Belfast City Council Celebrates Success Of First Inclusive Entrepreneurship Focused Programme

A fully-funded programme designed to support pre and early stage entrepreneurs experiencing additional barriers to enterprise, concluded with a celebratory event at Belfast City Hall recently.

15 Belfast residents benefited from the enhanced mentoring programme, designed and delivered by The Mind Tribe UK on behalf of Belfast City Council. 87% of the programme participants have a disability or a long-term health condition, 53% of participants identify as neurodivergent, and 93% of participants identify as women or non-binary.  

Speaking about the programme’s success, Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “The Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme gets results because it’s tailored to focus on encouraging people from historically under-represented, under-supported and under-funded groups into entrepreneurship. 

“They’ve learned vital skills in cash flow forecasting, networking, identifying their business vision, mission, and values – they’ve built confidence, resilience, and developed a growth mindset. They’ve also each received £500 to help them set up their business, as one of the main barriers to enterprise is start-up capital and access to finance.

“All the guest speakers they’ve learned from have lived enterprise experience, and share commonalities with the programme participants. That makes them relatable, influential, and important role models. I wish everyone who’s completed our Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme the very best of luck on their enterprise journey – because as part of our Belfast Agenda, we want all our residents to have access to the tools and support they need to fulfil their potential.”

Katie Matthews-Furphy, multi-award-winning disabled entrepreneur and founder of Mind Tribe UK, said the programme had been specifically designed for those needing extra support for their businesses. 

“All mentees experience additional barriers to enterprise,” she explained. 

“This programme has supported them in raising their entrepreneurial aspirations, developing their business idea and most mentees have now started operating their businesses.

“The aim was to raise entrepreneurial aspirations for people who may not have previously considered enterprise as a viable career pathway, people who would like to, or are considering working for themselves, or people who may have a very early-stage business idea and don’t know where to go for support. 

“We wanted to make sure we created a highly visible and easily accessible pathway to enterprise, for people who have been under-represented, under-supported and under-funded in entrepreneurship.”

Jacqueline Winstanley, co-founder of The Disabled Entrepreneurs Network, founder of Universal Inclusion and Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Entrepreneurship was also delighted to join the celebration event and said: “I am delighted to be part of this initiative which celebrates the untapped potential of individuals who face barriers to creating enterprise.”

The Inclusive Enterprise Pathway programme comprised 10 hours of group activity workshops, 10 hours of one-to-one mentoring, and a series of inspiration sessions with guest speakers Azhar Murtuza, founder of Born Maverick, Gemma McAllister, founder of WearMatter, James Ayo, founder of HotBox Entertainment and YUC CIC, and Tina Calder, chief vision officer of Excalibur Press, sharing their own entrepreneurship experiences as relatable role models.

A range of in-house workshops was also delivered with organisations such as Newington Day Centre, Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Raise Ventures, Workforce Training Services, The Parent Rooms, and Women in Business NI. 

Jennifer Cairns, founder of Lady Rebel Club and Rebel World Ltd delivered the keynote speech entitled #NoMoreHiding. A neurodivergent entrepreneur who experiences disability, Jennifer is passionate about inclusion and diverse representation in enterprise and entrepreneurship. 

Dr Nisha Tandon OBE, founder of ArtsEkta, spoke of her experience of piloting an inclusive enterprise programme specifically targeting women from ethnic minority and/or global majority backgrounds; and disabled entrepreneur Michael Holden MBE, shared how he has used his lived experience to provide an innovative solution to accessible toilets and facilities for disabled individuals through his hire business Accessoloo. 

Since September 2023, Inclusive Enterprise Pathway has delivered workshops to 150 Belfast residents, with over 900 Digital Badges awarded. 

Further virtual workshops are available for Belfast residents aged 18+ to book at: and for more information on Belfast City Council’s support for businesses, go to 

Lucie Snowden’s Journey to Making a Difference as a Young Social Worker in Portadown

“Being able to positively affect someone’s life is the most important part. If you want to help people, then go for it”

Lucie Snowden may just be 22-years old, but she’s already making a difference to so many lives in her dream career as a social worker. Qualifying as a social worker seven months ago, Lucie currently works in Portadown Health Centre. She is completing her Assessed Year in Employment – mandatory for all practising social workers once they graduate.

Being a social worker wasn’t always what Lucie thought about. She knew she had a passion for helping people, but never really thought about what that could entail for a career.

It wasn’t until she experienced social workers in her personal life she began thinking it could be an option for her.

The Banbridge woman explained: “When I was growing up, I was very close to my granny. She was diagnosed with COPD and as she declined, she moved into a supporting housing fold. I would go and stay with her, I loved the atmosphere and I would take part in all sorts of events with her.

“She eventually moved into a hospice and I still made sure to visit her. I would sleep with her in a cot and we would watch DVDs together. When she passed away, I was a teenager. Having seen the work social workers did at the hospice, I was immediately tempted by social work, but my teachers said I wouldn’t be successful. They told me I was too young and wouldn’t pass the interview.”

Lucie took what her teachers told her and used it to make her even more determined to get onto the course. She did pass her interview and gained a place to study social work at Queen’s University.

During her degree course she completed placements that gave her experience with both older people’s and children’s services.

Speaking about what field of social work she wanted to pursue, Lucie explained she always had a focus on working with older people.

She said: “I had seen first-hand how vulnerable elderly people can be and how they need support for their needs and someone to advocate for them. I always wanted to work with elderly people more than anything.

“While it was always set in stone where I wanted to end up, I did want a career where I could help people.

“I wanted to enjoy my job and to feel a sense of reward and personal gratification.”

Even though Lucie got on to the degree course on her first try, she believes her true eye-opener was after university, as she wasn’t fully prepared for what to expect.

She explained: “I don’t think I realised what was actually going on in health and social care. Even through university, you don’t get to see the whole picture of the struggles for social workers such as the lack of resources. There’s so much more to it.

“It’s definitely been hard but my journey has made me much more resilient. I’ve changed a lot since applying. I find myself much more empathetic to people on a daily basis now. My eyes are now open to the struggles people could be living with.

Speaking about the course itself, Lucie said: “University was tough. I think because it’s not like some other courses where you can skip classes, your attendance is monitored so you have to be there. If you missed a class, you genuinely would be behind.”

The realities of the job will always hit, and for Lucie, she remembers the exact case that made her realise the skill required for her job.

While she was working with a service user who was struggling with addictions, she became frustrated that the person didn’t seem to want the help she was offering.

She said: “I had no experience with that. I wanted them to know I was trying to help. We have to go way deeper than just throwing things at people to try to help. We have to try to understand why they are doing what they are doing first, what has happened in their lives, then we can try to help them properly.

“It took something bad to happen for us to support this particular service user to make changes and be in a good place. That’s what is tough, sometimes people will hit rock bottom before they are in a place to accept the help on offer.”

Lucie explained experiencing cases which are difficult, especially early on in your career can then stick with social workers and she believes it’s important to find a way to cope with what you’re dealing with daily.

She said: “At that time, I never actually stepped back and processed what I had experienced, and it did catch up with me. I now know it’s really important to sit and think about the journey as a whole, from where you started to where you are now and to use the professional supports available like your team and manager. That will bring you such a sense of achievement.”

The main piece of advice Lucie would give future social workers is to be prepared that anything can come your way.

“Anything can happen and anything can change, but don’t lose your purpose. Don’t lose the passion you have for it” she said.

“If you have a genuine passion for wanting to help and make a difference, then go for it. When you have those cases where you can see you have evidently made a positive impact, it makes it all worth it.”

The struggles Lucie faces at her work are mainly due to the lack of resources available along with respite care.

She said: “It can be hard because there is such a lack of beds. Sometimes you can’t get a bed for someone and you have to explain to their families they need to have a plan B. It’s not always guaranteed.

“I never expected there to be such a huge lack of resources. I always assumed once we made our assessments, the services would be implemented straightaway, but that’s not always the case.

“It does sometimes make you feel helpless. If you have identified a way to help someone, but then hear it’s going to take a few months before they can get the service they need, it does take a toll, because they really need the help.”

Lucie believes one of the most important things to do for your mental wellbeing is to relax whenever you can.

From watching TV with her dogs, working out in the gym and having those moments with friends away from the work, Lucie said keeping your work in your car is the best way to emotionally separate yourself from everything you experience.

She also stressed having confidence in asking questions is an extremely important part of the job, especially when you’re in the early stages of your career, like she is.

She explained: “I definitely still have those moments where I get anxious about things, but I have such a good team around me and everyone is so understanding. I would rather ask the question, than not ask and get it completely wrong.

For anyone who is still wary and unsure if social work is the career for them, Lucie said if you like to make a difference, then you should definitely consider it.

“Being able to positively affect someone’s life is the most important part. If you want to help people, you really should consider it” she said.

“If you have a passion for something, you can do anything.”

For more information on how you can train to be a social worker in Northern Ireland go to  

Brook Hall Estate & Gardens To Open In Support Of National Garden Scheme and Foyle Hospice

The private Brook Hall Estate & Gardens, which sits on the banks of the River Foyle is to open to the public in support of the National Garden Scheme and Foyle Hospice. 

Now in its third year, the National Garden Scheme raises vital funds for nursing and healthcare charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie by giving visitors unique access to 3,500 exceptional private gardens in the UK. 

The Brook Hall Estate is home to one of the most unique arboretums in the north west, with plants and trees from all over the world. 

Recognised as a “woodland garden”, Brook Hall differs from traditional gardens with its focus on a diverse range of specimen tree and plant life. 

Usually only accessible by private booking, this unique opportunity allows visitors to wander through the private arboretum and gardens and enjoy stunning views across the river.

The arboretum contains a wide collection of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias in a range of colours beneath the broad boughs of the 18th century parkland oaks. The arboretum is also home to a rare collection of conifers of some of the oldest and largest of their kind on the island of Ireland.

David Gilliland, managing partner of Brook Hall Estate & Gardens said of the event: “We are delighted to be opening for our first event of the year, and to provide the community with the opportunity to explore the private gardens of Brook Hall in support of the good work of the National Garden Scheme and the Foyle Hospice.”

The estate and gardens will open to the public between 2pm to 5pm Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April at £5 per adult, with kids going free. With the help of the Foyle Hospice, proceeds from the refreshments served over the weekend will help to support their nursing charity on a local level.

For more information, and to book tickets (tickets can be purchased on the day) go to 

A Decade of Dedication: Niamh Quinn’s Unwavering Journey to Become a Social Worker

“The thought of helping someone everyday, there’s no better feeling than that”

Working as a social worker is something Niamh Quinn always wanted to do. Now, just over a decade later, she is finally on the road to reaching her goals.

The 32-year-old from Clonoe, County Tyrone, always had a deep interest in social work. Growing up as the youngest of her siblings, Niamh always felt drawn to playing with her young neighbours or babysitting her sister’s children.

Through doing this she often heard people tell her how she was a natural with children, so it was an easy choice when she had to pick courses for her UCAS application.

The first-year social work student said: “I always knew I wanted to work with children. I don’t know why but everybody always said to me that I was really good with them. So, when I was doing my UCAS I applied for primary school teaching, I also applied for Social Work at that time. I got as far as the interview stage for social work, but I didn’t get in.”

After receiving a rejection from the social work course, Niamh went on to do a primary school teaching course, but dropped out after a year and a half as it wasn’t what she wanted to do.

“It was a conscious decision to apply for teaching too” she explained, adding: “Working with children was the only avenue I really wanted to go down, I didn’t really want to teach, but I like working with children. So, I went down that path.

“I only completed a year and a half, I just knew it wasn’t for me.”

Niamh didn’t stop here, she continued on her path to working with children, knowing it was something she was meant to do.

“After I left teaching I went to tech and got my level three childcare, then I went straight into a job in a creche and stayed there for six years” she said.

However, still not where she wanted to be and looking to the future, Niamh decided it was time to try something completely different.

She said: “I decided I needed a bit of office background so I went into a solicitors. I’m still working there two days a week, on the side of my social work studies, as a secretary.

“The solicitor’s two main things that they deal with are family and criminal so they deal with social workers all of the time. It’s interesting because I’m seeing it from the other side now too.”

Working closely with social workers, families and solicitors made Niamh realise it was time to finally get back on her original path and complete her social work studies.

Speaking about why she is so passionate about social care work, she said: “Just the thought of helping people. It would be such a great feeling to just come home every day and think you’ve helped somebody. I’m quite a positive person so to bring that to somebody else’s family, there is no better feeling.”

With her experience working in the solicitor’s, Niamh knows she could go down many different routes of social work, something that she feels isn’t widely known.

“I actually didn’t even realise the breadth of opportunities within social work. There’s so many avenues that someone could go down. Obviously, there are so many children that need help, so that’s a big one, but there really are so many choices.

“There’s definitely a big misunderstanding when it comes to the role of the job.  A lot of people just hear the job title and assume you’re there to take their children and that’s just not the way it is at all. The social worker is there to help you, they are not against you.”

Now she’s finally pursuing her dream, Niamh said understanding exactly what the social work course entailed is important for anyone thinking about applying.

She explained: “I was prepared for the work, but I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be. The written side of things is quite intense, but I just love the learning.

“The classes are brilliant. In South West College, all of the tutors are social workers so we’re being taught by people with first-hand experience.”

Although the coursework can be full on, Niamh is confident it will all be worth it when she reaches her end goal. Looking back, Niamh is thankful that she didn’t get on the course the first time around.

“I think at that stage, I probably wasn’t actually ready for it. I feel like I was too immature and young at that time. I’m kind of glad now that I didn’t get in at that point of my life. Of course, I was really disappointed, but I’m glad that I went and got some experience behind me” she said.

One warning Niamh has for anyone who is applying for the course, is to be prepared for the emotional side of things.

“You have to be prepared to take time out for yourself” she said.

“Don’t be afraid to take 20 minutes, if you need to. There’s been a few times on the course where I have had to step out of the room, but that is okay.”

Speaking about the application process, Niamh advises: “Take your time. Don’t rush filling it out. For my personal statement, I also spoke to a mum of one of the children I worked with to get her thoughts. So, if you can, also get perspectives from other people. Make sure you also include examples of how you have helped someone. Just make it as personal as possible.”

The main message that Niamh wants to get across, is that it is never too late to go for it. Having taken just over a decade to get to where she is now, Niamh knows that every choice she made work wise were all conscious decisions, connected to where she wanted to be.

“I just want everyone to know that it is never too late” she said.

Feeling inspired? For more information on how you can train to be a social worker in Northern Ireland check out our Interested in becoming a social worker? page.



12 partner charities, Pieta and Electric Ireland are joined by Sunrise Social founder Caroline McKenna to launch Darkness into Light 2024

Organised walks to take place at 15 locations across Northern Ireland as the sun rises on Saturday, 11th May.

Darkness Into Light is back: (l-r): Stephanie Manahan, CEO, Pieta is joined by Darkness into Light (DIL) ambassador Caroline McKenna, Leanne Doherty, Social Enterprise Manager at HURT NI and Bill Coyle, NI Residential Manager at Electric Ireland to launch Darkness into Light 2024.

Darkness Into Light, Pieta’s annual fundraising event which raises vital funds for local mental health partner charities, is back. Proudly supported by Electric Ireland, this year’s event will take place as the sun rises on Saturday, 11th May and will see thousands of participants take part in the 15 official walks across Northern Ireland.

At last night’s launch in Belfast City Centre [Tuesday, 26 March], Pieta and Electric Ireland were joined by representatives from 12 local mental health charities and Darkness Into Light 2024 ambassador Caroline McKenna, to invite people across Northern Ireland to sign up and take part in this year’s fundraising event.

Speaking at the launch, DIL 2024 ambassador and founder of Sunrise Social Caroline McKenna, said, I am honoured to be an ambassador for Darkness Into Light. It is an event I have supported for many years, and I am honoured to have come on board this year in a more official capacity. Darkness Into Light is a truly special event. Beginning in darkness and continuing through to dawn, the 5km walk symbolises the journey from despair to hope. It is an opportunity for communities to come together, foster the sense of hope and raise crucial funds to support people in the community who need it most. So please, sign up and join us for the most important sunrise of the year and see the difference your support makes to local communities across Northern Ireland.”

In the past decade, Darkness Into Light has raised over £1 million for Northern Ireland partner charities and Pieta to help with issues of suicide, self-harm, and mental health.

This year, people in every county in Northern Ireland are encouraged to sign up to participate in one of 15 organised walks, or to take part in their own way, and in doing so support the charities in their local area that are providing vital services to those in need.

Stephanie Manahan, CEO, Pieta, said, “Darkness Into Light is not just an event; it is a beacon of hope, guiding us towards a future where every individual feels supported and valued. Together, with Electric Ireland’s support and the collective efforts of our participants, volunteer committees and communities across the Island of Ireland, we can continue to shine a light on the importance of mental wellbeing and provide support to those in crisis.

Bill Coyle, NI Residential Manager, Electric Ireland, commented, “Electric Ireland is very proud of our ongoing support for Pieta and Darkness Into Light over the last twelve years of our partnership. Each year, we work with Pieta to create marketing and fundraising campaigns to promote awareness of this incredible event and encourage as many people as possible to participate and support. The power of Darkness Into Light is in its ability to bring hope and consolation to communities across the country and to raise much needed funds for the vital services provided by Pieta and partner charities in Northern Ireland. This movement reflects our values as an organisation and our determination to make the world brighter for our customers, staff and the communities we serve.”

The 12 partner charities across Northern Ireland provide easily accessible, free of charge services, which are available online, by phone or in person. Darkness Into Light plays a crucial role in enabling Pieta’s partner charities in Northern Ireland to uphold their commitment to providing suicide prevention, intervention, and bereavement support services to individuals of all ages throughout Northern Ireland, ensuring that help is always within reach when it’s needed most.

Sign up today at



Multi-Award-Winning Comedian, Conal Gallen, takes the stage at The Market Place

Renowned Irish comedian, Conal Gallen, is back on tour this year with his hilarious one-man stand-up show. Conal is well known for his hilarious humour and has been entertaining audiences worldwide for over 30 years.

He’s even had the pleasure of performing in front of the Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, and several other well-known English pubs!

Don’t miss your chance to see the master of comedy at work as Conal Gallen brings his Funny Business to the stage this year. Book your seats now to secure your place at a night filled with unforgettable laughter.

Conal Gallen will be on stage at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April at 8p. Tickets are priced at £25

Tickets for all shows can be booked online at or through the Box Office on 03300 561 025.



Awesome adventures perfect for thrill seeking families

Discover NI’s giant guide to heart racing activities in Northern Ireland

Adventure seeking families looking for unique experiences to get hearts racing are discovering the world class, adrenaline inducing activities on offer in Northern Ireland.

Action-pack adventures no longer require us to travel abroad, there are plenty of thrills and spills to be had, right here, on our doorstep.

In Northern Ireland, you’re always just a small step from a giant adventure and Discover NI has put together the following list of amazing activities that will ensure you scream if you want to go faster.

Aerosports Paragliding, County Antrim

  • If you dream of flying high and defying gravity then take to the skies of Ballynure in a tandem paraglide at Aerosports Paragliding. Suitable for those aged 14+, strap into a harness attached to a parachute like wing and run off the side of a hill. Travelling at speeds of approximately 20mph, all flights take place under the supervision of Chief Flying Instructor Ken McConnell who has thousands of hours of paragliding experience.

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, County Down

  • As Northern Ireland’s National Centre for Mountaineering and Canoeing Activities, Tullymore National Outdoor Centre offers thrill seekers a range of courses in mountaineering, rock climbing, paddlesports and mountain biking. The centre is also home to the Hotrock climbing wall and a bouldering area with routes suitable for beginners, and others that are sure to challenge ever the most experienced climbers.

Share Discovery Village, County Fermanagh

  • An inclusive facility, Share Discovery Village allows all to participate in a wide range of exciting outdoor activities including canoeing, banana boating, mountain biking and windsurfing. You can also test your aim with outdoor laser-tag, see how high you can climb with a 30ft indoor climbing wall and make a splash as you traverse the rock slide and wiggle bridge at Wibit Water Park.

Todds Leap, County Tyrone

  • Days at Todds Leap are all about adrenaline filled activities. Experience momentary weightlessness as you swing from a trembling height over a cliff edge, scream as you reach speeds of 40mph as your hurtle down the 150m long Tayto ‘BigYella’ slide and strengthen your family bond as you take turns driving a Land Rover Defender blindfolded while the rest of your family help you navigate the off-road obstacle course.

Limitless Adventure Centre, County Londonderry

  • Adrenaline junkines will love the thrilling experiences on offer at Limitless Adventure Centre. At Northern Ireland’s only hovercrafting adventure centre, you’ll pilot a hovercraft travelling at speeds in excess of 30mph across purpose built grass tracks. Then, take control of a Powerturn Buggy and effortlessly break out the wheelies, 360 degree turns and more as you – and your co-pilot – battle to control this ATV.

Craigavon Golf & Ski, County Armagh

  • Challenge your limits as you ski and snowboard on a 300ft slope at Craigavon Golf and Ski Centre. Home to the only artifical ski slope in Northern Ireland, the centre also features a Poma tow lift, nursery slope and snow-tubing facilities. Suitable for both beginners and advanced skiers/snowboarders, there is also an 18 hole par 72 golf course, a 15 hole par three golf course and a 18 hole par three footgolf course on site.

For more thrilling experiences in Northern Ireland visit

Immerse yourself in music and art at Flowerfield and Roe Valley this Easter

Flowerfield Arts Centre and Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre have a fantastic programme of workshops and events for the whole family this Easter. From creative workshops for adults and kids, to intimate live music and incredible art exhibitions, there is plenty on offer.

Currently on show at Flowerfield Arts Centre, First They Ignore You is an exhibition by Shiela Chakravarti, a socially engaged photographer, educator and activist.

Curated by Belfast Exposed, it centres around her own experiences of racism in Northern Ireland. Admission is free and it runs until 20 April.

Also at Flowerfield, designer Natasha Duddy will be hosting a glass painting workshop on 27 March for parents with children under the age of one. This series of creative workshops is specifically designed for new parents with immobile infants, allowing them to tap into their creativity, relax, and practice mindfulness.

Young artists will love getting creative at Flowerfield Arts Centre with Crafty Kids Nature Monoprinting on 23 March and Weekend Wonders Easter-themed sessions led by Linda Mullholland on 23 and 30 March. Over at Roe Valley Arts Centre Easter Art Club on 30 March, Sarah Barfoot will work with children aged between five and seven years, making mini easter gardens, while Christina Smyth will be making wooden Easter Bunnies for children aged between eight and 11.

On Saturday 23 March, Nodlaig Ní Bhrollaigh and guest musicians will perform at Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre to mark the launch of Nodlaig’s second solo album, Cuimhní rúnda. This compilation of original works aims to enhance our understanding of place and heritage. Nodlaig will be joined by talented musicians from across the North West – Martin O’Kane on fiddle, Paul Gillespie on cello and Uilleann pipes, Lasairfhíona Nic Ruairí on the Fiddle and whistles, Carra Nic an Bhaird on Harp and Gerard McChrystal on Saxophone. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession).

Further Info:

For further information on opening hours, or to book workshops or events, visit or  Save Your Seat | SAT 23 MARCH

Free tickets to be released for Lord Mayor’s Croí na Cathrach musical celebration

A special evening of music, song and words, inspired in part by the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly of 1792, will take place at the Ulster Hall on Saturday 13 April to mark the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy’s year in office.

Croí na Cathrach – Heart of the City – will see many of the city’s emerging and traditional musicians coming together to perform a selection of pieces, reflecting Belfast’s rich and diverse shared heritage. 

A limited number of tickets for the free event are available from  on a first-come, first-served basis (maximum of two per person).

Curated by renowned composer Neil Martin and presented by acclaimed broadcaster Lynette Fay, the show will open with a piece, led by Neil Martin, which evokes the spirit of the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly, while Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea will perform a selection of readings throughout the evening.

There will be a collaboration between Glengormley School of Traditional Music and Ards Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, members of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band will perform solo pipe pieces and there will also be two special renditions from the 1st Old Boys’ Brass Band.

There will also be a unique performance of Slumdog Millionaire favourite Jai Ho from Mukesh Sharma and ArtsEkta, along with contributions from singers Gráinne Holland and Maurice Leyden.

TG4 Gradam Ceoil Bursary recipients Catriona Gribben, Ciara McGuire and Brendan Kerr will showcase their skills, before a special finale featuring soprano Petra Wells and her take on the classic Ae Fond Kiss, followed by an ensemble rendition of The Minstrel Boy.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, said: “In what is a very special year for Belfast, I wanted to do my part to show how music, and culture in general, can be used positively to bring communities together and celebrate the ties that bind us.

“The Belfast Harpers’ Assembly was a fantastic opportunity back in 1792 not just for musicians to show off their skills, but also for Belfast to invite people here – to our city – to experience the amazing talent we have here.

“My hope is that my Croí na Cathrach – Heart of the City – event will do the same, celebrating our wealth of musical talent and showing how music can unite us in what promises to be a really fun and enjoyable evening for everyone who attends.”

To book tickets for Croí na Cathrach – Heart of the City – visit from 9am on Friday 22 March.

Enjoy the best of spring at Spring Fest

Spring Fest is returning to Malone House and Barnett Demesne on Saturday 27 April and Sunday 28 April.

Organised by Belfast City Council, there’s a lot to see and do at this top free seasonal event.

Take a walk around the Spring Flower Show and view hundreds of prize blooms on display.

Enjoy live music and entertainment and a range of crafts and food stalls. There’ll be spring wreath-making, sunflower seed planting and foraging workshops to take part in.

Families can also bring their little ones to see the farmyard animals, enjoy a fairground or safari train ride as well as face-painting, a climbing wall and more.

The event will run from 1.30pm to 5.30pm on both days.

Launching the event at Barnett Demesne, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, said: “Spring Fest is always a wonderful outdoor family event in our parks to mark the season of spring – bringing thousands of people, of all ages, through the gates.

“I’m delighted it will be returning here in just a month’s time and hope everyone can get along to enjoy what’s on offer over the two days – and the best thing is that it’s a free event!”

There will be no parking on site during the event, but a free park and ride service will operate from nearby Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park. The first bus to leave Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is at 1pm and the last bus to leave Barnett Demesne is at 5.45pm.

You can also take the Translink service bus from Donegall Square East in the city centre every 10 minutes on Saturday (Metro Bus 8A or 8B) and on Sunday every 30 minutes (Metro 8A). Check Translink website for more information at

Dogs will not be permitted into the event area, with the exception of assistance dogs.  

Further information about the event is available on our website at