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 Siesta , Europa Hotel, Belfast from £48 per person sharing

Stay in the heart of Belfast and enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the four-star Europa Hotel. The hotel’s ideal location will allow you to explore top city centre shopping outlets nearby, along with a number of key tourism attractions, including Titanic Belfast and Crumlin Road Gaoll. Offer includes overnight accommodation, complimentary bottle of Estrella or glass of wine in the Lobby Bar, late checkout and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 9027 1066.Offer available until 31 August 2019.

·         Summer Family Staycation, Lodge Hotel, Derry~Londonderry from 119 per room

Renowned for its hospitality and award-winning food, the three-star Lodge Hotel is the ideal base for touring the Causeway Coast. With the nearby seaside towns, Portrush and Portstewart, and medieval Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway all less than a 20-minute drive away, there’s lots for the whole family to explore. Offer includes an overnight stay in a spacious family room with breakfast for everyone the following morning. To book call 028 7034 4848. Offer available until 30 September 2019.

·         Couple’s Faldo Escape,  Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh from £95 per person sharing

The picturesque location of the five-star Lough Erne Resort is the perfect place to experience the breathtaking views and natural beauty of Fermanagh’s lakelands. The multi-award winning resort offers everything you need for a high quality break, as well as two golf courses. Offer includes luxury overnight accommodation, a round of golf on the championship Faldo Course and a fully cooked breakfast. To book call 028 6632 3230. Offer available until 23 December 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 (1-7 July)

1.       Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Food Festival, Hillsborough, 5-7 July. Enjoy a majestic day out exploring 100 acres of beautiful gardens and pick up some fabulous local food and drink produce. There will also be live cookery demos from celebrity chefs, workshops and great entertainment for families.

2.       JDM Car Culture 2019, Lisburn, 7 July. Hundreds of show cars, trade stands, live entertainment and non-stop tyre shredding action awaits car fans in Balmoral Park. From slammed hatchbacks and 1000bhp+ road cars, to drift machinery and classic restorations, this year’s show has it all.

3.       A Taste of Summer Slemish Market Supper Club, Ballymena, 5 July. An evening of fine summer food, fun and friendship at Slemish Market Supper Club’s  ‘Taste of Summer’ pop up dining experience with chef Rob Curley in the Adair Arms Hotel.

4.       Seaside Revival Vintage Festival, Bangor, 6 July. A vintage festival celebrating Bangor’s heyday as a thriving seaside resort. Expect vintage stalls, a record fair, classic cars, a vintage fashion show, a dog show, Punch & Judy, traditional craft, sea swim, Etsy Market, plus quality hot food stalls and a full bar to keep you fed and watered. Live music includes The Sabrejets and The Swingtime Starlets.

5.       Inns Cross Market, Belfast, 6 July. A whole host of local food producers can be found on your doorstep at this farmers’ market. Choose from speciality meat, artisan breads and cheeses, preserves, chutneys and pickles and much more.

6.       Summer Music at St. Patrick’s, Coleraine, 4 July. Visitors to the Causeway Coast and Glens can enjoy a series of Thursday lunchtime concerts held over July and August in St Patrick’s Church. The programmes include recitals by local, national and international artists.

7.       Shandon Park Open Week, Belfast, 6-13 July. As Northern Ireland gets ready to welcome the 148th Open, Shandon Park Golf Club, just three miles from Belfast City Centre, is hosting its own Open Week of daily golf competitions.

8.       Steam and Jazz Train, Belfast, 5 July. Hop on board a restored 1960s train at Lanyon Place Belfast, hauled by a vintage steam locomotive. Relax as you leave the city behind and enjoy the sounds of New Orleans jazz when it call at stations which could be anywhere on the Northern Ireland railway network.

9.       Belvoir Players Summer Theatre Tour, Newcastle, 5 July. The ever-popular Belvoir Players make a welcome return to Newcastle Community Cinema for their now legendary Summer Theatre Tour with ‘Wedding Fever’, a rip-roaring Sam Cree comedy.

10.   Between the Hedges Exhibition, Armagh, 1-31 July. For this exhibition at Armagh Visitor Information Centre, Sharon Regan looks to the hedgerows, and shares the stories and myths inspired by the animals living between them.

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

The Sound of Music at Theatre at The Mill

Following the success of Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story our Home Spun Youth Musical Theatre are excited to be performing in a new production of all-time favourite musical, The Sound of Music from Tues 2 – Sat 6 July.

The final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein was destined to become the world’s most beloved musical. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry.

The family’s narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in the theatre. The motion picture version remains the most popular movie musical of all time.

Get your summer off to a high note and treat the family to this smash-hit Musical with nightly performances at 7pm, and a Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm, this is a production not to be missed. Tickets are priced at £15 & £13 (Concession) Family Ticket £40. For more details and bookings call Box Office T: 028 9034 0202 or online at

Best Selling Authors for Lunchtimes at Hewitt Summer School

Lunchtime Readings featuring prizewinning fiction writers who read from and talk about their recent work have been among the most popular events at recent John Hewitt International Summer Schools in Armagh, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

And this year’s Lunchtime series, which runs at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh from 22 to 26 July, starting at a later time of 1.30pm each day, will feature more best-selling authors, including Ann Cleeves, Kevin Barry and Jo Baker in conversation with some of Northern Ireland’s best-known writers including Jan Carson, Michael Hughes and Brian McGilloway.

The series begins on Monday 22 July with Sarah Moss, one of the UK’s very best contemporary novelists. Her highly acclaimed sixth novel “Ghost Wall”, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 and was chosen as a Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Spectator & Financial Times.

Sarah will be in conversation with Michael Hughes, Co Armagh-born author of “The Countenance Divine” and “Country” which was announced recently as the winner of the 2019 London Hellenic Prize.

Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s “Vera” and BBC One’s “Shetland”. She is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez: both the Vera Stanhope and Shetland series of novels have become major TV adaptations. Her latest book, “Wild Fire”, is the eighth and final book in the Shetland series. Her next book is the Long Call, the first in a brand new series of books featuring Detective Matthew Venn.

On Tuesday 23 July, during her conversation with Brian McGilloway, himself, one of Ireland’s best-known crime writers, local audiences will have a very special opportunity to listen to Anne Cleeves talk about her extraordinary career in crime fiction.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, “Kintu”, won the Kwani Manuscript Project 2013, She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story “Let’s Tell This Story Properly” and Jennifer was a recipient of the prestigious Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in 2018. On Wednesday 24 July, Jennifer will be in conversation about her first full story collection. “Manchester Happened”, with Maureen Boyle, prizewinning poet, memoirist and teacher.

There will be a welcome return to JHISS on Thursday 25 July for Kevin Barry’s, one of Ireland’s most exciting and entertaining writers today, who will be talking about his darkly comic new novel, “Night Boat to Tangier”, to novelist Jan Carson, critically acclaimed author of the 2019 EU prize-winning novel, “The Fire Starters”.

 Kevin Barry’s debut novel, “City of Bohane”, won the IMPAC award as well as the EU Prize for Literature, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award; his second novel, “Beatlebone”, won the Goldsmiths Prize. He earned much acclaim for his collections of short stories, “There Are Little Kingdoms” and “Dark Lies the Island”.

No stranger to Armagh, Lancashire-based Jo Baker, who is married to Armagh-born playwright and screenwriter, Daragh Carville, is the celebrated author of the five novels including the critically acclaimed and bestselling “Longbourn”which is due release as a feature film in 2020.

On Friday 26 July, Jo will take part in an interview with Professor Tess Maginess, QUB, about her new book, “The Body Lies”, a thrilling contemporary suspense novel that grapples with how to live as a woman in the modern world – or in a book – when the stakes are dangerously high.

Tickets for individual JHISS Lunchtime events cost £8 .00 and these are available at the Box Office at The Market Place Theatre, Tel. 028 3752 1821 or they may be booked online:   For further information see the Summer School brochure or website:  

Elme Orkestra & Ryan Vail announce Irish additions to live show at The Mac

Northern Irish musicians, Ryan Vail and Eoin O’Callaghan aka Elma Orkestra and will launch the release of their collaborative studio album, Borders with a show at the MAC this Friday, 28 June, alongside two of the most respected Irish artists in their field – vocalist, Moya Brennan and spoken word artist, Stephen James Smith.

Both from Derry-Londonderry, Vail and O’Callaghan’s album, Borders is a nod to their city and an acknowledgement of the need to overcome divisions. Presented by AVA and Quiet Arch Records, the additions of both Brennan and Smith help extend the atmospheric heights of the set, which combines electronic and neo-classical genres.

An Emmy award-winning performer and a founding member of iconic Celtic music act,‘Clannad’,Brennan is recognised as the ‘First Lady of Celtic Music’ and is widely regarded as one of the most influential singers in Irish history.

Smith has made a name for himself by modernising the art of spoken word and Irish poetry and returns to the MAC following his own successful tour here in November 2018. A world-renowned performer who has worked with the likes of Conor O’Brien (‘Villagers’ and Ivor Novello Award Winner), Oscar award-winner Glen Hansard, Shane McGowan and Roddy Doyle.

Borders has already been praised by critics for the scope and scale of its ambitious sound, with O’Callaghan and Vail’s meticulous, inspired compositions highlighting the album’s staggering feat of collaborative spirit.

Tickets for Borders at the MAC on sale now  at or call Box Office on 02890235053.

Brighter Nights at Lilian Bland Community Park

Brighter Nights return to Lilian Bland Community Park from Friday 5 July – Friday 30 August. This free family fun event will run each Friday evening from 6.30-8.30pm offering a great choice of activities for all ages to enjoy.

Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Anne Marie Logue with local children launching Brighter Nights which runs at Lilian Bland Community Park, Glengormley from Friday 5 July.

Getting this year’s programme off to a great start is a special ‘Schools Out Party’ to celebrate the start of the School Summer Holidays. So party on down to Lilian Bland Community Park where we have The African drumming circle, an inflatable assault course, adventure play bus, traditional games, multi skilled outdoor activities, a Disney themed bouncy castle with slide and face painters to keep this party in full swing!.

Launching Brighter Nights earlier this week Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Anne-Marie Logue commented “It is great to have such a diverse range of activities for children to enjoy each week in this fantastic open green space, an ideal opportunity to bring communities together”.

So if you fancy yourself as a Dancing Diva or a Sports Fanatic or just looking for some Fun you will love Brighter Nights which offers a different theme each week.

For a full listing check out our website

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


Join James Tanner at the  Comber Earlies Food Festival this Saturday.  There is plenty of foodie-inspired fun celebrating the Comber Earlies potato, local produce and artisan producers happening which all the family will enjoy!


All are welcome, every Thursday in June to the Walled Garden in Armagh, whether it is to lend a hand, pick your own fresh vegetables to take home, or just to have a friendly chat with staff and volunteers. 


The Enniskillen Road Races return for a second year. The quiet country roads will come alive to the sounds of motorcycle racing on closed public roads. This 2 day event will see a full days practice on Friday 28th June with an 11 race schedule for Saturday 29th June. Roads close at 12 noon on Friday and 10.00 am on Saturday. 


The annual Omagh Food Festival is back and this year it promises to be bigger and better than ever. The festival will take place over two days, this Saturday and Sunday,  under a festival marquee in the carpark located adjacent to Main Street, Omagh.  The event is aimed at bringing together local producers and people with a love for food and there is something for all the family.


The Parish of St. Lurach’s, Maghera & Killelagh are holding their Garden Fete & Vintage Rally on Saturday 29th June at Maghera Rectory from 12pm – 4pm.  There will be all the usual attractions including Display of Vintage Cars & Tractors with prizes for best in class, free children’s entertainment, music all day, stalls and food including teas and barbecue.


Bring your little one and their favourite teddy for a fun ride on vintage steam train at Whitehead Railway Museum this Saturday. There will be plenty of children’s activities hosted throughout the day for the perfect family day out, including a bear hunt and the chance to win a prize!  Steam train rides will run between 12.00pm and 4.00pm every 15 mins


Visitors on the autism spectrum and those with sensory requirements can enjoy the peace and quiet of Belfast Zoo during Quiet Hour this Saturday. The zoo will open at 9.00 am, an hour before normal opening times. Visitors can expect reduced crowds and lower levels of noise, helping to create a more relaxed atmosphere.

For further 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

Offers of the week!

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.

·         Taste of Summer, Ballygally Castle Hotel, County Antrim from £70 per person sharing

Overlooking golden sandy beaches and only a five-minute drive from Carnfunnock Country Park, the four star Ballygally Castle Hotel is the perfect base for exploring the Causeway Coast this summer. The castle dates back to 1625 and is the only 17th century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. Offer includes overnight accommodation, a house cocktail on arrival and a full Irish breakfast. To book call 028 2858 1066. Offer available until 31 August 2019.

·         Indulgence Package, The Old Inn, County Down from £75 per person sharing

With its traditional thatched roof, beamed ceilings and many open fires the four-star Old Inn  hotel provides a cosy, relaxed atmosphere to indulge in. Located in the coastal town of Bangor, this hotel is the perfect base to explore the County Down area. Offer includes an overnight stay, a cocktail per guest, a three-course meal with bottle of wine and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 9185 3255. Offer available until 30 November 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 (24-30 June)

1.       Enniskillen Road Race, Enniskillen, 28-29 June. Quiet country roads will once again come alive to the sounds of motorcycle racing on closed public roads.

2.       Cycling Ireland National Road Championships, Derry~Londonderry,  27-30 June. Hosted by Foyle Cycling Club, this three day festival of racing will gives visitors to the city an opportunity to see the best of Irish racers, while taking in the sights of the historic city.

3.       Pirates Off Portrush, Portrush, 29-30 June.  A full programme of events will take place throughout the town starting with the Treasure Hunt, Pirate Dress and Dance Competitions. Through drama and entertainment, performed in the Amphitheatre and Antrim Gardens, the battle between the Leprechauns and Tavish’s Pirates is played out. Movement between locations is staged as a journey or pursuit with costumed characters, street entertainers, floats and musicians all taking part in a grand street parade.

4.       Belfast City Blues Festival 2019, Belfast, 28-30 June. This year’s programme has something for everyone. With over 60 free live gigs, ’Blues On The Boat ‘ music cruises and the festival’s new attraction ‘Blues At The River, Music And Food Fest‘ live from Donegal Quay at the Big Blue Fish, this year’s Belfast City Blues Festival is not to be missed.

5.       The Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival, Antrim, 29-30 June.  The Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle is in its 41st year, a serious county sports competition and as a fun-filled family day. There is action right across the fairgrounds and an all-day arena entertainment programme.

6.       Mourne International Walking Festival 2019, Newcastle, 28-30 June. The long-standing and perennially popular walking event returns to the Mourne Mountains. It provides a range of walks suitable for all ages and abilities, from lowland routes to traversing the highest peaks.

7.       The Magic Flute, Belfast, 27-29 June. A handsome prince, a damsel in distress, sorcerers, priests and a bumbling bird catcher – all are given life in Mozart’s sublime blend of lyrical love duets, folk-like ditties and the explosive coloratura of the Queen of the Night arias at the Grand Opera House.

8.       Causeway Coast Foodie Tours – Heart of Portrush Tasting Tour, Portrush, 28 June. Join your friends and embark on a 4.5 hour walking tour of Portrush’s only craft beer brewery and finest gastronomic establishments, visiting four venues to sample award-winning local produce. This tour is about getting together and sharing food, drink, experiences and stories.

9.       Comber Earlies Food Festival, Comber, 29 June. Expect interactive cookery demonstrations, an artisan food market, potato themed children’s craft, a vintage tractor display, Jump, Jiggle and Jive children’s dancing, Ark farm animal roadshow, a hay bale picnic and music from Cleland Memorial Band, the Lily of the Valley Accordion Band and the Comber Silver Band.

10.   Omagh Food Festival, Omagh, 29-30 June. The event is aimed at bringing together local producers and people with a love for food. There is something for all the family at Omagh Food Festival. In addition to the wide range of exhibitors & live cooking demos there is music, face painting and cupcake decoration for kids, all part of the line-up to the free event.

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

BASH! The Pirates of Penzance: Gala Performance

To close the BASH WEEKEND, the ensemble present a one off concert performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic masterpiece.

Revolutionary music-theatre for its time, Pirates of Penzanca irreverently tells the story of a group of undesirables that take on the establishment’s sense of ‘duty’ and redefine the notion of a ‘sea border’.

With orchestra and a top class cast, this classic gets a 21st century update for one night only!