If you’re looking for a festive night out in December then Portico in Portaferry is the place to be. It’s got a cracking line up of Country music celebrities coming plus not one but two carol concerts!

Country music stars Hugo Duncan, Dominic Kirwan, Owen Mac, Stephen Smyth and Country Harmony are all coming to Portico on Thursday 13 December. Starting at 7.30pm, the concert will be full of festive favourites all delivered in fine Country style.

Tickets cost £17 or £5 for the Under 25s. Concerts at Portico always finish in good time for the last ferry. For further information or to buy tickets visit or buy in person at The Rock Bakery in Portaferry.

On Tuesday 11 December ‘The Peninsula Choir Sings Christmas!’ Starting at 7.30pm, this all female choir are launching their new Christmas CD with a celebratory concert singing songs from the new album. The choir will be joined by special guests including Kirkistown Primary School choir. Tickets cost £6 or £3 for Under 18s and can be purchased online or at the door.

Begin the Christmas break, on Saturday 22 December at 7pm, with the NewQuay Singers at Portico’s beautifully atmospheric annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols. This year the choir will sing works by Lauridsen, Rutter, Wilcocks and Shaw amongst others plus the usual favourites for the congregation to sing. No tickets but donations will be requested (suggested donation £10).



Tickets are flying out the door for this year’s pantomime spectacular, ‘Aladdin’, at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre.

‘Aladdin’, will combine dazzling costumes, stunning sets, mischievous fun and thrilling musical numbers all wrapped up in an adventure unlike any you will have ever witnessed….oh yes it will!!

Production Shots
Market Place Theatre Armagh Co.Armagh
25 October 2018

Leave winter behind this Christmas and escape to balmy oriental nights as The Market Place Theatre takes you on a high-flying, magical carpet ride headed for the exotic and mystical lands of the East.

Join a cast of well-loved characters including old Widow Twanky and her poor son Aladdin, and let your imagination take flight with this action-packed and mesmerizing pantomime. Times are tough but Aladdin’s life is dramatically changed when he falls in love with the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom. Enter the evilest baddie in the Kingdom, Abanazer. Will the evil Abanazer destroy Aladdin’s dreams to get rich and marry the Princess? A high-flying adventure you won’t want to miss.

Performances will run from Saturday 1 December, right up to Sunday 23 December, at a variety of times to suit all ages! Ticket prices range from £10 to £15.

To book your tickets for the most exciting pantomime of the season, phone the Box Office now on [028] 3752 1821. The house is sure to be packed to the rafters for this annual festive hit, so book now, before it’s too late! There are BSL signed, captioned and relaxed performances during the run. Please contact the Box Office for full details.

Tickets for all performances can be booked through the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at 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.

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


Gina’s Santa Cottage is Santa’s very own home in Newry, Co. Down run in aid of the Southern Area Hospice. Owned by the Boyd Family, the cottage was renovated in memory of Gina Boyd who lost her life to cancer in September 2010. Nestled in the sleepy hills of Sheeptown Road, the cottage is run entirely by volunteers and welcomes over 2000 people each Christmas to meet Santa and his helpers. Over the years of operation the cottage has raised over £60,000 for the Hospice through the dedication of the Boyd Family and the Hospice staff and volunteers. Book your visit to meet Santa and have an experience which your family will never forget. Open from 7th to 23rd December.


The Christmas Tree Festival at the First Presbyterian Church Armagh will tell the story of the life of Christ through Christmas trees. The  theme of the event is “Joy to the World”.  Light refreshments will be available throughout.  Proceeds will be divided between Church Organ Restoration Fund and Newry Hospice.  The event opens on Thursday 6th December 2018 at 1.00pm attended by the Lord Mayor and will remain open until 7.00pm. Further opening times are as follows: Friday 7th 12.00 noon to 7.00pm, Saturday 8th 10.00am  to 7.00pm and Sunday 9th 1.00pm to 7.00pm.


Cancer Connect Enniskillen runs until the 9th December. Families will begin their experience at the railway station located at Hollyhill. Once checked in at the ticket booth, you will be greeted by Mrs Claus and her elves who will treat everyone to complimentary mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and cookies. Following some games and fun entertainment you will be invited to board the new Polar Express and travel through the beautiful town of Enniskillen, discovering the festive windows along the route and ending at Santas Grotto at the Buttermarket. Santa will have a special gift for each child and a photographer will be on site in Santa’s grotto to capture the moment.   The Enniskillen Christmas market will be open to the public in The Buttermarket. Following a visit with Santa you are welcome to browse through the market and have a ride on the carousel or enjoy a stroll through the town centre and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Families can avail of an “open return ticket” on the Polar Express returning to your parking area at the railway station at your leisure.


This festive season take the family back in time to experience the magic of a traditional Christmas at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh. Gather around the warmth of the turf fire and enjoy readings from The Night before Christmas, singalong with the Christmas Mummers, taste seasonal treats and meet Santa and Mrs Claus in his workshop. Day and evening tours available from 8th to 16th December.


The Staff of Specialist Joinery Group Maghera invite you to Project Santa 2018 on 8th and 9th December – even bigger and better than before! Over two days Specialist HQ will once again transform into a winter wonderland where Santa will be visiting to ensure that the “MAGIC CHRISTMAS SPRINKLER” has been fixed by the Specialist team!  As with last year’s event all proceeds raised will go directly to the charity legacy initiative’s 10 charities. It’s going to be MAGICAL!


The Award Winning Enchanted Winter Garden returns to Antrim Castle Gardens from  7th to 17th December with an evening of Inclusive Enchantment on Tuesday 18th for children and adults with specific needs.  See the gardens transformed into an Enchanted World! Returning this year is the ‘Antrim Wheel’ – a 35m Ferris Wheel offering breath taking views over Antrim and beyond, just one of the highlights of the dazzling array of attractions. This year there are a number of new attractions, including a Vintage Wave Swinger a Victorian Helter Skelter and an Extended Wonderland Wood.. To book tickets visit


Shelter NI Film Festival is back! As part of Homelessness Awareness Week events, Shelter NI in partnership with Belfast Film Festival will be hosting a 3-day film festival. Every day across Northern Ireland 50 families and individuals present as homeless.  You are invited, with your friends,  colleagues and family to help to combat homelessness and poor housing conditions by supporting Shelter NI on the 6th-7th-8th December 2018 at the Bean Bag Cinema, Exchange Place.  Doors at 7.00pm.


For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.


Northern Ireland boasts an irresistible collection of places to stay including beautiful B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and great value self-catering properties. Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week to help you plan a short break.


  • January Special Offer, Horseshoe Cottage, Co. Down from £150 per stay

Enjoy a relaxing two-night stay in the four star Horseshoe cottage, located on the shores of Strangford Lough. You will be welcomed with freshly made traditional Northern Irish breads and homemade jam to help you settle in. This self-catering property sleeps up to four people and provides the perfect retreat to kick back and recharge your batteries after Christmas. Offer includes a two night stay with welcome pack of bread and jam. To book call 028 9754 3224. Offer available from 1 – 31 January 2018.

  • Foodie Delight, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges, Co. Fermanagh from £109 per person sharing

The award winning four star Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel is idyllically set on the shores of scenic Lough Erne. Bordered by private grounds and gardens, yet only one kilometre from the historic town of Enniskillen, it offers the perfect setting to relax whilst exploring the area. Offer includes a two night midweek stay, a cooked breakfast each morning and a four-course dinner each evening. To book call 028 6632 3481. Offer available until 22 December.

  • Winter by the Waves, Bayview Hotel, Co. Antrim from £70 per person sharing

Relax and enjoy a seaside break on the Causeway Coastal Route, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at the three star Bayview Hotel. Situated at the heart of the picturesque village of Portballintrae, one mile from Bushmills and close to the Giant’s Causeway, Old Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle, this is the perfect base for exploring the area. Offer includes overnight accommodation, an Irish coffee or hot chocolate on arrival, a three-course meal in the Porthole Restaurant and breakfast the following morning. To book call 028 2073 4100. Offer available until 31 March 2019.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland 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 (3 – 9 December)


  1. The Twilight Emporium, Larne, 7 December. Celebrating the wealth of talented artisan producers the country has to offer, the Twilight Emporium is a must visit event for fans of locally produced crafts and artisan food, and a great place to begin the festive season.
  2. Enchanted Winter Garden, Antrim, 7 – 18 December. Antrim Castle Gardens are transformed into the Enchanted Winter Garden, creating a magical Christmas experience for family and friends. Bigger and better than before, the Enchanted Gardens includes a festive fayre, a Ferris Wheel, a Victorian Helter Skelter, street theatre and much more.
  3. Skate with Santa, Dundonald, 1 – 22 December. Take to the ice every Saturday in December and enjoy a jolly skate with Santa himself at Dundonald Ice Bowl. Glide and twirl under twinkling lights to the very best festive music for a truly magical experience.
  4. Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, Belfast, 6 December. Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers is a unique voyage back to the 1970s, when Les and his legendary band ruled the world’s pop charts and The Bay City Rollers’ music became the soundtrack for a generation of teenagers. Les brings back all the thrill and excitement of Rollermania in this unique show at the Ulster Hall.
  5. The Greatest Snowman, Limavady, 6 – 8 December. Enjoy a fun-filled show for all the family at the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre this December.  Limavady Drama Club present their 2018 pantomime – The Greatest Snowman. Based on popular family favourites and hits from The Greatest Showman, the pantomime promises to be a magical experience for all the family.
  6. A Yuletide Evening in with the Celts, Armagh, 7 December. Experience a peaceful Mid Winter’s evening with the Celts during this period of ritual, reflection and renewal at the Navan Centre and Fort. Listen to stories and learn of Celtic customs associated with this time of year before the customary fire cleansing.
  7. The Carol Ship on Strangford Lough, Newtownards, 7 – 8 December. Hear Christmas music from choirs and bands ring out across Strangford Lough as choirs and musicians sing and play on each ferry sailing. See the Strangford ferry decorated with Christmas lights as she sails back and forwards on Europe’s oldest continuous ferry crossing.
  8. Ulster Orchestra – Handel’s Messiah – On Your Doorstep series, Derry~Londonderry, 6 December.  A true gift of musical and spiritual expression, Handel’s Messiah is the most single performed piece of classical music, year-on-year, than any other. If you’ve never heard it, don’t miss the opportunity to experience all the glory, celebration and joy of this timeless, inspirational masterpiece at The Guildhall this festive period.
  9. Days of Christmas Past, Omagh, 8 – 9 December. This Christmas celebrate the yuletide season at the Ulster American Folk Park at the Days of Christmas Past event. With a range of traditional festive activities, including fireside story readings, sing-a-longs, seasonal treats and visits to Santa and Mrs Claus, it offers something for all the family.
  10. Snow Patrol, Belfast, 7 December. Since their 1998 debut, Snow Patrol has racked up an impressive number of critical and commercial accolades, including 15 million global album sales, 1+ billion global track streams, five UK Platinum Albums, and are Grammy, BRIT Award and Mercury Music Prize nominated. Originally from Bangor, hear this incredible band perform live at the SSE arena.


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


It’s that time of year when nostalgia rules and that’s exactly what’s coming up at The Crescent.

Amy Montgomery

If you were lucky enough to have experienced the epic parties in The Crescent Gym during the 90s and early 00s then you are in for a treat.  Even if you didn’t you are still in for a treat. Get ready as, on Saturday 8th December, The Crescent will take a trip down memory lane, take back the Crescent Gym and give it a reboot for the first ever The Crescent Moon Club.

Just like back in the day The Crescent Moon Club will provide the best music Belfast and Northern Ireland has to offer.  The first event will feature three acts and a late night DJ set. The line-up for the evening includes:

Amy Montgomery is an Irish singer, songwriter with a powerful and raw voice. Together with Michael Mormecha (Drums) and Zach Trouton (Keys), the threesome deliver a fresh, edgy and original live performance.

Waking Android is the coming together of two well-known figures on the Belfast hip-hop scene, dsgrace & Kronus. Officially formed in October 2016 the duo have been  touring all over the country in the lead up to the release of Adrenochrome  which arrived in July 2017 to much fanfare across Irish hip-hop and beyond.

Headlining the event is the incredible The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan. The brainchild of Belfast’s musicians Tony Wright and Dean Stevens this blues-rocking duo slammed onto the Belfast music scene in 2017.

Belfast based duo Dimebag DJs will take you into night with a mix of disco, funk and electro beats.

The Crescent Moon Club event organiser Peter McCloskey said:

“ What a privilege it has been to create the first ever The Crescent Moon Club which will take place in the room where it began all those years ago.  Not only will there be an air of nostalgia but great anticipation for the brand new music acts who will perform on the evening.  We are delighted to bring to audiences some of the finest music acts from Belfast and across Northern Ireland. It’s an incredible line up for the first ever event and we hope this will become a regular event fixture at The Crescent.”

Roger Courtney, Director of The Crescent added:

“ We are very excited to launch the first ever The Crescent Moon Club. This is a great opportunity to show off one of Belfast’s best kept secrets for live music. This is guaranteed to be a fantastic evening but be quick as tickets won’t be around for long!”

The Crescent Moon Club (9pm-2pm) is an over 18s event with a Bring Your Own policy. Tickets can be pre booked at £15 or pay on the door for £18. For further details and to book tickets visit

The Creative Peninsula Christmas Craft Fayre

The Creative Peninsula Craft Fayre is taking place in Ards Arts Centre, Conway Square, Newtownards on Friday 30 November and Saturday 1 December 2018, 10am – 5pm.

An array of local craft makers and artists will once again be giving you the opportunity to purchase a range of unique, local, handcrafted products.

The festive Fayre, now in its sixth year, is organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council. Join over 25 craft makers and artists in the galleries of Newtownards’ Arts Centre, including local ceramicist Ellen Cunningham, owner of Cula Ceramics, who is just back from exhibiting at a major exhibition in China.

Relax, enjoy complimentary refreshments and shop for that inspirational gift. Free gift wrapping is available. Admission is free.

On Friday the very talented harpist Ruth Corry will be performing between 12 – 1pm.

Then on Saturday florist Jill Hunter of ‘Wild and Wonderful Flowers’ will be demonstrating on how to decorate Christmas wreaths and festive arrangements throughout the day.

Speaking about the event, Emily Crawford Arts & Heritage Manager with Ards and North Down Borough Council said: “The Creative Peninsula Christmas Fayre presents a unique opportunity to purchase a beautiful Christmas gift that is hand crafted in our Borough. You will find a variety of quality hand-crafted items ranging from art prints and illustrations, to pottery, papercraft, textiles and silver jewellery to name a few. Join us in the opulent setting of Ards Arts Centre’s galleries for a superior seasonal shopping experience.”

Comedy duo celebrate ‘Wonderful Wee Life’ at the Mill

Comedy writing and acting duo Caroline Curran and Julie Maxwell have teamed up for a bawdy and hilarious take on the perennial Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

This year’s big festive show at Theatre at The Mill ‘It’s a Wonderful Wee Christmas’ combines all the charm of the original heart-warming story with some added Belfast banter.

This is the fourth Christmas show penned by and starring the two best pals and they have brought together the familiar team of Paddy Buchanan, Jimmy Doran and Abi McGibbon and director Finn Kennedy.

Julie said: “It’s my favourite film because it has such a big heart and I knew that it would transfer well to modern day Belfast where family and friends are all important, especially at Christmas.”

Instead of 1940’s small town America it’s set in modern day Belfast where an angel is more likely to get wings by downing a can of Red Bull than helping out a troubled soul and ‘Every time a Bell rings…..’  it means last orders at the bar.

Central to this seasonal tale is Geordie Bailey, the big hearted manager of the Credit Union who is the heart of his community, helping his cash-strapped customers eke out enough to enjoy Christmas.

Just like the Jimmy Stewart character, Geordie’s ambition to travel and see the world has been stymied and he reaches the end of his rope when his office is robbed on Christmas Eve.

Stepping in to save the day is very unorthodox angel, Clara Crackingbody, a potty-mouthed force of nature far removed from the gentle Clarence Peabody of the Frank Capra version.

Clara descends from ‘upstairs’ to convince Geordie that life is worth living and ‘no man is a failure who has friends’.

It’s a Wonderful Wee Christmas is full of topical jokes. In this modern day Belfast fable nothing runs smoothly – bus lanes, the Glider or ‘Stormount’ but daily life goes on with a combination of resignation and black humour.

Will Clara Crackingbody get her wings? Will she help save Geordie and the credit union? Find out in ‘It’s a Wonderful Wee Christmas’ at Theatre at The Mill from December 4-31.

For tickets go to or call Box Office T: 028 9034 0202

10 things to do in Northern Ireland 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 (26 November – 2 December)


  1. Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, Belfast, 29 November – 1 December. This year’s Belfast Classic will welcome eight NCAA Division I college basketball teams – University at Albany, University at Buffalo, Dartmouth College, LIU Brooklyn, Marist College, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, University of San Francisco, and Stephen F. Austin State University – to the SSE Arena as they go head-to-head in eight fast-paced games over the three-day tournament.
  2. Fleadh Feirste: The Gaeltacht Quarter Festival, Belfast, 28 November – 2 December. Enjoy traditional music, art exhibitions, poetry events and activities for children. Line-up includes critically acclaimed production Aisling?, traditional musicians Robbie Hannan and Paddy Glackin and singer/guitarist SÍOMHA.
  3. Comber Christmas Fair in the Square, Comber, 29 November. Come along and visit Santa’s Grotto, meet Santa’s little helpers, and see him arrive on his sleigh pulled by real reindeers. With over 60 stalls with local food, arts and crafts along with music and carol singing – this event is festive fun for all the family. The Christmas lights will be switched on at 7pm.
  4. The Elves have Taken Over Todds Leap, Dungannon, 1 December. This Christmas, Santa’s mischievous little elves have taken over Todds Leap. Come along and you’ll be transported to a winter wonderland where all the magic happens. Visit Santa, post your letter, tour the elves classroom and visit Ms Claus in her kitchen.
  5. Belfast Christmas Market, Belfast, 17 November – 22 December. The popular Christmas Market returns to Belfast City Hall and offers an authentic feast of quality international cuisine alongside a carefully curated mix of handcrafted goods and bespoke artisan products.
  6. Ballycastle Christmas Lights Switch On, Ballycastle, 29 November. Preparations are well under way for the Christmas lights switch on. Come along and help celebrate the arrival of the festive season with lots of family friendly entertainment. Santa Claus is due to make a very special appearance along with the Mayor, arriving by horse drawn carriage.
  7. The Christmassy Christmas Show, Bangor, 1 December. Stuffed stocking of seasonal surprises crammed with puppets, songs and comedy, and overflowing with crazy characters, silly slapstick, tall tales and fantastic facts – all presented in that unique Squashbox style at Studio 1A.
  8. Christmas Fair, Dungannon, 1 – 2 December.  The festive period is not complete without a visit to the Argory’s Christmas Fair, featuring craft, food and drink stalls, as well as traditional festive entertainment. Soak up the wonderful atmosphere and see the house decorated for the season.
  9. Ladies Retreat Weekend, Omagh, 30 November – 2 December. The Ladies Retreat Weekend at An Creagán offers the chance to be pampered by the best that the Sperrins has to offer, including high tea, ladies night, candle making and walks in the beautiful landscape.
  10. Creative Peninsula Christmas Fair, Newtownards,  30 November – 1 December. Be inspired to purchase the perfect, unique, handcrafted Christmas gift in the opulent festive setting of the Georgian and Sunburst galleries of Ards Arts Centre. Seasonal interludes, complimentary gift wrapping and festive refreshments combine to make Christmas shopping a pleasure.


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

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


Join in the festive fun and entertainment at the Christmas Lights Switch on in Dromore town centre this Saturday 1st December. There will be carol singing and festive fun in the market square, followed by free Santa’s grotto for the kids and a craft market for the grown-ups with lots of entertainment and fun for everyone!


Leave winter behind this Christmas and escape to balmy oriental nights as The Market Place Theatre takes you on a high-flying, magical carpet ride headed for the exotic and mystical lands of The East, with the spectacular and breathtaking pantomime ‘Aladdin’.  Join a cast of well-loved characters including old Widow Twanky and her poor son Aladdin, and let your imagination take flight with this action-packed and mesmerizing pantomime. 1st to 23rd December.


This Saturday 1st December will see the Christmas lights switched on in Irvinestown. Come along and enjoy the festivities as Irvinestown lights up for Christmas with a fun day and bazaar in the Church of Ireland Hall with Santa in attendance.


Little Red Riding Hood & The Silly Billy Wolf comes to the Burnavon Theatre Cookstown this Sunday afternoon, 2nd December.  This colourful, fast–paced all singing and dancing show is a fun and gentle re–telling of the classic fairy–tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood is adventuring through the woods to visit her Granny, but somewhere along the way the Silly Billy Wolf is waiting. Children with have great fun joining in on the action, singing songs and playing games and meeting some amazing characters in this original show, written especially for this touring spectacular.


Join Seamus Heaney HomePlace for some Christmas celebrations on Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December. Opening times are: Friday: 3pm-7pm (last admission 6pm), Saturday- 10am-4pm (last admission 3pm).  Listen to Mrs Claus read tales of Christmas adventure, take part in the sparkling arts and crafts, get your photograph taken with Santa Claus himself and receive a special present and finally, make your way through the candy cane garden to collect as many candy canes as you can.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Colin Glen Forest Park hosts their annual Santa Run & Walk this Saturday 1st December!  Get in the festive mood & get fit for the Christmas Break. Take on the 5K Santa Run & Walk at Colin Glen Forest Park and help raise funds for 2 great causes. All you need is a Santa Hat and your running gear. Santa Hats are provided!  Location: Colin Glen Forest Park. Registration Open from 11:15,  Race starts at 12 Noon Sharp.  Price: £12pp. Entry Fee includes medals, prizes, timing chip & bib, Santa Hat, AND a Goody Bag!. Profits from the run will be split between Colin Glen Trust and Glen Parent ‘families in need appeal’.


Be a Claus for a good cause!  This year’s Santa Dash is on Sunday 2nd December at 10.00am, kicking off from Writers Square in Belfast City Centre.  It’s a fun-filled morning for families and friends. With hundreds of Santas expected to join in at the biggest Dash yet!  There are two options to get involved in. Join Santa and the Cool FM Breakfast team on his sleigh as they sing carols and wander on the 2K family walking route. Or take part in the official verified and timed new 5K route and get your PB in a Santa suit! All 5K participants will receive a Santa Dash finishers medal.  Registration  is £7.50 per adult for the Original 2K Dash and £25 for the 5K, and includes your free Santa suit!  Visit to register.  Every pound from registrations and sponsorship will go towards the Family Support Service which helps local children when a significant adult in their lives has cancer.


For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.  

Jacqueline McGonigle