Miss Anchor Anna Henry is crowned 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland.

Anna Henry is Crowned 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland

Anna Henry has been crowned the 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland at the glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on Monday 15th May.

The stunning 22 year old Renewable Energy engineering student from Portglenone impressed the panel of judges on the night with her beauty, charm and personality, giving her the winning edge over twenty-three other finalists, to acquire the coveted crown from previous titleholder, Emma Carswell.

The exclusive gala final was a glamorous affair hosted by Q Radio breakfast presenter Stephen Clements and former Miss Northern Ireland and television presenter, Zoe Salmon Corrie.

Full coverage of this event will be available in our July issue. 

 Miss Anchor Anna Henry is crowned 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland.

Miss Anchor Anna Henry is crowned 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland.
Rachel, Olivia and Emma

Walk of Life Fashion Show at the Crowne Plaza

The (CAT)Walk of Life Fashion Show was the brainchild of Julie Duckworth-Fitzsimmons in partnership with Cathy Martin, after the success of the Fifty over Fifty show at Belfast Fashion Week in 2016.

Julie’s unique, 1980s-themed event was dedicated to her Mother and Father John and Sheila Duckworth who both sadly had passed away from illnesses. She wanted to fundraise for the two charities close to her heart – and their illnesses; The Boom Foundation and Parkinson’s UK.  She enlisted a group of 16 models from the 1980s era and together with Cathy, they produced the show to a backdrop of popular music from that era, with a twist of 80s in the styling and event entertainment such as ghost actors dressed in 80s vintage dress, milling around two Delorean Cars displayed at the front of the hotel, an 80s retro film and a classic 80s disco hosted by Pete Snodden from Cool FM.

Many celebrities  supported the event by taking part in the catwalk or creating support messages via video – names such as Eamonn Holmes, Jamie Dornan, Nick Kershaw, Jimmy Nesbitt, Nuala McKeever, Peter Corry, Pamela Ballentine and May McFettridge all lent a hand, as well as Dame Mary Peters, Paul Clark, Tim McGarry, Big T, Caroline Fleck, Paddy Jenkins, Alison Fleming, Patience Bradley and Jim Dornan. They all gave their time for free and added the wow factor to the show.

There were many sponsors, donors, retailers and media who all added quality elements to the event, which saw 550 guests attending and £10,000 raised for the charities. Watch out for Walk of Life 2, in 2018!

Check out our June issue for more coverage of this event. 

Putting Belfast Visual Arts Scene in the Spotlight

Belfast Visual Arts Forum, working with Belfast City Council, has launched a campaign to promote the rich, diverse visual arts offering in the city.

Already a top destination for visual arts, the collaborative initiative aims to raise awareness, inspire and entice new audiences to Belfast by highlighting the many upcoming activities and exhibitions, home-grown artists and independent, artist-led galleries in the city.

With its wealth of world-class visual arts talent and venues, Belfast is fast-becoming one of the most popular cities for visual arts in the world. This is supported by a growing local appetite in visual arts with recent research revealing that 76% of Northern Ireland people are ‘interested in’ or ‘warm to’ visual arts. It also found that one in two people have viewed visual arts here over the last three years.

Further research shows that the visitor experience to galleries in the city was very positive, with two thirds of respondents rating their overall experience as excellent. In total, 98% of respondents felt their visit was excellent or good.

Hosting over 800 visual arts activities in 2016 and accounting for 65% of all visual arts activities in Northern Ireland, Belfast is a city where visual arts is being embraced with an agenda packed festivals and exhibitions programme planned this year.

Peter Richards, Chair of the Belfast Visual Arts Forum commented: “Belfast is bursting with stand-out talent which enables it to compete on the international visual arts stage. Our visual arts scene is particularly special due to a higher percentage – over 50% – of galleries in the city being artist-led when compared to the likes of Dublin and London.”

Adding: “Unlike many cities, visitors can immerse themselves in and explore Belfast’s visual arts scene on a budget as almost all exhibitions and galleries in are free to enter making it an exciting proposition for locals and tourists alike.”

From families and those beginning to explore the visual arts scene, Belfast’s exhibitions and events are delivering a source of enjoyment and unique opportunities for a range of audiences. Recent research also reinforced the popularity of visual arts among young people with a quarter of all gallery audiences falling in the 25 – 34 year old category.

Belfast City Council actively supports Belfast’s visual arts through funding and various other initiatives to help the sector continue to grow and expand, reaching residents, tourists and the wider community across the city.

Peter Richards continued: “We are particularly proud of Belfast’s visual arts offering as it continues to thrive and grow in popularity among not only locals and but also tourists visiting the city.

“We hope the packed schedule will help the sector continue to grow and have tried to include something for everyone this year. We always emphasise that you do not have to be an expert to engage with visual arts, everyone can enjoy it in different ways, it is what meaning you take away from it personally. With exhibitions and festivals taking place in many venues all-year round this really is the city of visual art.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Ellen Campbell added, “Belfast City Council fully supports the culture and arts sector through our Cultural Framework which shows our commitment to activities which inspire communities and attracts audiences.

“We grant over £1.7m per year to support the work of 56 cultural organisations and around 60 community festivals and arts and heritage projects. We receive a fantastic return on our investment, approximately £8 for the city for every £1 of our investment. We firmly believe the cultural sector in Belfast makes the city what it is and forms its identity as unique, edgy, adventurous and colourful.”

To get involved in the campaign, tweet using #BelfastVisualArts and to find out more about visual arts in Belfast, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/visualarts.


St Anne’s Set To Become Couture Catwalk

Northern Ireland is set for an evening of wonder as the future faces of fashion design prepare to descend upon the city’s cathedral for the highly-anticipated Ulster University Graduate Fashion Show. The event, which will take place at St Anne’s Cathedral on Friday 19 May, will showcase the creative and innovative flair of Ulster University’s fashion and textile design students.  
Supported by Santander Universities, Ulster University’s graduate fashion show provides an invaluable platform for young designers to reveal their runway collections as they prepare to launch their fashion careers, both locally and globally. Previous Ulster University graduates have gone on to work for international designers as well as major retailers including House of Fraser, Inishmaan and Douglas & Graham. 
Course Director of Ulster University’s Textile Art, Design and Fashion degree, Alison Gault, said: “Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art is helping to nurture and develop the fashion world’s next generation of talent. Our students take the lead in organising the annual event, which has become one of the premier graduate shows nationally. It demonstrates the unrivalled skills, creativity and diversity of Ulster University’s student body and helps to put Northern Ireland firmly on the fashion map.”
Ulster University’s BA Hons Textile Art, Design and Fashion course is truly unique offering practice-based study of print, knit, weave and embroidery across high-end conceptual garments, accessories and ready-to-wear designs. Students get the opportunity to explore both traditional and contemporary design at the University’s state-of-the-art studios and workshops on its Belfast campus. 
Leona O’Reilly, a final year fashion design student said: “Ulster University’s fashion design programme is dedicated to creating an environment that encourages young designers to really push the boundaries and that is a very exciting environment to learn in. The graduate show is a momentous occasion, because for most of us it is the first time that we will see our collection on a runway. This show is the culmination of years of hard work and it will be great to see that displayed on the catwalk.”
Hair will be styled by multi-award-winning stylist Andrew Mulvenna hair while Paddy McGurgan’s Make Up Pro team will create the make-up looks. The addition of Northern Ireland’s leading creatives in these fields as sponsors really adds to the world-class level of show that the students will create. 
Tickets are on sale now at just £15 per ticket via: https://getinvited.to/festivalartdes/ulster-university-graduate-fashion-show-2017.

The ticket price includes a fab Gin Fusions cocktail along with Skinny Prosecco.


NIFDA Awards 2017

The 14th Northern Ireland Food & Drink Awards served up a celebration of innovation, quality and export success as leading local food and drink companies were recognised at an awards ceremony in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast. A total of  11 awards were presented at the event, which was attended by over 350 guests including major retailers, government officials and industry leaders.

Winners on the night included Dale Farm, Linden Foods, Scott’s Bakery, Pop Notch, Kettyle Foods, Linwoods, Dunbia, Punjana, Moy Park, Suki Tea, and Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute for Global Food Safety at Queen’s University Belfast.

For more coverage of this event, check out our May issue, on sale now. 


‘On Yer Bike’ For Charity

Belfast born Chris Baird, alongside friends Tom Whittle and Leo Harris, whom he met whilst studying Law at Warwick University, are taking the term ‘on yer bike’ quite literally in a fundraising mission which will see the trio cycle the length of South America. The journey, which begins and finishes in Cusco, Peru – hence the name Cusco2Cusco, will cover 13,000km and will take the boys approximately nine months to complete. Whilst the boys are currently undertaking this mammoth task, to date they have already raised a staggering £40,000 for their three nominated charities: Alzheimer’s Society (chosen by Chris), Kidney Cancer UK (chosen by Tom) and RightToPlay (chosen by Leo).

If you would like to donate, visit the Cusco 2 Cusco fundraising page at: www.cusco2cusco.com.

TAYTO PARK CELEBRATES RISE IN VISITORS FROM NI: Amelia and Isaac Bell from Belfast are joined by Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle as they get ready to embark on a fun filled journey to Ireland’s only theme park and zoo. Tayto Park launched its new 2017 season today with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland. As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year. Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions. Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.


TAYTO PARK, Ireland’s only theme park and zoo, launched its new 2017 season today with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland.

As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year.

Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions.

Speaking at an event in Belfast, Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle said:  “Since we first opened our doors in November 2010, the Northern Ireland market has become increasingly important to us with almost 200,000 visitors travelling from the north last year alone.

Last year was a record year for Tayto Park which is very encouraging as we get ready to open our gates to the public once again next Friday (April 7).  We are confident that this season will be our biggest and best yet and have invested heavily in new rides and attractions that we’re sure will be a big hit with customers from across Ireland.”

Mr Coyle said that the company was investing €9 million (approx. £7.7 million) in the park this year, with a further €17 million (approx. £14.7 million) already ear-marked for 2018.

New attractions for 2016 will include the Viking Voyage at the Park water flume ride and the World of Raptors birds of prey demonstration, which will both open in the summer.  These will complement a host of existing favourites including the gravity-defying Rotator, the Power Surge and The Cú Chulainn Coaster, Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s First wooden rollercoaster with an inversion.

Tayto Park Zoo hosts an exceptional and diverse animal collection, while Dinosaurs Alive, Ireland’s only life-size animatronic dinosaur exhibition, features the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus.

With easy access from Northern Ireland and free parking for cars and buses, Tayto Park offers a great day out for families, couples, schools, birthday parties, corporate events, etc,” continued Mr Coyle.

There really is something for everyone and visitors to the park can expect to have a jam-packed day of fun during which they can try out the numerous theme park rides before taking in the animals at the zoo which include a mountain lion, fossa and a range of birds of prey, just to name a few!”

Tayto Park caters to a wide range of sectors including primary and secondary schools who can avail of various tours all of which include admission to the park, unlimited access to all attractions and educational aspects ranging from business to ecology and conservation.

Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.


SWOT Annual Fashion Show

Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT) charity at Queen’s University Belfast held its annual Fashion Show at The Whitla Hall, Belfast recently. Over 200 Medical Students took to the stage to an audience of 1,200 to raise money to send abroad to provide medical care and vaccinations for those in developing nations.

For more coverage of this event, check out our April issue, on sale now.

World-Renowned Sculptor Exhibits at Market Place Theatre

The next exciting exhibition to feature at the Market Place Gallery is Kevin Francis Gray: Mid-Career Retrospective: the exhibition opens on Thursday 16th March until 13th April 2017 and comprises Gray’s sculptural works from the last decade with diverse materials from rain and plaster, to porcelain, bronze and marble. Born in Armagh, Gray returns to his hometown for this unique solo exhibition as part of the city’s annual Home of St Patrick Festival Armagh & Down. Gary’s exhibition focuses on his career up until late 2015, showcasing his early investigations into material, and the varied selection of work gives a glimpse into the range of personal inspirations Gray draws from both his life growing up in South Armagh and the wider context of living and working in East London and its surrounding neighbourhood.

This exhibition comes at a pivotal moment in his career,as Gray develops new artistic language using exclusively marble: further pushing what he sees as the possible limits of the material, as well as the opportunity to contextualise an otherwise classic material in a contemporary conversation.

Throughout the majority of his career, Gray has worked closely with the Giannoni family, who are among the oldest and most respected marble artisans in Pietrasanta, Tuscany. Previously known for producing replicas of seminal Vatican sculptures, the artisans are deeply rooted in tradition, and before Gray, had never extensively worked with a contemporary artist. Impressively Gray’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Pace Gallery, New York; Pace Gallery, London; Royal Academy, London; Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe; Museum of Contemporary Art of the Val de-Marne, Paris; Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam; Palazzo Arti Napoli, Naples; Musee d’art Moderne, Saint-Etienne; ARTIUM, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Spain; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; and Art Space, New York.

Admission to the exhibition is free. For further information and bookings go to www.marketplacearmagh.com


Easons Launches 2017 Spelling Bee

Easons, Northern Ireland’s leading retailer of books, stationary, magazines and much more, are calling on all P7 teachers from all across Northern Ireland to register for the 2017 Eason Spelling Bee competition. Excitingly this years annual Spelling Bee is again in partnership with Cool FM and Downtown Radio. The nationwide competition is part of a overall Eason literacy and reading initiative to help inspire children to develop their spelling and pronunciation skills.

The Eason Spelling Bee holds the record of over 100 schools participating in Northern Ireland and this year looks set to smash that record, while simultaneously helping the students to develop their skills in a fun and creative way. Speaking at the launch of the partnership, Rebecca McKinney Cool FM co-presenter said: “We are so delighted to be working with the Eason Spelling Bee again this year and are really looking forward to meeting all the contestants and their supporters around Northern Ireland in the lead up to the big final in June”.

The Spelling Bee competition starts out with registered schools holding their own in-school Bee to find their own spelling champion. Once this is done then the Spelling Bee team then travel around the country to hold the County Final Bees, which then culminates in the four Provincial Finals and then then All-Ireland final in held in June.

The All-Ireland winning school will receive an amazing collection of books for their library to the huge value of £6,500 and the winner themselves will get a goodie package full of books worth £400 along with the prestigious title of the 2017 Eason Spelling Bee Champion!

Keep abuzz with all the 2017 Spelling Bee news at www.easons.com/spellingbee.

Wendy Crawford, Sinead Furey, Lorraine McNeilly and Janine Logan

Spirit Of The City

On Tuesday 31st January 2017 The Conservatory at Galgorm Resort and Spa celebrated the “Spirit of the City” with Belfast 1912 Gin. This Cask Gin has been the focus of Ian Killen since 1994, with the discovery of a secret gin receipe pre-dating 1912. The gin was just launched in December 2016, seven years after the name was trademarked. Guests enjoyed signature serves all matched with delicious light bites from the 3AA Rosette kitchen.

Check out more photographs from this event in our March issue, on sale Friday 24th February.