Enchanting Merry May Day

Holywood is a buzz with preparations for the annual Merry May Day event on Monday 7 May.

The free family fun day, organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council in partnership with Holywood and District Community Council, will present a programme packed with things to see and do for all ages, helping you to make the most of the bank holiday.

This year’s event has an enchanting spring and floral theme.  Look out for Floris, the captivating and mystical flower nymph who will be gliding through the crowds in her beautifully adorned globe. Colourful vibrant performances will come in all shapes and sizes; form the fantastic street Dragons, to a soulful blend of native African rhythms, contemporary gospel music and ethnic dance by the impressive Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda, to Irish dancing by the McElhinney School of Dance.  A highlight of the day is always the choreographed dance performed by local school children around Ireland’s only maypole.

The event will see a number of much loved favourites features returning: the crowning of the May Queen, the Bonny Baby competition and, of course, the fancy dress competition, which always sees fantastic display of effort. This year children are invited to come along as mini Kings and Queens, Super Heroes and their favourite storybook characters.

‘Jump, Jiggle and Jive’ will be on hand with their mini maypole for those little one’s eager to have a go too. Punch and Judy will be making appearances throughout the day for those that love a puppet show.

Those who love a bargain will enjoy the market and stalls on offer in the town, housed between the wonderful eateries and boutiques that Holywood has to offer.

The daylong event starts at 10am transforming High Street and Church Road into a mecca of amusement that will last until 4pm. Make a day of it in Holywood!

For more details, visitardsandnorthdown.com or call 028 9127 0069.

Jacqueline shares her pick of what’s on across NI this Bank Holiday Weekend


Cable and Wake outdoor waterpark is opening this May Day holiday weekend! Looking for fun things to do with the kids? Then visit Knockbracken Reservoir from 2nd May for fun mid week and weekend activities. The new waterpark at Knockbracken Reservoir in Carryduff is just 15 minutes drive from Belfast City Centre. The site boasts a massive aqua park, cable wakeboard park and glamping village with a sauna for warming up on those cold days! The waterpark is a perfect place for birthday parties, community groups, school groups and the adventurous corporate group!


Immerse yourself in life as an ancient Celt as Navan Fort prepares for the Beltaine Festival of Fire; a time of purification and transition. Help build a fire arch, marking the gateway between the earthly and spiritual realms?  Try your hand at making a traditional Celtic crown and join in the preparation of hand fasting cakes.  The Celts are sure to entertain you with stories, dancing and singing in anticipation of the final fire purification ceremony on Bank Holiday Monday.  This highly engaging experience is suitable for all ages and will give you a unique insight into life long ago!  Saturday 5th – Monday 7th May, 11.00am – 4.00pm daily.


The water trampoline at Castle Archdale Boat Hire and Watersports is great fun for all the family. Situated within the marina, the trampoline with log and slide is a very popular activity. Jump in, slide in, roll in, flip in or try walking the log – it’s the best fun you could have and great for kids and adults of all ages. Wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets provided for all activities.


Ireland’s premier tribute to the super group Fleetwood Mac, brings you on a magical musical journey from the Peter Green blues era to the multi-platinum selling Anglo/American band that still tour today.  See Mack Fleetwood deliver a spellbinding show this Friday at Ranfurly House Dungannon.  Their love of the material and musical prowess shines through in each song. They will bewitch you with authentic renditions of all your favourite Fleetwood Mac hits.


The biggest and best Jazz Festival is returning to Derry from 3rd – 7th May.  The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival will be back for its 17th year, featuring artists from all over the world and attracting over 60,000 revellers over the bank holiday weekend.  This year’s headliner is Sir Van Morrison, who will perform in the Millennium Forum on Sunday 6th and Monday 7th May. Some popular acts returning to the Festival will include the Red Stripe Band, The Roaring Forties, the Ska Beat, Velocity Brown and The Hot Rods, and Jaydee Brass band.  New acts joining us in 2018 will include Mercury nominated Dinosaur – a vibrant new ensemble praised for their blend of styles, taking sounds from folk, rock, minimalism and contemporary art music.  Dinosaur will be performing in the Playhouse on Sunday 6th May 2018 at 8pm, admission £6.  For the full line up see cityofderryjazzfestival.com.


Antrim Castle Gardens will be in full bloom at this year’s Allianz Garden Show Ireland.  A three-day festival with a bloomin’ great line-up of flowers, food, crafts, music and dedicated kids zone and so much more.  The family-friendly event is worth visiting and will appeal to all ages.  Sitting alongside the vast display of specialist plants, artisan food stalls, live cooking demonstrations, local crafts and feature gardens will be fun-filled activities appealing to all age groups – live music, dedicated kids adventure area, a doggie zone – complete with competitions – tree-climbing demos and much more; it’s truly a superb three-days that attracts everyone from garden enthusiasts to families, spanning three generations.  Adults tickets cost £10 (concession £8), the event is FREE for children under 16 and there is a reduced rate for online booking, for more information on the Show or to book tickets online visit www.gardenshowireland.com.


This Saturday HMS Caroline hosts Belfast Battleship!  The year is 2018. 6 years have passed from the events that saw the brave crew of the USS Missouri defend earth from an alien invasion, in what is now known as “Incident 11”. Rumours of an imminent second global invasion are being downplayed in the media.  Over 100 years ago, HMS Caroline was used to train sailors for life at sea, and as part of top secret global plan to ready all museum ships for a repeat of Incident 11, the crew have docked in Belfast to train a new generation.  Aimed at children between 6 and 14, and an uncle, aunt, parent or older sibling accompanying them, Moving Pictures invite you to join them on the 5 May, on board the Belfast Battleship.


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.

Pitch perfect a cappella at Portico in Portaferry

If you love a cappella then don’t miss pitch perfect 4 IN A BAR.


Playing Portico Arts & Heritage Centre in Portaferry on Saturday 12 May, award-winning 4 IN A BAR is one of Ireland’s most loved vocal ensembles. Eoin, Tristan, Paul and Shane – current recipients of the IABS International Male Voice Quartet Award (and five-time Gold Medal winners) – have a passion for close harmony and Barbershop singing, as seen in their charismatic concert performances.

The guys enjoy a year-round schedule of engagements from high-profile to low, including performing for the president of Ireland at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin, national and international TV coverage, jingle recordings for radio stations including RTE, international competitions and festival performances. They are especially known for their antics every year at the RDS Horse Show.

Their varied style covers everything from classical music to traditional, pop and rock. Their arrangements are written in-house by Eoin, who puts the group’s unique stamp on everything they perform. Their programme for Portico is of music from the native land. Musically, it takes in a little bit of everything, from Ireland’s greatest classical composers to its most famous popular songwriters, old folk songs, brand new compositions, even a ceili band!

Celebrating 100 years of the RAF at Air Waves Portrush

The Royal Air Force will mark its 100th anniversary in style at Air Waves Portrush on September 1st and 2nd.

The hugely popular Red Arrows will provide two unforgettable displays at Air Waves Portrush on Saturday 2nd September and Sunday 3rd September.Picture Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

With appearances by the Red Arrows, the Typhoon jet, the Tutor and the Falcons parachute display team, the event promises to provide a memorable showcase of skills, stunts and daredevil action. History and heritage will also be to the fore with showcases from the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire who come together in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The roar of the Typhoon will echo through the skies on Saturday and Sunday with its trademark noise, speed and glowing afterburners matched by a breathtaking display.

On Sunday, the world renowned Red Arrows will thrill the thousands gathered in the East Strand amphitheatre with their speed, agility and precision which makes them one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams. As outstanding ambassadors for the RAF, their precision flying represents the very best of the organisation.

The Falcons, regarded as the UK’s premier military display team, will also take flight on Sunday. This exciting free-fall display filled with high speed manoeuvres and canopy skills will provide another unforgetable sight during the weekend event.

The RAF’s air displays will be matched by a range of attractions on the ground including a static display of a Red Arrows Hawk which gives members of the public access to one of the world’s must iconic flying machines.

Welcoming the RAF to Air Waves Portrush, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said: “We are delighted to be a part of this very special year for the Royal Air Force as it celebrates 100 years of service. The Red Arrows and the Typhoon will be among the highlights of the weekend’s impressive flying programme which makes Air Waves Portrush Ireland’s biggest air show. We look forward to welcoming huge crowds for what promises to be a fabulous weekend of entertainment.”

Alongside the RAF flying programme, it has been confirmed that the Swiss Classic Formation will make its Portrush debut this year. This vintage trio will entertain the crowds with its unique brand of excitement created by the Beech 18 and DC-3 aircraft. The event will also feature the Global Stars aerobatic team, the Catalina sea plane, the Sea Fury and the Calidus Autogyro.  And with more aircraft still to be confirmed it looks set to be an action packed two days on the Causeway Coast.

Keep up to date with very latest news at www.airwavesportrush.co.uk or follow @airwavesportrush on Facebook and Twitter.


Tune in to what’s on this May Day weekend

The May Day Bank Holiday is nearly upon us and it’s time to start planning your weekend wisely.

Belfast will be alive with the sound of music across the Bank Holiday weekend (4th-7th May) with live sets in some of the city’s best bars and venues. Enjoy DJs in Babel, boogie at The National’s beer garden disco, jam along to the eclectic sound of Francis Inferno Orchestra in Bullitt or listen to smooth Jazz and Blues in The Cloth Ear, not to mention food and drink offers throughout the weekend.

Whatever your preference, don’t miss a beat; plan your May Day weekend with this what’s on guide.


Start the Bank Holiday weekend with sunshine and good vibes in the Bullitt courtyard on Friday 4th May. Melbourne’s Francis Inferno Orchestra will be kicking off the first of Bullitt’s Bank Holiday DJ parties from 8pm, with support from resident Jonny Carberry.


Join the Summer Party in Belfast’s coolest roof-top bar, Babel on Saturday 5th May. Gear up for an all-day line-up of live music, DJs, drinks and BBQs in the roof garden from 12pm. Chill out with one of Babel’s new summer slushies with four tasty flavours available.

The National

The National is hosting Alfresco Disco in its beer garden on Sunday 6th May. Expect live music performances, DJ sets with all-time favourite anthems and BBQ nibbles. If you can’t make it, not to worry, the Alfresco Disco will be back at the end of the month for another Bank Holiday celebration (27th).

The Dirty Onion

The Dirty Onion always delivers with live performances from start to finish, and this Bank Holiday is no different. Enjoy live acoustic acts in the beer garden and trad sessions inside every day from Friday to Monday, as well as the best craft beer and whiskey selection in town.

The Cloth Ear

Glide into the Bank Holiday weekend with smooth jazz and blues from local musicians, The Lee Hedley Blues Band on Friday 4th May in The Cloth Ear (5-7pm). If the all-day menu doesn’t tickle your fancy, why not try something from the dedicated vegan and gluten allergy menus; there will be something for everyone.

Board the bus as tourism businesses create the ‘NW200 Feast & Fun Tour’

TOURISM businesses on the North Coast have joined forces to create a brand new tour to welcome visitors for the beginning of the International NW200 Race Week.

‘NW200 Feast & Fun Tour’ is a brand new experience which is being hosted by Glenara Elite Travel and supported by Maddybenny, Dalriada Kingdom Tours, the Tartine at the Distiller’s Arms in Bushmills, the Slemish Market Supper Club, Lime Park, the NW200 and Live It Experience It.

The ‘NW200 Feast & Fun Tour’, which will take place on Sunday, May 13, incorporates a breakfast time drinks reception at Maddybenny, a trip to Dunluce Castle, a guided tour of the Giant’s Causeway followed by an award winning lunch in Bushmills. From the Tartine, guests will venture on to the Dark Hedges and Armoy before settling down mid afternoon to hear BBC sports pundit Liam Beckett MBE tell his stories before a six course meal is served up by award winning chef Robert Curley.

Fergus Mackay, of the International NW200, said: “Our spectators love to travel around Northern Ireland while they are here so they will always want to know what there is to do, where there is to stay and where is good to eat. It’s fantastic Live It Experience It members are collaborating to create what will be a fantastic day out. And of course we are delighted Liam Beckett MBE is involved to give a talk at Armoy.

“Any of our spectators wishing to experience our North Coast should consider this tour which will be led by authentic tour guides who will give you a fantastic day out.”

Eleanor McGillie, of Live It Experience It, said: “Our tourism businesses are ready and waiting to welcome people to the North Coast. The ‘Feast & Fun Tour’ will be a fantastic experience. Visitors will get to taste the flavours of our shores and will also get the opportunity to sample Lough Neagh Eel as well as Lough Neagh Pollan, which, last week, was awarded PDO status by the European Commission.

“Not only that but our guides will take them to see for themselves why Lonely Planet voted Belfast and the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland the Best in Travel 2018.

“Tickets are being sold by the host Glenara Elite Travel and can be purchased here –  glenara-elite-travel.co.uk/nw200-feast-fun-tour/

“This tour takes in iconic sites, lunch and dinner and of course the craic will be great. So board the bus and come along for the ride.”

Tickets cost £100 and any money left over from ticket sales will be donated to the Air Ambulance of Northern Ireland.


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.


9 Course Titanic Menu Bed and Gourmet Breakfast, Rayanne House, Belfast from £110 per person sharing.

The five-star Rayanne House is famed for its service and cuisine – the award winning breakfast menu is like no other. Conveniently located just outside of the city, Rayanne House offers spectacular views over Belfast Lough and proves the perfect setting to feel the history and hear about the Victorian buildings former residents. Offer includes an overnight Bed & Breakfast stay and a nine-course recreation of the dinner menu served on the most famous ship in the world. To book call 028 9042 5859. Offer available on the 19 May.


Stay and Play, Roe Park Golf Club, Co. Londonderry from £67 per person sharing. 

The four-star Roe Park Resort is one of Northern Ireland’s premiere golf and spa resorts. Set amidst the gorgeous surroundings of the Roe Valley Country Park it overlooks its own stunning 18 hole golf course. Offer includes overnight stay with full Irish breakfast, unlimited golf and use of the health club. To book call 028 7772 2222. Offer available until 31 December.


Celebrate In Style, Silverbirch Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £55 per person sharing.

In the heart of Co. Tyrone, the three-star Silverbirch Hotel is located in the bustling market town of Omagh, at the foothills of the region’s Sperrin Mountains. The hotel combines the welcoming atmosphere and comforts of an established hotel with contemporary interiors and service. Offer includes overnight Bed & Breakfast accommodation, dinner in Barreta Bar and Grill and a bottle of bubby in your room on arrival. To book call 028 8224 2520. Offer available until 31 December.


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

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 (30 April – 6 May)


  1. Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2018, Belfast, 3-13 May. The 19th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival boasts a staggering programme of live music, comedy, spoken word, theatre, literature, film and art with over 150 events for all ages taking place across 20 venues in the city. For full event programme, visit CQAF.com.
  2. Festival of Fools 2018, Belfast, 4-7 May. The Festival of Fools brings a jam-packed programme of circus performances, featuring breathtaking acrobatics, gut-busting comedy and jaw-dropping juggling to the streets of the city centre. For full programme, visit FoolsFestival.com.
  3. City of Derry Jazz Festival, Derry~Londonderry, 3-7 May. During the May Bank Holiday weekend the Walled City reverberates to the distinctive jazz rhythms echoing from theatres, bars, shopping centres, restaurants and on the city streets. For full programme, visit CityofDerryJazzFestival.com.
  4. Causeway Coast Challenge Walk, Co. Antrim, 6 May. This event attracts walkers from all over Ireland and further afield. The spectacular walk commences at Portballintrae and follows the spectacular coastal cliff top path along Runkerry beach, via the famous Giant’s Causeway to eventually reach the little hamlet of Port Bradden, where participants turn and retrace their steps.
  5. May Day Mayhem Weekend Shindigs, Limavady, 5-18 May. Bring your kids to the Roe Valley and let them taste the fresh air, fun and adventure that awaits at Carrowmena Activity Centre over the May Day Holidays. Programmed activities include a climbing wall, canoeing, kayaking and archery.
  6. Tandragee 100 Motorcycle Road Race, Tandragee, 4-5 May. The largest national road racing event in Northern Ireland, attracting over 150 competitors from around the globe, including Guy Martin, William Dunlop. The course is 5.3 miles long and takes place on public roads situated between the shallow hills of Tandragee and Markethill in County Armagh.
  7. PALMYRA, Belfast, 5 May. PALMYRA is an exploration of revenge, the politics of destruction and what we consider to be barbaric, inviting people to step back from the news and look at what lies beneath and beyond civilization, in a challenging and contemporary piece to the MAC theatre.
  8. The Springsteen Sessions, Belfast, 5 May. Crumlin Road Gaol proudly presents The Springsteen Sessions, a seven-piece Glasgow-based band who pay homage to the 40-year career of The Boss and the E Street Band.
  9. Adrian Knight – Family Fun Show, Limavady, 5 May. International comedy hypnotist Adrian Knight returns to the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre with his brand new family evening show, letting children of all ages witness his amazing talents.
  10. Nashville In Belfast, Belfast, 28 April -7 May. An action-packed, fun-filled week of events taking place across the city dedicated to Nashville, the music city of America.


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


Holywood Players Presents “Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders” At Studio 1A Theatre Bangor on 27th and 28th April.  Agatha Crusty is a crime novelist. She’s also pretty adept at solving crimes. And when her sister-in-law Alice invites her to spend a few days with her in the village of Chortelby, it’s not long before she gets caught up in a series of murders which seem directed at members of the All Saints Village Hall committee.


Hundreds of vintage vehicles will descend upon The Argory as they host their famous vintage vehicle rally this Saturday 28th April from 12.00pm to 5.00pm. This is a must- see event for all vehicle enthusiasts!


To celebrate the centenary year of the birth of James Young, comedian William Caulfield is touring with this new theatre show – One Hundred Years of ‘OUR JIMMY’ to mark the occasion. See William live on stage this Friday 27th April at the Ardhowen Theatre at 8.00pm.


Get the girls together for Ladies Night at An Creagan this Friday evening, 27th April.  Enjoy cocktails on arrival before being served a delicious 5 course meal designed especially for you by dedicated chefs. Nominate your best friend for Most Loyal friend award, sponsored by An Creagan Restaurant. Wear your best frock and dancing shoes as you could be voted Best Dressed Lady on the night. Pull your best friend onto the floor as there is also an award for Best Dancers on the night! .


The Roe Valley Speciality Market takes place this Saturday 28th April from 11.00am to 4.00pm.  If you love local fresh food, quirky handmade crafts and fine art why not learn more and visit one of the market days at the beautiful Limavady town centre location of Drumceatt Square, Limavady town’s only communal public square, this beautiful central outside space is located beside the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.   Enjoy the colourful displays, the delicious aromas, taste of fresh food produce and the buzz of traders and customers chatting and laughing.


Ballyclare Male Choir, one of the leading male choirs in Ulster, presents itself again for your pleasure this Friday evening at The Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey.  Under their vibrant music team of Paul Briggs and Sheelagh Greer this well respected choir continues to develop repertoire to meet the demands of current musical tastes. They offer a mixture of traditional and contemporary, sacred and secular music.  The choir is honoured to have as guest soloist the much loved Father Eugene O’Hagan of The Priests fame.


This Saturday and Sunday, dare to discover the dangers and delights of Dinosaur World Live at the Waterfront Hall in an interactive and mind-expanding Jurassic adventure for all the family!  Grab your compass and join our intrepid explorer across unchartered territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child’s favourite flesh eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus!  A special meet and greet after the show offers all our brave explorers the chance to make a new dinosaur friend.

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.  

New Race Week exhibition showcases over 90 years of motorcycles in Limavady

An impressive line-up of 40 vintage and classic motorcycles will go on display in Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady during the Vauxhall International North West 200 Race Week from May 12th – May 20th.

Set against a backdrop of historic motorcycling photographs taken around Limavady, ‘90+ Years of Motorcycles in Limavady’ promises to be a must-see exhibition for all road racing enthusiasts.

Many of the machines in the display organized by Ian Foster have a connection with the Limavady area. Some have been owned by people from the town and surrounding area or were originally supplied by local motorcycle dealers including Hutchinson Brothers, Campbell Donaghy, Glendinnings and Billy Nutt.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of evening lectures including a history of the North West from Event Director Mervyn Whyte, an insight into sand racing at Magilligan and an interview with former local road racer Alie Donaldson.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird OBE said: “This new exhibition is a fantastic addition to the Race Week festival, helping to showcase almost a century of the Borough’s rich road racing heritage. Council is delighted to host this exceptional collection of bikes and photographs and we look forward to welcoming a host of new visitors throughout the week. Our Museums staff have worked closely with Ian and the North West 200 organisers on this new attraction, and it will be complemented by Council’s ‘NW200: Racing through the years’ exhibition which offers another fascinating glimpse in to the story of the iconic road race.”

Amongst the bikes on display will be a 1927 Royal Enfield, a 1941 ex-military Matchless G3L, a 1960 AJS 650cc, a replica of Tommy Robb’s 1972 Honda CB750-4 race bike, and the mighty 6-cylinder 1979 Honda CBX1000. The photographs of motorcycles in and around Limavady date from 1907 and include images from the first sand races run on Magilligan strand. Other rarities include a unique collection of the 1923 Coleraine 100 which ran only once in 1923 over 20 miles of roads connecting Macosquin, Limavady and Ringsend.

“It was really serious stuff with Norton fielding a full works team and Indian factory machines taking part as well.” local enthusiast Michael Boyle said.

The free nine-day exhibition at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre will be open on:

Saturday 12th May 1pm – 9.30pm
Sunday 13th 1- 5 pm, with a Show and Shine event in the Plaza.
Monday 14th  10am – 5 pm
Tuesday 15th 10am – 9.30pm
Wednesday 16th 10am – 9.30pm
Thursday 17th 10am – 5pm
Friday 18th May 10am – 9.30pm
Saturday 19th May 10am – 5pm
Sunday 20th  May 1pm- 5 pm

For more information go to www.facebook.com/LimavadyClassics/ and www.roevalleyarts.com or email ian@netvigator.com.

Full details about the Race Week Festival are available at www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com