Playful Museums Festival brings a sensory story tent to Ballymoney

A sensory story tent will be the main attraction at the Playful Museums Festival at Ballymoney Town Hall.

The festival will tell the story  of ‘A Mermaids Tail’ which is inspired by a yarn collected  on Rathlin Island by Sam Henry.

Inside the tent, there will be lots of things to touch, feel, smell and see and children will be able to explore the story at their own pace.

This free event has been tailored for children aged 5 and under. Younger or older siblings are also welcome to join.

Children will be able to enjoy sea themed craft workshops and a reading corner.

Drop in sessions for the festival in Ballymoney Town Hall are available on Friday 22nd February, 10am-12pm or 2pm-4pm,  Saturday 23rd February from 10am-12pm and Monday 25th February from 2pm – 4pm.

A quiet session will take place on Friday 22nd February between 1pm-2pm.

Please be advised that booking is necessary for groups over 8 and children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information please contact Sarah Carson by calling 028 2766 0230 or email sarah.carson@causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk

FE McWilliam Gallery hosts major new exhibition by Locky Morris

Locky Morris: ‘once a day, every day, all day long’ opens on Feb 9 featuring a special exhibition talk by local artist Anne Tallentire

A major free exhibition featuring the compelling, artistic works of renowned City of Derry artist Locky Morris will open at the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio, Banbridge, on Saturday 9 February.

Recognised across the UK, Ireland and internationally for three decades of outstanding exhibitions featuring works themed on Northern Ireland’s troubled past, this new showcase features inspiring artistic works primarily made since 2010 and which reflect Morris’ move towards more personal reflection.

The exhibition ‘once a day, every day, all day long’ was curated by Ulster University’s Feargal O’Malley and Dr Riann Coulter from FE McWilliam Gallery and references changes not only in Morris’ own personal circumstances but also in the now-transformed landscape of post-conflict Northern Ireland.

Dr Riann Coulter said:

“Locky Morris makes original and compelling work and the themes that he explores in this exhibition will resonate with our regular visitors and attract new audiences to the gallery to enjoy our busy spring and summer programme.”

The exhibition, which is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by Co. Armagh-born artist Anne Tallentire and Belfast based artist David Haughey, features photography, sculpture, sound and installation.

“Morris is a master at finding beauty in the quotidian details of life and he has created quite unexpected and often humorous art out of his everyday experiences,” Riann said. “This combination of humour and attention to the surreal qualities of ordinary things underlies his diverse practice and is the secret to the success of his Instagram account especiallyeverything.”

“The playful titles that Morris uses for his art works often have personal significance – once a day, every day, all day long is a chorus lyric from a song by respected American country singer, Connie Smith. Morris relates this phrase to the ‘everydayness’ of making art – music is an important element of Morris’s work and life.”

Locky Morris exhibited extensively from the mid-1980s both regionally and internationally. Recent exhibitions have included a large-scale installation at IMMA, Dublin, as part of Eva International and a solo show at the Naughton Gallery, Queens, Belfast.

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Past solo projects include Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, and Mannheimer Kunstverein, Germany. His work has appeared in significant group shows in Pittsburgh, New York, Belgrade, Prague and Salzburg.

Born in 1960 in Derry/Londonderry, where he continues to live and work, Morris rose to prominence in the 1980s with works such as Town, country and people (1985-86) and An Bhearna Bhaoil – Gap of Danger (1988) which used the language of international art to comment on the local realities of life during the Troubles.

To launch the new exhibition, Anne Tallentire will present a short talk on the exhibition on Saturday 9th February at 3.00pm.

For more information, please visit www.femcwilliam.com.

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

Antrim

The NI Motorcycle Festival this weekend is Ireland’s largest annual motorcycle festival, taking place at the Eikon Exhibition Centre, Balmoral Park, Sprucefield.  The event promises to be a fantastic show with an array of features, personalities and stands.  A vast range of the latest motorcycles and scooters from top manufacturers will be on display. The NI Motorcycle Festival is organized by Nutt Promotions, and provides entertainment for all the family.  As well as displays of both new and classic motorcycles and scooters from top manufacturers, there will also be appearances from the stars of the motorcycling world over the weekend.

Armagh

The Suitcase, Market Place Theatre, Friday 8th February. In Vienna, a young woman dreams of becoming a dancer. In Belfast, an elderly man revisits a painful past, while a mother and daughter unearth a hidden piece of family history. Moving between the present day and 20th century Europe’s darkest period, the play is a hymn to the redemptive power of art and a life-affirming human drama. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2015 Belfast International Arts Festival.

Belfast

The legendary Starjets are reforming one more gig. “Spit Records” head honcho Sean O’Neill has persuaded the guys to appear at the Spit album launch party Live At The Crum. Also on a fantastic bill are Shock Treatment, Johnny Hero’s Ex Producers, and Confrontation Time.  What a line up!  Tour/Dine/Show Tickets available. This package will allow you to discover over 150 years of history as you explore within the walls of Belfast’s Infamous Prison, enjoy a 2 course meal in the atmospheric setting of Cuffs Bar & Grill (on-site restaurant) and finish the night with live entertainment.

Derry

Anne Enright in Conversation, Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Saturday 9th February.  Booker Prize-winning novelist Anne Enright is one of the most celebrated writers working in Ireland today. Her work is part of a great tradition of Irish writing that explores themes of family life, relationships, love, repression and memory.  From 2015 to 2018 she was the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction and we are delighted to welcome her to The Helicon where she will talk about her work and career with Paul McVeigh.

Down

Cloughmore Male Voice Choir is proud to present an evening with the Celtic Tenors, Newry Town Hall, February 8th.  The Celtic Tenors, the only tenor group with a truly global audience, and the Cloughmore Male Voice Choir will give you a night to remember.  Performing in this idyllic harbour town located on the shores of the beautiful  Carlingford Lough,  the show promises to be one of musical delight with a blend of Celtic, Operatic and re-worked popular songs that will stir the soul and inspire the listener.

Fermanagh

Fly Me to the Moon, Ardhowen Theatre, Friday 8th February. Francis and Loretta are community care visitors. Davy, one of their elderly charges, has had a significant win on the horses, but he doesn’t know. When the cash-strapped women learn that Davey will not be around for a considerable time they are faced with a mouth-watering dilemma. Marie Jones is the author of some of the most successful plays ever produced in Ireland, including ‘Stones In His Pockets’, ‘Women On The Verge Of HRT and ‘A Night In November’. This hilarious comedy investigates whether we are valued more in life or in death.

Tyrone

Ven_ture comprises of David Munnelly (accordion), Anne Brennan (vocals) and Joseph McNulty (fiddle) who make new arrangements for old music whilst composing new melodies keeping in mind the unique sound produced by voice accordion and fiddle keeping to non-conventional new sounds in the process. See them perform live at The Square Box, Ranfuly House Dungannon this Saturday evening. A night of fun and music for the whole family.

For more details of these events please visit whatsonni.com. Follow us on facebook.com/www.whatsonni and twitter @whatsonni  

TRENDY NEW RESTAURANT ‘SIX BY NICO’ SET TO OPEN IN BUSTLING CATHERDRAL QUARTER

Renowned Scottish-Italian chef, Nico Simeone, is set to introduce his Glasgow and Edinburgh dining concept ‘Six by Nico’ to Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

‘Six by Nico’ Belfast will be the third addition to the growing restaurant portfolio, taking Nico’s conceptual restaurant idea out of Scotland for the first time and placing it in the bustling Cathedral Quarter.

With the opening, comes exciting new job prospects and there are plans in place to create 40 news jobs in the local area.

Chef Nico Simeone said, “We are very excited to bring an unforgettable culinary experience to Belfast. I have visited the city and I grew up with an understanding of the strong Ulster Scots connection. Belfast is the perfect location for our next venture and I couldn’t think of a better location than the vibrant food and drinks scene of the Cathedral Quarter. We are really looking forward to collaborating with local businesses and have people from the city join our team.”

The £500,000 investment will bring the introduction of a pioneering revolving culinary hub as every six weeks, Nico and his team will re-invent the wheel – serving a brand new six-course tasting menu, each one themed upon a different place, memory or idea. Drawing inspiration from both at home and abroad, Nico and his team will combine different ingredients, flavours, and dishes, to bring memories and stories creating a brand-new dining experience every 6 weeks.

The creative and ever-evolving six course set menu, is priced at £28 per person which has gone down a storm in the Glasgow and Edinburgh food scene and Six By Nico believe this will be a great price point for diners in the city.

Six by Nico will open its doors on Waring Street in March 2019, becoming the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene. From creative menu concepts to outstanding food and service, the venue will aim to become an immediate hit with the people of Belfast.

FUN AND ROMANCE AT THE MARKET PLACE THEATRE

If you loved ‘I’ll Tell My Ma’, then you are in for a real treat this winter with ‘Is That Too Hot? The amazing Christina Nelson will be back on Tuesday 12 February, playing all your favourite characters, following the antics of Granny Eileen, Davina Carina and Chelsea Marie as they stumble their way through another year in their turbulent lives. There is humour in abundance touched with pathos, as the story, which is set in the local hairdressing salon, unfolds. There will be laughter and tears in equal measure, and a very welcome twist to the tale at the end.

Join us on Valentine’s Day, for our second film screening, ‘Casablanca’, and enjoy one of Hollywood’s most enduring romantic tales. This movie classic follows the screen lives of ex-lovers, Bogart and Bergman, as they are forced to decide between personal happiness or saving countless lives. Tickets are priced £10 which includes a drink and light refreshments.

Still in the mood for romance, enjoy the perfect Valentine’s night out with our annual and hugely popular, The PM Big Band on Saturday 16 February. They bring a classic mix of vocals and instrumentals from The Great American Song Book including selections from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and other legends from the ageless and ever-popular musical genre. The show will feature sensational vocalists Ceara Grehan and Davy Hamilton.

‘Eyes on The Open’ celebration marks build up to biggest ever event for Northern Ireland

Tourism NI marked the start of the official build up to The 148th Open at Royal Portrush on Thursday evening with a celebration of Northern Ireland talent from across the worlds of sport, music, media, television and the arts.

Hosted by Stephen Watson and Claire McCollum, the theme of the event was ‘We’ve Come a Long Way’ and included the unveiling of a short film by award winning director and producer Martin Stalker. The film, which will be distributed widely across key tourism markets, was set to an original poem by local poet Paula Matthews, and narrated by leading actors Ian McElhinney, Bronagh Waugh, Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Shaun Blaney and accompanied by an original score composed and performed by Belfast-born virtuoso pianist Michael McHale. 

A sporting panel included record-breaking champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy OBE and four-time Superbike World Champion, Jonathan Rea MBE, who shared their experiences of competing at the top of their profession and representing Northern Ireland on the world stage. Also interviewed was legendary golfing commentator Peter Alliss. Voices of support from global golfing icons including Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, as well as up-and-coming golfing stars Stephanie Meadow and Tom McKibbin added to the night.

Speaking at the event, Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan said:

“The ambitious plans set ten years ago have transformed Northern Ireland and our ambitions for the future are just as big. Our golfing story is a global success and that has brought us right here tonight as we look forward to 190,000 fans and visitors from across the globe descending on Royal Portrush in July for the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland.

“The 148th Open will leave a legacy that will benefit Northern Ireland for years to come. It will boost our reputation as a premier destination for international events and gives a well-earned boost to the development of our hard-working tourism businesses.

“Together with the R&A, our colleagues in Causeway Coast and Glens Council, volunteers, contributors, golf clubs and tourism businesses, we will deliver not only an incredible event, but a true Northern Ireland experience. It will lead us all to Sunday 21st July, when the final putt will be sunk and the famous Claret Jug will be held aloft.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, also spoke at the event:

 “There is great excitement among golf fans for the return of The Open to Royal Portrush for the first time in nearly 70 years. This is reflected in the unprecedented demand for tickets which has led to all four Championship days being sold out for the very first time and the evident enthusiasm for golf throughout the island of Ireland.

“It is now only a few short months until the global sporting spotlight falls upon Northern Ireland for The 148th Open, when the world’s greatest golfers will compete for the iconic Claret Jug. We are very much looking forward to staging a successful and memorable Championship in July when we will welcome tens of thousands of fans to the famous Dunluce Links to enjoy this historic occasion.”

Tourism NI’s marketing and PR plans will include an ‘Epic Journey to The Open 2019’, a promotional tour of every county in Northern Ireland as well as Dublin city centre, so communities, schools, sportspeople and golf clubs can all be part of the celebration and excitement of The Open in their area.

The “We’ve Come A Long Way” short film and score is now available at https://youtu.be/KPPKRrsR-js

The 148th Open will be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club from Sunday 14th – Sunday 21st July 2019. Practice Day tickets and hospitality packages are still available.

UBU THE KING – A THEATRICAL WICKED FEAST FROM TINDERBOX

Following from the huge success of The Man Who Fell to Pieces, Tinderbox Theatre Company returns to The MAC, 12 – 23RD Feb, with the political tour de force Ubu the King inspired by Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry. Grotesque, gruesome and hilariously absurd, Ubu the King is political, poignant and deeply resonates with today’s Government and the ever-threatening political dictatorships that are currently causing upheavals and uncertainty across the globe.

Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi created a revolutionary stir in Paris when it first premiered in 1906, sending shockwaves across Europe with its heavy parody on the Bourgeois Class and satirical view on the corruption of people in power. Tinderbox’s production will imaginatively transpose the classic tale to a modern French Patisserie kitchen where Head Chef Ubu and his sous chef Ma Ubu wife cause chaos and tyranny with disastrous consequences.

This hilarious production directed by Patrick J O’Reilly promises to be a theatrical event of dance choreography, stunning visuals and delicious multi-roling performances from five Northern Irish performers (see cast list). It will combine European clown and physical caricature to create a viscerally powerful production that transposes an audience to performances full of trickery, comedy and high quality entertainment. The production is supported with original music composition by Katie Richardson and design by Ciaran Bagnall.

Director of Ubu the King, Patrick J O’Reilly commented:

“I am incredibly excited to present the absurdist masterpiece Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry at The MAC in February 2019. The show sparked riots when it first premiered in Paris, due its unforgiving nature in revealing the brutality and grotesquery evident in humanity. Given our current political and social circumstances, such as Brexit and far-right extremist voices strengthening in power across the world, the absurdity so beautifully captured in Ubu the King unfortunately seems all too real in 2019.  Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry is a fearless, anarchic and deeply moving piece of absurdist theatre, shining an unapologetic light on dictatorship regimes, far-right extremist views and the dark shadows of our history.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“I can’t wait to see how Tinderbox’s Ubu the King gets to grips with the already bizarre character of contemporary politics. The Arts Council is Tinderbox’s principal funder for the very purpose of encouraging ambitious projects and bringing to them its distinctive inventive practice and this production promises audiences the opportunity to see a masterpiece of absurdist, physical theatre, brilliantly interpreted for our day. Ubu the King will be one of the most entertaining arts events of the year and I encourage everyone to go along.”

Ubu the King will run at The MAC 12 – 23 Feb, 3pm and 8pm in the Upstairs theatre. Tickets £12:50 – £18.  Advisory: 18+. For further information visit www.themaclive.com or www.tinderbox.org.uk

Justin Fletcher Brings Family Fun to the Millennium Forum

Sat 2nd November – Tickets on sale Mon 4th Feb

Justin is on the road again with his all singing and dancing show JUSTIN LIVE! Justin stars in the CBeebies smash hit television shows Gigglebiz, Something Special, Jollywobbles and Justin’s House. He has also provided character voices for Tweenies, Boo, Toddworld, Shaun the Sheep and many many more. He has also received numerous children’s BAFTA’s for his work and in 2008 was awarded an MBE for his services to television and to charity organisations. In the eyes of a whole generation he is a superstar.

Given his hectic schedule and huge popularity it is a huge coup for the Millennium Forum to be hosting Justin’s self penned show Justin Live! this Autumn.

Justin Live! is a show written and performed by Justin himself. He promises lots of songs, laughter and fun for all the family. There will be some Custard Pies too! Producer Steve Boden from Imagine Theatre who are bringing the show to the Forum explains how the show came about:

“At Imagine we have worked with Justin Fletcher for a number of years on various projects and Justin Live originated a few years ago after Justin expressed an interest in developing a live show to give children their first taster of a live theatrical experience. The select dates we have done over the last few years were a huge success and we are thrilled to be able to give the children (and adults!) of Derry/Londonderry and the surrounding areas an opportunity to experience Justin Live!. It is a fabulous, fun, action packed, interactive show which gets everyone involved, and the children absolutely love it!”

Steve goes on to say, “Historically the show has sold out so we do recommend booking tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.”

Justin cannot wait to begin the tour and says “I am very excited about coming to the Millennium Forum and getting to meet so many new friends. The support and warm welcome I receive from my audiences is just wonderful. I look forward to seeing you all soon!”

Justin Live! performs at the Millennium Forum on Saturday 2nd November. Tickets go on sale from the Box Office on Monday 4th February. Telephone 71 264455 or visit millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland

DiscoverNorthernIreland.com has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are ten exciting things taking place this week (28 January – 3 February) 

1.       Roy Orbison Reborn, Belfast, 31 January. Superstar Roy Orbison was one of the world’s greatest and most successful rock’n’roll music legends of all time. The present day sees Dean Bourne and his musicians perform the ultimate tribute to ‘The Big O’, showcasing all his massive hits together at the Ulster Hall.  

2.       Birdwatch Morning , Newtownards, 30 January. One of the experts at Castle Espie will lead you around the stunning Reserve and Woodland. You are recommended to bring along a pair of binoculars and sensible footwear.  

3.       Tommy Fleming, Belfast, 1 February. Tommy is one of Ireland’s top entertainers with over 6.5 million YouTube hits and over 3.5 million album sales worldwide. The ‘Voice of Hope II’ tour coming to the Ulster Hall, brings you a special collection of spiritual inspirational music together with a selection of his most popular songs. 

4.       The Bog Couple, Derry~Londonderry, 30 January – 2 February. Starring local actors Pat Lynch and Gerry Doherty, The Playhouse production performed at the Millennium Forum introduces us to Oscar Meenan and Felix Young – both “Bogside men” – one a Catholic and one a Protestant; one is an easy-going, slob and one an obsessive perfectionist preoccupied with neatness. 

5.       IMBOLC International Music Festival, Derry~Londonderry, 27 January – 10 February. Taking place in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, this is one of Ireland’s leading folk and world music festivals. Whilst still firmly rooted in the musical cultures of this island, the festival has grown in depth and breadth and now encompasses music genres ranging from folk, traditional and roots to jazz, contemporary and world music.  

6.       Mairead Duffy Art Exhibition, Armagh, 2 January – 28 February. Craftswirl at Armagh Visitor Information Centre are delighted to welcome this exhibition of work by local artist Máiréad Duffy from Middletown in County Armagh. 

7.       The Old Firm Casuals, Belfast, 31 January. US street punk band,’The Old Firm Casuals’ fronted by Lars Frederiksen from ska-punk stalwarts Rancid perform at The Empire. Joining the band on the night for a stellar line-up are The Defects and United Bottles. 

8.       Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, Derry~Londonderry, 19 January – 16 March. Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, the acclaimed Famine art collection, currently on loan from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University will be on display at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin.  

9.       MAC International, Belfast, until 31 March. MAC International presents a snapshot of the most exciting and ambitious art practices from across the world. It is the largest arts prize in Ireland and one of the few major art prizes in the UK, offering artists from around the world an opportunity to exhibit at the MAC in Belfast. 

10.   A Costume Cavalcade, Armagh, until 2 March 2019.  This exhibition at the Armagh County Museum tells the story of dress over the last three hundred years showcasing some of the most important examples in the collection. 

For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com. 

Letting Go or Losing It?

Join us for an evening with Nuala McKeever as she brings her hilarious new stand up show ‘Letting Go or Losing It’ to The Courtyard Theatre on Friday 8 February. Having sold out in Belfast, this show lifts the lid on what it’s really like to be a middle aged woman.

If you’re gliding gracefully towards the second half of your life, maybe this isn’t the show for you. However if you want reassurance that you’re not the only one struggling with all the things life throws at you, step right up!

Weight gain, menopause, bereavement and becoming invisible – just some of the joys that await the woman of a certain age! Throw in disappearing libido, Donald Trump and comfy shoes and the picture gets even more depressing. Everything’s heading south and there’s no border to stop the slide. The picture isn’t all that much rosier for men either!

What to do? Lie down and take it (at least that makes your stomach look flatter) or stand up and laugh? Nuala McKeever gives both a go in her hilarious new show as she transforms the awful into the awfully funny, by way of her trademark wit and compassion.

Suitable for men and women and those who define as both or neither.

Tickets from Box Office T: 028 9034 0202 or online thecourtyardtheatre.com