Ten exciting 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 29 – June 4)



  1. Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, June 3-4. The legacy cycling event returns to Northern Ireland with a new starting venue at Stormont Estate. Cheer on the cyclists as they tackle two challenging routes from Belfast, to Strangford and the Mournes. Or join the post-ride pasta party at Stormont with Italian food, beer and wine.
  2. Footsteps in the Forest, Co. Armagh, June 3-4. Follow the path to an enchanted land at Slieve Gullion Forest Park, where a mythical people are coming together. This weekend-long festival will have something for fantasy lovers of all ages. To book call 028 30 313170.
  3. Marble Arch Caves family fun day, Co. Fermanagh, May 29. A jam-packed programme of events throughout the day including an interactive family nature hunt, face painting as well as a variety of arts and crafts activities. Free admission. To book call 028 66 348855.
  4. Otter Mayhem, Co. Down, May 28-29. Meet the small-clawed Asian otter family at Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, where you’ll learn lots of interesting otter facts. Get messy in the Crabby Crafts Club with themed otter puppet arts and crafts and make the day memorable with the mer-mazing face painter. Normal admission charges apply. To book call 028 42 728062.
  5. Ballymoney Show 2017, Co. Antrim, June 2-3. This local agricultural show at Ballymoney Show Grounds offers two days of fun for all the family, including cattle, sheep, goat and poultry judging, dog shows, live music, games and over 100 trade stands.
  6. Belfast Spring Continental Market, May 26-29. A delicious mix of food from across the globe returns to Belfast City Hall, as well as a mouth-watering selection of bespoke local products.
  7. Walled City Music Festival, Derry~Londonderry , May 31 – June 4. The city’s premiere classical music event returns with a packed programme of recitals by leading artists, innovative projects, workshops and gala concerts at various venues. For full schedule visit http://walledcitymusic.com/events
  8. Mid Ulster Vintage Rally, Co. Londonderry, June 3. Enjoy the largest vintage vehicle rally in Mid Ulster. Hundreds of vehicles and items of machinery will be on display at Springhill House, Moneymore, with fun for all the family.  Admission £2-5.
  9. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat, Millennium Forum, Derry~Londonderry, May 30- June 6. Bill Kenwright’s ‘amazing’ production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sparkling family musical continues on its record breaking tour, starring  Joe McElderry. £12.50-£32.50. To book call 028 71 264455.
  10. GIs at the Gaol, Co. Down, May 29. Step back in time at Down County Museum and find out more about how the GIs lived in the old Gaol, with re-enactments, vehicles and hands-on activities suitable for all the family. Free admission.


For more information on these events and other things to do in Northern Ireland, visit  www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com.

Fabulous Food and Fun at Comber Earlies this June

Highly Commended in the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016. Comber Earlies Food Festival makes a welcome return on Saturday 17th June promising a fantastic free family day out.

Mayor of Ards and North Down Alderman Deborah Girvan and Vice Chairman of Comber Earlies Growers Co-operation Ian Gilliland meet The Mighty Spud one of the many sights to see at Comber Earlies Food Festival on Saturday 17th June. Pic By Paul Moane / Aurora

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Deborah Girvan said ‘‘I thoroughly enjoyed The Comber Earlies Food Festival last year and look forward to this year’s event celebrating our local food heroes and all the entertainment on offer’

The one-day festival organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council in partnership with Food NI, Comber Early Growers and DAERA, takes place in the town centre and will showcase the world famous Comber Early which achieved EU Protected Geographical Indication status in 2012. Richard Orr, Chairman of Comber Earlies Growers Co-op, said ‘We are really looking forward to showcasing this year’s crop. The festival is a great way to celebrate our produce and the season ahead’


There will be a packed programme from 10am-4pm. A Local Artisan food fair will pave the way to a Hay Bale picnic and Big Tops filled with music, children’s crafts and cooking demonstrations and activities showcasing all things potato! At the festival kitchen, local and well known chefs will be showcasing their cooking skills live throughout the day.


Look out for the tractor display, band performances and world class street theatre including Mr and Mrs Spud and a hilarious comedy chef show, Liver Cottage!


So Come along and sample and celebrate the world famous Comber Earlies or some delicious locally produced treat while soaking up the festival atmosphere at this great family day out!


The Comber Earlies Fringe Festival will run from 9th to 20th June. Delivered by Comber Regeneration Community Partnership, the programme includes lots of activities for all ages including a Barn dance, live music, Festival quiz and lots more!

For further information check www.visitardsandnorthdown.com

Bright Sparks Summer Camps at W5

Calling all budding scientists! Bright Sparks is W5’s unique and exciting week-long summer camp for inquisitive young minds aged 8 to 11.


Participants in Bright Sparks will get hands-on in a range of exciting, science-based activities such as crime labs, rocket races, animation and building challenges. Each day will have its own theme and our young experimenters will be encouraged to explore and learn in a fun and positive environment.

 What W5 Offer

  • A fun-filled programme of hands-on activities, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm
  • Exciting and engaging topics covering a wide range of STEM disciplines
  • Opportunities to explore W5, including Climbit
  • Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and experienced staff
  • Drop-off and pick-up times designed to accommodate working parents
  • A free ‘Bright Sparks’ T-shirt


The programme of activities at the summer camp will be exciting and varied. To give the week a unique structure each day will follow a specific theme. W5’s Bright Sparks will also get to explore and enjoy W5’s shows, workshops and supervised exhibition floor visits. Throughout the week participants will also keep a record of their activities through a student-driven digital portfolio which will allow them (as well as parents!) to look back on their summer camp achievements.

 Dates & Costs

Bright Sparks Summer Camps is running on the following dates:

Week 1: Monday 3 – Friday 7 July

Week 2: Monday 17 – Friday 21 July

Week 3: Monday 31 July – Friday 4 August

Week 4: Monday 7 – Friday 11 August

Week 5: Monday 14 – Friday 18 August

The total cost for one week is £125 per child (with a reduction for additional children). Numbers are limited, therefore please book early to avoid disappointment.

 Visit www.w5online.co.uk for full information and to download a booking form.





Breast Cancer Survivors paddle the Lagan for their first ever Dragon Boat Regatta

Joanne Rocks, Gwyneth Hinds and Karen Case from the Lagan Dragons, Northern Ireland’s only breast cancer survivors dragon boat team, are gearing up to host their first ever regatta on the River Lagan on June 3rd. The event will see 420 rival dragon boat paddlers competing, and host a number of family friendly activities including a BBQ, craft tables, face painting and a raffle. Founded by breast cancer survivor Joanne Rock in 2015, the Lagan Dragons aims to help those affected by breast cancer by providing support, improving fitness and raising awareness. The team has grown to over 40 members who attend weekly training sessions and has been backed by the Northern Ireland medical profession. The Lagan Dragons Regatta will take place from 10am – 3pm on June 3 at the Waterfront Hall Belfast and is supported by Bryson LaganSports. To find out more about the Lagan Dragon Regatta, or receive further information on joining the Lagan Dragons, visit lagandragons.com or @Lagandragons on Facebook or Twitter.

The Lagan Dragons, Northern Ireland’s only breast cancer survivors dragon boat team, is gearing up to host their first ever regatta.

The River Lagan is set to come alive with the sound of drums and the splashing of paddles on June 3 as over 420 rival dragon boat paddlers compete in an exhilarating boat race, hosted by the Dragons and supported by Bryson LaganSports.  On the day, guests can also enjoy music and entertainment, a BBQ, craft tables, face painting and a raffle offering some very unique prizes.

The Lagan Dragons was founded by breast cancer survivor Joanne Rock and the group first set sail in 2015.  The group aims to help those affected by breast cancer by providing support, improving fitness and raising awareness.  The team has grown to over 40 members who attend weekly training sessions and has been backed by the Northern Ireland medical profession with most new members being referred by surgeons or nurses in local hospitals.

Joanne Rock, founder of Lagan Dragons, said;   

“I set up the club just over two years ago as a way of helping to support those who had gone through breast cancer.  We now have over 40 members who paddle together on the Lagan each week and provide an excellent support network for each other.

“This June we are hosting our very first regatta to raise funds for the club.  It is set to be a fantastic day for all the family and we are encouraging people to get involved by registering to take part in the race or by coming along to watch the teams compete in a friendly rivalry on the Lagan.  All racing equipment will be provided and there’s prizes for the fastest teams and for the best fancy dress.

“The Lagan Dragons Club is opened to anyone affected by breast cancer, whether you are a survivor or a family member, and we are keen to keep growing the club.”

Dr Gwyneth Hinds, Associate Specialist in the Breast Unit at Belfast City Hospital and a Lagan Dragons team member, says the club will help survivors feel emotionally and physically stronger.

“I’d encourage survivors of breast cancer to take part in the sport to enhance their physical health.  Medical research shows that those who participate in dragon boat paddling following breast cancer treatment have more energy and feel physically stronger due to the strenuous upper body activity.

“The sport also gives survivors the opportunity to gain emotional support and enhance their social wellbeing by providing a safe social outlet in a unique environment.”


The Lagan Dragons Regatta will take place from 10am – 3pm on June 3 at the Waterfront Hall Belfast.  All races will be over 200 metres and the teams must be made up of between 12 – 17 paddlers and one drummer.

To find out more about the Lagan Dragon Regatta, or receive further information on joining the Lagan Dragons, visit lagandragons.com or @Lagandragons on Facebook or Twitter.

The Lagan Dragons is registered as a voluntary sports club with charity status, consisting of people of all ages who have been affected by breast cancer.

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


Portico are delighted to be presenting another astonishing array of talented performers at Portico’s Fesiv’Ards 2017, from 26th to 29th May.  Artists include Calidore String Quartet, Finghin Collins, Daniel Cook, Concentio with Brass Ensemble, Ficini Quartet, Richard Hills, Ben Johnson, and James Ballieu, Jamie Walton and Katya Apekisheva, Anneliene van Wauwe, NI Opera.  For information on all the concerts and tickets see  wwww.porticoards.com.


Armagh Craft Fair is returning to Armagh on Saturday 27th May from 10.30am to 6pm, at The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre.  Bringing high quality Craft to the heart of Armagh City this annual event offers something for everyone. The fair will feature over 45 high quality craft stalls from makers across Northern Ireland and Ireland. The crafts on show at this year’s Craft Fair will include textiles, knitwear, jewellery, wood, metal, basketry, glass, soaps, leather, ceramics,  and candles to name but a few.


Boho Parish Church Select Vestry will host The Church in the Vale Flower Festival from 26th to 29th May to raise vital funds for the urgent restoration of the church and grounds. The church was originally built in 1777 and remains as one of the smallest congregations in the Clogher Diocese with 30 souls. Themed as ‘The Church in the Vale’ & will encompass approximately 10 displays arranged by renowned floral artists from Fermanagh and Tyrone. Refreshments will be provided in an adjoining marquee.


Beatles Tribute Show, Made In Liverpool, are coming to Lola’s at the Silver Birch Hotel Omagh on Saturday 27th May! Resident at The Cavern Club Liverpool they were the first Beatles tribute band to play the Cavern when it re-opened and are mentioned in music writer and Mersey beat historian Spencer Leigh’s book ‘The Cavern, The Most Famous Club in the World’.


Replay Theatre Company present Woofle at the Flowerfield Arts Centre this Friday 26th May. In this 30-minute show, singer-songwriter Dan Leith brings lots of furry fun with Woofle – a show about one Dan and his dog with lots of silly songs. From chasing bees and getting mucky, to taking a walk and having a bath, this quirky combination of video footage and live music gives an unusual view of the ups and downs of having a dog as your best friend. Woofle is designed for children aged 4-10 and is an opportunity for children of primary school age to access a high quality, bespoke show created just for them.


At the very heart of the spectacular Causeway Coast and Glens the communities of Ballycastle and Rathlin Island would like to extend a very warm welcome and would like to invite you to come along and join in and help celebrate the rich and diverse maritime culture during the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival 26th May to 4th June. The festival is centred on Rathlin Sound, the body of water that lies between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle.  From the adrenaline rush of the Sailing Regatta and races as well as exciting have a go activities, to tempting food and craft markets, seriously scenic guided walks, exciting and informative talks and tours, exhibitions and demonstrations, fun competitions, friendly giants, Tall ship and Viking ships, there’s plenty to choose from including fantastic family friendly events.


The Free Saturday Minors Film Club returns to the Strand Arts Centre this Saturday, for ages 5+. This weekend’s screening is A Bug’s Life (1998) [U]. A misfit inventor ant called Flik, ends up having to look for “warriors” to save his own colony from greedy grasshoppers and recruits a groups of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.


­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.

Currachs mark the countdown to Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

A special crossing took place between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle on Friday evening ahead of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival.

Crews rowed two currachs from the island as a symbolic gesture in anticipation of the 10-day celebration of the region’s rich maritime history.  The vessels, the Danny Rowan and The Mary O, hold a special place in the festival’s history as they were made during the inaugural event in 2013.

The currach crew members exchange gifts in Ballycastle with help from the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Alderman Maura Hickey.The festival is named after Rathlin Sound, the body of water which separates Rathlin from Ballycastle.  The currachs and their crew were met in Ballycastle by a group of supporters which included the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey. She said: “What a fantastic sight to see these community-made currachs reach dry land in Ballycastle. Rathlin and Ballycastle might be separated by a wide expanse of water, but this maritime pathway is also what joins both together.

“The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is a celebration of both communities, their connection to the water and their shared nautical heritage. With just days to go until the official start of the festival, I was delighted to be a part of this event.”  In Ballycastle, an exchange of gifts took place to reinforce the historic links between both areas.

Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival will officially begin on Friday 26th May with a traditional blessing of the boats to offer safe passage to all who work or travel on the water.

Rathlin Island will open its exhibition of HMS Drake artefacts – which has extra significance this year as 100 years have passed since the battleship sank in Church Bay following a torpedo attack by a German U-Boat.

Following this, a packed programme of events is planned throughout the festival period.

Ballycastle seafront will be transformed into a main hub of activity, with Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market, free family activities, cookery demonstrations, music and dance, sandcastle competition and Jet Man demonstrations just a small part of what’s on offer.

Along with visiting currachs, Rathlin Island will also welcome Viking friends from Ardglass, who bring a (charitable!) taste of invasion and battle re-enactment from their boat ‘Ellen Dubh’, star of ‘The Vikings’ TV series.

Ian Stephen and Christine Morrison bring a link with the communities of Western Scotland and beyond with storytelling and workshops, and look out for an exciting introduction to islands and seafarers of the South Pacific from some new friends to the Festival.

For a truly unique experience, the West Lighthouse Seabird Centre will be opening its doors for a special sunset experience during the week.  For full details on the festival itinerary go to www.rathlinsoundmaritimefestival.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates



We look forward to sharing our maritime heritage with you all.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has unveiled its summer recreation programme.

The fun filled line-up, developed by Council’s Sport Development and Physical Recreation Team, will begin on Monday 3rd July and run until Friday 11th August.

This year’s programme will have something for everyone, offering a fantastic selection of 62 courses covering 27 different activities.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey said: “The packed programme has so much to offer this year, with activities including cricket, rowing, badminton and paddle boarding. I would like to encourage all young people to get involved. They can learn new skills, meet new friends and have fun all at the same time.”

Sports Development Manager (Central), Stephen McCartney, who leads the Programme, said: “Council’s Sports Development Team is committed to offering a wide a range of quality activities for young people and we believe this year’s programme will exceed expectations. The Table Tennis Camp and Soccer Starz Indoor Camp are new additions to the programme and will appeal to a much wider audience, with traditional favourites such as tennis, hockey and golf also available. Each course is designed to increase the participant’s skill level but more importantly, the emphasis is on having lots of fun.”

 “There is also a special incentive for young budding footballers this year. Participants on all soccer school courses will receive a free football to help practice their skills.”

 Due to popular demand, the swimming courses follow the same format as last year with levels 1–10 in the main pool and minnows’ levels 1-4 in the minor pool.  They are also in keeping with the centre’s lessons, offering value for money and continuity.  

The full price for individuals to participate per course is £30 each. There is a special discount ticket available priced at £24 per person per course, for those who have a current Access to Leisure Card. This discount is also available for anyone enrolling for a minimum of three courses per household (activities must be booked at the same time).

Enrolment will begin on Saturday 3rd June at 8.15am at Coleraine Leisure Centre.

All interested parties will only be permitted to enrol one family on the initial day of enrolment.

For those children who do not wish to be part of the sporting activities, Council’s Summer Recreation Programme will also be running numerous summer schemes throughout the borough. Taking place in Coleraine West, Coleraine Leisure Centre, Bushmills, Portstewart, Castlerock, Garvagh and Kilrea, full information brochures are now available.

Summer Recreation Programme brochures with summer scheme details and enrolment forms are available from Coleraine Leisure Centre. For further information, please contact Roger Downey, Participation Manager on 028 7034 7234 or Stephen Mc Cartney, Sports Development Manager (central) on 028 7035 5048.


Calling all budding actors and singers!  If you’ve ever fancied treading the boards in a professional theatrical production, make your way to the Millennium Forum on Saturday 10th June from 12.30pm to 2.30pm when the North West’s premier theatre will be holding auditions for yet another fabulous Christmas Panto, ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’.


Directed by Jonathan Burgess, with choreography by Venessa Chapman and Alan Wright as Musical Director, ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ at the Forum boasts the best in local talent in the biggest show of the Autumn/Winter programme of events.

A number of lead cast roles including the King and Queen (playing an age of 35+) are up for grabs at the auditions.  If it’s simply singing and dancing that’s your thing, then there are also a number of adult ‘General Ensemble’ parts to be won (age 17+).  All roles require excellent singing, acting and dancing ability.

David McLaughlin, Chief Executive of the Millennium Forum and show producer for the past fourteen years, encourages everyone with a desire to perform to audition:

“The Millennium Forum has developed a reputation for producing fantastic Christmas pantomimes that are fun for all the family.  ‘Cinderella’ last year was hugely successful, having performed to a massive audience of almost 30,000!  The auditions for this year’s Christmas Panto provide a great opportunity to act, sing or dance in the biggest show of the season for all budding professional or amateur performers.  Who knows – it could be the first step to a career in acting for some talented individual.  We have already seen Gerard McCarthy (Jack in ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ 2002) move onto great success with Channel 4’s ‘Hollyoaks’, our ‘Aladdin’ from 2009 and ‘Peter Pan’ from 2004, Conleth Kane, is also doing exceptionally well; he has recently enjoyed success on London’s West End following an appearance in the hit television programmes, Casualty and RTE’s search for FAME THE MUSICAL stars; Orla Mullan who played our ‘Fairy Godmother’ a number of times, has enjoyed success in the recent hit television series, ‘The Fall’; our ‘Peter Pan’ from 2013 and 2015’s Aladdin, Mikey J Heath has recently starred as ‘Tom Thumb’ in the West End touring production of the hit musical, ‘Barnum’ and local actor, Dylan Reid, landed the part of ‘Andrej’ in the musical, ‘Once’.”

 Auditions for ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ will be held in the Millennium Forum on Saturday 10th June from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. Anyone interested should contact Lisa Lynch on 028 (048 from the Republic) 71 264426 between 9.30am – 4pm (Mon-Fri only) or email lisal@millenniumforum.co.uk to arrange an audition time. Please note, you must arrange an audition in advance.





Why not enjoy a night of great music at The Market Place Theatre’s popular Jazz Club. Taking centre stage will be the hugely popular Martello Jazz Band who feature a sound reminiscent of the Dixieland bands of 1920’s New Orleans, stamped with their own brand of drive and flair.

Since 1985, the band has built on its reputation for quality music, and has played at many venues. Over the years the band has featured in many local and national television and radio programmes, in addition to numerous appearances at regional jazz events. Through these the Martello have experienced many exciting encounters with celebrated international musicians who have sat in with the band. These have included Humphrey Lyttleton and Helen Shapeiro, George Melly with John Chiltern and the Feetwarmers, and the legendary trumpet player Kenny Baker.

The band continues to excite crowds of jazz fans old and new alike with their exuberant onstage performances. There is no doubt about it. If hard-driving, foot-tapping music is your scene, then this is the band for you!

The Jazz Club will take place on Friday 26th May at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced £15 which includes wine on arrival and light refreshments during the interval.

Visit the website at www.marketplacearmagh.com for full details and bookings, or contact the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821. And to keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplacearmagh) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/mptarmagh) where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.


Belfast’s first Social Souk showcases social enterprises and co-operatives  


Belfast’s first ever Social Souk is being hosted at St George’s Market next Wednesday, 31 May from 11am-2pm as part of Belfast City Council’s ‘Go Social’ Programme.

(L-R) Mark Anderson, Loaf Catering (a social enterprise delivering outside catering across Belfast), Colin Jess, Social Enterprise NI, Claire Ferris Work West and Cllr Aileen Graham, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee get ready for Belfast’s first Social Souk – a free event which will showcase social enterprises and co-operatives at St George’s Market next Wednesday 31 May from 11am-2pm. For more information, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/gosocial

The event is designed to help those interested in setting up a social enterprise or co-operative by giving them the information, guidance and support they need and brings together expertise from Belfast City Council, Work West and Social Enterprise NI, along with other Belfast based support organisations, social enterprises and co-operatives.

Councillor Aileen Graham, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee commented: “The Social Souk is an event that everyone with an interest in establishing a social enterprise or co-operative should attend.

“There’ll be a real bazaar type buzz at the social enterprise and co-operative marketplace, where you can find potential new customers, you’ll also be able to access one-to-one specialist support and advice on the day, and you’ll benefit from peer support through our ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ networking sessions.

“Social enterprises marry the social mission of a not for profit organisation with the market driven approach of a business – and that poses quite distinct opportunities and challenges. So that’s why we’re organising this groundbreaking event for Belfast and bringing together the best expertise available to support the growth of social enterprise in the city.”

The event is free of charge you are welcome to drop in at any time between 11am – 2pm, but if you wish to attend any of the sessions you must register in advance at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/gosocial

For more information on the support Belfast City Council offers small businesses, visit: www.belfastcity.gov.uk/businessinfo