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.


  • Book six nights and enjoy the seventh night free, Co. Down, Cedar Cottage from £530 per stay

This charming 19th century cottage has recently been renovated to provide spacious, comfortable accommodation. The four-star self-catering property sleeps up to four people and   is within walking distance of Newry city centre, local shops and restaurants as well as the beach and promenade. It is also ideally located for visits to the Mourne Mountains and Cooley Peninsula. To book call 028 4175 2999. Offer available until 31 December 2018.

  • Here Come the Girls, Dobbins Inn, Carrickfergus from £100 per stay

The three-star Dobbins Inn is situated in the heart of Carrickfergus, offering a warm, welcoming atmosphere from the log fire in the bar lounge as well as quality service and top-class food in their new Landings restaurant. Its central location provides the opportunity to explore the nearby Carrickfergus Castle or take a stroll along the seafront. Offer includes one night’s bed and breakfast accommodation and afternoon tea for two with Prosecco. Price is based on two people sharing. To book call 028 9335 1905. Offer available until 31 March 2019.

  • One Night Wine and Dine, Westville Hotel, Co. Fermanagh from £148 per stay

Perfectly located in the heart of Enniskillen’s waterside historic quarter, the four-star Westville Hotel is a sophisticated, yet understated, boutique destination. Offer includes one night’s luxury accommodation, a three-course dinner in the evening with a bottle of house wine and a traditional Irish breakfast in the morning. To book call 028 6632 0333. Offer available until 30 June 2019.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are ten exciting things taking place this week (17 – 23 December)


  1. Daniel O’Donnell, Derry~Londonderry, 19 December. No stranger to the Millennium Forum stage, Daniel O’Donnell returns to delight his many local fans. It’s no surprise he is one of the best loved artistes of our time, both at home and abroad. After more than thirty years in the spotlight as an engaging entertainer, he is still in love with performing and with audiences the world over.
  2. Ulster v Munster, Belfast, 21 December. There will be a wide variety of food and drink options available, as well as live music from a local artist in the Clubhouse Bar. All topped off with an intense battle on the field as Munster descend on Kingspan Stadium.
  3. Gandeys Greatest Snowman Circus, Belfast, 23 November – 6 January. Gandeys, Britain’s largest circus company, comes to Belfast Winter Wonderland with an all-new show, The Greatest Snow Man Circus. This one-hour show features international circus artistes from Mexico, Ukraine, Switzerland and Europe. Packed full of comedy from Chico Rico – Europe’s superstar clown – and thrilling circus acts, it has been specially created, costumed and choreographed to be Belfast’s must see show this Christmas.
  4. The Hedgehog Prince, Limavady, 22 December. The Hedgehog Prince is based on an old traditional folktale and uses puppetry, object theatre and original music which will enchant young and old alike. The perfect Christmas outing for the family at the Roe Valley Arts Centre.
  5. Winter Solstice, Armagh, 21 December. Celebrate the Winter Solstice with a lantern-lit walk to Navan Fort and take part in a solstice ritual of morning meditation reflecting on the past and welcoming the arrival of new light. Appreciate the calmness and serenity of watching the sun rise over the sacred site of Emain Macha on the shortest day of the year, before returning to the centre for an optional breakfast.
  6. Lisburn Light Festival, Lisburn, 22 November – 25 January. Share the Magic of the Season at Lisburn Light Festival. Over one million lights will illuminate the City Centre with a spectacular Light Canopy, glimmering the length of Bow Street. Experience the dazzling 40 foot Christmas Tree in Market Square and get into the festive spirit as you dance on the interactive light floor below glistening disco balls.
  7. The Magic Of Christmas, Belfast, 19 December. Following its huge success last year, this magical concert is now a central part of the Ulster Orchestra’s annual festive offering. Playing all your favourite songs such as Winter Wonderland and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, it’ll definitely ‘look a lot like Christmas’ at the Waterfront Hall.
  8. Santa Claus is Coming to The Boulevard, Banbridge, 6 – 24 December. As the festive season begins to get under way, The Boulevard in Banbridge is the perfect place to take your little elves (and canine companions) along to meet Santa Claus, unwrap fantastic offers across stores and avail of late-night shopping.
  9. Winter Skate, Belfast, 15 December – 4 January. Skating sessions at the home of the Belfast Giants, the SSE Arena, take place this festive season. Enjoy a family day out by purchasing a site pass which allows access to skating, W5 and a Giant’s Game.
  10. Margaret Keys ‘The Gift of Christmas’, Derry~Londonderry, 21 December. Due to popular demand, chart-topping internationally renowned Irish Soprano Margaret Keys returns home once again to perform an exclusive evening of beautiful music this Christmas at the Waterside Theatre.


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

Special Announcement for HomePlace June Events Programme

Seamus Heaney HomePlace is delighted to announce The Unthanks will be taking to the Helicon stage as part of the Summer Events Programme.

Where does a band go after a symphonic journey that peaks with orchestral performances at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall? Back to the beginning of course. Before fronting one of the most artistically brave and revered banks working today, Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank grew up singing songs without accompaniment, in weaving, unschooled vocal harmony.

As if to prove that creativity should never be about ambition or aspiration, The Unthanks move on from their recent orchestral explorations by going back to what they know and do best – singing in unaccompanied harmony – joined on this tour by Unthanks member Niopha Keegan to make a vocal trio.

The three have already established a band within a band in The Unthanks, with the success of haunting harmony signature pieces like Magpie, recently brought to wider attention by Mackenzie Crook’s beautifully poignant series, Detectorists. On this tour, they fully explore their rich and unique vocal combinations, with brand new material and arrangements, alongside more familiar Unthanks material.

“They run from the root of folk music to the very tip of the branch.” Elvis Costello

“There are few times when you hear an album or discover a band and they stalk immediately to the heart of everything you love and hold dear.” Maxine Peake

“The Unthanks are capable of such beauty that sometimes I can hardly bear to listen to them. And sometimes, when I know I need it, I’ll listen to them to open me up and clean me out.” Martin Freeman

Tickets are available on the Seamus Heaney HomePlace website and are priced at £22 per ticket.



The team behind the Santa Special trains, brought extra festive cheer to less fortunate families as they enjoyed a special steam train ride, whilst meeting Santa Claus!

Whitehead Railway Museum and The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) teamed up with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul (SVP) on Saturday 1st December to take around 100 parents and children on a magical journey, stretching from the city centre, along the scenic coastline to Whitehead town and a trip to Whitehead Railway Museum.

Children met Santa and his elves on the steam train and received a specially-chosen Christmas gift. Passengers travelled in style in one of the society’s enchanting steam locomotives, No. 85 Merlin, built in 1932. A Salvation Army band played atmospheric Christmas music, giving passengers a Christmas send-off.

Siobhan Dillon, Whitehead Railway Museum’s General Manager said, “The Santa Special is a wonderful experience for children and families alike. We are grateful to all those involved from the RPSI and respective charities who made this trip a memorable and magical day out.”

Kirsten Hewitt, the Salvation Army’s regional homelessness manager, said: “Christmas is ultimately about love. To bring children and families together is special and we are so grateful to everyone involved, we simply could not do the work we do without the generous support of others.”

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


Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has announced that its first Hillsborough Christmas Market will take place in the idyllic setting of the Dark Walk at Hillsborough Fort, for one evening only this December. Visitors can expect to feel festive as they will be greeted with the sights and sounds of Christmas as soon as they walk through the gates.  A host of local artisan food producers and crafts people will be ready and waiting to proudly present their products as dusk descends from 3.00pm – 9.00pm on Friday 14th December.


Grainne Duffy is a blues and roots artist hailing from Castleblayney. She is a pioneer of her own style while also paying sincere homage to her roots, soul, blues, country and rock traditions. She is a seasoned artist and has been spending the last number of years touring in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Canada.  With a voice that is as passionate as it is raw and honest, accompanied by simple, melodic and well-phrased guitar lines, this is what you have in Grainne Duffy. See her perform live at the Market Place Theatre this Saturday 15th December evening in the Studio Theatre with an unreserved, cabaret-style seating layout.


This Saturday 15th December, Enniskillen Castle will showcase a wide range of bespoke craft items created by craft designer-makers and artists from the Fermanagh & Omagh District at their festive Christmas Craft Fair.


Join the Silverbirch Hotel s this Christmas for a festive celebration for the whole family, with their Santa Sunday Lunch.  Children will be thoroughly entertained with the kids Christmas party, disco and entertainment by the fabulous Mr Majestic from  2.00pm to 4.00pm. Includes 4 Course Sunday Lunch.  Adults – £18.95pp | Kids – £9.80pp | Under 3 – £5.00pp.


George Hutton will play a special hometown concert in the city of Derry this Friday 14th with support from Paul Casey at the Guildhall.  George encompasses that of an extremely versatile performer. Having received classical training under the tutelage of tenors Ciáran Kelly, Eoin O’Callaghan and Benito Rodriguez he has developed a depth of control that allows him to sing across a great range of musical genres. Tickets £13.00.


Carrickfergus Christmas Market takes place this Saturday 15th December.  Enjoy the seasonal atmosphere and find your Christmas in Carrickfergus, where there will be carefully selected, delicious artisan food and unique, locally produced Arts and Crafts. The markets are managed by Mid and East Antrim Borough council in partnership with award-winning Naturally North Coast and Glens Touring Artisan Markets. Admission is free.


This Christmas will see J.M. Barrie’s magical story of Peter Pan brought to life in gigantic proportions at the SSE Arena.  Reprising his role as the ultimate baddie Captain Hook is acclaimed actor and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp, and playing Hook’s simple-minded right-hand man Mr Smee, is the pun-tastic hilarious comedian and star of BBC Two’s Mock The Week, Milton Jones, who will be swashbuckling his way across the seven seas for the very first time. Matt Knight, who is once again playing the role of Peter Pan was in the band Iron Sun, who were semi-finalists in the BBC entertainment series Let It Shine. 15th and 16th December.

For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.

Jacqueline McGonigle


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.


  • Shop and Stay Offer, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast from £50 per person sharing

The ideal place to stay when you come to Belfast, this three-star, family run hotel is located in the fashionable Malone Road area. The Wellington Park Hotel offers a personalised service and is famous for a casual and relaxed atmosphere with value for money. The Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens and many great restaurants are just steps away. Offer includes an overnight stay, a complimentary taxi fare into Belfast City Centre so you can shop until your heart’s content, a complimentary drink on your return and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 9038 1111. Offer available until 21 December 2018.

  • Seamus Heaney Package, Ardtara Country House, Maghera from £116.50 per person sharing

The four-star Ardtara Country House is nestled in ten wooded acres in the heart of Mid Ulster. The nineteenth century country house has been lovingly restored to provide guests with an authentic experience. Offer includes an overnight midweek stay, a three-course evening dinner, a cooked breakfast the following morning and two tickets for admission to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace. To book call 028 7964 4490. Offer available until 31 January 2019 (Available on Wednesday/Thursday evenings only)

  • 3 Night Weekend Break, Glenavon House Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £109 per person sharing

The three-star Glenavon House Hotel is situated on the outskirts of Cookstown. Overlooking the Ballinderry River and set in nine acres of its own mature grounds, this luxurious hotel offers a wide range of high standard facilities. The hotel’s central location makes it an ideal base to explore Northern Ireland. Offer includes overnight accommodation for three nights and a cooked breakfast each morning. To book call 028 8676 4949. Offer available until 31 December 2018.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are ten exciting things taking place this week (10 – 16 December)


  1. Christmas Twilight Market, Belfast, 11 – 12 December. Sample local food, drink and craft stalls, and enjoy a programme of live entertainment and cookery demonstrations against a spectacular backdrop of twinkling twilights at St. George’s Market.
  2. Enchanted Winter Garden, Antrim, 7 – 17 December. Antrim Castle Gardens are transformed into the Enchanted Winter Garden, creating a magical Christmas experience for family and friends. Bigger and better than before, the Enchanted Gardens includes a Festive Fayre, a 35m Ferris Wheel, a Victorian Helter Skelter, street theatre and much more.
  3. Christmas Winterland Markets, Derry~Londondery, 13 – 16 December. The popular Christmas Winterland Markets in Guildhall Square welcomes the best of artisan traders, offering visitors a family friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of specialty Christmas foods and handcrafted products.
  4. Brass On Your Doorstep, Bangor, 14 December. The Ulster Orchestra’s brass section presents an informal concert at Bangor Abbey that mixes seasonal classical music from across five centuries, with carols and popular tunes from the Great American Christmas Songbook.
  5. Winter Circus, Belfast, 14 December – 1 January. The wonderful, wacky folk at Tumble Circus are back again with The Winter Circus Show in the fantastic, central location of Writer’s Square. Never ones to conform, the Tumble Circus troop will treat you and your family and friends to a winter extravaganza unlike anything else on offer in Belfast.
  6. Festive Vintage Afternoon Tea, Holywood, 16 December. Set at the very heart of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra Manor retains much of its traditional architectural splendour. Experience the Edwardian ritual of afternoon tea with your nearest and dearest this festive season.
  7. Family Festive Film, Limavady, 15 December. Join Roe Valley Arts Centre for the modern classic Christmas film Elf, starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, an elf who discovers he’s human and sets off on an adventure to find his real family. Heartwarming and hilarious.
  8. Santa’s Magical Kingdom, Dungannon, 6 – 16 December. Santa and Mrs Claus are looking forward to meeting all the good boys and girls this Christmas when they return to The Argory. Listen to a festive tale from Mrs Claus and meet some elves before you pop in to see Santa.
  9. Christmas Wonderland, Magherafelt, 1 – 23 December. This festive family event, at The Jungle, is unique in its offerings. Not only can visitors share a meet and greet with Santa, but they can also have a giggle with his colourful Elves, enjoy exciting adventure activities, get creative with a spot of arts and crafts or grab a cuddle with the curious creatures in the Woodland Petting Farm.
  10. Days of Christmas Past, Omagh, 8 – 16 December. This Christmas celebrate the yuletide season at the Ulster American Folk Park at the Days of Christmas Past event. With a range of traditional festive activities, including fireside story readings, sing-a-longs, seasonal treats and visits to Santa and Mrs Claus, it offers something for all the family.


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

BEN ELTON – Ulster Hall, Belfast: Saturday 28th September 2019

Ulster Hall, Belfast: Saturday 28th September 2019

More than 30 years ago, Ben Elton exploded into the national consciousness hosting Channel 4’s ground breaking Saturday Live. Now, after a 15 year absence, the Godfather of modern stand-up returns to the medium he did so much to define. Back on the road with an all new stand-up show, Ben promises to try and make sense of a world which appears to have gone stark raving mad.

As Ben says: “The last time I toured I was still smarter than my phone. Things have definitely taken a funny turn.”

The 53 date tour kicks off in Dublin on 27 September and then travels across the UK culminating in Torquay on 30 November.  Tickets for all shows will go on sale on Monday 10 December.

‘Just give him a stage and a microphone and Ben Elton is the best. No contest.’

The Sunday Times

‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing to beat Ben Elton live!’

Evening Standard


Tickets for the Ulster Hall are available:

In person at the Ulster Hall box office

By Telephone: 028 9033 4455
Book On Line: /

In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour): Northern Ireland – 0844 277 44 55
Book On Line:

Celebrate Christmas with Whitehead Railway Museum


Travel in style from Whitehead or Carrickfergus to Belfast to do your Christmas shopping! Leave the car at home and enjoy the coastal scenery from your steam train as you head up to Belfast, where the attractions range from St George’s Market to the Christmas Market at City Hall, and of course all the shops and restaurants.

Produce your ticket and get a free Tea/Coffee on your way to Belfast.

Adult £10 / Child £5

For more info on tickets visit:



The perfect Christmas present for an Afternoon Tea lover. Share this experience with a loved one and spend quality time together between Christmas and New Year!

🍰Dine in our atmospheric Edwardian Tea Room
🍰Enjoy delicious homemade treats
🍰Tea is served in our finest china
🍰£18 p.p
🍰Sat 29th Dec @ 2pm

☕Booking is essential as spaces fill up fast! Book now to avoid disappointment!☕ For more info and to book visit:



Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye


Conleth Hendron and Annie Campbell get ready to ring in 2019 in Belfast’s most luxurious cocktail lounge, the Observatory in the Grand Central Hotel, where there will be a fabulous Roaring 20’s Cocktail Party on New Year’s Eve. Book your table for the night and you can sip on the finest cocktail and drinks selection and take in the unique views of Belfast and beyond. Tickets are priced at £100 per guest and include a welcome cocktail, 1/2 bottle of Bollinger, seasonal Tapas at 10pm and live musical entertainment from jazz & swing singer, James Huish and a piper at Midnight. To purchase, call the Observatory on 028 9023 1066.

NYE package availablepackage – £170pp sharing to include your ticket to the Roaring 20’s Cocktail Party, luxurious overnight accommodation with a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room, Full Irish Breakfast and 1pm check-out on New Year’s Day