This week’s top picks at the Belfast International Arts Festival

The Belfast International Arts Festival gets underway this week and runs from 15 Oct – 3 Nov in various locations across Belfast.  This week’s top picks are:

The Playboy of the Western World, Tues 8 Oct -Sat 2 Nov at the Lyric Theatre,

Inspired visually by the likes of Shane Meadows’ This is England, this reimagined classic directed by Oonagh Murphy is not to be missed!  Met with controversy when it was first staged at the Abbey Theatre in 1907, John Millington Synge’s brutally hilarious masterpiece, The Playboy of the Western World, is about life on the margins and the lengths we go to, to create a reality more exciting than the place we find ourselves.

Hiroaki Umeda – Median & Accumulated Layout, Tues 15 – Wed 16 Oct, The MAC,

Think Radiohead meets Aphex Twin via The Matrix!

Combining choreography, microscopic science, digital sound and laser projections, experimental Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda draws inspiration from elements invisible to the naked eye. The dancer’s own body and movement becomes part of the throbbing, ebbing cellular projections all around him.  A precision-sharp, captivating, super-intelligent and totally immersive experience.

ASUNA- 100 keyboards, Thurs 17 – Sat 19 Oct, The MAC,

Pioneering Japanese sound artist ASUNA presents 100 Keyboards (literally!) featuring 100 battery operated keyboards, which create an intriguing and fascinating ambient wash of overlapping notes and sonic textures that envelop the audience from every direction.  A truly unique performance!

La Dame Blanche, Fri 18 Oct, The Empire Music Hall,

Hip-hop, cumbia, dancehall and reggae collide in this powerful performance.  Hailing from Cuba where her father, Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, is the artistic director of the Buena Vista Social Club, La Dame Blanche delivers an irresistible Afro-Cuban mix, which compels the body to dance! Selling fast.

This Brutal House with Niven Govinden, Fri 18 Oct, No Alibis Bookshop,

Drag ball culture, for years an LGBTQ+ subculture, has come into the mainstream eye through TV shows and drag clubs. Govinden illuminates themes of race, gender, and sexual orientation within society through the lens of the vogue ball community. The Belfast International Arts Festival gets underway this week and runs from 15 Oct – 3 Nov in various locations across Belfast. 

La Spire, Sat 19 & Sun 20 Oct, Botanic Gardens

Free event for all ages!

Breath-taking aerial acrobatics on an impressive steel spiral sculpture. The all-female cast combine raw strength, tenacity and vulnerability, accompanied by a live musician and special sound machines to create a suspense-filled dreamlike journey into human fragility and power.

Part of FranceDance UK 2019 and generously supported by the Institut Francais du Royaume-Uni.

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


Newtownards weekly market returns on Saturday from 8.00am to 4.00pm to Conway Square.  This market caters for all your needs with a diverse range of stalls including local fruit and vegetables, seafood and meat, tools, clothing and accessories, toys, flowers and plants, to name just a few. Something for all the family!


The Björn Identity, Ireland’s greatest tribute to the world’s most famous super group – ABBA, make a welcome return to the Market Place Theatre Armagh this Friday evening.  Re-live or newly discover the magic of the ‘Swedish Super Group ABBA’ and their musical legacy that lives… ‘On and On and On’.


To the Moon and Beyond is a free and spectacular light show that is quite simply ‘out of this world’.  Definitely one for all the family at Broadmeadow. There are 4 separate shows this Friday evening, each lasting approximately 20 minutes. From 7.00pm  with the last show taking place at 8.30pm.


To celebrate Positive Ageing Month, The Alley Theatre in Strabane is showing the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid this Friday afternoon. Movie begins at 1.30pm and admission is £5 which includes tea & shortbread after the film.  


This Saturday The Inishowen Gospel Choir brings their varied repertoire to the intimate setting of The Playhouse, joined by three of the finest soul, gospel, jazz and blues singers in Ireland – Mirenda Rosenberg, Amanda St John and Jaime Nanci. Tickets £12.


Step back in time to delve into the designs, fashions and way of life in the 1940s and 50s, while enjoying a vintage crafternoon tea at the Island Arts Centre Lisburn this Saturday. With displays, demonstrations and hands-on opportunities you will see, touch and hear stories about fascinating memorabilia from the vast Living Vintage collection.


The Jail of Horror at Crumlin Road Gaol, described as one of Belfast’s most fearsome scare attractions, is back and it’s bigger and better for Halloween 2019. Visitors, if they dare, will enter the off-limits dungeon of D Wing and face all their fears on an intense scare after scare journey which only has one way out!! Runs 11th to 31st October!

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.


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.

·         Spooky Stayover, Stormont Hotel, Belfast  £65 per person sharing

There are no tricks, just treats for everyone during your stay at the four-star Stormont Hotel on the edge of Belfast City with its Spooky Stayover offer. This contemporary hotel sits adjacent to Stormont Castle and Parliament Buildings, providing a unique location perfect for beautiful walks. Offer includes Halloween themed afternoon tea for two and luxury overnight accommodation with a full Irish breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 9065 1066. Offer available from 26 October until 31st October 2019.

·         1 x Night B&B, The City Hotel Derry, Derry~Londonderry from £109 per room per night

The four-star City Hotel is renowned for providing outstanding service, excellent food and facilities at competitive prices. The hotel is located steps away from the  historic City Walls and is the ideal base to explore Portrush, the Giant’s Causeway and Derry~Londonderry itself. Offer includes overnight accommodation with breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 7136 5800. Offer available until 15 November 2019. 

·          1 x Night B&B, Mellon Country Inn Hotel, Co. Tyrone from £88 per room per night

The three-star Mellon Country Hotel is nestled in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains, overlooking the River Strule, the region’s most popular spot for leisure activities like walking, cycling, fishing and golf. An ideal location to discover the natural beauty of Tyrone with the Ulster American Folk Park and beautiful Gortin Glen only minutes away. Offer includes overnight accommodation with breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 8166 1224. Offer available until 15 November 2019.

Food Focus: 10 things to do in Northern Ireland

As part of the ‘Taste the Island’ initiative for 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 (7-13 October)

1.       Slow Food Festival, Derry~Londonderry, 9-13 October.  Slow Food is a global, grassroots organisation that promotes true enjoyment of good food with the commitment to community and the environment – this two-day celebration showcases the best of local, clean, fair food with  talks and demos, tours and tastings, street food, family fun and much more at Guildhall Square.

2.       Taste Causeway 2019, Coleraine, 4-27 October. The Taste Causeway event will showcase the vibrant restaurant scene as well as offering a  full programme of food and drink experiences, including themed nights, taster menus, cookery classes, food tours, Econmusee tours, and opportunities to ‘meet the maker’.

3.       Mourne Mountains Food Trail, Annalong, 12 October. Let NI Food Tours take you off the beaten track into County Down, meet the local producers and farmers, hear their stories and taste their award winning food and drink.

4.       Portrush Motorcycle Beach Races, Portrush, 12-13 October. The East Strand will be the spectacular venue for the annual motorcycle beach races, organised by the Foyle District Motor Cycle Club, in conjunction with Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

5.       One Pot Feeds All: Talk and Book Signing with Darina Allen, Bellaghy, 7 October. Seamus Heaney HomePlace is delighted to welcome world-renowned cookery school owner and bestselling author Darina Allen for an intimate talk, cookery demonstration and book signing.

6.       Oktoberfest, Belfast, 4-19 October. Held in Custom House Square, the festival will have a full range of beers to suit your palate, including Paulaner Oktoberfest Lager which is only brewed for the Munich Beer Festival. All the food and beer will be served by friendly staff in traditional Bavarian costumes.

7.       Walled City Brewery Beer Masterclass, Derry~Londonderry, 12 October.  A 1½ hour interactive experience where you can relax and let the Walled City Brewery’s talented brewers tell you the extraordinary 9,000 year old story of brewing whilst tasting their ten house beers matched with artisanal local snacks.

8.       ‘Learn to’ Workshops, Lisburn, 12 October. As part of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Food & Drink events calendar, Larchfield Estate is hosting a series of ‘Learn To’ workshops. From bee keeping to fermentation and bread and jam making there’s a range of interesting workshops on offer.

9.       Fright Night, Magherafelt, 12-31 October. This year’s Fright Night at Jungle NI will see the return of the horrid and harrowing “Woodland Trail”. Freaky sets frame a haunting story to send shivers up your spine, coupled with special effects, atmospheric lighting throughout and a creepy cast of nefarious creatures.

10.   2 Hour Paranormal Investigation, Belfast, 11-31 October.  The chilling expert led two hour paranormal Investigation gives visitors the opportunity to interact with the spirits as they get hands on with authentic experiments using paranormal investigating equipment. The serious paranormal investigation will visit various hotspots of the Crumlin Road Gaol, where paranormal activity has been reported and sighted.For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit For additional Taste the Island events, please visit

A spud load of fun ahead at the Giants Causeway Community Open Day

On Saturday 5th October the Giant’s Causeway will host its second free open day this year which coincides with the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival on the grounds of the Causeway Hotel.

The Open Day, which takes place from 9am to 6pm is an opportunity for the local community and visitors to see for themselves the increasingly important and valuable work the National Trust do at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Following a busy summer and a season of conservation projects promoting wildlife at the Causeway Coast, the National Trust want to celebrate the commitment and passion of the staff, rangers and volunteers by hosting a fun-filled weekend for all.

To kick off the celebrations there will also be a Community Open Evening on Friday 4th October at the Causeway Hotel. Visitors can start the weekend in style with complimentary nibbles, drinks and entertainment from 7 to 9pm.

Ciara McClements, Visitor Experience Manager at the Giant’s Causeway commented, “The Open Day will have something for everyone. Visitors and the local community are welcome to enjoy the full Visitor Experience free of charge, take a guided tour with one of the award-winning tour guides or pick up an audio guide and explore at your own pace learning about the geology, myths and legends of the Giant’s Causeway.

“The weekend also allows us to showcase our unique visitor offering and provide visitors from near and far the chance to experience all that the Giant’s Causeway has to offer. Over the past eight years we have welcomed over 30,000 people to our Open Days and we hope that this year will see even more visitors enjoying the outstanding beauty and stunning scenery that the stones has to offer.

“People of all ages can take part in arts and crafts sessions, face painting and celebrations galore creating memories at our special place. We are also delighted to host the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival once again on the grounds of the Causeway Hotel celebrating all aspects of the local potato industry!”

Final admission to the Community Open day is 5pm, with the Visitor Centre closing at 6pm. There will also be a free Park & Ride from Bushmills to the Giant’s Causeway. For more information visit