Find out what’s on this May in Ards and North Down!

Monday 1 May – Thursday 4 May

Monday 1 May, Merry May Day

Holywood Town Centre

10am – 4pm

See Holywood transform into the magical wonderland of colourful street theatre and local delights which Merry May Day is known and loved for. Enjoy traditional May Day dancing by local children, a selection of market stalls and lots family fun.

Info: 028 9127 0069,


Monday 1 May, Holywood Historical Walk

Holywood Town Area


Tickets: 4, advanced booking required

Enjoy an informative stroll through Holywood’s colourful history from the establishment of a monastic settlement on the site of the Old Priory Church to the Motte where King John is said to have spent the night.  Tour departs on foot from Maypole Bar, High Street, Holywood

Info:  028 9127 0069,


Monday 1 May, Kids “Mini-beasts” Nature Trail

Nugent’s Wood in Portaferry 

2pm – 4pm

Tickets 2.50 (child), adults free. Advanced booking required

Join local naturalist “Woody” for a creative exploration of Nugent’s Wood this May Day holiday. All children must be accompanied by an adult.  Meet at Portaferry VIC, Castle Street.

Info: 028 4272 9882,

Friday 5 – Thursday 11 May

Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 May, Family Fun at Cockle Row Cottages

Cockle Row Cottages, Groomsport Harbour

2pm – 4pm

Come along to Groomsport for free Family fun every weekend from now until September

Saturday 6: Children’s Crafts and ‘Tales of the Wild’ Animal Roadshow

Sunday 7: Magic Show

Info:  028 9127 0069,


Saturday 6 May, Dawn Chorus

Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards    

5am – 6.30am

Free, advanced booking required

Join bird expert Dot Blakely as the sun comes up, for an early morning master class in how to recognise the song of the Dawn Chorus

Info: 028 4272 9882,

Belfast VITAL – 23rd August: MUSE with special guest BIFFY CLYRO

Today MCD Productions confirmed that MUSE will headline Belfast Vital on August 23rd at Belfast’s Boucher Road Playing Fields with tickets going on sale next Friday, May 5th at 9am.

MUSE will be joined by special guests BIFFY CLYRO, NOTHING BUT THIEVES and Dublin band FANGCLUB.

MUSE:  Since their debut in 1994, Muse have released seven studio albums and have won numerous awards, including two Grammy’s, two Brit Awards, five MTV Europe Music Awards, eight NME Awards and they have sold over 20 million albums worldwide.

Last year Drones, the group’s seventh album, topped the UK charts whilst simultaneously topping the charts in the USA, a first for the band. In total the album reached No 1 in a staggering 23 countries. In 2016 Drones won the Grammy for Best Rock Album at the 58th Grammy Awards, the band headlined the Glastonbury Festival for a third time and they toured arenas across the world including sold out shows at Dublin’s 3Arena and The SSE Arena, Belfast.

This summer Muse will headline Reading & Leeds and today it has been confirmed that they will also headline Belfast Vital on August 23rd.

BIFFY CLYRO: Last year Biffy Clyro released their seventh album, Ellipsis – a number one record in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland and has since hit gold status selling over 100,000 copies. The band followed Ellipsis with a remarkable run of huge scale touring which set their riotous energy to a dazzling visual spectacle.

Last summer Biffy performed to almost 200,000 people when they played their biggest Scottish show to date at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park, headlined sets at the Reading & Leeds Festivals and Belsonic at Titanic Belfast. The band ended the year with a triumphant UK and Ireland arena tour, which included shows at The SSE Arena, Belfast and the 3Arena, Dublin.

This year is already shaping up to be just as momentous as Biffy Clyro are now confirmed for their first headline set at Download and are booked to perform at this year’s Belfast Vital.

NOTHING BUT THIEVES: The past eighteen months have been a whirlwind of sold out shows, chart topping records and a critically acclaimed album from Southends finest band.  Nothing But Thieves are now riding the wave of a global buzz which has already well and truly ignited in the States. As well as sold out shows in the UK, Japan and USA they have recently completed a successful run of European arena shows with fellow Brits, Muse. This summer Nothing But Thieves will play Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and are now confirmed for Belfast Vital.

  • Belfast Vital 2017
  • Wednesday 23 August: Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast
  • Tickets on sale FRIDAY 5 May at 9am


  • Tickets on Sale: Friday 5 May at 9am
  • Tickets priced: £49.50 (including booking fee)
  • Ticketmaster: In person: From Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
  • Ticketmaster: By Telephone (24 Hour):  0844 277 44 55 (ROI: 0818 719300)
  • Ticketmaster: Book On Line:



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. Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week for you to choose from.


  • Spring midweek escape, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges, Co. Fermanagh, from £105pps. The 4* Killyhevlin Hotel is idyllically set on the shores of scenic Lough Erne, bordered by private grounds and gardens, yet only 1km from the historic town of Enniskillen. Residents can enjoy full use of the Killyhevlin Health Club, with gym and pool or pamper themselves in the heavenly Elemis Spa complete with relaxation room. Offer includes two nights midweek stay (Sun-Thurs), cooked breakfast each morning, four-course dinner one evening. Valid until 30 June. To book call (028) 6632 3481.


  • Hideaway at the Dark Hedges, The Hedges Hotel, Co. Antrim, from £75 per room. Just a stone’s throw from the trees themselves you’ll find the Dark Hedges Estate with three bars, two restaurants, a 16-bed 3* hotel, Georgian mansion, Game of Thrones door and an 18-hole golf course.  Offer includes 2 nights bed and breakfast and 1 evening meal to the value of £35. Valid until 31 Aug. To book call (028) 2075 2222.


  • Discover the Mournes, Kilmorey Arms Hotel, Co. Down, from £99pps. Nestled in the Kingdom of Mourne, the 3* Kilmorey Arms Hotel boasts a prime location for any holiday. With three National Trust sites nearby, horse riding, mountain biking, hill walking and golf course there is plenty for everyone to enjoy. Offer includes 2 night stay (Mon-Thurs), cooked Irish breakfast each morning and an evening meal. Available until 22 Dec. To book call (028) 4176 2220.


For further information visit


*All offers are subject to availability.

Volunteers’ Week celebrations in the Causeway Coast and Glens

Vintage Tea Parties are being held in Limavady, Portrush, Ballycastle and Ballymoney to mark Volunteers’ Week.

The celebrations, organised by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, in collaboration with Causeway Volunteer Centre and Limavady Volunteer Centre, are a way to thank local volunteers who give up their time to work in the community.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey, said: “The efforts of our community and voluntary sector cannot be underestimated. We have so many willing volunteers who do so much, and this is our way of celebrating the difference they make.”

Mary McNickle from Causeway Volunteer Centre said: ‘Volunteers’ Week, which runs from June 1st until June 7th, is an annual reminder for us to show our appreciation to all volunteers.  They do amazing work and it’s heart-warming to bring the whole community together to say a collective ‘thank you’.”

Ashleen Schenning, from Limavady Volunteer Centre added: “Volunteers are at the heart of our community, and without them many organisations would cease to exist. This is our opportunity to give something back to them.”

The Tea Parties will be held in Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre, Limavady on Monday 5th June from 2pm – 4pm, the Arcadia Ballroom, Portrush on Tuesday 6th June from 2pm – 4pm, and at the Town Hall in Ballymoney on the same day from 7pm – 9pm. The final event takes place in Ramoan Parish Hall in Ballycastle on Wednesday 7th June from 2pm – 4pm.

Invitations to the tea parties will be sent directly to all community organisations throughout the Borough within the next few weeks.  For further information please contact Causeway Volunteer Centre on 028 7035 8265 or email


Hastings Hotels announces £53M investment on revised plans and unveils new building wrap

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 25th April 2017 –
Following revised planning permission being granted earlier this month for the Grand Central Hotel, Hastings Hotels has announced that its investment will be £53M on what will be Northern Ireland’s largest hotel.
Directors of Hastings Hotels Howard Hastings, Managing Director, Allyson McKimm, Events Director, Aileen Martin, Sales Director, Julie Hastings, Marketing Director and Edward Carson, Vice-Chairman and Financial Director unveiled a new building wrap which will be changed a regular intervals helping to tell the story of the hotel as it is being built.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

FOLLOWING revised planning permission being granted earlier this month for the Grand Central Hotel, Hastings Hotels has announced that its investment will be £53M on what will be Northern Ireland’s largest hotel.

Building work is now well under way following the approval of the revised plans by Belfast City Council which will see an additional 104 bedrooms bringing the total number to 304 with the creation of over 150 jobs.

Sir William Hastings Chairman of Hastings Hotels said: “We are pleased that the revised planning permission for the Grand Central Hotel has been approved. This represents our company’s biggest single investment to date of £53M and is the sum required to create a top quality hotel befitting the name, Grand Central, and of which Belfast City can be proud.

“The Grand Central Hotel will be more than a hotel when it opens in mid 2018. It is a legend reborn and to celebrate this, we have created a building wrap, which will be changed at regular intervals before the hotel opens. It will help tell the story of the hotel as it is being built and pay tribute to some of the local companies we are working with who are each playing key roles in helping Hastings Hotels create this major development,” Sir William added.

Howard Hastings, Managing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “We look forward to working with a wide range of local companies during this major project. Our lead construction partner is Graham Construction and their building expertise and quality of workmanship is second to none. The structural steel has been fabricated in Lisburn and the cladding is being designed and procured through a company based in Moira. The mechanical and electrical contractors are also local as are the bricklayers, joiners, plasterers and even the tower crane driver.”


The 2017 Art Of Craft Exhibition at The Market Place Gallery will run from Friday 21 April until Saturday 17th June, and this year showcases the work of artist Bernie Leahy in her exhibition ‘Elements’.

Leahy’s artworks seize passing moments, capturing altered time and emotion. These moments reminisce on the space of discomfort, awkwardness or deep joy, poking at its familiarity.

Her work frequently uses the human figure, now exploring themes through a wider palette of colours and range of media than previously seen. Expression and movement are conveyed through the sensibilities of the materials. Stitch carries the work. Synaesthesia informs the collaborative video installation of manipulated stitch with original sound, composed by Oisin L Furlong.

Leahy studied in DLSAD (now IADT) & NCAD. She has represented Ireland in International Fiberart Biennales in Venezuela and Philadelphia. She has also exhibited internationally in Chicago, New York, China, Rome, London, Liverpool and Ireland. Her work is held in private collections in the USA, UK and Ireland, and in public collections in Ireland. She is a member of DCCOI Portfolio since 2004.

New work includes drawing, painting, video installation & sound, intrinsic with stitch.

Admission to the exhibition is free. For further information, bookings and to download the full programme go to You can also follow developments on Facebook ( and Twitter ( for the latest information and video previews.


Big Telly Theatre Company Presents The Faerie Thorn at The Web Theatre          

Big Telly Theatre and Ards and North Down Borough Council are delighted to present ‘The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories’ by Jane Talbot at The Web Theatre, Newtownards on Friday 19 May.

The Big Telly Theatre cast of The Faerie Thorn which will be performed at The Web Theatre, Newtownards on Friday May 19.

The Faerie Thorn will recreate Talbot’s dark, imaginative and bewitching tales, propelling the audience into a world of devilish debts, trysts and trades, broken bargains and unjust trials; of magic, quick-wittedness, hoodwinking and revenge. The stories inhabit an incredibly vivid and dangerous world controlled by a complex fairy mafia including factions like the memory takers, the time keepers, the bad talkers and trolls, which humans tackle at their peril.


Over the past thirty years, Big Telly have carved a reputation as bold, risk-taking theatre makers, and The Faerie Thorn production will be a vibrant, contemporary, physical theatre, incorporating masks, movement and illusion. The Faerie Thorn will be witty, dark and wickedly comedic dealing with inexorable human tensions in a way that is shocking and yet terrifyingly familiar. The show is recommended for age 14+

On Sunday 30 April, Frances Quinn an actress and storyteller from Armagh will host Kiltonga tales at Kiltonga Hall, Newtownards.

Enjoy a warming hot chocolate before settling in for an hour of enchanting folklore and fairy tales at the beautiful Kiltonga Hall with one of Ulster’s finest storytellers.

Frances’ acting work ranges from the London Fringe through touring companies and Repertory in England and Ireland to the English National Theatre. She has been a featured storyteller at the major storytelling festivals in Ireland and made a CD of The Cúchulainn Saga which she performed throughout England, Ireland and ten states in the US. Armagh Folk Tales, which she wrote and illustrated, was published in April 2014.

Ten things to do in Northern Ireland Next Week

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

  1. Kid’s “Mini-beasts” Nature Trail, Down, Monday 01st May. Join local naturalist “Woody” for a creative exploration of Nugent’s Wood, Portaferry. Look out for “Mini Beasts” that make the park their home and find out about the flora and fauna of the area. You and your family can enjoy exploring and finding out all about the little creatures who live there. Tour departs on foot from Portaferry Visitor Information Centre. £2.50 per child.


  1. Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, Belfast, Monday 01st May. The 36th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will take place on May Day Bank Holiday. The marathon is the biggest single participatory sporting event in Northern Ireland and over 17,500 runners are expected to hit the streets of north, south, east and west of the city. The race will start at Belfast City Hall and finish at Ormeau Park. For more information and to register visit £13.00 – £100.00.


  1. Stand up Paddleboard River Trail, Derry~Londonderry. Monday 01st May. Want to try something unique, chilled out and super fun? Then Stand Up Paddleboarding is for you! Paddleboarding is an ancient form of surfing with a Hawaiian heritage, which is emerging as a popular and competitive sport. After a quick change and safety briefing you’ll be off for 1.5 hours of exhilarating yet peaceful Stand Up Paddleboarding, meandering down the river alongside your instructor. From £30.00


  1. Handmade Craft Fair and Exhibition, Co Tyrone. Monday 1st May. Inspired by the simple principle that people are fascinated when artists and craftsmen openly demonstrate their skills and discuss their work. Learn, buy and enjoy exhibitions, classes and performances by local artists. For further information visit 12-4pm. Free admission.


  1. Preparing for Bealtime, Co Armagh, Monday 1st May 2017. This May Bank Holiday join our Celtic characters as they prepare for the important feast of Bealtime, a time to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of summer. Join in with the characters as they prepare for the celebrations and get involved with the bealtime preparations. Visit for further information. 11-5pm. Normal admission charges apply.


  1. Hop and Rocket, Belfast, Thursday 4th May. Like vegetables? Love beer? Then this is the event for you! Take a seat at the Taylor & Clay counter as the chefs serve up a delicious six-course vegetarian tasting menu made with organic vegetables from David Love Cameron’s Walled Garden at Helen’s Bay. The dishes will be paired with four beers from the Clearsky Brewing Co. Contact or to book your ticket. £44.00.


  1. Allianz Garden Show Ireland, Co. Antrim, 5th May – 7th May. Antrim Castle Gardens will be transformed into a festival of flowers, food and fun as Allianz Garden Show Ireland takes over the magnificent venue bringing gardening inspiration, foodie treats and family fun to the thousands of visitors who flock to the event each year. 10- 6pm, Admission: Adults £10.00; Concessions £8; Children under 16 FREE. Reduced rate if booking online.


  1. Ballycastle Food Tour, Co. Antrim, 5th – 6th May. Described as ‘A gem of a tour’ according to those who have been on it. Take a wander around Ballycastle, noticing odd little nooks and corners, learning how important this place once was and discovering through food and creativity that it is now the Best Place to Live in Northern Ireland according to the Sunday Times. Tour departs at 10.00am from Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre. £30 per person (max of 10 people).


  1. Tony Villiers and the Villians at Crusoes, Derry~Londonderry, 6 May. Tony Villiers and the Villains are making their first appearance at Crusoes. The Armagh born singer songwriter will be backed by his lean mean barroom band “The Villians” with a folk-blues sound carved from the music legends such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and Hank Williams. 19.30pm. Tickets £35.00.


  1. Florence Court, Co Fermanagh. Explore the sustainable estate at Florence Court this May Day. You can discover the blacksmith forge, wordworking demonstrations, the walled garden and of course the mansion which lies at the heart of the estate. For more information visit


Magic at Merry May Day in Holywood

Monday 1st May will see Holywood transform into the magical wonderland of colourful street theatre and local delights which Merry May Day is known and loved for.

From 10am High street and Church Road will be buzzing with charity stalls, food and festivities. Come and find vintage and preloved treasures, delicious treats and handmade crafts.

Holywood District Community Council will host traditional favourites Bonnie Baby Competition, held in Queen’s Leisure Complex at 10.30am and the Fancy Dress Competition at the Maypole at 12.15pm This year’s themes for fancy dress are Superhero’s, Princess’s, Disney character’s or a favourite character from a book.

This year’s May Queen is Holywood native, 17 year old Leah Ross who will be crowned at 10.45 at the Maypole. Leah was a Bonny Baby competition winner and has now come full circle to be crowned May Queen.

The ever-popular Maypole Dancing will take place at 11am and 1pm. At 12 noon, McElhinney School of Dance Holywood Rhythms will perform Irish Dancing while young children can get their chance to dance around their own Maypole with Jump, Jiggle and Jive from 12 noon – 4pm.

From 12 noon there will be Spectacular Street Theatre including the UK’s first free spinning aerial hoop act La Luna. Comedy duo, Grow Your Own and stunning floral acts, In Bloom.  Enjoy traditional puppet fun with Punch and Judy at 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm.

 Look out for character’s from Midsummer Night’s Dream such as the King and Queen of the Faeries and the ever mischievous Puck. You may even spot a Unicorn!

Holywood’s history will come alive on the Discover Hollywood Heritage Walk from 10am-12 noon, (Tickets £4 and booked in advance)

Don’t forget if you fancy some shopping or a bite of lunch, most of Holywood’s shops and eateries will be open throughout the day.

So come on down to Holywood on Monday, 1 May from 10am – 4pm for a fun-filled day at this FREE EVENT!

For further information, check out:

Cookstown set for the return of the popular Continental Market!

Cookstown goes continental next month when the food and flavours, sights and sounds of Europe and beyond come to the town centre for two days on 20-21 May!

Pictured launching the 2017 Continental Market are, (l-r), TP Sheehy, Councillor Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council and Paul Wilson, President Cookstown Chamber of Commerce.

Organised by Mid Ulster District Council, in partnership with Cookstown Town Centre Forum, the continental market is part of Market Place Europe’s spring tour, and will feature over 40 traders from as far afield as Morocco, India, Belgium, France, Russia, Holland, Spain and China, who will set up stalls alongside local traders from the weekly street market.

As well as mouth-watering dishes, from freshly made Paella to delicious Bratwurst Sausages, visitors to the market over the two day event will also be kept entertained with a variety of street entertainment and music.

Launching the 2017 market, Councillor Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, said:

“The Continental Market is one of the civic events for Cookstown in 2017 and it is anticipated as in previous years that it will attract a large number of visitors to Cookstown town centre.

“As well as being a great opportunity for local people and visitors alike to enjoy flavours from around the world, the market is an added attraction for the town. With an array of entertainment planned for the two day event it is ensured to be a great weekend of activity for all the family!”

President of the Chamber of Commerce, Paul Wilson, is looking forward to the atmosphere which the market creates:

“This year’s two day event, provides the opportunity for visitors to experience the Continental Market and Cookstown’s unique retail offering. The continental market will build on its previous success, and is sure to be another quality event for the town. I am looking forward to another successful market next month.”

The continental market takes place along William Street in Cookstown town centre from Saturday 20 May (9am – 9pm) and Sunday 21 May (11am – 7pm).

To facilitate the expected increased visitor numbers in a safe environment, a road closure will be in place along William Street from 8pm on Friday 19 May through to approximately 10pm on Sunday 21 May 2017. The road closure will be in place from the Orritor Street/Coagh Street junction to the Burn Road/James Street junction.

Cookstown set for Continental Market returnTo find out more, visit or call Mary McCullagh, Regeneration Manager on 03000 132 132.