Holywood Christmas Lights Switch On

Holywood, Co. Down, is set to switch on its Christmas lights this Saturday (25 November 2017).

Visitors to the town can look forward to a festive sing-a-long led by Christmas characters before the official switch on by the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair, at 4.30pm.  Santa may also be spotted on his sleigh as he makes his way through Holywood town centre!

The switch on is organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council.

An additional programme of festive activities arranged by Holywood District Community will take place in Holywood Library from 12noon until 3.30pm.  The programme will include floral art demonstrations, a children’s magic show and Christmas crafts for all the family.

While the town’s renowned speciality boutiques are the perfect place to find Christmas gift inspiration.

For more information on Christmas festivities in Ards and North Down, located right on Belfast’s Doorstep: visitardsandnorthdown.com


The Market Place Theatre in Armagh has just released its new Spring | Summer 2018 programme packed full of the best in entertainment including shows, workshops and exhibitions to keep audiences flooding back time and again. If you’re stuck for the perfect Christmas gift, then why not give the gift of entertainment this year!

January will see The Rock ’N ’Roll Years and Dance Hall Days show back with a brand new show featuring George Jones, Clubsound and four wonderful singers. The show will transport you back to the nostalgic days and incredible music and artistes of 50’s and 60’s, with over forty classic songs. Combining evocative love ballads with the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll hit songs of the era, this show will carry the audience back to a time when dance halls were full and the youngsters danced, jived and rocked to The Four Seasons, The Shadows, Neil Sedaka, Dean Martin, Patsy Cline, Elvis and many, many more!

For more musical enjoyment, Shane Nolan & The Four Seasons star in ‘Oh What A Night – Jersey Guys’. Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons ultimate homage show celebrates their greatest hits including ‘Oh What A Night’, ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Let’s Hang On’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’…and many more! This celebration features fantastic vocals, harmonies, dance routines and stars of The West End and leading UK theatre tours.

Jake O’Kane, Northern Ireland’s top comic and star of the BBC panel show ‘The Blame Game’, is back in February with a brand new show. Jake will be casting a satirical eye over the preceding twelve months, combining stories and pictures from The Irish News with the madness of the internet to debunk the great, the not so great, and himself. From Jake feeding his voter registration card to a goat, Martina Anderson having a fit at the European Assembly, or the never-ending RHI scandal, Jake mixes hard news with harder comedy to guarantee a night to remember.

The Ulster Orchestra will be coming right to your doorstep in February with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, a giant amongst concertos. The Ulster Orchestra is delighted to bring international star Sergey Khachatryan to perform this piece. Renowned as one of the great modern interpreters of this concerto, Khachatryan’s performance will be spell-binding. To open the concert, Ulster Orchestra Music Director Rafael Payare will conduct Brahms’s richly romantic Third Symphony.

Younger audiences will be delighted with ‘Gruff’, the much loved fairy-tale brought to life with a pinch of Banyan magic. As part of the Family Super Saturday series, ‘Gruff’ will include an hour of fun activities including themed craft workshops, face painting, balloon modelling and fancy dress competition.

April will see the staging of ‘We’ll Walk Hand In Hand’, a new play by Martin Lynch marking the 50th anniversary of the Northern Ireland civil rights struggle. The play charts the story of Vincent and Louise, two young working class kids from Woodvale and the Lower Falls who start Queen’s University on the very day the shocking television images come through of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Becoming embroiled in the heady world of student politics, whilst back home their families see civil rights very differently, Vincent and Louise are confronted with decisions that will mark their lives forever.

Then it’s time for the return of ‘It’s Wine O’Clock’, telling the story of the most whacky and wonderful wedding of the year. South Armagh farmer’s wife, Vera, is thrilled that her son, Seamus, is getting hitched. But – surprise, surprise – not everything is going to plan. A riotous rabble of larger-than-life [yet strangely familiar] characters will be joining Seamus and his blushing bride for a shindig that’s slosh-a-block with champagne and slippery with slap-and-tickle shenanigans. Meanwhile, ‘Keep ‘er Lit’, Ireland’s greatest wedding band [in their own minds, at least] have arrived to provide a tune or two on the dancefloor.

For details of all events can be found online at www.marketplacearmagh.com, and tickets for can be booked by contacting 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.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland next week!

Discover NorthernIreland has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are 10 exciting things taking place this week (27 November – 3 December).


  1. Dreamworks Animation in Concert, Belfast, 28 November. A one night only special event at the SSE Arena, featuring music and iconic movie moments from DreamWorks Animation’s hit films including Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and many more. The concert features favourite moments from DreamWorks Animation’s most beloved films with music performed by The RTE Orchestra.
  2. Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Belfast 2017, Belfast, 1-2 December. For the first time in history, college basketball will be played outside of the United States of America in Europe at Belfast’s SSE Arena. The two-day tournament will feature Holy Cross vs. Manhattan College and La Salle University vs. Towson University, followed by consolation and championship play on the second day.
  3. The Carol Ship on Strangford Lough, Co. Down, 1-2 December. Christmas starts in Portaferry and Strangford as Christmas music rings out across Strangford Lough. The Strangford Ferry will be decorated with Christmas lights and choirs and musicians will perform on each sailing. There will be Christmas markets in Portaferry and Strangford and children’s entertainment in both villages.
  4. Ulster Orchestra – The Snowman: Family Concert, Belfast, 2 December. One of the most popular children’s books ever written, The Snowman is even more enchanting when it’s experienced in this big-screen, animated version at the Waterfront Hall, with live music by the Ulster Orchestra and a young singer performing the iconic ‘Walking in the Air’.
  5. Christmas Fair at The Argory, Co. Tyrone, 2-3 December. The festive period is not complete without a visit to The Argory’s Christmas Fair, featuring a number of craft, food and drink stalls, as well as traditional festive entertainment. Soak up the wonderful atmosphere and see this National Trust house decorated at Christmas. Prices: Child £2.50, Adult £6, Family £14.50, members go free.
  6. Jack and the Beanstalk, Derry~ Londonderry, 1 – 31 December. Telling the story of peasant boy Jack and his attempts to please his impoverished mother and win the hand of Princess Jill, Jack and the Beanstalk remains one of the best-loved pantomimes of all time. Packed with great song and dance routines, hilarious comedy, dazzling scenes and magical special effects is this spectacular show at the Millennium Forum, starring William Caulfield as Dame Trot.
  7. Sound of Light and Christmas Procession, Derry~Londonderry, 1 December. The Sound of Light and Christmas Procession is something very special and is a highlight of this year’s Christmas celebrations. Follow the sound of light trail through the historic quarters of the old city. The trail will include light installations, music, projection, performance throughout cultural venues and outdoor spaces upon and within the city walls.
  8. Enniskillen Christmas Craft & Food Fair, Co. Fermanagh, 2 December. Escape the high street crowds and enjoy a festive day out for all the family at the Enniskillen Christmas Craft & Food Fair in Enniskillen Town hall. Soak up the atmosphere among the craft and food stalls and pick up that something special for a loved one.
  9. Gingerbread Alley, Co. Armagh, 25 November-22 December. A chance to view the stunning exhibition at of gingerbread creations by local chefs and bakeries at Armagh Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre. This year’s competition theme is Happily Ever After, with the winning creation being announced on Georgian Day (25th November).
  10. Murder Mystery Evenings, Co. Tyrone, 1-2 December. It’s Christmas 1943, war rages abroad but here at the big house the enemy lurks within. There has been a murder but who did it, what has ice-cream got to do with it? Join Lissan House for some fatal attraction, fun and forensics. Come dressed to kill in 1940’s style service or civvies. Tickets £35 each, includes a glass of bubbly on arrival. To book call 028 8676 3312.


For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit  www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com.

Jacqueline shares her pick of what’s on this weekend across NI


Get into the festive spirit at the annual Ards Christmas Light Switch On this Friday 24th November. Join Cool FM’s Pete Snodden for a superb evening of Christmas fun featuring ‘Spark!’ a mesmerising street theatre show combining drums and light, that will lead the spectacular lantern parade from Ards Arena at 6.45pm.  At 7.00pm the parade will arrive in Conway Square for one last performance from Spark before the switch on finale.  Children’s entertainment including face painting and balloon modelling will be available in Conway Square from 5.30pm – 7.00pm.


The mists of time will descend on Armagh this weekend  for a celebration of the city’s glorious and historic past for the annual Georgian Festival.  A packed schedule of unique events for history buffs, tourists, families and foodies alike, will provide an unforgettable weekend across the city.  Now in its 14th year, Georgian Day culminates in the unmissable spectacle of the annual Animated Light Show which continues to attract thousands to watch Market House burst into life, transforming it into a shimmering canvas. This year’s ‘Five Gold Rings!’ show promises to be a show to remember.



Christmas officially starts in Enniskillen on Saturday 25th November with the Christmas lights switch-on in the town centre. The town will become a hub of live entertainment from late afternoon to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season so come along and get into the festive spirit! Enjoy Festive Family Fun at the Buttermarket from 12.00pm-4.00pm – visit Santa, enjoy festive music & Christmas arts and crafts. Entertainment will start at 3.30pm on The Diamond with music from Full Moon Fever & Sean Magee. Enjoy the Christmas lantern parade and Santa Train before the official switch on at 5.00pm.



The feast of festive events, organised by Mid Ulster District Council, kicks off on Friday 24th November at 5.30pm in Cookstown, with the switch on of the Christmas lights in the town. An evening of family entertainment awaits before a mile of magical Christmas lights illuminate the main street and the festive countdown begins. Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th also sees the return of the Winter Craft & Food Fair to the Burnavon, Cookstown. Running over the two days (10am to 5pm on Saturday and 1pm to 5pm on Sunday), you’ll have all the time you need to shop for the perfect, unique Christmas gifts and festive foods.


Get in the festive spirit and join Santa and his special guests at the Derry Christmas Lights Switch On, Thursday 23rd November from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.  There will be entertainment by walkabout street characters and live festive music on stages in Guildhall Square by Sensation and in Waterloo Place by Superstition. Special guests include Pantomime stars from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Jack and the Beanstalk


The Victorian Street Fair and Steam Train Rides on Saturday 25th November, takes the form of a street fair with train rides at the Whitehead Excursion Station, offering visitors the chance to enjoy the unique steam experience.  Visitors will be able to see at close hand how this magnificent machine works.  You will be able to talk to the Driver and Fireman and to see the footplate.  Option to enjoy a visit to the Whitehead Railway  Museum and cafe.  Train rides running from 12:30pm to 3:30pm.


Join Titanic Belfast from 22nd November  to the 23rd December to explore the Elves’ Workshop in the Magical Christmas Experience!  Step through the Old Curiosity Shop to enter the Magical Workshop and watch the excitement unfold as Father Christmas and his elves count down to their favourite night of the year. Peek into the toy shop where the elves have been hard at work and join Mrs Claus at her cosy kitchen to hear Christmas tales, before letting your creative juices flow with our arts and crafts or work with Father Christmas’ elves to write and post your Christmas letter.  Don’t forget to make a Christmas Wish to hang on the Magical Wishing Tree. Finally, wrap up your Magical Christmas Experience by having your name checked off our ‘Naughty or Nice’ list by our Chief Elf, then journey through the enchanted forest and meet Father Christmas!


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.

Newtownards Christmas Lights Switch On

Head to Newtownards, Co. Down, on Friday 24 November (2017) for a Christmas light switch on that is sure to mesmerize.

The town will be immersed in rhythm and colour when Spark! leads the popular, annual lantern parade bringing high impact drumming, stunning costumes and fantastic lighting to Ards, and culminating in a spectacular stage finale.

Prior to this, visitors can enjoy a stage programme from 6pm, compered by local favourite, Cool FM’s Pete Snodden, and featuring winners from the recent ‘Web’s Got Talent’ competition.

Face painting and balloon modelling will also keep the ‘little ones’ entertained while waiting for the festivities to begin, starting in Conway Square at 5pm.

The official switch on by Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair, takes place at 7pm.

The event is organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council.

For more information on Christmas festivities in Ards and North Down, located right on Belfast’s Doorstep: visitardsandnorthdown.com

Celebrate Christmas from Yesteryear!

Get your Christmas off to a great start at the Christmas Living History event at Sentry Hill, on Saturday 9 December.


Bring the family along and learn all about how they celebrated Christmas back in 1900.

Meet Aunt Meg and her niece, Elsie, as they prepare for the big party for the dawning of a new century in1900. Head of the household William Fee McKinney will proudly show you his museum pieces on display.

Get creative in our education room and make some traditional crafts before you enjoy some yummy homemade festive treats, children will also receive a small Christmas gift.

Join us and kick start your Christmas festivities at the award winning Sentry Hill

Tickets for this event are limited, therefore we recommend pre booking your place today T: 028 9083 2363. Tours take place each hour from 11am-3pm.

We look forward to welcoming you to Sentry Hill for a traditional family Christmas get together.


Christmas Craft Market at North Down Museum

North Down Museum’s Christmas Craft Market is taking place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 November.


A popular date on the shopping calendar, the market will be packed with local artists and crafters providing an array of handmade goods, ideal for those special stocking fillers.

Come along and browse the stalls which will be dotted around the historical museum building – start your Christmas shopping or even finish it! Live music on both days will add to the Christmas atmosphere.

On Saturday lunchtime, as a treat for younger visitors, Santa will make an appearance! And a special North Pole post box will be situated in Museum reception so don’t forget to bring along your letters!

Coffee Cure, the museum café will be open throughout both days of the event where visitors can enjoy tea, coffee, lunch and snacks.

Speaking about the Christmas Craft Market, North Down Museum Manager, Heather McGuicken said, ‘The Museum’s Christmas Market is an excellent opportunity to purchase unique Christmas gifts for you and your loved ones and to support local craft makers at the same time’.

The market runs from 10am to 4.30pm on Saturday 25 and 12pm to 4.30pm on Sunday 26 November. Parking and admission is free at North Down Museum.

For more information on the Christmas Craft Market and other events and exhibitions, visit www.northdownmuseum.com

‘Inclusive Enchantment’

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, in partnership with The Junction, present an evening of Inclusive Enchantment at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Northern Ireland’s Premier Christmas Event, Enchanted Winter Garden will host a relaxed evening on Friday 8 December from 6-9pm for adults and children with specific needs including those who are sensitive to noise, lights and crowds.

Attractions and rides will be slowed down, music levels lowered and strobe lighting and other strong lighting will not be used on this evening.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Paul Hamill, commented” I am delighted that we are hosting this special Inclusive evening in partnership with The Junction. We hope that our visitors will have a great time and we want to build on the Enchanted Winter Garden Experience to make more of our events inclusive. We have had some great advice from professional organisations in putting together this ‘pilot’ event and our aim is to be able to provide more of these events in the future”.

Leona Barr, Centre Manager from The Junction added” The Junction are honoured to sponsor the Sensory Evening at this year’s Enchanted Winter Garden. This special event is an integral part of our commitment to the local community”.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 22 November at 10am and are available from www.enchantedwintergarden.com or in person at Clotworthy House, The Old Courthouse and Theatre at The Mill. Admission £2 Adults & Carers & £1 Children. Please note tickets are restricted to four per family. Charges will apply to some of the attractions ranging from £1 – £3.

Free car parking available at Central Car Park at Castle Mall and other Town Centre car parks. Full T&C’s are available at enchantedwintergarden.com.


It’s the one you’ve all been waiting for! The panto dreams are made of is arriving at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre.

This year’s Christmas spectacular, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, will combine wonderful music, song and dance, colourful costumes, memorable characters, and loads of audience participation, in a lively and sparkling Christmas adventure.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a beautiful princess is born. The entire kingdom is delighted, apart from the evil fairy, who places a curse on the Princess, so that she will prick her finger on a poisoned spinning wheel on her 16th birthday! Who could possibly break such a terrible spell? And who will be brave enough to challenge the evil fairy? And what mad shenanigans will occur in the meantime? Come to The Market Place Theatre this Christmas to find out…

Featuring all your favourite panto characters, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is guaranteed to be a fun-packed traditional family pantomime for all ages! Fun, frolics and laughter abound in this spectacular take on the thrilling and timeless classic. Audiences will recognise some familiar names in the cast line-up with Debra Hill playing the role of Sleeping Beauty-Full, Michael Lavery as the Prince, Karen Rush as everyone’s favourite baddie Maleficent, and of course, the fabulous Stephen Beggs back in the ‘funderful’ role of Nanny Magee.

Performances will run from Saturday 2 December, right up until Christmas Eve, at a variety of times to suit all ages! Ticket prices range from £10 to £15. Tickets are selling fast, with the best availability remaining on the last week.

To book your tickets for the most exciting pantomime of the season, phone the Box Office now on [028] 3752 1821. The house is sure to be packed to the rafters for this annual festive hit, so don’t be caught napping – book now, before it’s too late! We’d hate for you to snooze out! There are BSL signed, captioned and relaxed performances during the run. Please contact the Box Office for full details.

Tickets for all performances can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.marketplacearmagh.com 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.



Northern Ireland boasts a unique collection of irresistible places to stay including beautiful B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and great value self-catering properties. Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week to help you plan a short break.


  • Bed & Breakfast, Culloden Estate & Spa, Co. Down from £135 per room per night.

Escape to a little luxury at the five-star Culloden Estate & Spa and enjoy an overnight stay with breakfast, plus access to the spa, an oasis of tranquility. Nestled high in the Holywood hills and overlooking Belfast Lough, this is this most luxurious hotel in the Hastings Group. Originally built as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, this stunning spot, set in 12 acres of secluded gardens, is the jewel in the crown of County Down. To book call 028 9042 1066. Offer available until 31 December.

  • Two-Night Festive Residential Getaway, Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh from £549 per person staying.

For couples or parents looking to truly put their feet up in style, enjoy a Christmas residency at the five-star Lough Erne Resort.  Enjoy two magical nights with a four-course dinner on Christmas Eve, traditional five-course Christmas lunch, presents from Santa and lots of festive surprises. To book call 028 6632 3230. Offer available 24 -26 December.

  • Mid-week Winter Offer, Causeway Hotel, Co. Antrim from £130 per room.

The three-star Causeway Hotel is a grand and homely building set on the magnificent Causeway Coast overlooking Portballintrae bay. Enjoy a two-night bed and breakfast break including full access to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience and one two course Table d’Hôte dinner for two. To book call 028 2073 1226. Offer available until 27 March 2018, Sunday to Thursday only.


All offers are subject to availability.  For further information visit www.discovernorthernireland.com