You can’t ‘beet’ Locally Grown Veg

Vegetable Advocate volunteers in Northern Ireland are calling on you to join them this month in a Love NI Veg 7-Day Meal Challenge.  Just ‘have a go’ and pledge to take the challenge to contribute to making a difference in your own life, as part of your local community and to the environment.

Portia Woods, Vegetable Advocate Support Officer NI expressed “I was delighted to meet with the Belfast Lord Mayor to discuss how the 7-Day Meal Challenge will help people look for, seek out and support the daily purchase of vegetables grown locally and in season in Northern Ireland.  Increasing veg consumption is the overall aim, but it is more than that.  It is about realising the high quality and availability of local vegetables, the value for money, the health benefits and the variety of meals that can be enjoyed.  We discussed how easy and how difficult it might be, the fun that families can have, and how some surprises might be found such as locally grown pak choi.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, said: “The Love NI Veg 7-Day Meal Challenge is a fantastic initiative from the Belfast Food Network and I’m looking forward to taking part. We have such wonderful produce right here on our doorsteps in Northern Ireland and supporting local producers and traders not only helps to boost the local economy, but also contributes more widely to helping the environment.

“During my term in office, I want to encourage residents across Belfast to do #OneWeeThing to combat climate change. Eating locally-grown vegetables is a great way to do your own one wee thing; it’s healthy, it’s delicious and eating locally grown veg doesn’t carry the same environmental impact as vegetables imported from other parts of the world. We need to look after our planet and taking small steps such as this can make a huge impact.”

The challenge can be taken at your own time and pace up until the 31st March 2022.

The challenge is to include a variety of veg ONLY grown in NI, in at least one meal per day for seven days.  The public are encouraged to take part with the Vegetable Advocates and with those who have already signed up. To register and find out what exactly is involved fill in the easy registration form  (for print release purposes) Registration Form (for digital release purposes) or email

The Culinary Arts Management Students at the University of Ulster have pledged the challenge! Under the guidance of course Director Michael Gillies they will be taking part in Love NI Veg workshops dedicated to the challenge.  Anyone who wants to follow their lead can do so and get creative like the on-site The Academy Restaurant where students might surprise you with a delicious and innovative lunch menu during the challenge!

Throughout the year Vegetable Advocates have made a commitment to NI veg and it has already seen results.  It is about increasing vegetable consumption.  It is not a guilt trip or activity to make people feel worried about lifestyle choices, nor about reducing consumption of other foods. It’s about eating more veg for health and supporting local. The Vegetable Advocates are part of a UK wide Peas Please project launched in 2017 by the Food Foundation.  They engage with local communities, farmers, retailers and manufactures to achieve a common goal of increasing vegetable consumption.

Reflecting on last year, Portia states “Like many others, I feel a responsibility to take one step or many small steps to satisfy my own climate anxiety.  It is an increasing footprint on our society, especially for children who have gained the understanding since COP26.”  The impact of the climate crisis demands collective action: it requires system and society behaviour transformation. As individuals we cannot stop climate change alone so working together particularly as household units we can increase our vegetable consumption, benefit our health, environment, and local farming economy: buy buying local!  ‘Parful’ Veg is a message from local farmers at who can guide you in your choices with a NI calendar of seasonal veg grown by local farmers.

With February assigned the month of love, it’s perfect to really Love NI Veg – you can’t ‘beet’ it!

“Come on a ‘suit safari’ with Maiden Voyage Dance at Belfast Children’s Festival!”

Maiden Voyage Dance is inviting 3–6-year-olds and their grown-ups to join them on a ‘suit safari’ in their new show ‘MORF’, which will premiere at The MAC as part of Belfast Children’s Festival on 5 – 6 March. 

Production stills from Maiden Voyage Dance production of ‘Morf’

Exploring the magical in the everyday, ‘MORF’ sees two dancers use ordinary suit jackets to create familiar animals – including a jellyfish, an elephant, a bird, and a worm – as young audiences travel with them to a ‘fabric fantasy’ world of clouds, mountains, volcanos and castles. Nothing stays the same for long as what is there in one second is gone and transformed into something new the next.

Nicola Curry, Artistic Director ofMaiden Voyage Dance said: 

“A key part of encouraging creativity in young children is to share how to make something magical out of nothing. ‘MORF’ is a playful new dance show which embraces change with gentle, ever-shifting movement and rhythm, celebrating the joy of play, transformation and imagination.”

‘MORF’ marks Maiden Voyage Dance’s welcome return to Belfast Children’s Festival after the company’s sell-out run with ‘Turnabout’ at last year’s event.

This year’s show has been created by choreographer David Ogle with performers Adam Ashford and Maeve McGreevy, lighting designer Ciaran Bagnall, costume and set designer Diana Ennis and composer Brian Irvine. ‘MORF’ is commissioned and produced by Maiden Voyage Dance

Looking forward to ’MORF’, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Acting Head of Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council is very excited to welcome this new work from Maiden Voyage, who lead the field in innovative contemporary dance experiences for the whole family here in Northern Ireland. The inherent joyousness and playfulness of ‘MORF’ will be particularly impactful as we return to sharing live dance together.

I can think of nothing better than being whisked off on a journey of imagination and movement by this fantastic team of creatives, and to be given permission once again to dream and wonder and dare to look at things differently. I’d encourage people to get out and experience the exhilarating, transformative joy of live dance for themselves with ‘MORF’.”

Maiden Voyage Dance is principally funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and funded by Belfast City Council. ‘MORF’ is supported by Ulster Presents at Ulster University.

Duration: 30-35 mins

  • Live performances               
  • The MAC, Belfast      5-6 March, 2.30pm and 4.30pm 
  • Audio Described performances
  • 6 March, 2.30pm and 4.30pm
  • Relaxed performance
  • 6 March, 4.30pm
  • School performances            
  • The MAC, Belfast      4,8,9 March
  • Streamed performances        
  • Online QFT Player     12-13 March

For further information and to book tickets (£10 each) for ‘MORF’, visit


Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is pleased to launch its new combined experience ‘Royal Hillsborough and Historic Moira’. This initiative is designed to boost the tourism and hospitality economy within these two rural villages involving 40 local businesses.

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Rural Tourism Collaborative Experience (RTCE) programme and the council this new programme has and will continue to integrate local authentic food and drink businesses with tourism providers in Royal Hillsborough and Moira.  It will drive footfall, sales, awareness and dwell time in these areas through combined visitor experiences and itineraries.

Speaking about the programme, Vice Chair of the council’s Development Committee, Councillor Hazel Legge said: “We are delighted with the response to the programme and to have so many interested and engaged partners is a testament to the success of the tourism and hospitality sector in these rural areas. Moira and Royal Hillsborough are unique gems, and it is important that we support, encourage, and celebrate the wonderful offerings already in place, as well as drive future collaboration.

“I would like to thank our local businesses for their engagement with our council officers and for the feedback they provided to help shape this programme. Together we have formed new alliances and been educated on the business offering of both areas. A visitor no longer wants a run of the mill trip – it’s all about having experiences; something different, memorable and impressive.

“With the wealth of bars and restaurants, accommodation options and tourist attractions, there is so much on offer; whether you want a one-day trip or a three night stay. This tourism concept will bring to the masses the wonders of our council’s charming rural areas, its people and place.”

As part of the programme new bespoke itineraries have been created to showcase the best of what the areas have to offer. These suggested plans give top tips and ideas of new things to experience, adventure to new places, and sample some of the best cuisine these rural areas have to offer.

Speaking about the programme, Lynne McCabe who owns Ralph’s Moira and Lisnacurran in Royal Hillsborough said: “The COVID-19 pandemic created an explosion of growth and new tourism thanks to the support of the staycation market. We need to maximise on this as a springboard for when overseas tourism markets return. We are thankful to be placed in the hub of Northern Ireland, so close and accessible to everywhere being located right on the Belfast to Dublin corridor. I look forward to the programme bringing the best of the areas together and showcasing what we have on offer.”

The programme will be supported by the roll out of outdoor advertising, digital communications and storytelling that showcase some of the participating businesses, highlighting their business successes.

A new, easy to navigate webpage has been created to help visitors plan their next day trip, staycation, or adventure. Visit to to learn more about the programme and see the raft of experience itineraries on offer.


Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is delighted to welcome you this mid-term and into Spring to experience an out of this world trip to remember. The planetarium is the ideal place to create long lasting memories and spark curiosity to learn more about space.

From immersive dome shows to exploring the cosmos at the interactive exhibition space, and sensory room, there is something to keep everyone captivated during their day out. The planetarium is equipped with a state-of-the-art Digistar 7 digital project system for an all-immersive theatre experience. Visitors of all ages will be immersed in a 360-degree dome experience where shows are played on the roof

The planetarium is showcasing many dome-shows during the mid-term holidays and spring, suitable for all ages. Shows include, “Astronaut George” best suited for pre-schoolers and little ones. “Perfect Little Planet” is the ideal show for families as you discover the Solar System, taking you on the ultimate space vacation! “We are Stars” is the perfect animated dome show for over 6’s and seeks to answer some of the biggest questions for all time; what are we made of and where did it all come from?

The shows are not just for the kids, adults have the chance to view some immersive dome shows too. “Look Up! A Winter Night Sky Tour” takes you on a tour around the night sky as seen from Ireland. Let a presenter guide you through the beautiful objects and constellations seen at this time of year. This show is ideal for anyone starting out in astronomy or interested in learning about what can be seen in the night sky. More shows are available.

The cleverly designed interactive exhibition area allows little ones to explore outer space and broaden their curiosity for the intergalactic phenomena. You can touch a real piece of ancient history; a real meteorite!

To get outdoors, explore the Astropark which has a scale model of the Universe, brought down to Earth in a beautiful natural setting. As you journey through the park you will get to interact with a scale model of the Solar System.

The recently refurbished modern sensory room provides an enjoyable and calming multisensory experience for all our visitors, with features including bubble tubes and interactive exhibits. 

Leave some time in your day out to refuel at the café and explore the shop for treats, educational gifts and more.

For those with additional needs, a brand-new changing places facility is available to assist to ensure your day out is relaxing and you have everything you need.

Tickets for the dome shows and exhibitions are available to purchase online via and pre booking is required. The Armagh Observatory & Planetarium is open to the public Tuesday – Sunday.


‘Callings’ is a poignant new political play from Kabosh, following the lives of five gay/lesbian people who sought sanctuary and community through Cara-Friend – a phoneline and befriending service set up in 1974 to support our hidden LGBTQ+ communities.

Created by local playwright Dominic Montague, and directed by Paula McFetridge, this compelling piece of theatre is grounded in research and conversations with Cara-Friend’s founders and early service users. ‘Callings’ tells their stories, of the countless isolated individuals who reached out and found support and strength, from a volunteer at the end of the phone.

Charged with the music of the day, ‘Callings’ examines the LGBTQ+ experience in the north during the late 70s and early 80s.   Following the lives of Bridget, Helen, Martin, Jason, and Tommy, ‘Callings’ explores how these bright and resilient individuals found themselves, and each other, during oppressive times.

‘Callings’ looks at the historical challenges faced by local LGBTQ+ communities, and tells a series of powerful personal stories that will make you laugh, cry, and consider just how far we’ve come.

Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director of Kabosh said “Kabosh is privileged to commission and produce this beautiful new play by Dominic Montague as part of LGBTQ+ History Month, February 2022.  The stories of our local LGBTQ+ communities are filled with fierce resilience, struggle, and political oppression, yet there is much humanity, kindness, and solidarity to be celebrated.”

Callings will be on stage at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh on Saturday 19 February. Tickets can be booked online at, or through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821.

And to keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter ( where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.

New Campaign Launches To Attract Staff Into Hospitality & Tourism

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – Thursday 3rd February 2022 Photo by Kelvin Boyes // Press Eye Pictured launching the new Hospitality and Tourism Skills Campaign (L-r) are Carolyn Boyd, Tourism NI Industry Development Manager, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Roisin McKee, Project Director of the HATS network.

A major campaign has launched to boost perceptions of careers in hospitality and tourism, helping to attract new talent and tackle staffing challenges.

Recruitment has been a priority concern for employers in hospitality and tourism, which when compounded by the impact of COVID-19, has left many businesses struggling to recruit a full workforce, resulting in closures and scaled back service.

To confront this head-on employer-led network the Hospitality & Tourism Skills network (HATS) has partnered with Tourism NI to spearhead a multi-channel advertising campaign to promote the breadth of exciting opportunities that the industry has to offer potential job seekers.

Going live on 31 January 2022 and running until the end of March 2022, the campaign features a series of quirky eye-catching job descriptions across billboards, outdoor advertising and social media to attract attention and highlight the dynamic and fast-paced roles available, helping to attract new recruits.

Roisin McKee, Director of HATS said the campaign seeks to encourage people to join an industry that is looking to come back, bigger and better than ever.

She explained: “There are incredible opportunities for people to join hospitality and tourism and experience rewarding careers at all skill levels and this campaign is designed to help us get that message out.

“Working with industry and partners we want to help combat the staffing challenges and support the recovery of the industry by challenging perceptions and promoting the exciting and diverse opportunities on offer right now, helping to support recruitment and drive retention.

“Many employers are working harder than ever to attract and retain talent by making fundamental changes to offer a better quality job experience, so jobseekers can expect to be well looked after.”

As part of the campaign, employers are invited to advertise their vacancies for free on the CareerScope campaign jobs portal.
Supporting the campaign, the Department for the Economy (DfE) Minister said: “This important campaign highlights the many opportunities for employment across all disciplines in the

Tourism and hospitality industry and shows an encouraging future for a resilient sector as it seeks to recover from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Attracting and building a skilled workforce to meet industry’s requirements, both now and in the future, are vital in helping to drive recovery in the sector and ensuring Northern Ireland is able to compete on the global stage and maintain its reputation as a world class tourism destination.”

The campaign will be addressing three key priorities for the sector, those are to Attract, Retain and Engage employees and jobseekers as part of a wider Tourism Recovery Action Plan and the NI Skills Strategy.

Tourism NI Director of Strategic Development David Roberts said: “Recruiting into the hospitality and tourism sector has been challenging for a number of years due to the speed at which the industry has grown, tackling this alongside reducing staff turnover, are both clear priorities for the sector.

“We are delighted to be working with the Hospitality & Tourism Skills Network to deliver this awareness campaign which will boost the message that the sector is a positive career choice. Attracting and building a skilled and sustainable workforce is key to ensuring that tourism can recover and return to the levels of success achieved in the years up to 2019.

“We strongly encourage employers to register now to take advantage of promoting their vacancies for free to benefit directly from the campaign.”

The HATS network, set up in December 2019, brings together a diverse mix of employers from across the hospitality and tourism sector alongside industry associations and key delivery partners from government and education in order to collectively address issues around sector image, attractiveness and skills development into and within the sector.

The HATS network project is supported by Invest Northern Ireland under its Collaborative Growth Programme.

Supporters of the recruitment campaign include the NI Hotels Federation, NI Tourism Alliance, Hospitality Ulster, Bus and Coach NI, Springboard, Invest NI, Institute of Hospitality, Ulster University, the six FE colleges, the Department for the Economy and Department for Communities.

Employers can upload their vacancies for free at

Jobseekers can check out jobs available at or follow #CountMeIn

4 Towns In Northern Ireland Voted Friendliest Visitor Destinations in UK

Tourism NI has welcomed the news that four towns in Northern Ireland have been awarded the friendliest visitor destinations in the UK with Enniskillen in County Fermanagh voted number one most welcoming in the UK.

Alongside Enniskillen, Ballycastle, County Antrim; Bushmills, County Antrim and Newcastle, County Down all appeared on the top 10 most welcoming list.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the news was a much needed boost for the tourism sector in Northern Ireland that has experienced a two year blow to an industry which was riding high after a record breaking 2019 when revenue surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

He added: “While it has been two years of unprecedented crisis for the industry, I am pleased to know that despite the enormous challenges, our towns have dominated the top 10 list of friendliest visitor destinations. The news comes in the same week as the Game of Thrones Studio Tour opens its doors to the public and will help to put Northern Ireland on the map as a must visit destination for those far and wide.”

McGrillen believes the tourism industry has been incredibly resilient in the face of the global pandemic. 

“There will be brighter opportunities in the years ahead and I have confidence that with the appropriate support, tourism in Northern Ireland will bounce back,” he said. 

Other locations which made the top 10 list were Frome in Somerset; Glastonbury, Somerset: Shetland; Wick, Highlands and Kelso, Scottish Borders.

Following research from more than 232 million verified reviews as part of’s 10th annual Traveller Review Awards, the awards recognise more than 1.25 million travel providers around the world for their hospitality, including 53,623 in the UK.

The winning list was decided by the total share of Traveller Review Award 2022 recipients when compared to the total number of eligible properties in that town or city.

McGrillen added: “Tourism is absolutely vital for us as it provides passengers for our public transport and supports sea and air routes; it generates revenue to support our culture and heritage assets and can contribute to the protection of our natural environment; it provides revenue for central and local government and promotes a positive image of Northern Ireland overseas, supporting foreign direct investment.”

7 Slow Food Causeway Events Happening This February

Taste Causeway food

With only a few weeks left of Slow Food Causeway Events, the calendar is jam packed with a mixture of some familiar Slow Food favourites and new events.

Originally founded in Italy during the 1980s to combine the regional traditions with the slow pace of life. Since then, the Slow Food movement has evolved worldwide and hopes to preserve the ‘unique culinary heritage’ of NI. 

Taste Causeway is an accredited Slow Food destination, one of only a handful of destinations in Ireland to be awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement.

Slow Food Causeway celebrates the unique food and drink culture of the Causeway Coast.


Here are 7 upcoming Slow Food Causeway Events happening:

1 & 2. Slow Food Causeway: Sourdough Baking Classes with Ursa Minor

Sunday, February 6 and February 20, 9am – 5pm

Come along and spend your Sunday learning the art of traditional sourdough making with the talented team of bakers at a Slow Food 2020 accredited bakery, Ursa Minor Bakehouse.

The class will cover the theory on 3 different types of bread, using both sourdough culture and yeast and all guests will have the opportunity to take home their loaves for family and friends to enjoy.

For more information, go to 

3. Slow Food Causeway: Broughgammon Butchery Course

Sunday, February 13, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

This hands-on afternoon is ideal for those who are curious about butchering and want to improve their skills.

Led by the highly skilled team at the award-winning Broughgammon farm, each guest will be taught everything they need to know about butchering from knife handling skills, cutting techniques.

After the event, guests can take home a complimentary boning knife and the meat cuts ready to cook.

For more information, go to 

4. Slow Food Causeway: Smoking Masterclass with North Coast Smokehouse

Saturday 19th February, 1:00pm – 4:30pm

Join Ruairidh from North Coast Smokehouse for an afternoon of curing and smoking some seafood favourites. 

In this hands-on masterclass, you will learn the techniques involved in smoking hot and cold fish. 

From filleting, curing and hot smoking, this is a wonderful chance to learn artisan skills off an award winning smoker. 

Plus you’ll get to take home your smoked trout and your own small scale smoker to share your new skills with family and friends.

For more information, go to

5. Slow Seafood Soiree with Native Seafood and Paula McIntyre

Sunday, 20th February, 7pm 

Join in on the celebration of our local, seasonal fish with Slow Food Director Paula McIntyre MBE at Native Seafood in Portstewart where you will enjoy a seven course tasting menu, drinks and music. 

For more information go to 

6. The Spirit of the Bann Tour with Causeway Coast Foodie Tours

Saturday 26th February, 2:30pm

The award winning Causeway Coast Foodie Tours are back this Spring with their very special ‘The Spirit of the Bann’ river whiskey tasting experience along the picturesque river.

‘The Spirit of the Bann’ along with White River Charters are hosting an afternoon full of exquisite whiskey flavours accompanied by an array of tasty award-winning local Slow Food produce. 

Where better to celebrate our unique Slow Food food and drink heritage than via a journey on the River Bann alongside the beautiful site of Mountsandel, Coleraine.

For more information go to

7. North Supper Club by Ursa Minor at a Secret Location

Saturday 26th February, 7pm to late

Join the casual and relaxed evening with friends and enjoy a delicious feast, celebrating the best local produce with Ciara from Ursa Minor. 

Enjoy three courses of beautiful seasonal food served under twinkling lights and candlelight in an unbelievably special location five minutes from Ballycastle.

After dinner, guests will be entertained by some of the finest voices on the island right now; the stunning vocal harmonies of Lemoncello; superb Dublin poet & playwright Stephen James Smith & the enthralling experimental folk artist Joshua Burnside.

For more information go to

The Causeway Coast and Glens is Northern Ireland’s first accredited Slow Food destination, Taste Causeway, the collaborative network of local food and drink businesses was awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement following a rigorous assessment process.

To launch and celebrate this prestigious award Taste Causeway is running a six month programme of events, dining experiences, tours and special menus.

Taste Causeway is delivering Slow Food Causeway with funding from Tourism NI in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. For more information go to or follow the hashtags #SlowFoodCauseway and #TasteCauseway