Council support for Christmas Community Toy Scheme

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is pleased to support a Christmas Community Toy Scheme across the Borough this year. 

New or pre-loved toys and gifts can be donated to participating schemes where they will be passed on for other families to enjoy. Christmas is a costly time for everyone and so often families have many unwanted toys and gifts that are no longer used.  This initiative is the perfect opportunity to donate these items so they can be distributed to those families in need. This in turn will ensure more families have a better Christmas whilst also helping reduce waste.

Following a successful School Uniform re-use scheme earlier this year a number of the community organisations involved have shown an interest in delivering this scheme. These groups will receive funding of £500 and include;

  • Listening Ear (Macedon DEA)
  • Fit moms and kids (Glengormley DEA)
  • A Safe Space to be Me (Airport DEA)

Last year the Council ran a Pre-loved Christmas Toy Collection pilot scheme through the Recycling Centres. The Council, in partnership with local charity, Habitat for Humanity, provided collection points at each of the five Household Recycling Centres for the donation of pre-loved toys for families at Christmas. Following the success of this scheme it will also return this year.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb said “I am pleased the Council is supporting these great initiatives. Christmas can be difficult for many families and particularly in these uncertain times. This is a great opportunity to support those in need by donating unwanted gifts and toys so other children and families can enjoy them.”

Details of the Community Toy and pre-loved Christmas Schemes including dates and donation points will be made available on council website and social media in the run up to Christmas.

Enchanted Winter Garden returns to Antrim Castle Gardens!

Northern Ireland’s premiere Christmas event, Enchanted Winter Garden, is returning to the award -winning Antrim Castle Gardens.

Enchanted Winter Garden 2019

In 2019 this Christmas spectacular welcomed a staggering 85K visitors to our Borough. This year’s event will run for an extended period of 18 nights from Saturday 27 November until Tuesday 21 December, from 4pm – 9.30pm. In addition to a longer run, we have also reduced the number of sessions and the capacity for each session. Bookings will be available every 30 minutes from 4-5pm and 6-7pm, allowing a one hour break to help maximise customer enjoyment.

The gardens will become a place of enchantment for families and friends to enjoy the magic of Christmas.  Dazzling illuminations, the marshmallow fire pit, artisan food stalls, walkabout characters and star attractions, including the Big Wheel, Helter Skelter and The Wonderland Wood, all making a welcome return.

An Evening of Inclusive Enchantment will run on both Wednesday 1 & 8 December with reduced numbers, lighting and sound levels, Sensory & Quiet room, ideal for children and adults with additional needs.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb said “I am pleased that Enchanted Winter Garden is returning to Antrim Castle Gardens. In 2019 it attracted an incredible 85K visitors to our Borough and I hope this year we can encourage these visitors and more to return. The event has something to offer for all ages and it is a great way to spread some festive cheer with family and friends.”

Tickets will go on sale from Thursday 7 October at 10am; with tickets priced at £6 adult, £4 child, £18 family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) and under 2s free. Tickets will be available online at Our new Arts and Culture Customer Hub service, which includes a live chat facility and direct telephone number T: 0300 123 7788 (calls charged at local rate) can assist with ticket queries if customers are unable to book online. The Customer Hub operates Monday – Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Pease visit for more details.

Light up your Christmas with a visit to Enchanted Winter Garden and make memories with family and friends.

Please note this event is subject to NI Executive Guidelines.

BBC Digital Cities Virtual returns in October with three days of fantastic FREE events for the creative industries

Digital Cities Virtual (DCV) is back on Tuesday October 12th, Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th October with a full and varied schedule of masterclasses, panels, skills and insight sessions for people working in or interested in a career in the creative industries. To see the full schedule and book a FREE place simply go to

Sport is a big theme this month with two fantastic sessions to choose from. BBC Sport NI presenter Nicola McCarthy hosts a session on how they’ve been using the latest digital innovations, streaming and social platforms to provide more sports coverage than ever – whether its women’s international football matches streamed live on BBC iPlayer, or more analysis, interviews and issues being discussed on TV, radio or podcast, digital technology is helping to grow audience. Birmingham’s Create Central, BBC Asian Network’s Noreen Khan will be hosting their session on how you can be part of the Commonwealth Games in 2021 – definitely not to be missed!

Digital Skills sessions from The BBC Academy this month will focus on Everything you need to know about reaching audiences on: Facebook, Twitter & InstagramShooting and Editing on Tik Tok; and a deep dive into how BBC Sport has created engaging short-form over 2021’s Summer of Sport. The Academy team will also be bringing you the latest insights on shoppable TV when BBC Click’s Lara Lewington hosts the Digital Innovation: Shoppable TV with Love Island panel session and Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton will be full of Instagram insights in her session: Instagram – What it takes to make it – with Angels of the North.

Industry experts Screen Skills are backwith three great sessions including an unmissable round-up of the latest Jobs, Schemes & Opportunities for the creative Industriesan Insight session on How to be Set Ready; and an opportunity to find out about creating an eye catching portfolio in How to get your portfolio ready for jobs in screen. They’ll also be delivering a bonus event live from Leamington Spa on Saturday 16th for those interested in careers in the games industry.

The BBC Academy Digital Cities Virtual is supported in Northern Ireland by BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen, Screen Skills, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast Media Festival, Film Hub NI, Into Film, The Royal Television Society NI, RTS Futures NI, Ulster University, North West Regional College, Belfast Metropolitan College and Belfast City Council.

Follow #digicities and @BBCAcademy on Twitter for updates.

Spooked Out’ returns to V36 this Halloween

Get your tickets for ‘Spooked Out ‘as it returns to V36 this Halloween, Sunday 31 October from 6-8pm.

Halloween at V36

Are you brave enough to join us for a line-up of ghoulish delights including a Cool FM roadshow, fancy dress competition, fire performers, bubble bikes, Halloween characters and a firework finale!. Tickets for this epic evening are available from Friday 1 October from 10am. Whilst the ‘Spooked Out’ event is free, a booking fee of £1.25 is applied to each ticket with all proceeds being donated to the Mayor’s charities.

More ‘trick or treat’ fun is happening throughout the Borough with the Pumpkin Patch at Threemilewater Park on Saturday 30October from 10am -4pm (hourly sessions from 10am-3pm) which will be fantastic family time to get creative and carve your best pumpkin!

For the more daring amongst us, there is also a chance to have the fright of your life at the Ghoulish Night Walks at the iconic Mossley Mill on Friday 22 and Thursday 28 October and Antrim Castle Gardens on the 27 and 29 October every hour from 6pm-8pm. This eerie setting is the perfect backdrop as you will be guided through the past with stories of ghosts, ghouls and everything in-between that still walk the grounds.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb said “I am thrilled at the fantastic line up of events happening over Halloween for all to enjoy. I would love to see the community come and enjoy all the ‘fabulously frightening’ things lined up as there is plenty for all ages, and what an amazing way to finish it off with a bang with a firework finale at the ‘Spooked Out’ event.”

For all Halloween events and bookings please visit Our new Arts and Culture Customer Hub service, which includes a live chat facility and direct telephone number (0300 123 7788 – calls charged at local rate) can assist with ticket queries if customers are unable to book online. The Customer Hub operates Monday – Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Pease visit for more details.

Causeway Coast and Glens PCSP urge vigilance against High Street Voucher scams

Causeway Coast and Glens Policing and Community Safety Partnership is urging people to be on their guard against High Street Voucher scammers.

There have been reports about people calling to front doors offering to help with applications for the ‘Shop Local’ voucher scheme.

ScamwiseNI said they’re aware of the issue, which has been reported to police in recent weeks.

Chairperson of Causeway Coast and Glens PCSP, Councillor Darryl Wilson said: “I know how eager members of the public are to avail of the High Street Voucher scheme, however, as a community we must remain vigilant towards scammers and criminals who will use this opportunity to gather personal and financial information for their own gain and your financial loss. 

“Please be on your guard and remember that applying for your card should only be done through the dedicated online portal on NI Direct which is open now or by the telephone application process from October 11th.”

Supporting this message, PSNI Superintendent Gerard Pollock, Chair of ScamwiseNI partnership, said: “I urge everyone to be vigilant and to follow official advice on registering for the scheme. It’s important to know this will never include cold calls to your house or to your telephone.

“Never disclose your personal or banking details to anyone over the phone or online, no matter how convincing they may seem, and never allow an unauthorised person to have access to such details.  Guarding your personal and banking details is essential.”

For further general advice and information on scams visit or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni. If you have any concerns about unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website or by phoning 0300 123  2040.  You can also call police on the non-emergency number 101.



Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is on a quest to help your little ones experience an out of this world Christmas. Its ‘Mission Santa’ adventure is ready for launch.

Returning for its second year, this enchanting space panto has been created by BNL Productions, especially for guests who visit the Planetarium this festive season.

Visitors will have the chance to help save Santa inside mission control during an immersive and theatrical show, with the assistance of his side kick Marzipan the Elf to help complete Mission Santa! Enjoy a visit from the man himself in his custom-built spaceship sleigh!

This curious adventure will include the unique dome show, “The Alien Who stole Christmas” showcased in the star dome theatre. Each child will receive a present and a printed family photography keepsake.

Sinead Mackle, Education and Outreach Manager at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium said: “Due to the demand and sell out shows in 2019, we are delighted that ‘Mission Santa’ is returning for a second year. It’s a truly magical experience that brings the wonder of Christmas to life in a way that we didn’t know was possible. Incorporating the marvels of space into the theatrical show gives children and families a memorable experience. The festive season is synonymous with an annual outing to the Panto or a show, and Mission Santa is something unique.”

Sinead adds: “There was such a high demand for the shows in 2019 that we had to put on extra dates which was very encouraging. We were unable to run the show in 2020 due the pandemic, but this year, the show is bigger and better than ever!”

Each mission will last up to 90 minutes, every Saturday and Sunday from 20 November – 23 December 2021. Pre-Booking is essential as places are limited. Tickets can be purchased via

NI Engineering Company, PAC Group, Receive Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation

Belfast-based electrical and mechanical engineering company, PAC Group, has received royal recognition for its innovative carbon fibre preforming technology. 

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the UK, with winners personally approved by her Majesty the Queen. The Group were the only company from Northern Ireland to receive the award for the Innovation category in 2021, and were the first Innovation category winner from the province for three years.

The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay O’Boyle, presented the company with the award. She said: “Northern Ireland has a rich and vibrant history of enterprise and innovation. Famous historically for linen and shipbuilding, today it is companies such as PAC Group that proudly carry the innovation torch. This company’s commitment to research and development, and to future-proofing its technology, will ensure its longevity and continued success.”

“The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious and rigorous business awards in the UK, with international regard and recognition. Invariably, it is seen as a highly significant achievement and landmark in any company’s history.”

Founded in 2018, the company has enjoyed a remarkable growth journey, now employing over 40 people at its headquarters in Dargan Crescent, Belfast. 

Holding 42 patents on the hardware and software, the company’s Hot Drape Formers and Preforming machines have been purchased by globally leading aerospace and automotive companies such as Spirit AeroSystems and McLaren Automotive.

PAC Group’s Business Development Director, Darren Leslie, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. It is a fantastic endorsement for our company to be recognised as world-class, and it is a welcome recognition of our team’s capabilities and hard work.”

PAC Group’s Technical Director, Gavin Rankin, added: “Innovation really is the lifeblood of PAC Group, and this award recognises just how innovative our carbon composite preforming technology is, which brings significant benefits to industries seeking to lightweight their structures to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”

The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay O’Boyle, paid tribute to “the people who are the heart of, and make up, PAC Group”.

She added: “This award is about your joint success, your belief in the spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship, and your contribution to creating a more stable, sustainable, and prosperous economy for Northern Ireland.”

“PAC Group is a Belfast company and a Northern Ireland success story. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is indeed a milestone, but it is also a signpost to future success and even greater achievement.”

For more information on PAC Group, go to

New Radio Station Belfast 247 Launches Competition To Find New Talent

Search for the next generation of radio presenters

Radio station, Belfast 247, is searching for new presenters as the station continues to grow, and they want to make sure young people have the chance to train and learn.

Presenter and programme director, Robin Elliott, said the search for new talent is a key project for Belfast 247.

“While we are always on the lookout for new presenters, regardless of their age, we want to create the opportunity through our Search for New Talent to give young people who want to break into the broadcasting industry an opportunity to learn, craft and hone their skills,” he explained. 

“In Northern Ireland there are only a small number of opportunities for young people to get broadcast experience and very often it can be difficult for them to get their foot in the door.”

Launched in May this year, Belfast 247 is Northern Ireland’s newest online radio station playing all the greatest hits from the 60s to today. From The Beatles, Cher and Abba to Queen, Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga the station is full of anthemic tunes that shaped generations.

Since launching earlier in the year it has been developing and growing in listeners thanks to the existing team and scoring major interviews with a whole host of top names.

“We launched in May, but we have now really found our feet and are ready for the next phase with new projects and new shows,” said the broadcaster. 

“There are a lot of exciting plans, and we want to make sure that we have an ever expanding pool of presenters.”

Station managing director and presenter, Tina Calder said: “One thing both myself and Robin are very passionate about is giving young people who want to break into the broadcasting industry an opportunity to learn, craft and hone their skills. We want to make it accessible to them.”

She explained that the opportunities were more than just a showcase.

“Every month we will ask people to submit their links for a 1-hour show, that show will then be scheduled into the station during the course of the month,” Tina said. 

“At the end of the month whoever has the highest listening figures will be offered the opportunity to have their own show for a minimum of three months.

“Not just that we will also offer the new voice publicity management support and advice, training in how to use the radio playout systems, coaching as a presenter and a range of other production skills.” 

To listen to Belfast 247 go to, download the app or listen on your Alexa smart speaker by saying “Alexa, enable skills Belfast 247” and then “Alexa launch Belfast 247” from then on in.

For more information on the search for new talent go to or to enter the competition email for a competition pack.


As the nights draw in, Dyad Productions return to The Market Place Theatre in Armagh with three lost, gothic spine-tinglers from the great Victorian female writers.

An artist, gripped by the clutching fingers of a dead past; a scientist, defying nature in the dark realm of the senses; an expectant father, driven mad by creeping shadows…

In the unquiet darkness between life and death, a lone, haunted woman tells chilling tales of the macabre and terrifying, illuminating the curious frailties of human nature…

The Victorian fascination with tales of mystery and the supernatural created an enduring legacy of Gothic fiction; but it is often the male writers that we remember. Many thrilling and eerie stories from the great female writers of that era have gathered dust and been forgotten. Until now.

This dark celebration of the female gothic writers is adapted and performed by Rebecca Vaughan [Austen’s Women, I, Elizabeth, Dalloway, The Diaries of Adam and Eve]. The show is directed by Olivier Award winner, Gus Masterson [Morecambe].

Tickets are priced £13.50 each, and can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at All performances will adhere to current social distancing requirements, and with full safety measures in place, you can sit back and relax.

Sink your teeth into some frighteningly fun activities this Halloween

As the darker evenings draw in and autumn leaves begin to fall, it is time to embrace the spooky season and enjoy the wide array of eerie entertainment on offer for families across Northern Ireland this Halloween.

For families with young children looking for traditional Halloween fun, there are plenty of Instagram worthy pumpkin patches scattered through NI where your little monsters can design their own spooky jack-o’-lanterns or take part in fun seasonal games.

And for the older kids who are feeling brave and fancy something a little more spook-tacular, why not explore a haunted woodland in search of ghostly beings, or listen to spine-tingling tales on a scary storytelling trail?

There is so much to choose from, but fear not, as Discover Northern Ireland has rounded up a list of fang-tastic activities to sink your teeth into and help you plan your perfect family-focused Halloween adventure.


One of Europe’s largest Halloween parties is set to return to Derry~Londonderry this year, as the city gears up for a thrilling extravaganza of outdoor events.

The ‘Awakening the Walled City’ programme, which runs over three evenings from Friday 29th October – Sunday 31st October, will feature illuminations, animation and installations across key locations stretching beyond the city’s historic walls, guaranteed to bewitch and enthral.

Taking place over an extended area this year to create a safe and welcoming environment for visitors, the celebrations will spill over into four worlds, in Derry~Londonderry, Strabane and Donegal, each featuring a cast of creepily curious characters here to recapture the spirit of Samhain.

Prepare to be scared as the apparitions of the underworld return, with appearances by the chilling Cailleach, the mischievous shape-shifting goddess Morrígan, the fearsome Red Branch Knight, and of course Walter the Skeleton from Derry’s own coat of arms.

Some of the other highlights visitors can enjoy include a food and drinks trail, tours in spooky locations around the city, live music, a fun fair and a fireworks display over the River Foyle to cap off the festival.

Derry Halloween 2021

Antrim Castle Gardens, Co Antrim

Explore haunted historic places in the dark this Halloween, as you take part in spine tingling walking tours in the grounds of Antrim Castle Gardens. Storytellers will guide you on an eerie and bone-chilling journey through the past, with tales of ghosts, supernatural sightings and horrors from history. Tours are family friendly but the provider recommends young people taking part should be aged 12 or over, however this is at parent’s discretion. To help chase away any shivers, warming refreshments will be available after your walk and a hot drink is included in the ticket price.

Events | What’s On – Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council (

Jungle NI, Co Londonderry

Some spectacularly spooky activities await young kids and their families at Jungle NI, Magherafelt this Halloween. The popular ‘Hallowee’uns’ event returns, filled with wicked, weird and wonderful activities. Little monsters can enjoy some pumpkin picking and carving, a haunting haycart ride with a wicked witch who will tell spooky stories along the way, and a mysterious trek around the Maize Maze, among a host of other adventure activities. Prizes for the best costumes are also up for grabs. This event will run every day from Monday October 25 – Saturday October 30 from 11am -3pm.

Hallowee’uns – The Jungle NI

Ulster American Folk Park, Co Tyrone

Enjoy some ghoulish tales and learn about some fascinating folklore at the Ulster America Folk Park’s Jack O’Lantern Halloween Festival. Meet the creepy characters like the ship’s captain cleaning the decks, and the last emigrants who survived the arduous journey across the Atlantic to the New World of frontier America. Have your fortune told, take part in seasonal games, and taste some apple tart, pumpkin pie or fresh soda bread straight from the open fire griddle.

Jack O’Lantern Hallowe’en Festival (

Don’t miss the chilling torchlit tours. Visit the wake of ole Ma MacMaster, the local fortune teller, and hear her terrifying tales of evil fairies and banshees.

Hallowe’en Torchlit Tours: The Curse of Johnny MacMaster (

Visitors can also check out the beautiful display of traditional handmade dolls made from apples and pieces of left over fabric, and hear all about turnip lanterns which would have been carved in times gone by, long before pumpkins.

Streamvale Farm, Co Down

Family fun for the little and big kids! Come collect your mini wheelbarrow and pick your very own pumpkin, with thousands to choose from. Then let the experts design your spooky lantern before you carve it out. Visitors can also enjoy barrel and tractor rides, animal shows, a Broomtastic disco and – if you are feeling brave – follow the Spooky Trail and meet real life characters.

Halloween Pumpkin Patch – Streamvale Open Farm

Fermanagh Fun Farm, Co Fermanagh

The popular Pumpkin Carving Festival is back for another year. This interactive experience offers an array of fun activities for all the family. Hop on board the beautifully decorated ghost train, which will take you out to the field to choose your own pumpkin. Bring it back to the carving marquee and come up with your own creative design. Then its time to grab a treasure map and seek out the ghosts that lurk on the grounds. Check out every dark corner of the farm, if you dare, and you could be in with a chance to win a great prize. And don’t forget to feed and pet some of the farm animals before you go.

BOOK A VISIT – Fermanagh Fun Farm

Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

Come and explore the child friendly Halloween tour around Crumlin Road Gaol. Encounter the friendly ghost and ghouls telling stories of their time at the Gaol. Followed by a search for the perfect pumpkin at the outdoor Pumpkin patch before bringing it to the carving station to create a one of a kind masterpiece. 

Pumpkin Patch and Halloween Tour – Crumlin Road Gaol Experience, Events, Weddings & Venue Hire

Galgorm Fairy Trail & Halloween, Co Antrim

Situated on the grounds of Galgorm Castle, adventure awaits as the Fairy Trail is transformed into a Halloween Spooktacular, with ghosts and ghouls returning to the woodland area surrounding the castle. Fun for everyone, this experience is available for both daytime and evening thrill seekers, booking is essential as there is limited availability.

Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail | Things to do Ballymena | Family day out NI

For more information on great places to visit and for things to see and do this Halloween – check out