rd Dec at 6.30pm.


Christmas shoppers are in for a treat as Fermanagh and Omagh District Council once again hosts its Christmas Craft and Food Fair in Enniskillen on Saturday 3rd December from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, with stalls located in both the historic Town Hall and in the bustling Diamond in the centre of the town.  This popular event which follows hot on the heels of the highly successful  Christmas lights switch-on, is always a major attraction and provides the ideal opportunity for shoppers to sample and purchase a range of locally made food delights and handmade crafts, alongside soaking up the festive atmosphere, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the season and finding those unique gifts for family and friends.


Don’t miss this year’s Coalisland Christmas Lights Switch-On, which takes place on Sunday 4th December at the Cornmill Centre. To help build up to the big switch on, supported by Mid Ulster District Council, DJ Marty Lo and the stars of the CRAIC pantomime ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will start the celebrations at 5pm. To add to the atmosphere, you’ll be treated to an evening of festive fun, including street entertainment, giveaways, music from local talent, a music and dance performance by the very talented cast of CRAIC and other surprises.  While Santa will be busy right across Mid Ulster over the coming weeks, he’ll be in attendance to make sure the lights are on by 6.30pm.


In Magherafelt, a fantastic array of 25 artisan food and craft stalls, will be the centrepiece of the 2016 Magherafelt Christmas Market and Christmas Lights-switch on , taking place from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th December.  Enjoy browsing and sampling the locally produced food and drink, or take time to unwind in the lounge with a craft beer, hot mulled wine or just sit and relax. There will be lots of hints and tips for Christmas feasts and local bands and school children will perform in the marquee over the weekend. Vote for your favourite taste too, as local butchers compete for the crown of “Magherafelt’s Best Banger” or enter the Christmas Jumper Competition taking place on Sunday 4 December!  All wrapped up in this smorgasbord of treats will be Magherafelt’s Christmas Lights Switch-on on Saturday 3rd December at 7pm, with Chair of Mid Ulster District Council and Santa of course, finishing the evening of festive fun with a spectacular fireworks display.


See Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Courtyard Theatre until the 17th December This sparkling production features an outstanding cast, puppetry, dazzling sets and lavish costumes.  All ages can join in the excitement as this timeless fairtytale unfolds.  Special guest, Santa, will be handing out presents at the end of the show.  With just 180 seats, this intimate venue is perfect for children to get up close to the action.  Don’t miss out on the truly magical experience of a Christmas pantomime.  RELAXED PERFORMANCES: Saturday 26 Nov at 1pm and Saturday 3 Dec at 1pm. SIGNED PERFORMANCE: Sat 3 Dec at 7pm


This Saturday 3rd December, for one night only, Elvis will be at Belfast Cathedral.  The ELVIS Spectacular stars 2012 European Champion Mr Ciaran Houlihan with his TCB Band and The SWEET Sensations. Ciaran looks, sounds and moves just like the King of Rock and Roll and we’re certain the show will be a night to remember – Book your tickets now! Belfast Cathedral are delighted to host this show where Ciaran and his band will perform some of ELVIS’s great gospel hits including “How great thou art”, “Come all you faithful”, “Amazing Grace” and “The Lords Prayer”- as well as many of The KING’s huge Rock ‘n Roll hits! Tickets are £15 with limited parking available at Belfast Cathedral for £4.

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.


Looking for ideas on what to buy your family and friends for Christmas this year?   Need some inspiration? Why not give the gift of theatre with tickets to a fabulous night out at the North West’s premier theatre and create new memories that will last a lifetime?

There’s lots of upcoming events at the Millennium Forum this season, with something for everyone to enjoy.

Gifts for Her

With concerts from the Ulster Orchestra (Sun 8th Jan), Tommy Fleming (Fri 10th Feb) and Made In Liverpool (Sat 17th Dec) to West End musicals, Dirty Dancing (Mon 13th to Sat 18th Feb) and Wonderland (Tues 21st to Sat 25th March), the Forum has the perfect present for sisters, aunties, grannies, mums and best friends.

Gifts for Him

If the man in your life enjoys local music, drama or the best in stand-up comedy, then tickets to Homegrown (Fri 13th Jan), The High Kings (Sat 7th Jan), Romesh Ranganathan (Sat 10th Dec), Jake O’Kane (Sat 21st Jan), Neil Delamere (Sat 18th March) and The Lonesome West (Tues 28th March) are guaranteed to delight this Christmas.

Gifts for all the Family

Treat the family to a magical experience at the theatre with our must-see festive show, Cinderella (Fri 2nd to Sat 31st Dec), the smash hit West End musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Tues 30th May to Sat 3rd June) or Julia Donaldson’s Room On The Broom (Thurs 30th & Fri 31st March).  Making happy memories is the perfect way to spend Christmas for the young and the young at heart!

Tickets for all shows are now available from the Millennium Forum Box Office.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.

Lights to burn bright in Coalisland

Don’t miss this year’s Coalisland Christmas Lights Switch-On, which takes place on Sunday 4th December at the Cornmill Centre.

To help build up to the big switch on, supported by Mid Ulster District Council, DJ Marty Lo and the stars of the CRAIC pantomime ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will start the celebrations at 5pm.

To add to the atmosphere, you’ll be treated to an evening of festive fun, including street entertainment, giveaways, music from local talent, a music and dance performance by the very talented cast of CRAIC and other surprises.

While Santa will be busy right across Mid Ulster over the coming weeks, he’ll be in attendance to make sure the lights are on by 6.30pm.

For further information on the Christmas Lights Switch On in Coalisland, contact the CRAIC theatre on 028 8774 1100 or through their Facebook page.

To find out about Christmas events across Mid Ulster, including light switch on events in Cookstown, Dungannon, Magherafelt and Maghera, visit www.midulstercouncil.org/christmas.

Christmas Carousel comes to Coleraine.

A fun, FREE and festive addition is coming to Coleraine town centre this Saturday (3rd December)

The town will welcome a children’s carousel to The Diamond area from 10am-4pm.

Children will also get to receive balloons and glitter tattoos during their visit to the town. Don’t forget to look out for characters including Penguin, Olaf and Minion who will visit the area between 1pm-3pm. A photograph opportunity not to be missed!

Along with this free family entertainment, the town centre will also host a ‘Journey to Market’ event between 9am and 4pm which will showcase new local artisan producers

If you still have some Christmas shopping to complete, this is the perfect place to pick up some unique gift ideas.

Don’t forget as well, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will again provide a FREE Park ‘N Ride bus service each Saturday from 9.30am to 6pm until December 17th to make for a stress free shopping experience with pick up and drop off points at Riverside Retail, Coleraine Library and Coleraine Leisure Centre.

See Ballycastle and Shop, Eat and Explore this Christmas!

This Christmas take time to ‘See Ballycastle’ and explore what it has to offer.

Why not make a day of it and find quality crafts, unique gift ideas, speciality foods and big name brands from over 60 independent shops.

The friendly, personal service that Ballycastle is famous for is evident in its independent shops, cosy cafes and gastro pubs.

There are a number of events and family friendly entertainment in Ballycastle and the surrounding area right throughout December.

The Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market makes a welcome return to the Marine Hotel on Sunday 27th November to kick start your Christmas shopping from 11am to 5pm offering a fantastic array of local art, craft and food produce.

The annual Ballycastle Pony Parade takes place on 3rd December. Now in its 5th year, the Parade is a fun, festive spectacle featuring horses and riders dressed as Santa Claus – will you be able to spot the REAL Santa? He’ll be giving out treats to all the children who pop along to say hello. There’ll be a charity collection on the day for Motor Neurone Disease Association Northern Ireland and Rett Syndrome Ireland.

Julienne Elliott, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Economic Development Officer for Town Management said: “Along with the pony parade, Saturday 3rd December is Small Business Saturday and Council are encouraging everyone to Shop Local this Christmas. Ballycastle has a lot to offer in this regard, and customers can be assured of friendly, local customer service which the town is famous for.”

Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce has organized a Shop Window Christmas Display Competition which will be judged on Christmas Eve.

Retailers are getting into the spirit by decorating their windows in a truly festive fashion so look out for all the different displays as you make your way through the town.

An ideal time to view the display will be on Saturday 17th December as a variety of street entertainment has been organised to take place from 12noon to 2pm including surprise characters Olaf, Minion and Penguin as well as balloon modelling and glitter tattoos to keep the little ones entertained.

For further details on Christmas events in the Ballycastle area and the rest of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough pick up your free brochure from various outlets or visit www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/christmas