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.

·         1 x Night B&B, Bushmills Inn Hotel, Co. Antrim from £120 per room per night

The four-star Bushmills Inn Hotel is conveniently located on the Causeway Coastal route, providing the perfect base to explore the area and visit key tourist attractions such as The Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle. Originally a Coaching Inn in the 1600s for saddle sore travellers, this Hotel is steeped in history with a myriad of places to explore. From inglenook turf fires to hayloft snugs, there’s something to find behind every door. Offer includes overnight accommodation and a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 2073 3000. Offer available until 15 November 2019.

·         1 x Night B&B, Seagoe Hotel, Co. Armagh from £119 per room per night

The four-star Seagoe Hotel is situated just outside of Portadown. This modern, yet homely hotel has maintained a high standard of service and attention to detail over its many years of business. The hotel is conveniently located close by to local shopping areas and parks, while Lough Neagh is only a short drive away. Offer includes one night’s bed and breakfast accommodation. To book call 028 3833 3076. Offer available until 15 November 2019. 

·         Autumn Stays, Belle Isle Estate, Co. Fermanagh from £250 per room per night

Stay at the four-star Belle Isle Estate in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands.  Belle Isle Estate is a designated Special Area of Conservation and the castle itself is a fantastic 17th century country house. Explore the walled gardens and relax in idyllic accommodation in this beautiful area of Northern Ireland. Offer includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast each morning plus complimentary tickets to Enniskillen Castle and 2 for 1 admission to Belleek Pottery. To book call 0286 638 7231. Offer available until 15 November 2019.

Food Focus: 10 things to do in Northern Ireland

As part of the ‘Taste the Island’ initiative for the next 12 weeks will have the top three food experiences and events in their weekly  10 things to do listing. 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 including three food experiences and events (16-22 September)

1.       Armagh Food and Cider Festival, Armagh, 19-22 September. An international extravaganza featuring a huge spread of unmissable events in venues across the county. Festival visitors to the iconic city of Armagh and its surrounding fruit-laden orchards can expect to raise more than a glass to an incredible range of mouth-watering events.

2.       Wee Buns – Preserve the Season , Dungannon, 20 September. Capture the essence of Autumn in this preserving class using foraged damsons, rose hips and blackberries from the local hedges and locally grown fruit.  Learn about the fundamental techniques and skills of home preserving, make your own soda bread and take home a jar each of jam and pickles.

3.        Gins and Poitins of the Mournes, Newry, 19 September. Brendan Carty of Killowen Distillery will host an evening dedicated at traditional bar, Crawfords, to the top quality craft gin and poitín he produces in the heart of the Mournes. Several sample drinks will be served, including cocktails and mixers. The final sample will be a Poitín Irish Coffee. Food will also be paired with each drink.

4.       Art in the Orchard with Deborah Malcomson, Portadown, 21 September. Suitable for the complete beginner, budding or seasoned artists, this workshop will provide the opportunity for participants to apply their creative response to the surroundings – trees, apples and landscape. Deborah Malcomson, a professional visual artist will guide and support each participant through the process of exploring line, colour and form through a range of media.

5.       Festival Lough Erne, Enniskillen, 21-22 September.  The tranquil setting of Enniskillen Castle will see a hustle of families and foodie lovers sampling local produce and enjoying the tranquil setting of the River Erne. From live cookery demos with chefs and experts to entertainment on the bandstand, it’s set to be a fun weekend for all the family.

6.       Mourne Mountain Marathon, Newcastle, 21-22 September. Ireland’s only two-day endurance and navigation event for teams of two. Enter one of four categories, covering between 35km and 55km over two days. Camp overnight and be self-sufficient. The Marathon is open to everyone from walkers to elite runners.

7.       Culture Night and Day Belfast 2019, Belfast, 20-21 September. Over 200 free, family-friendly events across the city centre including gigs, talks, tours, walks, activities, screenings, workshops, children’s events and more.

8.       Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, Belfast, 22 September. Over 5,000 participants are expected to take part in the largest half marathon event in Northern Ireland.  Entrants will take on the popular flat and fast 13.1 mile route, which weaves its way throughout the four corners of Belfast city.

9.       Montalto Foraging Experience, Ballynahinch, 21 September. Take a walk with NI Survival School and be introduced to some of the most common plants and trees that inhabit our island and discover some of their secrets that make them useful to us in edible or medicinal ways. After the return to the woodland camp and enjoy making tea and a light lunch from the foraged species.

10.   Kilkeel Walking Food Tour, Newry, 19 September. Enjoy a three-hour walking tour of Kilkeel, led by an enthusiastic and experienced local tour guide. The vast history of Kilkeel’s fishing and farming town is served up through fascinating facts and insightful stories whilst you enjoy some local delicacies.

For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit For additional Taste the Island events, please visit

Everything You Need To Know About Pasta

When you think of Italian cuisine, pasta in one of its glorious forms is probably what springs to mind.

Pasta is the staple food of Italians and has found a place as the ultimate comfort food for many more people. Made simply using flour, eggs, and salt it comes to life when accompanied by the wonderful sauces from the region.

Marco Polo is often credited with introducing pasta to Italy from China in the 13th Century, however pasta was already gaining popularity in the region before that. Others believe the nomadic Arabs brought it westwards, but wherever it originated, it found its place in Italy as an affordable, versatile food.

Chef Luigi, head Italian chef at Belfast’s newest Indian/Italian fusion restaurant Mumbai Milano said: “Pasta dishes vary depending on the region of Italy they come from with stronger flavoured dishes containing lots of garlic and chilli being popular in the south, fish-based sauces from the coastal areas, and more delicate, creamy sauces with filled pasta such as ravioli and tortellini in the north.

“Pasta comes in a range of shapes and in authentic Italian cuisine long pastas such as spaghetti and linguine are used in quick-cook, light sauces while short shapes such as penne are paired with more robust sauces.”

What varieties of pasta shapes are there?


Long strands of pasta often serves in Italy with a fresh tomato sauce or just drizzled in olive oil with garlic and chillies, or with cheese and pepper. You will never find Spaghetti Bolognese on an authentic Italian menu


Long like spaghetti, but thicker and flatter which makes it a good pairing with creamier sauces, giving them a larger surface area to coat.


Short, hollow tubes of pasta cut at an angle often served with thicker tomato and vegetable sauces.


Little corkscrew twists of pasta which are perfect for sauces containing meat, or for use in pasta bakes.


Shell shaped pasta, their cup like shape perfect is perfect for catching heavier sauces or for using in baked pasta dishes.


Twists of pasta with crinkly edges hold sauces on their wing like shape. They are also great to use in pasta salads.


Tiny tubes most commonly found baked in a luscious cheese sauce in what has become one of the world’s favourite dishes.


These sheets of pasta give the name to one of the most famous dishes when layered with meat or vegetable sauce, topped with white sauce and cheese. 

Mumbai Milano, 11 Wellington Place, Belfast is open 7 days a week. Lunchtime is an all-you-can eat buffet every day and their a la carte menu is available from 5pm. Book your table by calling 028 9031 1101 or log onto for more information.

Enchanted Winter Garden will Light up your Christmas

Power NI ‘Light Up’ Enchanted Winter Garden as official sponsors of this year’s Spectacular Christmas Event. Mayor Alderman John Smyth is joined by Stephen McCullly Managing Director (Power NI) and Sarah McIlmoyle at the official launch at Antrim Castle Gardens.

Power NI ‘Light Up’ Enchanted Winter Garden as official sponsors of this year’s Spectacular Christmas Event. Sarah McIlmoyle and her fire pictured at the official launch at Antrim Castle Gardens. Northern Ireland’s Premier Christmas Event will run from Friday 6 – Sunday 22 December. Tickets go on sale Friday 13 September at 10am from or in person from Clotworthy House, Antrim, The Old Courthouse or Theatre at the Mill or T: 028 9448 1338. Picture John Murphy Aurora PA

Northern Ireland’s Premier Christmas Event, Enchanted Winter Garden returns to the award-winning Antrim Castle Gardens from Friday 6 to Sunday 22 December from 4.30-9.30pm, where the gardens are transformed into a magical world of enchantment, bigger and brighter than before with an array of dazzling attractions to brighten up your Christmas.

Our star attraction ‘The Big Wheel’ will keep on turning offering breath taking views over Antrim Town and beyond. Other attractions such as the Victorian Helter Skelter, Victorian Wave Swinger and Wonderland Wood, The Enchanted Express and Mallow pit will all make a welcome return spreading warmth during the festive season.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth commented, “Each year Enchanted Winter Garden exceeds all expectations, attracting thousands of visitors to our Borough. I am thrilled to have Power NI as the headline sponsor and with their support we will collaboratively light up lives across Northern Ireland in the magical run up to Christmas”.

Stephen McCullly Managing Director (Power NI) commented “I am delighted with the opportunity given to Power NI to be associated with this Fantastic Christmas Event in the heart of Antrim.  Antrim Town is particularly special to our Company given that we are a proud local employer with over 100 employees located here”.

An Evening of Inclusive Enchantment will return on Wednesday 18 December with reduced numbers, lighting and sound levels, Sensory & Quiet room, ideal for children and adults with additional needs.

Tickets for Enchanted Winter Garden go on sale on Friday 13 September (lucky for some) from 10am from or in person from Clotworthy House, The Old Courthouse Theatre or Theatre at The Mill, or by telephone 028 9448 1338.

This year we are offering a discounted rate for all advance bookings; £4 per adult, £2 per child and £10 for a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) or alternatively £6 per adult, £3 per child and £15 for a family ticket (if purchased at the gate). So be a bright spark and secure your tickets in advance for this Christmas extravaganza.

We are also offering a special discount for advance token sales (required for the main attractions) which are also available from

Session times for this year’s event will run every 30 minutes from 4.30pm finishing at 7pm however you can arrive up to a maximum of 45 minutes after your session time with last admission 7.45pm.

Get your Christmas off to an energetic start with a visit to Enchanted Winter Garden where memories are made, lighting up lives across Northern Ireland and beyond. It’s going to be ‘Powerful’.

No Parking on site. Free Parking in Town Centre Car Parks, including accessible parking.

Please note Tokens are required for some of the main attractions including the Big Wheel.

Biggest Q-Con Ever Attracts More Than 7,000 Visitors

The UK and Ireland’s premier gaming and anime convention, Q-Con, celebrated its 26th year with a record number of visitors to the Queen’s campus, including loads of successful events for all ages.

More than 7,000 people attended over the August Bank Holiday weekend, an increase of 10% on the 2018 event.

Hosted by QUB Dragonslayers, Q-Con included a host of events, including an appearance from the creator of the classic game ‘Doom’, John Romero, who challenged people “to beat him at his own game”.

“Since we began in a few rooms at Queen’s and 150 people, Q-Con has exploded in popularity and excitement…” said Ben Harrison. “We are delighted to see so many enjoy the weekend.

“After this year’s success we promise we’re working hard to make sure that 2020 will be even better!”

Among the many successes for 2019 were the family events.

“The family tickets proved really popular,” said Ben. “We worked hard to make sure that families and people of all ages interested in anime and gaming had events they could enjoy and take part in.”

Designed by gaming and anime fans Q-Con attracts people from across the UK and Ireland and further afield, with last year seeing a five percent increase in attendees from other countries. People from all ages are present throughout the weekend, with Sunday having extra events for families.

With BBC airing a special on cosplay as part of its True North Series (10th September), Q-Con also saw several events showcasing the talent of fans and designer making and wearing the costumes of their favourite games, anime, TV and film characters.

“We saw so many people around the university district coming in on trains, buses and in cars dressed up as their favourite characters showing just how popular gaming and anime has become, and how Q-Con caters for a demographic so often missed by the mainstream media,” added Ben.

Taking place across the Queen’s campus, including the Whitla Hall, Elmwood Hall, Queen’s Film Theatre, the Computer Science Building and many other venues, planning for 2020 is already underway

Fashion with Patience: 5 Things To Consider When Choosing An Outfit For An Event

When choosing an outfit for an event, it is important to consider a number of factors. Will what you are wearing be suitable for the conditions and season. What type of look you want to go for. Here’s some factors to consider when choosing your outfit your an event:


Usually when planning my outfit for an event I lay out around 5-6 options of what I might wear and that I should consider. In my wardrobe I usually have around 5 or 6 outfits that I’ve never worn in my wardrobe anyway, so these will be some of the first things I’ll look at.

Match to Partner

Often for more formal events I like to match what I’m wearing with Ivor. I pick out his clothes for him to make sure that what we are wearing matches. If you are not comfortable completely matching your looks, even consider getting your husband or partner a pocket square that matches your dress.


When planning my outfit for any occasion it’s always important to take the weather into account. This will definitely impact what type of outfit you choose to wear. If it’s going to be raining you don’t want to wear a material that will simply get ruined in the weather. Or if it’s going to be sunny you don’t want to wear a heavy material that will only make you too warm.

Temperature of the Venue

As well as the weather, it’s important to consider hot warm the venue will be. If you are unsure if can be a good idea to wear layers so you can easily remove your jacket, scarf etc. if you are too warm or keep it on if you are cold. 

Walking Distance

Another thing I like to consider is how far I will have to walk to get to the venue from the car or how I will be getting there. This will definitely impact on what shoes you’ll want to wear, if you have a long distance to walk it might be better to wear a pair of flats or trainers, whilst if you are only walking a short distance say in the evening time you could wear a heel.

Belfast Gets Ready To Make Purple Flag Bid

Belfast’s bid for Purple Flag accreditation kicked off recently as a number of stakeholders in the city completed an initial self assessment.

A delegation from the City’s Business Improvement Districts Linen Quarter, Cathedral Quarter and Belfast One were joined by representatives from Hospitality Ulster, Belfast Chamber, Translink and the PSNI took part in the exercise to health check the City Centre in the self-assessment.

Similar to the Blue Flag scheme for beaches and the Green Flag scheme for parks the Purple Flag accreditation displays that a town or city is a safe and pleasant place to visit, night and day, for residents and visitors.

The self assessment involved examining the post 5pm Belfast experience including retail, hotels, licensed venues and cultural spaces.

It also considers elements around safety, accessibility and place which all contribute to the City being a welcoming and vibrant space.

The group heard the regular weekend briefing sessions that happen between PSNI and a vast array of volunteer organisations including a briefing around missing and vulnerable persons which has helped dozens of individuals this year alone.

Chris McCracken, Managing Director at Linen Quarter BID, and Chair of Belfast’s Purple Flag steering committee, said:  “Purple Flag status for the city would recognise Belfast as a truly international destination to live, work and shop. Belfast has a safe and vibrant night time economy with brand new destinations, such as the Linen Quarter, starting to emerge. However our self assessment indicates we need further investment in transport, signage, cleansing and promotion, as well as additional initiatives to support the evening offer for families, culture and arts, and non-alcoholic alternatives.”

Gareth Neill, CQ BID manager said: “It was with great reward to meet the fantastic organisations SOS BUS, Street Pastors, and Community Rescue Service who give up 1000 of volunteer hours to ensure the night-time economy is a welcoming and safe space for residents and visitors. The City Centre has significant growth ambitions for residential, commercial and tourism markets. With a significant increase in city living through the private residential market over the next 12-18 months and the ever expanding hotel sector there is a requirement to ensure that Belfast meets the aspirations of new residents, employers, and tourists, along with what is expected from an international city.”

A multi-stakeholder steering group, led by the Linen Quarter BID, is managing the business-funded project with the aim of applying in October 2019 to the governing body, the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) to secure Purple Flag status in February 2020.

Belfast has a significantly younger population so part of the task force’s outcome will be ensuring there is a vibrant, mixed use and quality City Centre which is vital to catalysing additional economic rejuvenation.

Clare Maguire, Managing Director at Belfast One said: “Providing a quality and unique offering will also be of huge benefit to some of the 250,000 business visitors to Belfast annually or for the national conference market which currently stands at 60,000 attendees (£45m p/annum) who all want a vibrant and enriched experience of the City.

“Currently the City Centre does not have one managed approach to its evening economy strategy. There are a vast array of stakeholders and partnerships in play and Purple Flag allows a coordinated and programmed opportunity.”

For more information go to

First Dates On Local Mums Chat Show Event Mother Tongue Released

A unique and fun night for mums, Mother Tongue, goes on tour this autumn with dates in Belfast and Omagh.

The event, created by Mothership Events, gives panellists and attendees the chance to talk about the challenges of being a mother in 2019.

From hilarious stories and serious discussions to interesting revelations, the Mother Tongue events are a chance to meet other mums and talk about issues that affect them every day and enjoy a laugh together.

The Belfast event takes place on September 19 at the Black Box, while the Omagh show on October 10 will be at the Silverbirch Hotel.

Founder of Mother Tongue, Treena Clarke explained that there are too few chances for mums to get together that these events are a must.

“How often do we, as mums plan to meet up with our girlfriends and we need to get a date in the diary months in advance. It’s so hard juggling everything and we often forget about ourselves in the midst of work, kids, family and life in general,” she said

“The Mother Tongue events were created as a space to give mums the chance to not only get together but to meet other mums and talk about everything that affects us as mums – one guest from the last event called it ‘Like Loose Women only talking mums stuff with wine’.

“We talk about stuff that matters but we also have a laugh”.

Both the Belfast and Omagh events are packed with fascinating expert speakers –  as well as a virtual goody bag of discount vouchers worth £150 and the chance to win prizes with the ‘Treat Seat’ special.

Event host is business owner, commentator and mum Tina Calder.

“When it comes to being a mum it’s easy to think you’re the only person in the world worrying about the small stuff.  It’s also easy to think you’re failing when you’re trying your absolute best,” she said.

“What I love about these Mother Tongue events is that we can all just sit back, relax and be honest with one another about the things that worry us, annoy us, scare us or just generally make us laugh.

“Becoming a mum was the single most amazing thing that’s ever happened in my life and for reasons I’ve never been able to explain it gave me a confidence, drive and ambition that I’d never had before.

“Mother Tongue is a safe place to talk about all those things that bring us joy and heartache through our powerful journey of motherhood.

“Not just that, there’s a glass of wine and a lot of laughs, it’s the perfect girls’ night out.”

Both events will see five speakers take to the stage, with supper included in the price – with the bar open when the event starts at 7pm.

Tickets for both events are available here:

Speakers in Belfast will be:

Maria Rafferty – The Healthy Hormone Coach
Michelle Bradley  – Author
Sinead Sharkey Steenson – Generation Women/Career Reboot
Mags McAlpin – Creating Retail Magic Laura Steerman – Quaint Baby Ultrasound Steph Willis Lawlor – MumsNI

Speakers in Omagh will be:

Sinead Wilcox – Sinead Wilcox Consulting
Orla McIvor – Eden Energy Practitioner
Sinead Sharkey Steenson – Generation Women/Career Reboot
Sinead Norton – Mums at Work Laura Steerman – Quaint Baby Ultrasound

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 (9-15 September)

1.       European Heritage Open Days, Across NI, 14-15 September. Over 300 properties and events across Northern Ireland open free of charge during this weekend, many of which do not usually open to the public. Properties open include Florence Court, Belfast City Hall and many more.

2.       Day Walk – Slieve Binnian & North Tor, Newry, 14 September.  Enjoy a day walking in the beautiful Mourne Mountains, climb Slieve Binnian and admire impressive granite tors, with a multi-lingual, qualified Mountain Leader.

3.       An ‘Olympic’ Challenge: Olympic, Titanic and Britannic, Belfast, 9 September. The Belfast Titanic Society and PRONI present their third annual lecture. Mark Chirnside explores the financial, technical and engineering issues that confronted the White Star Line as they planned Olympic, Titanic and Britannic and explains how they overcame them.

4.       Myra’s Story, Derry~Londonderry, 14-15 September. Brian Foster’s new adaptation of his acclaimed play, Maire a Woman of Derry. Living rough on the streets of Dublin, Myra Mc Laughlin is a foul mouthed, feisty, street drinker. She is also immensely funny and self- deprecating. Myra never wallows in self-pity as she gives us a hilarious, moving, and ultimately tragic account of her fall from grace.

5.       Traditional Irish Baking, Moy, 14 September. Wee Buns Cookery School offers a warm welcome at this hands on class, discussing recipes and techniques and making the most of local ingredients.

6.       Athenry: Dance of the Celts, Belfast, 11 September.  Irish dance company ‘Ta Da’  presents the tale of the famous song “The Fields of Athenry” like you’ve never seen before at the Cabaret Supper Club.  With a talented cast of World Champions and dancers from the biggest touring shows, such as ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’, watch as ‘Michael’ and ‘Mary’ find love during the Great Famine.

7.       Neon Night Maize Maze, Limavady, 14 September. Do you think you can make it out of the all new Maize Maze in a glowing record time? Try your best  at Carrowmena Activity Centre’s neon themed night maze event.

8.       Shane Todd: The Todd Father, Newcastle, 13 September. Following a hugely successful 2018 tour Shane Todd presents his biggest show yet, The Toddfather. Performing at a number of venues across Northern Ireland, see The Toddfather in Newcastle at The Anchor Bar.

9.       FUR & Guests, Belfast, 15 September. See Brighton-based quartet FUR perform at their only Belfast date in McHugh’s Basement with special guests.

10.   Hidden Gems Tour, Dungannon, 14 – 15 September. This full day tour offers an adventure into the wild and rugged Lough Neagh landscape and gives an insight into how the local people live with local guide, James Walshe. Explore the ancient roads and lanes to uncover tales of Vikings, healing sites and holy wells where Saint Patrick walked.

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 other foodies on the lawn at Slieve Donard Resort & Spa for a fun filled family day out at their Food & Drink Festival this Saturday 14th September. Featuring local produce, face painting, live entertainment, a bouncy castle and a host of other child friendly activities, admission is only  which includes a donation to Air Ambulance Northern Ireland.


This Saturday, enjoy a tour of Armagh Planetarium building and grounds and explore the heritage of this unique organisation that is involved in ground breaking research and has been exploring the Cosmos from 1790.  Tours are free for European Heritage Open Day


RSPBNI Bat Detectives this Friday at Enniskillen Castle is a great opportunity to learn more about bats, to see and hear them and to immerse yourself in their world. There will be a short introductory talk about bats followed by a night-time walk using bat detectors to identify the different species living in Enniskillen town centre. 


See Little Red Riding Hood and the Silly Billy Wolf this Saturday at the Alley Theatre Strabane.  This colourful, fast-paced all singing and dancing show is a fun and gentle re-telling of the classic fairy-tale of Little Red Riding Hood. 


Has your pooch got what it takes?  Bring them along to the Jungle Family Fun Day and enter them in the Dog Show this Sunday.  The last Dog Show was such a success they have added a few more categories! With 10 great categories to choose from there is something for every pooch!


I Sing for Me Community Choir begins on Friday 13th September.  This is an all abilities, all ages choir. If you would like to use your voice, get out and meet other people then come along and join in.  Just  bring your voice and sense of fun!  Weekly on  Friday mornings beginning this Friday.  10.30am to 12.00pm at Ballymena Methodist Hall.


Enjoy the new Downton Abbey movie in the fabulous surroundings of the Strand Arts Centre, all to raise vital funds for Almost Home Animal Rescue this Saturday 14th September. 

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.