Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is showing support for the local tourism providers through funding of £82k to market and promote the Borough as a location for visitors to enjoy and experience.
As part of this project, the Council will be working in partnership with Tourism NI through its ‘small step to a Giant Adventure Campaign’ to maximise the promotion of tourism, accommodation and hospitality providers in the Borough.
There are also plans to develop activity taster sessions, tours and itineraries to highlight the outdoor experiences the Borough has to offer which will be rolled out in the coming months. A grants programme will also be developed to specifically address current industry deficiencies and act as a catalyst for further tourism development.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery said, “The tourism sector has been hit hard by the recent pandemic and it is promising to see this investment from Council. We have a vast offering of exceptional places to eat, stay and enjoy in our Borough and this funding will help promote and attract people to come and visit the Antrim and Newtownabbey area through the planned marketing campaigns and initiatives.”
A unique story-trail adventure is coming to Coleraine this summer to encourage families back to the town centre.
Organised by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Town & Village Management team, the Monster Hero Safari aims to bring back safe family fun after the restrictions and challenges of recent months.
10 Monster Heroes have been spotted around the streets of Coleraine and we need you to find them! Start your Safari by finding your first character hidden in a shop window. Tap or scan with your smart phone and learn the names, stories and powers of all 10 colourful characters to unlock your free ebook about their adventures.
There is a nominal fee (minimum £2) to take part with all money raised going to NHS Charities Together, but the Town & Village Management team has made it free for the first 1000 participants.
Encouraging families to participate, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Alderman Mark Fielding said: “I’m delighted to see that Coleraine is taking part in this UK-wide initiative to draw people back to the town centre.
“The pedestrianised shopping area provides the ideal space for an activity like this, and the outdoor trail is a great way to find out more about the town’s retail offering and mix of independent businesses and well-known names. It’s crucial that we support our local towns and villages as they re-open again and I hope lots of families choose to visit Coleraine and enjoy everything the town has to offer while continuing to be mindful about ongoing health guidelines.”
Coleraine’s Monster Hero Safari will begin on Friday 31st July and run until Friday 4th September.
Titanic Belfast, Hillsborough Castle and Ulster Museum to give visitors a giant welcome once again
A number of Northern Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions will reopen this week offering even more fantastic options for the perfect day-trip or staycation activity this year.
On Thursday July 30, The Ulster Museum and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens reopened after lockdown while on Saturday August 1, the award-winning Titanic Belfast will give a giant welcome to visitors once again as they immerse in the world-famous story.
There will be even more to explore in the coming weeks, as the Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster American Folk Park will both reopen on August 13 while it’s full steam ahead for the Ulster Transport Museum to reopen its doors on August 20.
Tick these cultural experiences off your bucket list as part of your amazing adventures in the coming months, with plenty of world-class museums and heritage spots to explore:
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down, reopened July 30
On a 45-minute tour of the elegant Georgian castle, in the charming village of Hillsborough, you follow in the footsteps of world leaders and meander through plush and lovingly restored State Rooms. There are many layers of stories here, and your guide will share hundreds of years’ worth of tales, about celebrations, entertainment, diplomacy and negotiations.You can also enjoy the beautiful craft giftshop and award-winning food from the Yellow Door café. You must pre-book your ticket. Castle and garden tickets: Adult £13.70, Child £6.80. https://www.hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle/
Ulster Museum, Belfast, reopened July 30
Everywhere you look in Belfast there is history to be seen and The National Museums are a great place to start. The Ulster Museum, a world to captivate the curious, this treasure house of the past and present offers something for art lovers, history buffs, excited children and the simply curious. Dive into the discovery zones of art, history and science as the museum’s impressive collections take you across Ireland to all corners of the globe. Admission to the Ulster Museum is free.https://www.nmni.com/home.aspx
Titanic Belfast, reopening August 1
The shimmering star-shaped Titanic Belfast is the biggest and best experience of the most famous ship in the world. Take your time and enjoy the journey over nine interactive galleries featuring special effects, dark rides and full-scale reconstructions. Walk through Victorian Belfast and meet the men who spent four years building the ill-fated ship before visiting the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, her final resting place. Prices include adult £19, children between 5-16 £8.50, children under 5 go free, family ticket £46.50. https://titanicbelfast.com/
Ulster Folk Museum, County Down, reopening August 13
Step back in time and experience what life was like in Ulster over 100 years ago. Wander Ulster Folk Museum’s rolling countryside and bustling town filled with authentic, period buildings. You’ll find an old-time picture house, post office and corner shop on streets inhabited by people in period dress. Try your hand at basket weaving or see a blacksmith hard at work. Take a ride on an old bus into the countryside, where whitewashed farmhouses dot the fields. Meet some of the horses, donkeys and hens that kept the rural world turning. Book tickets online in advance to guarantee your timeslot, with a range of ticket options available. https://www.nmni.com/home.aspx
Ulster American Folk Park, County Tyrone, reopening August 13
Immerse yourself in the story of the brave emigrants who made the journey across the Atlantic to America hundreds of years ago. Wander the well-trodden pathways of rural Ulster, complete with a bustling street and welcoming farmhouses. Become part of family life in thatched cottages, learn lessons in the schoolhouse, see traditional crafts brought to life and taste some good old-fashioned fayre. Board a full-scale emigrant ship and experience the cramped quarters where hundreds of people lived during their twelve-week Atlantic crossing. Book tickets online in advance to guarantee your timeslot, with a range of ticket options available. https://www.nmni.com/home.aspx
Ulster Transport Museum, County Down, reopening August 20
If you’re a railway enthusiast, you’ve a treat in store at the Ulster Transport Museum. There’s an impressive collection of steam locomotives, passenger carriages and goods wagons to explore. Be transported back in time and explore one of the most comprehensive transport collections in Europe. You’ll find majestic locomotives, horse-drawn carriages, vintage motorbikes, and cars at the museum, along with exhibits of historical materials including photographs of the Titanic. Book tickets online in advance to guarantee your timeslot, with a range of ticket options available. https://www.nmni.com/home.aspx
Titanic Belfast, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens along with all National Museums NI premises have received the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard, meaning that visitors can return safely in the knowledge that the museums each adhere to government and public health guidance on Covid-19.
Everyone is also reminded that booking in advance is required and numbers will be limited in order to comply with social distancing protocols.
Stay local while still getting away at discovernorthernireland.com. #DiscoverNI #EmbraceAGiantSpirit
The award-winning Antrim Castle Gardens can now offer much more to visitors as further services are restored. Crowned Tourism Northern Ireland’s Best Site Authentic Experience in 2019 and awarded a four-star excellent quality grading earlier this year, this visitor attraction is ready to welcome visitors from across Northern Ireland and beyond.
Antrim Castle Gardens was a safe haven for local residents during lockdown with the grounds accessible for daily exercise, bringing benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. As restrictions have gradually relaxed the Gardens has welcome many returning visitors, both local and from further afield.
Early July saw the opening of the Garden Coffee Shop, Clotworthy Courtyard and toilet facilities and now additional attractions including the Parterre Garden and Garden Heritage Space will reopen from Saturday 1 August. The overflow car park and gift shop will reopen from Monday 3 August.
The Oriel Gallery will showcase the work of local artist Sorrell Wills, a past President of the Ulster Society of Women’s Artists, whose exhibition featuring many well-loved local scenes, opens on Saturday 8 August. Sorrell herself will be in residence throughout much of the exhibition demonstrating her creativity and skill.
Small outdoor Weddings made a welcome return in June and Clotworthy House meeting spaces are now also available to book, accommodating for now a maximum of six people, to meet with appropriate social distancing.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery said “Nestled beside our town centre Antrim Castle Gardens is often described as the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Antrim Town’. During the lockdown period the Gardens were a haven as many locals flocked to this beautiful setting for calm amongst the chaos whilst making the most of the beautiful weather. As restrictions are lifted, visitor numbers continue to grow and I am pleased we are able to offer our full services again making the visitor experience much more appealing.”
With the promotion of ‘Staycations’, encouraging people to holiday at home this year, it is expected that Antrim Castle Gardens will prove to be a very popular visitor attraction for the months ahead in turn providing welcome economic support to the Borough.
If you have yet to visit these Majestic Gardens make a date now as it is a great day out for all ages to enjoy.
Established over 50 years ago, Queen’s Film Theatre is Northern Ireland’s only arthouse cinema, showing a diverse range of films for a diverse audience.
In recent years they have relied heavily on their clever use of Facebook in order to drive audiences to the theatre.
Ellen Reay has been the Marketing Coordinator at Queen’s Film Theatre since 2019. She has an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from University of London, and before returning to Northern Ireland to work at QFT, she previously worked in marketing for the Barbican Centre in London, the Independent Cinema Office, and London International Festival of Theatre.
Ellen talked about her experiences of using Facebook to promote the theatre, as well as some tips and tricks she has picked up along the way.
She said: “When I started working for QFT I inherited their social media strategy, which aimed to pinpoint the focus of our social media efforts.
“It focused on communication, information, and collaboration, but the overarching theme was community.
“Based on this, I shifted our focus to encouraging the community (developing the brand), informing the community (generating sales), and helping the community (offering customer service via social media).”
Here are Ellen’s key takeaways from the session:
1. Encouraging the Community (Developing the Brand)
Ellen explained that there was a massive spike in engagement on the QFT Facebook page when they celebrated the 50th anniversary of QFT with the QFT50 campaign.
“This campaign gave us the freedom to talk more about our organisation and our history. We created two new campaigns on Facebook – #TBT and #WeAreQFT. #TBT, or throwback-Thursday, is not a new campaign, but it gave us an easy and recognisable way to share our history with our audience.
“We digitised our archive of programmes and image stock, so rather than them gathering dust, we were able to share them with our followers.
“#WeAreQFT was inspired by social media accounts like ‘Humans of New York. Every week a member of the QFT community is put in the spotlight. This could be a member of staff, a regular customer, or a special guest.
“We created a questionnaire for the feature and then share the answers in the post. These posts perform exceptionally well for us, with roughly a 60% increase in reach and 670% increase in engagement compared to other posts on our page.
“The plan is to run these campaigns for a year and then take stock, with a six-month review in between. We are looking for what commonalities there are in the posts that perform well compared with those that don’t, as well as checking if there is a clear better time for QFT to post.”
2.Informing the Community (Generating Sales)
QFT have between two and 20 showings per week, and Ellen explained they rarely get a lead time that is longer than six weeks.
She added: “To keep us agile and responsive, we have a weekly posting schedule and the rest of our content is directed by trends or business needs. We have a weekly marketing meeting, and currently post approximately every hour each weekday.
“Monday is ‘Monday Madness’ with £4 tickets, Tuesday is #WeAreQFT, Wednesday is the following week’s programme, Thursday is #TBT, and Friday is Fresh Film Friday where we talk about a new release.
“We make a lot of our own content by putting our branding over film imagery, but we also share independent content such as reviews for films that can encourage debate.
“Facebook Events are really important to us. Special Screenings are added as events. Where a post about a screening might get 2,000 impressions, an event for the same screening would get around 32,000 impressions.”
3. Helping the Community (Customer Service via Facebook)
“We have a contact number and contact page on our website, but we are finding more and more that people are turning to social media to make enquiries or ask for advice” said Ellen, adding: “We use Facebook Messenger for customer service. We communicate in an automatic reply how long it should take to receive a response, and we also use automatic replies for frequently asked questions.”
QFT’s successful use of Facebook to market their business should inspire small business owners to try new things on the platform.
When considering your Facebook strategy Ellen said: “Think about your strategy, your brand, personalising your content, using word of mouth, and make sure to evaluate and review performance and make tweaks based on the results.
“A lot of marketers are short on time, but this step is important. Also, while Facebook is a key component of our marketing strategy and a lot of what we do is organic, to get your brand in front of a new audience, you generally have to pay for some Facebook advertising.”
Enjoy world class cooking and produce with Eat Out to Help Out scheme
Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging local people to explore Northern Ireland’s world-class food scene during their staycations with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. There’s never been a better time to enjoy Northern Ireland’s outstanding restaurants, gastro pubs, cafés and other eateries after the government vowed to pick up part of your bill throughout August. And better yet, the offer is unlimited!
From 3 to 31 August, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme will see meals being discounted by 50%, up to a maximum of £10 per person including children (alcohol and service charges not included), in a bid to give the economy a post-lockdown boost.
What do you need to do? Absolutely nothing! Just simply look out for participating hotels, pubs and restaurants displaying the logo, and make sure to book a table.
Participating restaurants will automatically have the discount applied to customers’ bills on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August. There is now a portal of participating restaurants available – simply enter your postcode and find venues within a 5 mile radius that are taking part in the initiative.
Tourism NI Experience Development Officer for Food and Drink, Gary Quate said: “During lockdown, we all had our time to shine in the kitchen, or otherwise! The people of Northern Ireland deserve some culinary repose and there has never been a better time to support our local industry.
“From Michelin rated restaurants to fantastic gastro pubs, the food scene in Northern Ireland is flourishing. Our talented chefs look forward to serving up some of the best local produce that Northern Ireland is renowned for. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is a fantastic opportunity for diners to embrace a giant taste of Northern Ireland.”
New ‘Coast & City Twincation’ and ‘Causeway Coastal Food Tour Staycation’ packages
WITH three out of four people admitting that they aren’t going to be holidaying abroad this year, Hastings Hotels is taking the hard work out of planning a summer staycation in Northern Ireland with the launch of a fabulous selection of breaks across its seven properties, including the ‘Coast & City Twincation’ and the ‘Causeway Coastal Food Tour Staycation’
Julie Hastings, Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “With many of us enjoying summer closer to home this year, we wanted to provide some inspiration on what there is to see and do across Northern Ireland. We are blessed with lots of stunning scenery, coastal walks, beaches and attractions and we are encouraging people to take this opportunity to explore. We’ve created a lovely selection of summer staycations including the Coast & City Twincation and the Causeway Coastal Food Tour Staycation and we hope it will give people a nice taste of what is on offer.”
Coast & City Twincation – Slieve Donard Resort & Spa and Europa Hotel
Enjoy a four-night staycation with breakfast each morning from only £270pps*. Soak up the coastal town of Newcastle where you will spend two nights at the majestic Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. Located next door to Royal County Down, the hotel boasts incredible views of the Mourne Mountains and is a short drive from places of beauty including Tollymore Forest Park, Silent Valley, Castlewellan Country Park and Murlough Bay Nature Reserve.
This fabulous offer also includes a two-night break in the world-famous Europa Hotel. Perfectly located in the city centre, guests can take in the sights of Belfast and beyond, enjoy a spot of shopping and dine out in the fabulous eateries.
Causeway Coastal Food Tour Staycation – Ballygally Castle
Ballygally Castle has teamed up with Toast the Coast to offer a two-night foodie break with luxurious accommodation and breakfast each morning and a self-drive food tour along the Causeway Coastal Route from only £210pps*.
During the tour, you will visit Glenarm Castle Estate & Tea Rooms where you can enjoy atasting plate of the award-winning Organic Glenarm Smoked Salmon & Organic Shorthorn Beef. After this it’s on to Mary McBride’s & The Little Black Door in Cushendun, the original bar is one of Ireland’s smallest pubs, where you’ll enjoy a selection of Homemade Pie, Seafood Chowder and Salad. The final Toast to the Coast is a light supper and tipple at Ballygally Castle.
The self-drive tour has been created to ensure guests can take it at their leisure and make the most of one of Northern Ireland’s most breath-taking coastal routes. All reservations are made in advance allowing you the time to enjoy space to explore. Stop off at open, spacious scenic places along the way. Take in the well-known attractions or hidden gems dotted all along your journey, in between each food stop and then during the rest of the afternoon.
For further information or to book a Summer Staycation with Hastings Hotels go to www.hastingshotels.comor call 028 9047 1066.
*Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability.
After being cooped up in the house over the lockdown period, families now have a chance to pack up and escape to completely new adventures with staycation fun and fantastic offers and places to stay in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s giant spirit is ready to safely welcome visitors again and the chance to have epic fun without the epic trek.From unique cottages, luxury resorts, stylish self-catering, cosy lodges and family friendly hotels, there is a whole host of options for booking your perfect family staycation now that will suit the whole family.
This summer and autumn, it’s not about how far, it’s about how fun so embrace the unique surroundings of Northern Ireland with some family friendly suggestions for accommodation from Discover NI:
The Maldron Hotel Belfast City (4*) is located right in the heart of the city centre, offering convenience but a budget friendly option. With family rooms available, fun family activities, great shopping, restaurants, historic landmarks and public transport options right on its doorstep, it is the ideal base for your next family break in the city. The hotel offers brand new, stylish rooms designed to deliver maximum comfort to all guests. Visit https://www.maldronhotelbelfastcity.com/
Speaking of the city centre, the Clayton Hotel Belfast (4*) is right on Ormeau Road, in the heart of the action and behind City Hall. This makes it a great spot for getting around the city sights on foot. There’s plenty to keep the kids busy – splash around in the swimming pool (planning to open at the start of August) and taste world cuisine in the on-site Avenue 22 restaurant with a kid-friendly menu. Visit https://www.claytonhotelbelfast.com/
Green Holiday Cottages (4*) are situated at the friendly fishing port of Kilkeel in County Down. These corn and flax mill buildings have been beautifully restored to create a set of family-friendly cottages, each of which is fully equipped with all you need, including outdoor kitchens with BBQ and Pizza ovens. There are cottages here to suit families with up to 6 members. There is also a large secure garden outdoor play area and three pygmy goats, known as the three Billy Goats Green. Visit https://greenholidaycottages.com/
The stunning Horseshoe Cottage (4*) on the shores of Strangford Lough combines cosiness and comfort. Tracey and Joe are committed to the highest standards of accommodation and invite their guests to feel at home with them. A great retreat for families, the cottage offers two double bedrooms, one with twin beds and one with double bed. Guests are welcomed with freshly made Soda and Brown bread along with homemade jams and butters. For family activities, the cottage is less than ten miles away from the Castle Espie Wetland Centre and when booking, ask about bread making classes with Tracey during your stay. Visit https://www.horseshoecottage.co.uk/
In the Fermanagh Lakelands you’ll find Lusty Beg Island Resort (4*). Just a short ferry trip from the shores of Lower Lough Erne, this place is simply packed with things to keep grown-ups, kids and even grown up kids happy all day and all night. There’s an adventure centre, games room, tennis court, bar and restaurant. A choice of self-catering accommodation is available here, from hotel-style rooms to open plan island cabins. Visit https://www.lustybegisland.com/en/
The Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges (4*) is the perfect base to explore the Fermanagh Lakeland’s. With stunning views overlooking scenic Lough Erne, the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel offers 71 spacious rooms including interconnecting family rooms and for those preferring the freedom of a self-catering break why not stay in one the hotels’ self-catering Lakeside Lodges (available for Autumn Breaks). Look forward to lots of family fun in their new on-site Play Park. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool with kids section opening from 7th August available for the whole family to enjoy, so don’t forget to pack your swimsuit. Mum and Dad can restore their ‘Kalm’ with a luxury Elemis Spa Treat at Kalm Spa, open from 17th July. Visit https://www.killyhevlin.com/
Explore the picturesque seaside resort in the Portrush Atlantic Hotel (3*) with its multitude of attractions and activities from the perfect central base. From grand historic castles to challenging golf courses, the town offers something for everyone, and all will be on your doorstep should you set up camp at the Atlantic. Ideal for families looking for a getaway by the sea with great walks, picnic spots and opportunities for water sports. Visit https://www.portrushatlantic.com/
Looking for a relaxing break to the beach for you and the kids? The Marine Hotel Ballycastle (3*) offers an unrivalled seafront position on the Causeway Coastal Route. From soft golden sands to pebbled hideaways, there is so much for you and your family to enjoy. The hotel offers several family friendly offers, including family bunk rooms, interconnecting rooms and beach house family rooms. Pack your bags and bring the whole family to the coast. Visit https://marinehotelballycastle.com/
The award-winning Blessingbourne Estate (3*4*5*) offers pet friendly self-catering accommodations, perfect for a whole family getaway. A beautiful historic 550 acre Country Estate, nestled in the heart of woodlands, lakes and wildlife on the edge of the Clogher Valley and within walking distance of Fivemiletown village. With a multitude of family-friendly accommodations, offers are filling up fast for the summer, with more availabilities open into the autumn. Visit https://www.blessingbourne.com/ .
Finn Valley Cottages (4*) in County Tyrone offer idyllic holiday homes near Strabane, surrounded by natural beauty looking out onto the Donegal hills. This region offers a truly authentic experience, steeped in tradition, with many attractions and activities. Choose from 4 self-catering cottages and enjoy a relaxing family break with a common area games room, pool table, as well as a large open grass area for kids to play outside. Visit https://finnvalleycottages.com/
The Roe Park Resort (4*)in Limavady is the perfect base for a family-friendly escape to explore the wonders of the North Coast, situated close to the Giant’s Causeway and just 20 minutes from Benone Beach.With a range of family-friendly rooms,children under 3 stay for free and the resort offers a special £20 bed and breakfast deal for kids aged 3-12. The resort has two superb restaurants, the Coach House Brasserie (closed at present but due to reopen) and The Courtyard with a family friendly menu. The resort also has an indoor pool (closed at present but due to reopen) to enjoy with the kids. Visit https://www.roeparkresort.com/.
Perched on the banks of the River Foyle, within a five-minute walk from the historic walls in Derry~Londonderry,the City Hotel Derryis ready to welcome you and your family to a location steeped in history, culture and fun. The hotel offers a range of family friendly rooms and is a great base for exploring the city. Visit https://www.cityhotelderry.com/
Caitlin’s Cottage (4*) in County Armagh offers great facilities for a well-earned family break. Located in a quiet rural setting it is a perfect location to explore the many attractions the area has to offer such as fishing, walking, cycling and horse-riding. This beautiful self-catering property, set in the rolling hills of south Armagh comfortably sleeps six with two double rooms, one with en-suite, and a twin room with single beds. Plus, it is fully equipped with all modern conveniences. Visit https://www.caitlinscottage.com/
The Ballydougan Pottery Cottages (4*) in Portadown are wonderful self-catering holiday cottages within an enclosed courtyard at Ballydougan Pottery. Also on-site are a working pottery, a gift shop, coffee lounge and restaurant – set to reopen on the 3rd of August. Situated in a quiet rural location convenient to Craigavon, this is a wonderful base for a country retreat with the family and ideal for exploring many great locations within Northern Ireland. Visit http://www.ballydouganpottery.co.uk/
Social distancing measures of 1 metre are now in place across Northern Ireland to ensure the safety of everyone. In addition, ‘We’re Good To Go’ is a new UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide reassurance to businesses, customers and communities that safe working guidelines in relation to COVID-19 have been adopted.
Book in advance to avoid disappointment and to explore much more in Northern Ireland, visit discovernorthernireland.com or follow Discover NI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Steeped in Celtic history, Navan Centre in Ireland’s Orchard County provides a legendary FREE day out this August
Armagh’s Navan Centre, which tells the story of one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, the Navan Fort, safely reopens to the public from Thursday July 30 with a new and exciting fresh take on its 2,000-year-old history.
Now free to enter for the month of August, the popular visitor attraction, located just two minutes from Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital, Armagh City, is currently at the centre of a new global focus after researchers uncovered new evidence of “absolutely huge” religious structures dating back to the Iron Age.
Long popular with visitors from across the island, the Navan Centre will be open from Thursdays through to Sunday every week with a new and exciting programme of outdoor interpretative events which celebrate its pivotal place in history, its Celtic past and the stories of warriors, knights and legends.
Exploring how the area’s native countrymen and women lived, what they ate, wore and how they spent their days with practical demonstrations, talks and interpretative events, Navan Centre & Fort provides visitors with one the best, unique family days out.
Welcoming its return, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Kevin Savage, said:
“One of the best-rated ‘excellent’ days out on TripAdvisor, a visit to Navan Fort & Centre will be an experience you’ll remember. Fill your heart with thrilling stories, enjoy the beautiful views and open space, you’ll easily be forgiven for immersing yourself in an experience you will long remember.”
With archaeological evidence of the site dating back to 95BC, its experienced tour guides will safely accompany you to what is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most famous sites – long considered to be the real reason for St Patrick’s return to these shores.
“A sacred and spiritual place with global importance, this inspirational destination is perfect for those with a sense of adventure and a curious mind,” the Lord Mayor said.
“A visit to Navan Fort & Centre is just one of many experiences available in County Armagh which celebrates the area’s rich cultural history and heritage, hospitality and variety of great places to visit and stay this summer.”
From Armagh’s striking Palace Demesne and Park, Lurgan, Loughgall and Gosford Forest Parks to the southern shores of Lough Neagh, the ABC borough is home to some of Northern Ireland’s best havens for relaxation and recreation, and many hidden gems, and is ideal for a range of outdoor pursuits.
Famous around the world as Ireland’s ‘Orchard County’ and filled with thousands of acres of Bramley apple trees interspersed with forests, parks meadows and walking trails ideal for picnics – or just to take in the views – there’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy.
Discover what Ards and North Down has to offer with a selection of fantastic experiences that let you explore some fascinating places, enjoy some delicious food and immerse yourself in the beauty of the borough while enjoying a friendly welcome!
From paddleboarding and kayaking to cooking your own freshly caught fish, as well as a watercolour workshop that will get those creative juices flowing, you can enjoy the natural beauty of our countryside while enjoying all of the warmth and hospitality that Ards and North Down has to offer.
Running from August until early October, six different experiences offer something for everyone.
The first Sunrise Paddle and Yoga Experience (1 Aug) starts with an early morning paddle in the waters of Strangford Lough that takes you to an island where yoga and breakfast await.
If you fancy the perfect foodie adventure, then Catch and Cook (22 Aug/6 Sep) lets you head out from Bangor Marina with a local boatman, giving you the opportunity to catch your own fish, before returning to cook at one of Bangor’s seafront restaurants.
You can also try a guided SUP-NIC Paddleboarding Experience (29 Aug/12 Sep/3 Oct) that includes a picnic on your paddleboard while you take in the beautiful surroundings.
If tea and cake is more your thing, the Killinchy based Canoe and Cake Experience (30 Aug/5 Sep) lets you enjoy the sights of Strangford Lough from the water. Then you will visit a traditional Irish thatched cottage for some delicious cake where you will also be treated to a demonstration of soda bread making.
You can also Explore the Shore (20 Sep) at Whiterock by kayak on a magical adventure that brings you closer to the lough’s wildlife. Stop off at one of the many islands before foraging for mussels with your guide and trained chef, who will cook them with a local Irish whiskey cream sauce.
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on dry land, you can awaken your creative spirit at the Water’s Edge Watercolours Workshop (26 Sep) in Castle Espie Wetland Centre. Enjoy a brief tour with a guide before joining local artist, Bernice Anderson, for coffee, scones and a two-hour workshop where you will create a pen and watercolour illustration of the Centre’s birds.
All providers will operate the experiences with COVID-19 measures in line with current government guidance.
Spaces for all experiences are strictly limited so book early to avoid disappointment. For more information, including ticket prices and booking, go to visitardsandnorthdown.com/experienceAND.