Montalto Estate, a 400 acre private estate located in rural Co. Down only minutes from the centre of Ballynahinch, is getting ready to open to visitors for the first time in its history.

Estate duty manager Bernie Hyland, David Wilson MD of Montalto Estate and John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism NI.

Owned by the Wilson family, the new visitor attraction represents a major private investment creating up to 30 new full and part time jobs in the tourism sector as well as the employment of 40 construction jobs.

The Wilson family, well known for running a range of successful Northern Ireland businesses, purchased Montalto Estate in 1995.  Following a major renovation of the entire estate they developed an exclusive luxury venue for business and corporate clients. In 2012 this expanded to include the award-winning wedding venue – The Carriage Rooms at Montalto.

Their on-going business development strategy identified an opportunity to support the sustainability of the Estate through the provision of a unique tourism offering.  This features the opening up of the estate to the public by providing a high quality visitor experience aimed at reconnecting with nature through the estate’s beautiful surroundings.

Steeped in a long and fascinating history and set in a magnificent natural backdrop, Montalto Estate aims to reconnect visitors with nature through access to a range of captivating gardens and beautiful walks and trails. The development of this new tourism offering will help to ensure the long term sustainability of the estate for future generations to enjoy as well as complement the existing tourism portfolio across the region.

The Montalto Estate visitor experience will include; public access to the estate’s beautiful gardens with features including many varieties of flora and fauna along with unique and surprising garden features; historic walks and trails including the Lake Walk, the Garden Walk and the Woodland Trail with an exciting play area where children can play, explore, learn and wonder at their natural surroundings. A purpose built centre, designed in keeping with the look and feel of the estate will include a welcome area featuring interpretation of the estate’s history; a stylish 120 seat café offering flavoursome and beautifully presented food and a shop that will offer a mix of estate produce, local craft products and many other unique and exceptionally designed items.

David Wilson, Managing Director of Montalto Estate, said:
“ We are delighted  and very excited to be opening Montalto Estate to the public.  For the first time ever visitors will have the opportunity to see the beautiful gardens, walks and trails that makes Montalto a truly mystical and enchanting place to visit.  This investment is part of our ongoing business growth strategy which includes the award winning The Carriage Rooms at Montalto wedding and conference venue.   Our aim is to provide a top class visitor attraction which will not only add to the existing Northern Ireland visitor experience but which will encourage visitors into the region. The investment also provides us with the opportunity to preserve the unique character and heritage of this magnificent site which will help to ensure its long term future as an important landmark and visitor destination within Co. Down.”

Supporting the opening of Montalto Estate, John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI said:
“We welcome this investment in Montalto Estate and are delighted to see this new addition to our long list of unique and high quality visitor attractions. 2017 was another record year for tourism as we welcomed almost 5 million visitors to Northern Ireland. Attractions such as Montalto Estate which enable visitors to connect with the culture, heritage and landscape of Northern Ireland are key to ensuring our continued success in attracting visitors to the region.”

Montalto Estate will open to the public in the autumn. Opening hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm.  Access to site including car park, welcome area, café and shop is free.  Gardens, Trails and Walks will be ticketed with prices starting from £7.50 (adults) and Children (age 5 – 16) £5.00 with discounted rates when you book in advance online. Children under 5 are free. Visit www.montaltoestate.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ExploreMontalto.

Find out what’s on at The Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh

The Navan Centre & Fort Armagh has an exiting programme of events lined up to keep you and your family entertained this Autumn!

Foraging Sunday – 16th September (Free drop-in event, 11:00-15:00)

Under expert guidance, you will learn to forage for food as the Celts would have. Explore the wealth of edible delights in our countryside and sample dishes made with foraged foods like berries, apples, cherries and even nettles – you are sure to be amazed!

This is a free drop in event with no pre-booking required.


Pottery Sunday – 30th September (Free drop-in event, 11:00-15:00)

Try your hand at making a clay pot, similar to those which the Celts would have used! The Celts would have crafted pots of differing levels of intricacy and detail based on the occasion. Use your imagination to come up with your own unique design!

This is a free drop in event with no pre-booking required.


Little Spooks – 27th-31st October, various times

Tickets are now on sale for the Navan Centre & Fort’s Halloween event, Little Spooks! From 27th -31st October, this is the perfect Halloween experience for boys and girls who aren’t afraid of enjoying some spooky surprises!

A Halloween Bride & Gloom Story! Do you have the courage to be witness at the ceremony? Emma Goner is no ordinary bride in this most extraordinary of wedding days! With an undead bride and ghostly groom, join the hapless couple on the most memorable day of their lives (or afterlives).

The witch’s cabin is just a short walk away along the winding path. Discover what ghastly ingredients go into a witch’s cauldron and, if you are brave enough to torture your tastebuds, there will be a truly gruesome brew freshly prepared just for you!

Proceed along the path to the Palace of the Pumpkin Prince. There, you will hear some startling stories sure to put a shiver up your spine!

All tickets £7.00 (Adults and Children)
Children aged 3 and under free, although event recommended for ages 4-9 years.

Full details and booking at www.visitarmagh.com/littlespooks


Samhain: An Evening Celebration – 2nd November, 20:00-23:00

Enjoy an evening of celebration exploring the origins of Halloween; the Celtic festival of Samhain. With the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year comes the opportunity to reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings. Listen to ancient tales from renowned storyteller, Liz Weir and meet living history characters who will explore the many traditions associated with the time of year when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is considered to be at its thinnest. The evening will conclude with supper, accompanied by the sounds of local musicians.

Suitable for ages 12 and over. Pre-booking essential at www.visitarmagh.com/samhain

All tickets £14.00, recommended for ages 12 and over.



Finn the giant was finally woken from his slumber after a two-day festival and noisy parade through the streets of Warrenpoint.


The festival, that took place on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th August saw crowds of over 15,000 people in the town during the celebrations.

The stories of Finn Mac Cumhaill are woven deep into the history of this region – from his life on Slieve Gullion, to his battles with rival giants. Each year, the people of Warrenpoint re-enact these epic tales in a collaborative performance.

There was superb entertainment, street performers, music, crafts and speciality food markets for all the family. This year Finn made his way across the water on the Carlingford Ferry to Warrenpoint on Saturday. Even this scenic journey across the lough couldn’t wake him up!

Giant Finn moved through Warrenpoint town centre as part of a noisy parade, as his family asked the public to help them wake him.

The man charged with designing and creating the narrative for this year’s show is renowned actor and writer, Dan Gordon. He put his humorous signature and quirky style on this year’s story that enthused children and parents alike.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chair, Councillor Mark Murnin, said: “Wake the Giant is one of our most highly anticipated events within the summer programme. This year did not disappoint! Every year the numbers keep growing and we were delighted to see such a fantastic turn out on Saturday and Sunday. Local businesses and traders across Warrenpoint really embraced this festival and it was enjoyed by locals and visitors. The creative genius of having Dan Gordon involved meant that everyone was able to enjoy a hilarious narrative as the parade made its way around the town. It was a great weekend had by all!”

Enjoy Bangor’s “Bluegrass Picnic” this Bank Holiday weekend!

To mark the end of summer this year’s Bluegrass Picnic will take place this Sunday, 26 August, in the beautiful Ward Park.

The fabulous Open House Festival Choir kicking things off at 2:30pm.

Headline act, “The Clay Pigeons”, dubbed “the fastest, funkiest four-piece Bluegrass band this side of the Atlantic”, will be “keeping it fresh, fast and good fun”.

With their brand of traditional Appalachian tunes and songs it will be an end of summer party to remember.

It’s the perfect way to spend your Bank Holiday Sunday – picnicking in the park with family and friends, chilling out or dancing whilst kids can pass the time with crafts and games to try.

We look forward to seeing you at Ward Park for this FREE event this Sunday 26th from 2.30pm–5pm.

Don’t forget to pack your picnic!

New exhibition from Nicola Nemec opens in Flowerfield Arts Centre

Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart welcomes an exhibition of paintings by Armoy based artist Nicola Nemec from September 8th – 29th.

The ‘Quiet Places’ exhibition includes a body of work created while undertaking a residency on the remote Achill Island in County Mayo. Conceived over a two year period, the exhibition is the artist’s response to working in this unique place, combined with her observation of the shifting climate, light and atmosphere of the North Antrim landscape where she lives.

Recurring themes include the contrast between man-made and natural forms, harbours, boglands, mountains and seascapes.

Nicola creates intense, atmospheric paintings which are rich in hue, reflecting the colours of the seasonal landscape, and texture.

Her work has been exhibited extensively across the UK and Ireland and exists in many private and public collections.

Everyone is welcome to come along to the exhibition launch on Saturday 8th September from 2pm-3.30pm. A wine reception and refreshments will be provided.

Nicola will also be facilitating a talk based on her exhibition and creative practice on Thursday 20th September at 2pm. Admission is free.

For further information please visit www.flowerfield.org or call the team on 028 7083 1400.

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


Love Weddings Studio is working with National Museums Northern Ireland and Cultra Manor to bring you a fabulous wedding festival.  Come along and explore, not only the beautiful and quirky Cultra Manor but also the Folk Museum on Sunday 26th August, from 1.00pm to 4.00pm.  The Manor will host an amazing selection of local wedding suppliers, ideas and inspiration for your special day. You will also be able to explore the amazing Folk Museum for FREE on the day.


Enjoy a classic story told with a difference at the Market Place Theatre this Saturday.  Meet an adventurous Red Riding Hood, an independent Granny, and of course the wonderful, Wicked Wolf who is so hungry he could eat almost anything!  The Wolf plans to have ’Grannie for lunch and Little Rosie for afternoon tea… With rod-glove puppets and shadow theatre combined with original music and sounds, find out how Red Riding Hood’s ‘Magic Purse’ saves the day in this delightful show.


On 25th, 26th and 27th August from 10.30am to 4.30pm you can gain full access to the top of the iconic round tower at Devenish Monastic site.  This special access will be provided by Historic Environment Division archaeologists who will provide additional insights into this very important site and will be available to answer any questions.  There will be a small charge for access up to the top floor, payable at the tower and will be £2 per adult and £1 per child. It is essential to note that the interior of the tower has some confined spaces, with access to the upper floors by ladder stairs. Therefore, the tower may be unsuitable for very young children, those with mobility difficulties or difficulties in confined spaces.  Devenish is an island and can only be accessed via boat. There are a number of commercial providers operating trips to the island including Castle Archdale Boat Hire who charge £4 per child and £5 per adult.


Rockstock is a one day festival held on the shores of Lough Neagh  at The Battery Bar, Moortown on Saturday, August 25th.  This year’s line-up includes Ireland Maiden, Flick Of The Switch, Born As Ghosts, The Rubber Plants, Muddy Wells , Elevation Falls and Lonely Astronauts. All for only £10. Half open air gig!


This Saturday pop along to Limavady town centre and Drumceatt Square for the welcome return of NI Children’s Hospice Family Fun Day with heaps of fun activities for all the family including live music, children’s disco, face painting, balloon modelling, and much more! Prizes for fancy dress superheroes and princesses. A grand finale to August Children’s Month!


Come along and have an adventure with amusements, arts and crafts and other outdoor activities at this year’s Shoreline Festival in Jordanstown from 12pm – 5pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August. There will be live music from 8.00 pm to 10.00pm each night, with a fireworks display at 10.00pm on the Saturday evening.  There will also be family fun activities at Whiteabbey Village, with stalls to meander through and tasty treats to take your fancy. Make it a date in your calendar to enjoy free entertainment and much more over the Bank Holiday weekend. Activities will take place from 11.00am to 6.00pm each day in the village.


Take on the ultimate summer challenge this Friday by taking competing in the East Belfast Mission Aqua Races! Race across an inflatable obstacle course on water with a team of 5 friends, family or colleagues and compete to see which team can complete it in the fastest time. Get sponsored to dash through the course, climb up the XXL Action Tower and jump off into the water, all to help raise funds for East Belfast Mission’s vital work with the most vulnerable people in inner East Belfast.  In association with Cable & Wake, Aqua Park. To sign up now email fundraising@ebm.org.uk or call 028 9045 8560.


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.


Northern Ireland boasts an irresistible collection of 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.


  • Summer Family Dine & Stay Offer, Crowne Plaza, Belfast from £164 per stay 

Enjoy a fantastic summer break with the family at the four-star Crowne Plaza. This modern hotel is situated in the picturesque surroundings of Lagan Valley Regional Park and is just 10 minutes’ drive from Belfast’s thriving city centre, making it the perfect location for a family adventure.  Offer includes an overnight B&B stay in a family room and a family dinner in the Green Room Restaurant or River Bar.  To book call 028 9092 3500. Offer available until 30 September 2018.

  • Shop & Be Pampered, Best Western Plus White Horse Hotel, Co. Londonderry from £102.50 per person sharing

The ideally located four-star Best Western Plus White Horse Hotel is less than five minutes’ drive from the centre of the historic walled city of Derry ~ Londonderry. Enjoy the perfect combination of sight-seeing and leisure time, with both retail therapy and spa pampering. Build up an appetite as you hit the shops in Derry’s bustling city centre then return to your comfortable accommodation to put your feet up. Offer includes an overnight B&B stay with a bottle of bubbly on arrival, a four-course evening meal in the hotel’s 68 Clooney Restaurant, a £25 Foyleside Shopping Centre voucher per room and a back, neck & shoulder massage per person. To book call 028 7186 0606. Offer available until 31 March 2019.

  • Summer Family Fun, Mellon Country Inn Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £240 per stay

The three-star Mellon Country Inn Hotel is nestled at the feet of the spectacular Sperrin Mountains, between Omagh and Strabane. Here you will find the heart of Tyrone’s most popular spot for leisure activities such as walking, cycling, fishing and golf, making it the perfect location to enjoy some family fun over the summer. Offer includes two nights B&B accommodation and £40 dining credit for O’Brien’s Bar and Restaurant. To book call 028 8166 1224. Offer available until 30 September 2018.


‘The History Of The Peace [Accordin’ To My Ma!]’, the brilliant sequel to ‘The History Of The Troubles [Accordin’ To My Da]’, is back at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

A peaceful tale of street protests, riots, guns, bombings, the RHI Scandal, the latest Stormont collapse and even more riots, PEACE also sees the return of the legendary Firebell, joined of course, by a host of hilarious new characters including Pineapple the paramilitary, Stacey the Flegs woman, Roberto the Flute band leader and many more.

And as expected from Lynch, Grimes & McKee, PEACE will be especially updated to scrutinize the very latest ‘peaceful’ events in Norn Iron.

‘History Of The Peace [Accordin’ To My Ma]’ will run for two nights on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 August at 8pm. Tickets are priced £17 and £15 (concession), and can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.visitarmagh.com/marketplacetheatre This production is recommended for age 16+.

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.


The Observatory at the Grand Central Hotel takes Afternoon Tea to a New Level!

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 9th August 2018. Picture by Kelvin Boyes

To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week (14th – 20th August), Conleth Hendron, Observatory Manager from the Grand Central Hotel, is joined by Pamela Ballantine and Ross Thompson of Thompson’s Teas to launch a very special Afternoon Tea experience in the new Observatory Cocktail Lounge.

Served on the 23rd floor of the hotel, Afternoon Tea in the Observatory will be unique and enchanting, and guests will marvel over the breath-taking views of Belfast and beyond whilst enjoying an array of the finest, locally blended Thompson’s teas, crafted coffees, deliciously designed and handcrafted nibbles along with the finest Champagne and cocktails.

Served daily from 1pm – 5pm, it really is Afternoon Tea nirvana.


Some of County Down’s finest food and drink artisanal producers will be at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle on Saturday 8th September for the annual Slieve Donard Beer, Cider, Spirit and Cheese Festival.

Hazel Magill, Head Chef at Slieve Donard Resort with Hastings Hotels General Manager, Stephen Meldrum, are looking forward to welcoming some of County Down’s finest food and drink artisanal producers to the hotel on Saturday 8th September for the annual Slieve Donard Beer, Cider, Spirit and Cheese Festival.

Drinks exhibitors at the festival this year include Whitewater Brewery, Jawbox Gin, Kilmeggan Cider, Shortcross Gin and Echlinville Distillery, home to Dunville Whiskey and Echlinville Gin along with local food producers including Kearney Blue Cheese and Fivemiletown Creamery.

The festival will also welcome the return of the popular Street Food Stall with a wide selection of delicious local treats to taste.

Niall Burns, Operations Manager at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, said: “We are thrilled to announce the return of the Slieve Donard Beer, Cider, Spirit and Cheese Festival following the huge success of the past two years.

“The Festival will showcase many of County Down’s finest brands who will be here to talk about what they do with such enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to get totally drawn in.  On top of that there will be lots of food and drink to sample, ensuring that a good time is had by all.

“At Hastings Hotels we only work with the finest local food and drink producers and we can’t wait for guests to come along and see for themselves just why the Slieve Donard holds them in such vert high esteem,” concluded Niall.

This fabulous food and drink event is supported by both Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Tourism Northern Ireland.

Tickets for the event cost £15 per person, which includes three drinks tokens and a souvenir glass, and are available from the Slieve Donard reception or by calling the hotel on 028 4372 1066.