Come and Play

‘Come and Play’, a social evening where flute bands got together in a non-competitive atmosphere was held at the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre. The event was hosted by the Flute Band Association of Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Ulster-Scots Community Network (USCN) with the flute band ensemble being conducted by Richard Douglas MBE. They played a great selection of tunes and many bands being represented in the ensemble.

Belfast’s Victorian Gem Sparkles Again

The Tropical Ravine in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens reopened to the public this week following a £3.8m refurbishment. The major task, more than three years in the making and well worth the wait came about with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council who invested £1.5m in the project and a contribution from the Friends of Botanic Gardens.

The listed building has been restored to its former glory with Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, officially reopening the Tropical Ravine by unveiling a plaque alongside HLF chair, Sir Peter Luff. The Tropical Ravine is a unique asset for Belfast and a fantastic addition to Northern Ireland’s tourism offering. The listed building which dates back to 1887 has been restored with many of its original Victorian features reinstated and preserved. The ravine has been split over two levels with an open reception area on the ground floor, and the building has been modernised to make it more energy efficient with new triple-glazed windows installed to retain heat and create the right environment for the tropical plants it is home to.

Visitors will now be able to learn about the conservation work and plant collection thanks to new interactive and digital exhibits. Accessibility has also been improved with the introduction of sensory facilities for sight and hearing-impaired visitors. Sir Peter Luff, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, welcomed the reopening: “The Tropical Ravine is a true heritage treasure that rewards visitors with a unique, entertaining and educational experience.”“We look forward to many more people enjoying these new facilities,” he added.The Tropical Ravine has been transformed into a fantastic visitor and educational space, an outstanding amenity that will last for future generations. Some of the plants are estimated to be over 150 years old so the restoration has been a remarkable feat. Many of the plants were temporarily moved into the Palm House or rehomed at Botanic Gardens’ glasshouses. The large cycads that we couldn’t shift were covered and protected from reconstruction work and the cold.

Demand to see round the new ravine is expected to be very high but due to the nature of the building, the number of people that can be inside the ravine at any one time is limited.For more information on the restoration project visit

Castle Leslie Estate ‘Wedding Open Day’

The illustrious Castle Leslie Estate will host their exclusive Wedding Open Day on Sunday 15th April 2018 from 2-6pm. Admittance is by invitation and RSVP and those wishing to attend can download their invitation request from the Castle Leslie Estate website or by contacting the Estate directly. Potential brides and grooms will be treated to personalized guided tours of the Estate and can view the array of wedding possibilities at Castle Leslie Estate while sampling sumptuous drinks and canapés. Their dedicated wedding team will be on hand to guide budding brides and grooms through what could be the most enchanting day of their lives. To register to attend this exclusive event, please contact the Events Team on 047 88100 or email You can also download a request form at under the section for weddings.



Jean-Christophe Novelli Reveals Début Belfast Menu

Multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli, recently revealed the menu for his hotly-anticipated début Belfast restaurant. Jean-Christophe, who has been dubbed the UK’s ‘Favourite French Chef’, has complimented the quality of Northern Irish produce, a great accolade for local suppliers. “You need to have wonderful ingredients to produce wonderful food, and I have been thoroughly inspired and excited by the quality and variety of produce available to me here on my Belfast doorstep,” said Jean-Christophe Novelli.

Set on Belfast’s waterfront, with stunning views and an open-air terrace, the 112-seater ‘Novelli at City Quays’ restaurant will open in April as part of the all-new AC Hotel Belfast, the £25million contemporary-luxe hotel developed by Belfast Harbour in the heart of its prestigious City Quays quarter. ‘Novelli at City Quays’ will be the celebrity chef’s first restaurant on the island of Ireland, representing a key milestone for him, a major coup for Belfast’s hospitality offering, and a valuable boost to local suppliers. At ‘Novelli at City Quays’ customers can look forward to the authentic Mediterranean-inspired cuisine all made with the best of locally sourced ingredients.

The 188-room, four-star quality AC Hotel Belfast is the first AC Hotel by Marriott on the island of Ireland, and the first purpose-built AC Hotel in the UK. ‘Novelli at City Quays’ is the first destination restaurant in the AC Hotels by Marriott 100+ global portfolio. Built to Jean-Christophe Novelli’s exacting specifications, the made-to-measure kitchen features a rotisserie oven to enable him to produce his signature roasts.

Jim Mulholland, grand chef of ‘Novelli at City Quays noted, “It has always been my passion and my mission to source whatever I can locally, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience to introduce our amazing local produce to such a globally celebrated chef as Jean-Christophe Novelli and to see him, in turn, become a champion of it,”

Belfast Gets Ready for St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up this Saturday, Belfast is getting primed for some high energy celebrations and you’re invited to come and join the party!

From 11:30am on Saturday, 17 March, the streets will be awash with colour. A vibrant parade themed ‘Global Belfast’ will leave from Royal Avenue, travelling along a new route through Castle Junction and along Donegall Place, before snaking its way around Belfast City Hall, and then returning along the same route to finish on Royal Avenue.

Kicking off at 1:30pm until 4pm, a free concert at Custom House Square, headlined by former JLS member Aston Merrygold will take place. Aston Merrygold will headline the free Custom House Square concert and is sure to dazzle with not just his voice, but his incredible dance moves. Strictly Come Dancing star – and now touring musician, Aston’s debut single ‘Get Stupid’ went platinum and his feel good last single ‘Precious’ featured Shy Carter and Grammy Award winning beatboxer Rhazel.

Speaking at the launch of Belfast’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations, Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister, said: “I really can’t wait for this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Belfast, because I know that thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities will be joining in the fun.“The theme for my year in office is ‘Global Belfast’ and the wonderful Beat Carnival have worked so hard with their many community partners to create an incredible parade which illustrates that theme, as well as the diversity of the city we love, and our people. Make sure you don’t miss it!” Q Radio is the council’s media partner and popular radio host Eoghan Quigg will compere the concert. Q Radio said: “We look forward to what promises to be a spectacular celebration of culture and community on 17 March.”

Alongside Aston, award winning modern Irish dancing group Slide Step will wow the crowds with their powerful, cutting edge contemporary movement and a whole new take on the art form. Whilst Belfast based Irish Festival Dancing School, Tír Na n-Óg, who recently won the NI senior team title for a fifth year running, will deliver a heart stopping performance. Urban artists, Tanaka, winner of the PanArts Young Singer Songwriter Competition 2016 and JORD will inject a range of colourful influences ranging from R&B and AfroBeat to Pop and Folk to the concert.  Festival favourites Pure Blarney’s unique brand of electro-acoustic folk rock and local trad band the Rare Aul Stuff are bound to get the crowd moving the moment they step onstage. There’ll also be Global Belfast and St Patrick’s Day themed arts and crafts, a range of walkabout, street theatre acts and face painters to keep even the youngest revellers entertained. Hot food, soft drinks, sweet treats and more will be on sale from a range of traders.

Entry to the concert is on a first come first served basis. Alcohol is strictly forbidden and other terms and conditions apply.For more information, visit

Kids With Cancer Charity Event

A ‘Kids with Cancer’ charity event was held recently at the Royal Hotel Cookstown, organised by Gary Smyth, the leading drummer of Quinn Memorial Pipe Band. The fundraising event was attended by over 250 pipe band enthusiast and friends.  Bands, pipers and drummers took part including Steven McWhirter, who recently won his eighth World Solo drumming title. Steven, a former member of Cullybackey Pipe Band, is now Lead Drummer of current world champion pipe band, Inveraray and District, Scotland. The final amount raised was a phenomenal £9,000.

Also taking part was:

Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE and a mini band of fourteen members of eleven times world champions Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band Drum Corps, Tullylagan Pipe Band Drum Corps and Bernagh Folk Group.

Pipers included:  Senior Ulster Solo Piping Champion (2017) Ashley McMichael, Glenn Ross and Ryan Cupples-Menendez (Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band) and Ian Burrows (Drumlough Pipe Band).

Snare drummers included:  Steven McWhirter and Chris McNicholl (Inveraray & District Pipe Band), Stephen Creighton and Michael McKenna (St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band), Gareth McLees (Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band), William Glenholmes (Vale of Atholl Pipe Band), Daniel Lynn (Cullybackey Pipe Band), John Scullion and John Lappin.

Tenor drummers included:  Jordan Bailie (Inveraray & District Pipe Band) and event organiser Gary Smyth’s son Calum (Quinn Memorial Pipe Band) from Magherafelt.



‘Pravha’ Launched in Northern Ireland

Molson Coors have announced the launch of their new beer ‘Pravha’ in Northern Ireland.

Pravha is a 4% ABV Czech style pilsner from the brewers of leading lager Staropramen. The beer has been introduced at time when the trend for craft and niche beers is on the rise and will now be available exclusively on draught at select outlets across Northern Ireland. Brewed using the passion, ingredients and knowledge of the famous Staropramen brewers, Pravha represents the unexpected side of Prague, by offering a twist on the classic Czech pilsner made with two specially selected malts and three Czech hops.

Ryan McFarland, NI Director at Molson Coors said that they “ are delighted to welcome Pravha to the Molson Coors portfolio in Northern Ireland,”

“In Prague, there’s always something new and exciting going on underneath the surface of the city. In the same way, Pravha is the unexpected side of Staropramen, a refreshing drinking experience that consumers may not expect from a Czech pilsner. By introducing this beer, we hope to excite our customers and consumers and continue to expand our premium world beer category.”

Introducing A New Category For Ulster Tatler Awards 2018…

The Ulster Tatler Awards Voting is now officially open!

As you all know we endeavour each year to be bigger and better and so, with that in mind, we would like to announce the addition of a brand new category…


All you need to do is submit up to 500 words plus a selection of images which illustrate why your home should win. Submit your entry to

This exciting new category is being sponsored by…


Innovative Home Solutions are specialists in the Design, Build and Interiors of luxurious homes and extensions. Their vision is best expressed through their multifaceted approach to the design and construction of bespoke homes by exploring new forms, pushing the boundaries and evolving technology, without compromising on the authenticity of the design, aesthetics, and materials. They:

  • Deliver beautiful yet functional homes that are sympathetic to sustainable design and grounded in passive design principles.
  • Believe that to make your mark, you have to innovate and not be afraid to push past what is generally accepted to be comfortable or conventional. INNOVATIVE HOME SOLUTIONS is not afraid to break with convention and find creative ways to express the unique perspective of each client.
  • Their Design+Build+Interiors approach is about freedom of design, considering the practical side as well as the functionality requirements of the home.
  • The company’s philosophy is ‘Total Design’. This creates a seamless transition between the exterior and the interior of every home.
  • Their diverse team transition projects between design and construction, always aware of budget constraints and important milestones. It is this discipline that keeps elegant designs on course, and ensures that as each project progresses to completion, with all the expectations of design, cost and schedule are being met.

For more details visit Celebrates 15 Years In The Skies have reached a key milestone, recently celebrating 15 years since their first flight, which took off from Leeds Bradford to Amsterdam. To mark the occasion, celebrations took place yesterday at the company’s first base, Leeds Bradford Airport. Having started with two aircraft serving nine destinations from Leeds Bradford that first year, the company has since grown to become the UK’s third largest airline with a fleet of 88* aircraft flying to 65 sun, city and ski destinations from nine UK bases and have carried more than 65 million passangers. The popularity of its friendly low fares, great flight times and generous 22kg baggage allowance (plus 10kg hand baggage) has enabled the airline to enjoy this growth.

The airline has operated here in Belfast since 2004 and will operate a fleet of 4 aircrafts at the airport this summer having carried over 2.75 milllion customers over the years. flies to 36 sun, city and ski destinations from Belfast International Airport. customers and staff, including colleagues who worked at the airline on that very first day of operations and who were on the company’s first ever flight, were joined by Peter Andre for a morning of celebration. The celebrity guest surprised customers at check-in and even boarded the aircraft to serenade customers and staff with a special ‘Happy Birthday’ rendition.

He also launched a competition called ‘15 Seconds of Fame’ to mark the 15th anniversary. By creating a video to capture the spirit of, one lucky customer can win 15 free return flights, and 15 runners up can win a pair of free flights.

Last year, the company also celebrated 10 years of package holiday specialist Jet2holidays, which is today the UK’s second largest tour operator. Through Jet2holidays the company offers great value ATOL protected package holidays to over 40 top sun destinations, across the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Europe. Everything is wrapped up in one great package.  Customers have a choice of thousands of 2-5 star hotels, with flights, an industry leading 22kg baggage allowance and airport transfers included. Infants go free on all holidays and all holidays can be secured with a low £60 per person deposit.

For summer 2018 and Jet2holidays has launched its biggest ever flights and holidays programme yet!

University of Ulster Graduations

Winter graduations were held at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus. Congratulations to all students, from a number of faculties including Engineering, Accounting and Social Science who recently celebrated their achievements.

To see more of the wonderful spread and many more photos from the graduation, get your February issue of the Ulster Tatler, available now.

Armagh – A City On The Rise

Armagh is a city on the rise, with a regeneration scheme having been announced for the city by the ABC Council and Heritage Lottery Fund at a special event at The Palace, Armagh. The aim is to revamp the historic city centre of Armagh and turn iconic but underused buildings into exciting attractions, for both local people and tourists to enjoy. An investment of £6.3 million will gear towards the repair of almost 30 properties in key buildings in Armagh’s protected conservation area, including Upper English Street and Russell Street. The transformation plan also aims to develop 5,000 square metres of historic floor space, putting it back into sustainable use. The five-year Armagh City Townscape Heritage project will be led by the Armagh City Townscape Heritage Partnership, with support from Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The overall heritage-led regeneration project will be very advantageous for Armagh, with the creation of almost 50 new jobs over the five years and a further 30 jobs once it is complete. Several existing businesses in the city will also directly benefit from the scheme, with the revitalisation project being predicted to boost the local economy, bringing millions of pounds to the city’s tourism industry.