Enjoy nature at its best this Easter with the National Trust

To celebrate the wonder of nature this spring the National Trust will be running a range of fun and engaging nature themed activities for all the family across their special places during the Easter break (26 March – 8 April).

As spring unfolds, nature comes to life – leaves start budding on the trees, frog spawn fills the ponds, birds return from their winter migration and yellow daffodils bring a splash of colour wherever they bloom. With so much to see, this is the perfect time to visit a National Trust place and reconnect with nature and the great outdoors.

There’s a whole range of fun things planned, here’s a taste of what’s happening:

The Argory, Moy is home to wide variety of trees, many of which were brought here by the family from travels abroad. Explore the trails outdoors and find a tree to climb, then head indoors and make your own craft creation to decorate the giant tree in the Birkenhead room.  At Springhill, Moneymore the nature theme is spring flowers as some family members were botanist. Have fun pressing your own flowers and then treat yourself to a flower cupcake in the tea-room before heading off into the glorious gardens.

At Mount Stewart, Newtownards discover the signs of spring on the demesne nature trail, try your hand at planting at the potting shed, enjoy nature themed craft and join the rangers to learn the art of bush craft.

Castle Ward, Strangford is celebrating the work of scientist Mary Ward with the new Mary Ward Discovery Zone where kids can become scientists for the day and discover the natural world of bugs and beasties. There are fun craft activities, a nature trail around the grounds and an egg trail in the house using Mary Ward’s collection of unusual bird eggs. How many will you find?

At Rowallane Garden, Saintfield there’s a new ‘Spring into Nature’ walk to discover. Create your own nature wristband using things you find along the way and stop off at the special micro-world stations to get a larger than life view of nature. You might be shocked by what you see!  Take part in an egg and spoon race at the front of the house and pot a sunflower seed to take home and watch grow.

Take the new Tree Trail at Downhill Demesne and test your climbing and balancing skills in the Bishop’s Natural Play area hidden in the forest. Create brilliant beach sculptures on Porstewart Strand and explore the dunes to see what creatures you can find.

The fun continues in Fermanagh, where the Easter nature trails feature a range of self-led activities along the way. Craft a swan out of willow, build a den or climb a tree at Castle Coole. Make willow butterfly, count the rings on a tree and try your hand at pond dipping at Florence Court. While at Crom you can make your own willow fish, build a den or enjoy a boat trip in traditional cot.

Visit over the Easter weekend and you’ll also get to participate in one of the popular Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts happening at National Trust places around the country. Trails cost £1.50 per child and there’s a chocolate treat for everyone who follows the bunnies’ clues and completes the hunt.

For a full list of Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt locations and dates and details of the Easter nature activities happening at National Trust places visit NationalTrust.org.uk/NI.

Dylan Moran is Forum bound



The Millennium Forum has just announced that BAFTA and Perrier award winning comedian, Dylan Moran, will perform at the cityside venue on Friday 28th September as he embarks on his brand new tour –  Dr Cosmos. Tickets go on sale from the Box Office on Friday 16th March and are priced at £26.50.

Moran will offer his unique take on love, politics, misery and the everyday absurdities of life, all served with poetical panache from one of the finest comedians of his generation.

Moran has been called the Oscar Wilde of comedy and his famed style – deadpan, witty and crackpot lyricism – promises to be an unmissable journey through his interpretations of the world, swerving cliche to offer a cutting blow to our idiosyncrasies.

Praise for Dylan Moran:


**** “Trumping Shakespeare, he reduces life to four ages: “Child, failure, old and dead”. Faced with one-liners as killing as that the world suddenly seems a better place.”

The Telegraph

**** “His comedy takes on an existential dimension, as tubby, nicotine-starved, emasculated Moran comes to represent the struggles we all wage for meaning and connection”

The Guardian

**** “High-octane riffs from Irish master of grumpiness…spellbinding”

Evening Standard

**** “In his heightened ideas and vocabulary, Moran compulsively swerves clichés as he builds up layers of laughs… funny and fascinating, and utterly deserving of his place in the modern classics’

The Times


Dylan Moran performs at the Millennium Forum on Friday 28th September.  Tickets go on sale from the Box Office on Friday 16th March.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.  NB Recommended 15+

10 things to do in Northern Ireland Next Week

DiscoverNorthernIreland.com 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 (19-25 March)


  1. BelFeast Food and Drink Festival, Belfast, 23-25 March. A new three-day food and drink festival based in and around the Cathedral Quarter showcasing everything that’s great about our local food and drink. Festival includes food theatre, food tours and live music.
  2. Belfast Fashion Week, 22-25 March. Belfast Fashion Week’s main runway shows will take place in the spectacular setting of Belfast Cathedral, featuring longer catwalks, more space and lots of interesting backdrops for photos of the fashion on the runway and of the guests in their stylish looks. To book tickets go to VisitBelfast.com.
  3. Sink or Swim, Belfast, 22-24 March. Jonathan M Daley’s Sink or Swim is a meditation on the more modern concept of fame and an exploration of how far people will go to have their name up in lights. This unique play comes to the Accidental Theatre on Shaftesbury Square. To book tickets  visit AccidentalTheatre.co.uk
  4. On the trail of Martel – Wild Caving Event, Enniskillen, 24 March. Explore ‘wild’ caving deep inside the Marble Arch Caves System. Meander through cave passages and climb through boulder chambers, before making your way out, muddy but proud. Booking is essential, phone 028 6634 8855.
  5. Omagh and Sperrins Walking Festival, 24-25 March. Offering the opportunity for locals and visitors alike to explore the spectacular Sperrins region of Northern Ireland. Suitable for all levels with easy, intermediate and challenging walks as part of the programme. For festival programme, visit WalkNI.com.
  6. Get Creative Festival, Ballycastle, 19-24 March. As part of the Get Creative Festival, the Puffin Gallery, a community interest company set up to promote the arts and crafts in the community, is organising different workshops and demonstrations including demonstrations on oil painting and pottery classes.
  7. Strabane Drama Festival 2018, 16-24 March. Nine nights of top class drama at the Alley Theatre as groups from all over Ireland compete for the title of ‘Best Play’. Plays include Danger Money by Knocks Drama Circle and Tom Dick and Harry by Clanabogan Drama Circle. For full line-up, visit Alley-Theatre.com.
  8. Flashdance, Derry~Londonderry, 19-24 March. Produced by the award winning team at Selladoor Productions, Flashdance the Musical comes to the Millennium Forum. Telling the inspiring story of 18 year old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer. To book visit MillenniumForum.co.uk.
  9. COAL, Belfast, 21-22 March. Created to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984/5 British miners strike, award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke proudly presents COAL to the MAC theatre. A riveting dance theatre show which takes a nostalgic look at the hard-hitting realities of life at the coal face.
  10. Craft Beer, Cheese and Charcuterie Night, Comber, 23 March. Join Indie Füde in the Courtyard with Bullhouse Brewery from Ards, who will be demonstrating and discussing their brews. Along with them will be Jonny Cuddy telling his journey into the world of cured meats, bringing plenty to try and paired with fine cheese. To book tickets visit IndieFude.com.


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


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.

Spectacular Spring Stays, Stormont Hotel, Belfast from £60 per person sharing.

Treat yourself to a spectacular seasonal break at the four-star Stormont Hotel. Located in the suburbs of Belfast it is ideally located to explore many of the top tourist attractions the city has to offer. Offer includes luxury overnight accommodation, a seasonal cocktail on arrival and full Irish breakfast. To book call 9065 1066. Offer available until 31 May 2018.

Afternoon Stayover, Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh from £45 per person sharing.

The three-star Silverbirch Hotel is located in the bustling market town of Omagh, in the heart of Co. Tyrone in the foothills of the region’s Sperrin Mountains and Gortin Lakes. The hotel combines the welcoming atmosphere and comforts of an established hotel with contemporary interiors and service. Offer includes overnight stay with full Irish breakfast and four-course afternoon tea. To book call 8224 2520. Offer available until 31 December.

Spectacular Spring at Everglades Hotel, Derry~Londonderry from £55 per person sharing.

Spring is the perfect time to escape from it all with a luxurious break at the four-star Everglades Hotel. Overlooking the River Foyle with views across to the hills of Donegal, the hotel provides a bright and comfortable welcome whilst being ideally located only a five minute drive from the bustling, historic and dynamic city centre. Offer includes luxury overnight accommodation, a welcome cocktail on arrival and full Irish breakfast. To book call 7132 1066. Offer available until 31 May.


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


Sails and Tales, Stories by the sea: Easter Weekend in Bangor

Families can step into the land of make-believe in Bangor this Easter with three days of free, family fun scheduled to take place in the seaside town –  with its very own mystical maze taking centre ‘page’.

Inspired by children’s favourite, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Bangor Seafront will play host to dotMaze, a 20-fmetre installation that is travelling to Bangor all the way from America, from Saturday 31 March until Monday 2 April.

Main Street, My Street’ and Bangor Chamber of Commerce will host Bangor’s Big Bunny Hunt on Saturday 31 March and Monday 2 April.  There will be an Easter Garden in Menarys, kids crafts in Bob and Bert’s and cupcake and biscuit decorating in the Heatherlea bakery.  As well as competitions and giveaways in many stores, puppet shows will also take place in Focus Menswear on High Street on the Saturday, courtesy of the Council.

On Easter Monday, 2 April, families can step off the train at Bangor and straight into another ‘magical’ land at the Thomas the Tank Engine experience.  Fans will be delighted to find Thomas and The Fat Controller waiting to meet them at intervals throughout the day.  While a special display curated by First Bangor Model Railway Club will be a ’must see’ for railway enthusiasts.

The town’s popular annual Easter scavenger hunt will take place at the nearby North Down Museum where kids can follow the trail through the museum galleries and solve the clues to reveal the name of a popular book.

Little adventurers can discover the magic of nature as they follow a treasure trail through the popular Victorian, Ward Park and meet the little folk who live in big trees above, tunnel into the soil below and fly on the backs of winged beasts.  Prepare to be enchanted!

For those with a sweet tooth:  Project 24 at the seafront will be transformed into Bangor’s very own Chocolate Factory with chocolate making workshops and invention stations where children can make even more tasty treats.  Special appearances from ‘Willy Wonka’ and the ‘Oompa Loompas’ will definitely make visitors go ‘doompety doo’.

From there, families should make their way to McKee Clock Arena and the must-visit mystical maze.

If they haven’t got lost in the maze, children can dress up in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ with face painting, children’s crafts, distorting mirrors and more themed fun in a nearby, dedicated tent.

While a second tent plays host to ‘Mr McGregor’s Garden’ where children can plant their own radish and create all sorts of colourful crafts, inspired by Peter Rabbit and friends.

Also at the McKee Clock Arena, famous fairy tales such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and ‘Cinderella’ will be brought to life through dance by ‘Jump, Jiggle and Jive’ while classic tales and improvised yarns will be told from the ‘Shed of Stories’ pop-up library throughout the day.  Children can also pen their own piece at a creative writing desk in the shed.

Visitors must also take time to ride the Land Train along the seafront.

Open House will also be at wowing the crowds in their own unique style with strolling storytellers popping up in the town throughout the afternoon.  Storytelling will also take place in Eason on High Street, so no one need miss out on some tale telling!

The event is being organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council with support from Bangor Chamber of Commerce and ‘Main Street, My Street’. Translink, SERC and local churches are also partnering in the event.

For event times, prices and more information, keep up-to-date at: visitardsandnorthdown.com

Have Afternoon Tea with Gilbert & George at the Merchant Hotel!

World-famous artistic duo return to Belfast for a special event at The Merchant Hotel

To celebrate the success of SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast, the MAC is offering art lovers the unique opportunity to enjoy a decadent afternoon tea in conversation with Gilbert & George at The Merchant Hotel. The special event, which takes place in The Merchant’s iconic Great Room restaurant, will bring world-famous artistic duo Gilbert & George together in conversation with Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy, over a luxurious afternoon tea. Gilbert & George’s SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast is their most significant exhibition in Ireland in almost 20 years. More than 11,000 people have visited the MAC to see the spectacular images since the exhibition opened six weeks ago. The unique event with Royal Academician Gilbert & George is part of the 250th-anniversary celebrations marking the establishment of the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Tickets can be purchased directly from the MAC website, www.themaclive.com Picture by Simon Mills.

To celebrate the success of SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast, the MAC is offering art lovers the unique opportunity to enjoy a decadent afternoon tea in conversation with Gilbert & George at The Merchant Hotel next month.

The special event, which takes place in The Merchant’s iconic Great Room restaurant on Wednesday 11th April, will bring world-famous artistic duo Gilbert & George together in conversation with Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy, over a luxurious afternoon tea.

Gilbert & George’s SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast is their most significant exhibition in Ireland in almost 20 years. More than 11,000 people have visited the MAC to see the spectacular images since the exhibition opened six weeks ago.

The unique event with Royal Academician Gilbert & George is part of the 250th-anniversary celebrations marking the establishment of the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Commenting on the partnership, Petra Wolsey, group marketing director for Beannchor said: “We are proud to partner with the MAC for what promises to be an enlightening and entertaining afternoon in conversation with the legendary Gilbert & George. For Belfast to secure such a significant and culturally relevant exhibition is a huge coup and we are thrilled to provide a suitably decadent backdrop for this hugely exciting event.”

Áine McVerry, Acting Chief Executive at the MAC said:

“The reaction to the Gilbert & George exhibition so far has been overwhelming, the work has really struck a chord with local audiences and with the significant portion of our visitors who come from outside Belfast and Northern Ireland. We are delighted to be working with the Merchant to put on this special afternoon tea event. Belfast art lovers can look forward to a unique opportunity to meet the artists themselves at the Merchant, and at the MAC where the artists will be signing catalogues and posters in the gallery.”

Tickets for Gilbert & George in conversation with Tim Marlow over Afternoon Tea at the Merchant Hotel can be purchased directly from the MAC website, priced £55 https://themaclive.com/event/gg-at-the-merchant

Due to anticipated demand for this special event from visitors outside the city, a special Overnight Stay Package is also available from The Merchant, priced £89 per person sharing with complimentary car parking and flexible cancellation 24 hours prior to arrival.  Availability is limited, so early booking is advised. Call 028 9023 4888 to book.

Gilbert & George will also be available for a second public signing of their catalogues and posters on Thursday 12th April from 10.30am – 12.30pm at the MAC. Tickets for the public signing are free and can be booked on the day; visitors are advised to arrive at the MAC early to avoid disappointment.

SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Belfast is on display in the Sunken, Tall and Upper Galleries at the MAC, Belfast, until Sunday 22 April 2018. The exhibition is open daily from 10am-7pm and admission is free.

This event has been supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and by Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art.


There’ll be family fun aplenty at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh on Saturday 31 March with Banyan Theatre Company’s production of ‘Gruff’.

This much loved fairy-tale is brought to life with a pinch of Banyan magic, puppetry, storytelling and original music. Suitable for children aged 4 years and over, the show will be followed by one hour of fun activities including themed craft workshops, face painting, balloon modelling and a fancy dress competition with prizes for Best Dressed Boy and Girl. Great value for money at only £8 each, or £28 for a family of four.

Then for the grown-ups, on Friday 6 April, it’s ‘A Night Spent Dirty Dancing’. This show pays homage to the greatest movie soundtrack in history and is often copied but never equalled. With over two hours of non-stop hits, this is the premier concert celebration to the all icon music from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, plus hits from the most-loved ‘chick-flicks’ and dance movies of all time. An all-singing, all-dancing, high-energy concert spectacular.

Tickets can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.visitarmagh.com/marketplacetheatre 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.

DEMI LOVATO The SSE Arena, Belfast: THURSDAY 24th MAY 2018!





New Album Tell Me You Love Me, on Island/Safehouse/Hollywood, Hit #1 on iTunes in 37 Countries


“Sorry Not Sorry” #1 Top 40 Radio and RIAA Triple-Platinum with 500 Million+ Global Streams, 310 Million+ Video views.


MAY 24 2018               




MAY 25 2018   


®-nominated, multi-platinum singer and songwriter Demi Lovato has announced additional dates on her European tour due to phenomenal demand.  Produced by Live Nation, the 19-city European run will now begin on May 24 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and wrap on June 27 in Bologna, Italy.

In July 2017, Lovato released the first single “Sorry Not Sorry” off her album which instantly flew into the Top 5 on the iTunes Charts and is now certified triple-platinum. The hit has garnered over 500 million streams, climbed to #1 on the viral charts, and has over 310 million views for its house party video. Lovato’s sixth studio album “Tell Me You Love Me” debuted at #1 on iTunes in 37 countries on September 29th. In addition to her critically hailed album release, Demi released a 78-minute documentary film, Simply Complicated which has amassed over 13 million views to date.  Demi is currently on her 20-city tour across the U.S. and Canada with DJ Khaled and Kehlani, which started on February 26.

Tickets for Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me tour go on-sale to the general public on Friday March 16th at 9am:

The SSE Arena, Belfast Box Office: Tel. 028 90 739074
Book On Line: www.ssearenabelfast.com

Ticketmaster: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):   0844 277 44 55 (ROL: 0818 719300)
Book On Line: www.ticketmaster.ie


Your guide to the best craic from venues across Belfast on St Patrick’s Day 2018

Top 5 Picks for St Patrick’s Day

Join in the celebrations this St Patrick’s Day (Saturday 17th March) with food, fun and music in some of Belfast’s best bars and venues.

From BBQs in Babel, trad music in The National and The Dirty Onion, a whiskey infused menu in The Cloth Ear, and the all-important Six Nations live final, there’s a jam-packed programme of events happening throughout the city.

Be sure to make the most of your St Patrick’s Day weekend and plan ahead with this what’s on guide;

  1. Babel

Spend St Patrick’s Day weekend drinking in the views of the city from Belfast’s coolest new rooftop bar, Babel. Kick off the festivities with live music from Drum & Bates on Friday 16th March from 6pm and DJ Bobby Analog in the bar until late. On Saturday (1-9pm) and Sunday (4pm onwards), grab a gourmet kebab at the rooftop garden BBQ, listen to live music and DJ sets and sip a St Patrick’s themed Tipperary Cocktail or Slane Sour overlooking the city. 

  1. Bullitt

Belfast Ukulele Jam will be taking over the Bullitt courtyard from 1pm on St Patrick’s Day, playing your favourite tunes and getting the good vibes flowing, followed by Bullitt DJs who will be playing an eclectic mix of disco, soul and electronics until late. Watch the rugby from the comfort of the cosy Baltic bar from 1pm onwards and enjoy a pint of Guinness and a hearty bowl of wagyu beef stew for £10. 

  1. The Cloth Ear

The Cloth Ear is starting the celebrations early this year with an Irish whiskey infused menu, available from Monday 12th – Sunday 18th March. The festivities continue with Irish music from Acoustic Soul on Thursday 15th (6-9pm) and Six Nations Super Saturday on St Patrick’s Day, where rugby will be screened live throughout the day (12.30pm-7pm). On Sunday, unwind with a sharing roast and live music from 8pm to 11pm. 

  1. The National & Sixty6

One venue, six bars – there’s plenty to do this St Patrick’s Day in The National and Sixty6. Expect twelve hours of live traditional music in The National’s beer garden (12pm -12am), followed by DJ sets throughout Sixty6’s cocktail bar, lounge and nightclub. Don’t worry about missing the Six Nations final, it will be played live on the big screen in The National’s Café bar from 1pm.

  1. The Dirty Onion

The Dirty Onion will host five live music performances in its legendary beer garden throughout St Patrick’s Day (12pm-1am) and will serve up food from the grill at an all-day BBQ from 12pm. Doing what it does best, the bar will also host a mammoth 10-hour traditional music session from 1pm – 11pm.

Et Voila! Jean-Christophe Novelli Reveals Début Belfast Menu

Crème de la Crème of NI Produce Adds Local Flavour to Celebrity French Chef’s Table    

: Jean-Christophe Novelli, the multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef has revealed the menu for his hotly-anticipated début Belfast restaurant. And in a ringing endorsement of local suppliers, Jean-Christophe, who has been dubbed the UK’s ‘Favourite French Chef’, has given Northern Irish produce top billing. Pictured at Novelli at City Quays from L-R Jean-Christophe Novelli, Crawford Ewing, Company Director of Ewing’s Fishmonger, Peter Hannan, founder and owner of Hannan meats and Jim Mulholland, grand chef at Novelli at City Quays.

He’s been ‘keeping mum’ about it until now but Jean-Christophe Novelli, the multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef yesterday revealed the menu for his hotly-anticipated début Belfast restaurant.

And in a ringing endorsement of local suppliers, Jean-Christophe, who has been dubbed the UK’s ‘Favourite French Chef’, has given Northern Irish produce top billing.

Set on Belfast’s waterfront, with stunning views accentuated by a double-height glazed façade and open-air terrace, the 112-seater ‘Novelli at City Quays’ restaurant will open in April as part of the all-new AC Hotel Belfast, the £25million contemporary-luxe hotel developed by Belfast Harbour in the heart of its prestigious City Quays quarter.

‘Novelli at City Quays’ will be the celebrity chef’s first restaurant on the island of Ireland, representing a key milestone for him, a major coup for Belfast’s hospitality offering, and a valuable boost to local suppliers.

“You need to have wonderful ingredients to produce wonderful food, and I have been thoroughly inspired and excited by the quality and variety of produce available to me here on my Belfast doorstep,” said Jean-Christophe Novelli.

“At ‘Novelli at City Quays’, our customers can look forward to the authentic Mediterranean-inspired cuisine I am best known for, including my famous Coq au Vin, French Onion Soup and Loin of Sugar Pit Pork, and all made with the best of locally sourced ingredients.”

Reading like a veritable Who’s Who of NI producers and processors, Abernethy Butter, Hannan Meats, Ewing’s Seafood, Yellow Door and North Down Group are just some of the local companies hand-picked by Jean-Christophe and Jim Mulholland, his Belfast grand chef, to supply the new restaurant.  Even the charcuterie board features homegrown chorizo and salami, produced by Limavady-based Corndale Farm.

“It has always been my passion and my mission to source whatever I can locally, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience to introduce our amazing local produce to such a globally celebrated chef as Jean-Christophe Novelli and to see him, in turn, become a champion of it,” said Jim Mulholland, grand chef of ‘Novelli at City Quays.’


The 188-room, four-star quality AC Hotel Belfast is the first AC Hotel by Marriott on the island of Ireland, and the first purpose-built AC Hotel in the UK.  ‘Novelli at City Quays’ is the first destination restaurant in the AC Hotels by Marriott® 100+ global portfolio.  Built to Jean-Christophe Novelli’s exacting specifications, the made-to-measure kitchen features a rotisserie oven to enable him to produce his signature roasts.