‘Come Sing’ with music legend Phil Coulter ahead of the 10th City of Derry International Choir Festival

With less than a month to go, there are some huge highlights to look forward to – with Phil Coulter kicking things off on October 8

The countdown is on for the return of the City of Derry International Choir Festival – and with less than a month to go, we’re inviting YOU to take part.

Kicking things off, musical icon Phil Coulter will be at Derry’s Ebrington Square at 2pm on Saturday October 8 for a one-off ‘Come and Sing’ event which will be filmed for broadcast at the festival later in the month.

But it’s not just Phil who will feature in the historic broadcast, because members of the public are invited to come along and join an epic sing-along with the star, performing iconic hit ‘The Town I Love So Well’.

The event, a celebration of Phil’s 80th birthday year and the City of Derry International Choir Festival’s 10th edition, is sponsored by Allstate NI and is set to get the people of Derry in the mood for a fabulous festival of music.

The five-day festival programme, which runs from October 19 – 23, will comprise of gala concerts, live performances, both competitive and non-competitive, as well as world-class choral events.

In addition to events taking place in the main festival venue, Millennium Forum, there will be a comprehensive Community Programme involving more than 1,000 singers aged eight to 80 across 40 fabulous choirs.

As well as pop-up performances across the north west, there will be community concerts featuring local, national and international choirs and a Sacred Trail where visiting choirs will join churches across the region to perform at Sunday Services.

The community programme, sponsored by Alchemy, will see 60 performances across the five days and will extend throughout Derry, Strabane and Donegal.

For the festival’s many competitive events, the City of Derry International Choir Festival will be joined by competitors and adjudicators from nations across the world including Estonia, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, the USA, UK and of course, Ireland.

Other highlights to look forward to include the Opening Gala Concert with Carmina Burana at Derry’s Millennium Forum on Wednesday October 19, a concert by the Polish Radio Choir on Thursday October 20 and an evening concert by Finnish a cappella ensemble Rajaton, who will perform on Friday October 21.

The final day of the festival will see a new National Choir of the Festival Competition on Sunday October 23, before the Closing Gala Concert and Awards Ceremony at the Millennium.

 

To find out more and book tickets, visit www.derrychoirfest.com

 

 

Armagh’s 7 Hills Blues Fest is back for the best of shake, rattle and roll!

The UK and Ireland’s best-loved blues festival returns to the Cathedral City of Armagh from Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October

The 7 Hills Blues Fest returns to Armagh for a full weekend on Friday 30 September in an international showcase that brings world class blues, rhythm and roots music to a variety of unbeatable venues and locations across the iconic Cathedral City and the island’s capital of apples and cider.

Renowned as one of the best blues and roots music events in the UK and Ireland, this year’s 7 Hills Blues Fest returns after a three-year hiatus with a promise to shake, rattle and roll returning visitors from near and far with over 35 free live gigs and some cracking family entertainment.

Blue’s sensations 4 Stuck Men, One Horse Pony, Grainne Duffy and Paul Sherry are all part of this year’s headline event, joining trending jazz acts Casino Dixieland Jazz Band and Ludwig & Co to ensure that old style bluesy atmosphere the 7 Hills Fest is famous back for this autumn.

Celebrating some of the world’s greatest blues artists, including Ray Charles, Bessie Smith and BB King, all of Armagh’s best pubs and bars – including Red Neds, Hole in the Wall, Mickey Kelly’s, Devlin’s, Keegan’s, Rafferty’s, the Toby Jug and the Armagh City Hotel, are backing this incredible musical collective.

Festival organisers are also adding a new layer of entertainment this year too, with an all-new citywide Blues Busking Trail on Friday and Saturday, a ‘Blast from the Past’ vintage fair at the Shambles Yard on Saturday afternoon and a weather-dependent ‘Melodies on the Mall’ session early Saturday evening all guaranteed to mark the best of a great weekend.

Armagh’s historic Market Square is the place to be on Saturday afternoon from 1pm for a full-on free children’s event experience as the wee ones get their faces painted, model balloons and fill their boots with mischief as live musicians entertain from the Bandstand.

Armagh’s Bandstand will also be the place to experience a ‘Live Lounge’ show of local musicians perform their craft, hosted by the award-winning MD Rafferty Music School team.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield, said:

“Armagh City punches well above its weight for the best in entertainment, hospitality and music and this year’s 7 Hills Fest promises to be our best yet. Soak up the sounds, chill or dance your heart away in our best venues, inside or out, and relax with family and friends.

“There’s always a reason to visit Armagh all year round, but if you want to kick off your autumn with an experience to remember, make sure to check in and celebrate the best of the blues with us.”

For more information, visit www.7hillsblues.com

County Fermanagh Apartments Awarded Four-Stars by Tourism NI

The Enniskillen Watersedge Apartments in County Fermanagh have been awarded four stars by Tourism NI. 

The Watersedge Apartments are an ideal place for a staycation to explore the Fermanagh Lakelands and the breath-taking local scenery. Located within walking distance of Enniskillen they are an ideal spot for families and weekend getaways with friends.

The self-catering apartments are also close to some of Northern Ireland’s top tourist spots including Enniskillen Castle Museum, Marble Arch Caves, Castle Coole, Belle Isle Estate and Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail. 

Alison Leslie, Tourism NI’s Quality Assurance Manager, commented:  

“The Enniskillen Watersedge Apartments are a fantastic addition to the tourism product in the County Fermanagh area. They are the perfect base for both local and international visitors to relax and unwind, with Enniskillen only a short distance from the apartments. This four-star rating now gives them a great springboard to draw even more visitors to the area.”

Alison added: “I commend Shane and the Cassidy Hospitality Group for all their efforts and wish them every success for their future.”

Shane Browne, Group Sales & Marketing Manager at Cassidy Hospitality Group, added: “We are delighted to be recognised as a four-star property by Tourism Northern Ireland, this recognition acknowledges the high standards and quality of the Enniskillen Watersedge Apartments. It allows us to position ourselves as a recognised self-catering offering in the Fermanagh Lakeland’s region, providing customers a four-star service and self-catering visit. We hope this recognition will drive business and tourism to the region and benefit growth for our business.”

North Belfast’s Tribute Fest Back This Weekend With Sounds Of Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, Garth Brooks and ACDC Among Others

A tribute festival which attracts thousands of music fans is returning to Seaview Football Stadium in North Belfast this weekend.

Tribute Fest, taking place in the grounds of Crusaders Football Club on the Shore Road, will see local and visiting performers bring to life a whole range of popular music acts.

From Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and Garth Brooks to Robbie Williams, George Michael and Erasure organisers say they’re delighted to be “bringing an eclectic mix of music for all tastes on the day”.

Also taking to the stage on Sunday October 2 are tributes to Status Quo, Neil Diamond, AC/DC and Garth Brooks.

U105’s Drivetime star Johnny Hero will be compere for the event which runs from 4pm-11pm with gates opening at 2pm.

Promoter John Rogers said: “Seaview is the perfect spot to end the festival season with a great mix of local talent.

“Danny Lowry who has appeared on both ITV and MTV will be performing an array of Robbie Williams hits, both old and new with a touch of swing and maybe a little bit of a Take That medley too.

“While Norris Stephens, who has been dubbed Europe’s number 1 tribute to George Michael, will be wowing the audience with his uncanny resemblance to the global music icon.”

And it’s not just solo acts on the bill, co-promoter Mervyn Boyd said the audience will be able to enjoy the full live band experience.

He explained: “Northern Ireland five-piece band Q The Quo will have the audience rocking out to all the biggest Status Quo hits including Whatever You Want, Rockin’ All Over The World and Down Down among others.

“Another local five-piece band taking to the stage will be the fantastic AC?DC who of course will be performing a range of hits such as Highway To Hell, You Shook Me All Night Long and Thunderstruck.”

Downtown Country DJ and tribute performer to Garth Brooks Jason Hughes will be recreating some of the star’s recent Croke Park magic with his country show.

Having toured all over Europe, America, Ireland and Scotland Jason is no stranger to the stage.

And while he’s looking forward to the show he revealed he still gets surprised by the audience’s reaction.

Jason, who has performed as Garth Brooks for over 20 years, said: “I am actually quite a shy person when I am not on stage and the reaction from the audiences at times leaves me gobsmacked.”

Tickets for Tribute Fest are free with a £5 booking fee. VIP tickets are also available at £10 +booking fee.

To book tickets or for more information go to crusadersfootballclub.com/tickets

ARMAGH OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM TO INSPIRE PRIMARY PUPILS WITH STEM TOURS

Students to Gain Valuable Insight in Two Hour Visit

 

Globally recognised astronomical research institute, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, has recommenced its popular two-hour visits for primary school pupils. Led by one of the organisation’s Education team members, each tour will consist of one hour spent in the Dome Theatre, a 30-minute workshop and a 30-minute exhibition tour.

A Young Visitor Explores the New Exhibition at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

The educational tours will begin with a celestial journey around the Solar System in Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s unique Dome Theatre. Pupils will then have the opportunity to take part in an ‘Out-of-This-World’ workshop and explore the organisation’s brand-new exhibition area.

Whilst in the Dome Theatre, pupils can choose from a range of dome shows, including ‘Astronaut.’ Narrated by actor Ewan McGregor, the short film examines the trials, tribulations and joys associated with becoming an astronaut, along with the effects of space travel and training on human beings.

In addition to viewing the suite of dome shows, pupils will engage with live, interactive material which can be tailored to their learning objectives. For this, the organisation’s Education team will guide them through the solar system, allowing them to choose which planets they want to visit, to ask questions and to show off their knowledge of space.

Each session in the Dome Theatre finishes with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s famous space roller coaster. A favourite element of the visit for many, the short dome show allows students to experience the sensation of being on a rollercoaster.

Helen McLoughlin, Operations Manager at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium said, “I am delighted to welcome primary school pupils from across Northern Ireland to tour our facilities here at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

“We are recognised across the globe as a leading centre for research into astronomy and are very much focused on harnessing that invaluable resource to deliver vibrant educational and outreach programmes.

“It is our hope that that by providing compelling, age-appropriate content via our dome shows workshop and exhibition, we might help to inspire the STEM leaders of the future.”

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is sited in a heritage environment with a rich scientific history. The organisation delivers internationally recognised research in astronomy and related sciences and vibrant educational and outreach programmes for all ages.

Established in 1790 by Archbishop Richard Robinson, the Armagh Observatory is the oldest scientific institution in Northern Ireland and the longest continuously operating astronomical research institute in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Dr Eric Lindsay founded the Armagh Planetarium in 1968. The oldest operating Planetarium in the UK and Ireland, it celebrated 50 years as Northern Ireland’s public face of space and astronomy in May 2018.

To book a primary school visit, call Armagh Observatory and Planetarium on: 028 3752 3689 or email: reception@armagh.ac.uk. Early Booking is recommended.

To find out more about Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, visit: https://www.armagh.space

NORTHERN IRELAND’S LEADING HOTEL CELEBRATES FIFTH BIRTHDAY

Titanic Hotel Belfast, named Northern Ireland’s Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards every year since opening its doors in 2017, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month, and the longest serving staff member General Manager, Adrian McNally, is proud to have retained a quarter of the hotel’s original staff since day one.

Speaking about the multi-award winning hotel’s milestone birthday, Adrian said: “We have achieved incredible success despite the challenges the hospitality industry has faced in recent years. I am extremely proud of the team in delivering outstanding customer service and for working tirelessly to live up to Titanic Hotel Belfast’s leading hotel status every day. The fact that we have managed to retain 25% of the original workforce during some of the most challenging times for our industry in our lifetime is testament to the privilege of being part of the team at Titanic Hotel Belfast.

“I would also like to thank Harcourt Developments for their unwavering commitment to Titanic Hotel Belfast and for continuing to invest in our accommodation and public spaces, enabling us to provide visitors with a truly unique experience when visiting Titanic Quarter.”

There have been more than 174,000 guests waking up to a Titanic breakfast in the past five years and over 3,200 weddings and events hosted in the unique private heritage spaces including the surroundings of the Drawing Office where many of the world’s most famous ocean liners including RMS Titanic  were designed.

Over 82,000 guests have attended events and weddings, while thousands more have enjoyed the hotel’s award-winning food and beverage outlets every month.

The concierge team has hosted more than 3,500 Heritage Tours giving visitors a flavour of the history of this unique hotel which includes Thomas Andrews original private office, the decadent Presentation Room, where Lord Pirrie showcased Harland & Wolff’s latest designs for transatlantic passenger liners, and Charles Payne’s office, Managing Director of Harland & Wolff during Titanic’s launch.

Even with three lockdowns during the first five years of trading, revenue at the hotel has increased significantly year on year, and the hotel is now operating with revenue 19% above pre-pandemic levels for overseas visitors, business events, meetings, weddings, dining and overnight accommodation.

Adrian added: “We are all too aware that a hotel stay can be viewed as an indulgence and we are putting measures in place to save on energy consumption and food waste to keep costs down. This will enable us to continue to compete in the marketplace with a focus and commitment to offer our guests an unforgettable experience at Titanic Hotel Belfast.”

John Paul Doherty, Creative Director at Harcourt Developments, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the fifth birthday of Titanic Hotel Belfast, the jewel of the Maritime Mile. This historic and architecturally unique building was once the nerve centre of the largest shipyard in the world; a location steeped in history. The combined efforts of Harcourt Developments and the team at Titanic Hotel Belfast have created a unique hospitality experience – giving guests the chance to stay in one of the most historically important buildings in Northern Ireland; the very building where Titanic was designed and constructed just a few yards away. We feel we offer an emotionally rich and historically authentic experience unlike anything else in the world. The success of Titanic Hotel Belfast is due in multiple parts, not least from the wonderful service guests enjoy but also due to the curation of artworks and artefacts which are exhibited throughout the hotel. This includes the most recent addition in the Drawing Office Bar, of an original clock from SS Carpathia, the first ship to reach Titanic.”

To reserve a room at Titanic Hotel Belfast, please visit www.titanichotelbelfast.com and follow the hotel on at www.facebook.com/titanichotelbelfast; www.instagram.com/titanichotelbelfast; and www.twitter.com/titanichotelbel.

 

Songwriting Skills on Show At The Market Place

Armagh’s Market Place Theatre is set for some serious songwriting skills when artists Katey Brooks and Anthony Toner take to the stage to showcase their enviable talents.

Katey Brooks is a rebellious artist who resists formula. The powerful songstress defies easy classification, with a sound blending folk, soul, blues and Americana. Her versatility has become one of her biggest assets when lending her voice to different genres and moods. A devastating song-writing talent she is simply ‘not to be missed’ [Time Out]. 

Her most recent album Revolute was released in 2019 to huge critical acclaim across the world including a ‘Best Album of the Year’ credit from music magazine Popdust. Brooks’ vocals have featured on records with Queen’s Brian May, The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Paloma Faith. Katey Brooks will perform for one night only on Thursday 6 October. Tickets are priced £14 each.

Anthony Toner returns to The Market Place for an intimate evening of songs and stories, fresh from the release of two brand new albums in 2022. ‘Emperor’ is a completely acoustic collection, revisiting favourite songs from his back catalogue, including ‘Sailortown’, ‘The Road to Fivemiletown’, ‘Well Well Well’ and many more. New release, ‘The Book of Absolution’ continues where the hugely popular album ‘Ink’ left off, featuring personal songs full of insights about the human condition that never fail to strike a chord with listeners.

Between songs, Anthony always shares some hilarious and insightful stories from the road, and is also one of Northern Ireland’s finest guitarists. Anthony Toner will take to the stage on Saturday 8 October. Tickets are priced £15 each, and can be booked through the Box Office on 03300 561 025, or online at www.visitarmagh.com/marketplacetheatre

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

 

Tourism NI Hosts Coach and Group Workshop

Tourism NI recently hosted a Coach and Group Workshop in Derry~Londonderry. Twenty five coach and group operators from Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland held face to face sales appointments across two days and toured the local area on a familiarisation visit. 

Northern Ireland industry included three and four star hotels, visitor experiences, tour guiding associations and activity providers offering group visits as well as local Councils and regional tourism organisations.

Pictured at Brooke Hall are, l-r, Caroline Mulligan, Tourism Ireland, Janine Cuff, Albatross Group, David Gilliland, Brooke Hall & Estate, Nathalie Brohan, Classic Britain Hotels and Nikki Paterson, Tourism NI.

Pictured at Brooke Hall are, l-r, David Carton, Grand Tours, Karen Henderson, Visit Derry, Colin Wynne, Abbey Ireland & UK, Gwen Beveridge Tourism NI and Nikki Paterson, Tourism NI.

One World Festival Poetry Competition Returns For 2022

In addition to the One World Festival returning this autumn, so too is the poetry competition, which sees young writers from across Northern Ireland submit their poetry in relation to the festival’s beliefs and motto.

The competition, open to all students aged 12-18 years old, aims to get young individuals thinking about important issues raised across the festival through their writing.

Poems submitted should revolve around this year’s theme of ‘Displacement, Migration, Movement’, which should consist of the movement of people and those displaced from their homes.

Siobhan Hanley, chair of CADA NI, said: “Seeing the major changes in how our global population is changing geographically in recent years due to conflict, famine, and climate change, we feel it is crucial to explore the issues and impacts, while also providing opportunities to create change.

As a coalition of aid and development agencies (CADA NI), we are proud to collaborate in presenting the One World Festival – a variety filled programme, including; talks and discussions, storytelling, music, documentaries and films, and much more.”

Submissions for the competition should be no longer than 250 words and only one entry is allowed per person, with entrants needing to have submitted their poems by 12 noon on September 23. 

Aside from sticking to the selected topic, poems can be written in any style and feature any techniques desired, enabling writers to have free reign over their creations. 

The winner will be gifted a £100 book voucher and be given the opportunity to read aloud their poem during the One World Festival flagship event on Thursday 13 October. Two runners up will also receive a £25 book voucher. 

The event features Belfast poet Niamh McNally who will hand out the award, as well as the likes of the Belfast Operatic Society and is free to attend.

For more information and to  download an application form, visit https://oneworldfestivalni.com/one-world-poetry-competition-2022 or email festival@cada-ni.org

Family Fun Day In Carrick Tomorrow To Support Children’s Hospice

Following the success of the Children’s Hospice Big Elmer Trail throughout Belfast, Carrick based engineering firm Ryobi, one of the companies who sponsored an elephant, are hosting a family fun day on Saturday September 17 (tomorrow).

The event is being held at Carrickfergus Cricket Club, where the entertainment-filled afternoon is celebrating 21 years of the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.

Open to Ryobi staff and all members of the public, the event takes place from 1pm-4pm, featuring a whole host of activities for the family to enjoy, including a bouncy castle, penalty shoot out, face painting, giant Jenga, Army climbing wall and much more.

Speaking ahead of the event Marco Emig, managing director at Ryobi said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to support the Northern Ireland Hospice with a family fun day.

“The event not only gives us an opportunity to raise funds for a very worthy cause but also gives us a chance to get out and about and meet with the local community and spend time in a relaxed setting with our staff and their friends and family.”

Also available on the day is a raffle, offering a variety of prizes to be won from donating businesses, ranging from a PS5 bundle to experience vouchers.

The raffle costs £2 per ballot, with all proceeds going directly towards NI Children’s Hospice as a continuation of the Big Elmer Trail.

Tickets for the raffle are available until the end of Friday September 16 and can be bought from in the materials office on both the main and Kilroot site.

There are plenty of fantastic prizes to be won and fun to be had across the afternoon for everyone in attendance.

The four-hour long event will see special appearances from Paw Patrol characters and a police landrover and motorbike for the children to enjoy.

Ticket prices cover entry to all activities aside from the raffle are £5 per adult, £3 per child or £12 for a family ticket.