Discover the magic of Puppets this weekend at Ards Puppet Festival!

This Bank Holiday weekend Ards Arts Centre and Conway Square, Newtownards will be animated with puppets in all shapes and sizes when the annual Ards Puppet Festival returns to the town!

Over the two days, Sunday 26 and Monday 27 May, the jam-packed programme will offer scheduled shows, street theatre, walkabouts and craft workshops.

The Conway Square programme of activities which runs from 12noon to 4pm each day, includes colourful street-theatre, whacky walkabouts and puppet-making workshops. Watch the ‘Billy Goats Gruff’ as they tussle with the grumpy troll, queue up at the ‘Rat Choc Chip’ ice-cream van and get more than you’ve bargained for, enjoy a ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ or traditional ‘Punch and Judy’. More creative visitors can get stuck into puppet-making at the free interactive workshops where children can build their very own puppets, with help from professional artists.

One of the programme highlights will be performances by the Budapest Marionettes. Performing for the first time in Northern Ireland, Bence Sarkadi is a Hungarian marionette artist / puppeteer who travels the globe, entertaining crowds with his award-winning, one-man show. Prepare to be amazed as Bence’s mastery brings his puppets to life. All Conway Square performances are FREE of charge.

Lyngo Theatre bring their productions of Tom Thumb and Jack and the Beanstalk to the festival where cBeebies’ Patrick Lynch will work his magic, retelling these classic tales in the magical Lyngo way.  Clydebuilt Theatre will make a welcome return to the festival with their adorable ‘Lost Bear’ production and the much-loved Banyan Theatre will also return with their enchanting show ‘The Hedgehog Prince’. All scheduled shows cost £3 per ticket, advanced booking is required. Please note the 11.30am performance of Jack and the Beanstalk on Sunday is now sold out but there are tickets remaining for the other shows.

Speaking about the festival, Amy McKelvey, Community Arts Development Officer with Ards and North Down Borough Council said*****************************************************

Ards Puppet Festival takes place from 26 – 27 May in Conway Square Newtownards. Copies of the Puppet Festival programme are also available from Ards Arts Centre, North Down Museum or any of the Council’s Visitor Information Centres.

For more information, to book tickets or to download the programme go to:

Belfast Book Festival 2019

Helping to spread the word about this year’s Belfast Book Festival (7-16 June) which launched at rooftop bar Babel are (l-r) writers and festival participants Glenn Patterson and Dawn Watson, Festival Director, Roger Courtney, Sonya Whitefield (Arts Council of Northern Ireland) pictured with actress Louise Parker who plays Molly Bloom in a specially commissioned and adapted for stage performance of  “YES” Molly’s Soliloquy from James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The 9th Belfast Book Festival features over 80 events showcasing high profile writers and personalities from home and further afield. From Bake-Off’s Prue Leith, Irish novelists Roddy Doyle and John Boyne to former hostage Terry Waite. The line-up also includes ex- politicians Lord David Owen and Alan Johnson, television presenter and satirist Will Self, Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K Smith and renowned journalists Reni Eddo-Lodge and Paul Mason.  

Well-known local talent featured during the festival includes Belfast’s Lucy Caldwell, crime writer Sharon Dempsey, poet Medbh McGuckian, novelist Michael Hughes and famed poet Michael Longley who marks his 80th birthday with readings, conversation and a Duke Special musical performance of Michael’s work.                  

This year’s theme is Where do you like to read? and the public are invited to join in the conversation at #BelfastBook. For more information and to book tickets got to


Acclaimed internationally, renowned pianist David Quigley will perform at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre on Friday 24 May. The concert will include a range of popular and classic piano works.

Picture by Edward Moss All rights reserved. David Quigley musician

His most recent album ‘Piano Nocturnes’ [Avie Records], is described by Classic FM as ‘Just Divine’ and played ‘with assured skill and sensitivity’. 

His programme features music from the album and classics from Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti and Debussy’s exquisite ‘Clair de lune’

This is an evening not to be missed! Tickets are available for £14 and £12 (concession), with a £5 rate for students.

Tickets are available from the Theatre Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at To keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter ( where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.


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.

·         Belfast Titanic Experience, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast from £150 per room

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 overnight accommodation for two nights with a full Irish breakfast each morning, a complimentary drink on arrival and entry to the infamous Titanic experience, including the SS Nomadic. To book call 028 9038 1111. Offer available until 31 December 2019.

·         Three Night Seasonal Break, Glenavon House Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £120 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 with a full Irish  breakfast each morning. To book call 028 8676 4949. Offer available until 31 December 2019.

·         One Night Wine and Dine, Westville Hotel, Co. Fermanagh  from £148 per night

Perfectly located in the heart of Enniskillen’s waterside, the four-star Westville Hotel is a sophisticated, yet understated, boutique destination with comfortable rooms. Offer includes overnight accommodation, a three-course dinner in the evening with a bottle of house wine and a full Irish breakfast the following 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 (20-26 May)

1.       Brainiac Live, Belfast, 24-25 May. Strap on your safety goggles boys and girls, due to popular demand Science’s greatest and most volatile live show is returning with a vengeance to the IIC Belfast. Expect exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and loads of live daredevil stunts.

2.       Armagh Craft Fair 2019, Armagh, 25 May. Armagh Craft Fair 2019 returns for the ninth year to the wonderful surroundings of The Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre. Bringing high quality craft to the heart of Armagh City this annual event offers something for everyone.

3.       Altikeeragh Blanket Bog Walk, Limavady, 25 May. Join the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust to explore Altikeeragh Blanket Bog nestled high up in the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and learn about the special wildlife and habitats.

4.       Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, Ballycastle, 24 May-2 June.  The festival celebrates the culture, cuisine and coastal treasures with an exciting sea-focused programme of nautical themed events in Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.

5.       Armagh County Fleadh, Armagh, 24-26 May. The Armagh Fleadh is set to take place in Forkhill and presents excellent opportunities for musicians of all ages to participate and showcase their unique musical talent.

6.       The Spring Beer Festival, Belfast, 24-25 May. Clink Steins and sing songs at The Doyen with old friends (and probably some new ones)  on traditional long style tables with the room dressed in true German Beer Fest style, whilst the Heidi girls keep the Bavarian Beer flowing at your tables.

7.       Ards Puppet Festival 2019, Newtownards, 26-27 May. Classic tales will be brought to life with fascinating and magical performances to entertain the whole family. Festival line-up includes Lyngo Theatre  performing ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’,  Clydebuilt Theatre performing  ‘Lost Bear’ and Banyan Theatre performing  ‘The Hedgehog Prince.’

8.       Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival 2019, Belfast, 25-27 May. The magnificent masts of the Tall Ships return to Belfast’s quaysides, signalling the start of one of the city’s most popular family events, the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.

9.       Hands Craft Festival, Omagh, 24-27 May. Rediscover Ireland’s rich heritage and lost traditional skills as An Creagán hosts this festival, aimed at teaching skills including foraging in the wild, lace making, firing pottery, straw craft, cordage, fermentation, frame loom weaving and herbalism.

10.   County Derry Fleadh 2019, Derry~Londonderry, 23-27 May. All of the competitions will be in St Brigid’s College and showcases unique musical talent within the area.

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

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


Join Montalto Estate this Sunday 19th May  for La Dirindina’s adventurous journey to La Scala with a scandalous libretto by Girolamo Gigli, set to music by 18th century composers Domenico Scarlatti and Giovanni Battista Martini.  Performed by the NI Opera Studio and an instrumental ensemble.


Get in the groove this Saturday at the Market Place’s swinging Jazz Club. Topping the bill for this gig is Michael Barkley, a rising jazz star, a trumpeter who, along with his young rhythm section, has been receiving great reviews.


Join the RSPBNI this Saturday morning from 10.00 am aboard the Lady of the Lake double-deck cruiser for a guided boat tour of the stunning Lough Erne for a Curlew Cruise.  Hear all about the year-round work that goes on across the RSPB-managed islands on Lough Erne for the benefit of breeding waders. And if you’re lucky there’s also the possibility of sighting skylarks, a kingfisher, a peregrine falcon or even an Irish hare.


Kevin McAleer has recently been voted ‘Most Humble Guru in the Universe’ for the eighteenth year running. To celebrate this modest achievement, Guru McAleer has announced a majestic schedule which includes the Square Box in Dungannon on Saturday 18th May.   An evening of divine light entertainment not to be missed!


The Thomas School of Jewellery in Derry are offering an opportunity to design and create your own piece of jewellery this Saturday morning.  This fun and informative class is the perfect introduction to jewellery making.  No previous experience necessary. Materials included.


Cheerleading try outs will take place this Sunday  at the Sixmile Leisure Centre in Larne from 1.00pm to 5.00pm.  Try it out & have fun. Limited spaces are available. Open to anyone in the Ballymena/Larne area.


Balmoral Show is Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food event, promising a fun-filled day out for all the family 15th-18th May.  There really is something for everyone to enjoy!  Come along and see for yourself; sample fantastic local food, browse amongst over 650 trade stands, visit the fun fair and be entertained by top names on the Downtown Show Stage.

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

Armagh Tigers Charitable Trust presents An Extraordinary BBQ, Festival & Auction

Armagh City Hotel, 29th June, 2019, in aid of Stroke & Heart Research, Craigavon Area Hospital

If there is one date you need to mark in your diary this year make it Saturday 29th June.  The venue Armagh City Hotel and the event ‘An Extraordinary BBQ Festival and Auction’.  This event will prove to be an occasion like no other, with music and dancing, food and drink, laughter and the feel good factor of raising funds for two exceptional charities – ‘Stroke & Heart Research – Craigavon Area Hospital’ and proceeds of a raffle to ‘Daisy Lodge Cancer Fund for Children’.

This event has been a project close to the heart of local businessman Kieran McAnallan.  Kieran took a stroke in 2016, followed by a quadruple bypass in Easter 2018.  As a result of his experiences and as Chairman of Armagh Tigers he is in the perfect position to organise this fund raising event to acknowledge the work done by  Dr. David McEneaney and the great team at Craigavon Area Hospital and Mr. Alastair Graham at The Royal Victoria, Belfast.  Most of his time was spent in Craigavon and this event has been planned in support of the great work done by the stroke and heart team.

The Armagh Tigers Charitable Trust are delighted to announce the musical line-up for their BBQ Festival.  The evening of entertainment will get underway from 7pm compered by Country Music’s Sean Wallace who will introduce a first class line-up of artists such as Patrick and Conor O’Sullivan, Hugo Duncan, Farmer Dan and his Band, Olivia Douglas, Boxcar Brian and Gary Gamble and more.  Taking to the stage at 11pm and headlining the show will be father and son entertainers Dominic and Barry Kirwan and their Band.  

As for the menu, visitors will be treated to a veritable feast.  The barbecue will be cooked by Armagh City Hotel chefs and include steak, beef burgers, sausages, chicken fillets, loin chops, mixed kebabs, cajun salmon, sweet potatoes with a wide selection of salads.  Followed by a choice desert and glass of red or white wine.

All this in the beautiful surroundings of The Fisher Suite at Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road,Armagh, BT60 4FR.  Tables will be seated for ten people.  Full stage and dance floor.  Tickets are £40 each.  Individual tickets can be purchased or in tables of ten and are available from Armagh Tigers Charitable Trust members or 

Armagh City Hotel Reception Tel: 0283751 8888 

Kieran: 07771 654700, 

Colm: 07851 648270, Kevin: 07711 527777, 

Dean: 07802 672 598, Fergus: 07714 218477.  

Book Early This Will Be a Sell Out Event.

Elvis Spectacular show at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre

The Elvis spectacular show will grace the stage at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady on Thursday 6th June at 8.30pm.

Featuring European Elvis Champion Ciaran Houlihan, the TCB band and the beautiful harmonies of the Sweet Sensations it is a night not to be missed.

Ciaran will perform in costumes designed by Elvis’ own costume designer Gene Douchette and cover hits ranging from the Hillbilly Cat Days to his final number one ‘Way Down.’

This tribute act is a brilliant representation of Elvis’ greatest hits, filled with electric energy, emotion and showmanship symbolising the greatest rock and roll artist of all time.

Tickets priced at £20 are available from or by calling the Box Office on 028 7776 0650. This event will be licensed.

Sea Bangor Aims for the Skies with Two-Day Maritime Festival!

Bangor will be a hive of activity over Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June when popular maritime festival, Sea Bangor, sails into town with a host of entertainment and activities for all the family!

The AeroSuperBatics Wing Walking team will be among the main attractions at Sea Bangor over 01-02 June.

Organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council with support from Bangor Chamber of Commerce, South Eastern Regional College (SERC), Bangor Marina and Translink, this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever in what will be one of Bangor’s busiest weekends of the year.

Thousands of visitors from the Borough and beyond are expected to descend on the seaside town over the course of the two days to see lots of entertainment including water and aerial displays.

The AeroSuperBatics Wingwalking Team of high flyers are among the main attractions. They will swoop over the lough in their modified Breitling Stearman biplanes at 4.30pm on the Saturday and 3pm on the Sunday, performing incredible feats in the sky in what will be a spectacular aerial display above Bangor.

A bit closer to earth, you can watch Daniel Doyle create stunning sculptures made out of sand near the entrance to the Long Hole while the Eisenhower Pier will host the popular Rowing Challenge which features local community teams competing for the Sea Bangor Cup. Watch them battle it out for the prestigious trophy!

And if you fancy getting your feet wet, you can take part in one of the Royal Yachting Association’s sailing experiences on the Saturday or try kayaking on the Sunday. There will be boat tours on offer too, allowing you to explore Bangor’s coastline from the sea.

Those keen to keep their feet firmly on dry land can visitthe Army Reserve Village in the Marina car park or head to the Tented Village in Quay Street car park. The Tiddler’s Tent Silent Disco is open for all the family while the ‘Under the Sea’ creative experience marquee will inspire and engage.

If you fancy a gentle ride, you can check out the funfair rides or jump on the Panoramic Wheel and get a bird’s eye view of the marina. You might even be able to spot Detritus of the Deep from above. Having exited the depths of the ocean, he’ll be roaming around the crowds on his stilts in an attempt to find out why his sea home is being destroyed by pollution.

All that activity will get those tummies rumbling and the Sea Bangor Café will serve a variety of food with a focus on local business and local produce. Plus, there will be cookery demonstrations and competitions hosted by SERC, including ‘Bangor’s Best Balti’, helping to find the master chefs in our midst.

The food stalls, street theatre and live music from different local bands in the Open House Shanty Shack will all add to the bustling atmosphere so make sure you come to Sea Bangor during the first weekend in June!

Enjoy a voyage of discovery at Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is set to make a splash when it returns to Ballycastle and Rathlin Island later this month.

From May 24th – June 2nd get closer to the maritime heritage of this very special part of the Causeway Coast and Glens through an exciting and engaging programme of events.

The celebration is packed full of seafaring, food experiences, artisan produce, live music and lots more on water and dry land while a mesmerising range of sailing vessels will bring the story of sea travel to life. For a must-see sight, watch as a flotilla makes its way across Rathlin Sound on Friday 31st May. A Viking longboat, drontheims and currachs, including the magnificent Colmcille and Menapian which at almost 40ft long are two of the largest of their kind in Northern Ireland, all feature in this magnificent fleet.

Looking ahead to the festivities, a spokesperson for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said: “Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is a very special event, set in one of the Borough’s most scenic locations. We have worked closely with our community partners to deliver an exciting showcase of maritime connections which have brought Ballycastle and Rathlin Island together through generations. The Festival brings this to life through food, music, dance, arts, crafts, boat trips and watersports and there will be plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the very best of what the area has to offer.”

For foodies, the Ulster Chowder Championship is a must see in the Cookery Theatre on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27th). This is a fabulous opportunity to celebrate our sea food and skilled chefs. With a chance to compete in the world famous Kinsale competition next year it’s all to cook for in the seafront marquee!

New this year, The School of Irish Archaeology brings ‘The Big Dig’ to the festival.  This fun hands-on workshop is educational, engaging and interactive offering the experience of a real life dig for Viking treasures and artefacts. Guided by a team of professionals, this dig gives children the opportunity to experience what it is like to be an archaeologist whilst learning about the lifestyles of their Viking ancestors.

On Rathlin Island, take an evening tour of the West Light Seabird Centre with the RSPB and watch as the red beam shines out across the sea over one of the biggest seabird breeding colonies in Europe. Visit an art installation in the unique surroundings of a cliff-edge Coastguard hut or meet the crew of the Mamoch Mor Currach and learn more about this inspiring community-built traditional boat for a taste of contemporary maritime culture.

For all of this and much more make sure that you experience Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival for yourself between Friday 24th May and Sunday 2nd June. As the programme is subject to change due to tides and weather conditions please follow the festival’s social media channels on Twitter (@RathlinSoundMF) and Facebook (@RathlinSoundMaritimeFestival) for the latest updates. To view the full programme of events go to