Young Entrepreneurs Take On The Big Market

Students from across Northern Ireland are getting the opportunity to learn vital business lessons at  the up and coming Young Enterprise event set to place at the start of December.

Over 700 students from across Northern Ireland will showcase their start-up businesses at an event in Belfast next week. Pupils from 60 schools on the Young Enterprise Big Market programme have developed their products from conception to production in just three months.The programme takes each student on a business start-up journey that gives them their first opportunity to trade and launch their product in The Big Market held at St George’s Market on Wednesday December 6th.

On the programme students are responsible for creating an initial product concept, developing their product, creating a business plan, raising capital and then marketing and selling their products to the general public.Over 70 businesses consisting of young people from ages of 10-18 will be selling everything from jewellery, coffee, baby products, gifts and phone apps to crafts and books amongst other things.Throughout the event Northern Ireland business leaders will judge the young people’s companies on the day. Partnering with the Young Enterprise for the event is Belfast City Council who provide St George’s Market as the venue.

Funded by the Department of Education the Young Enterprise Big Market Programme has become an essential part of business learning for young people across the country. One of the most important elements of the Big Market Programme is the opportunity for anyone to attend as customers fro 10-2pm at St George’s Market on Wednesday December 2nd.  This gives students the opportunity to be able to gain valuable insight into their own product as well as learn about the importance of marketing and selling products.

Check further details here:



Ballyhackamore is Filled With Family Festive Treats This Christmas

Make sure you mark Saturday 9 December from 10am in your diary for Ballyhackamore’s Christmas Annual Family Fun Day! Supported by Belfast City Council and local traders, locations across the village will feature music, foodie treats, great gift ideas, face painting, special Christmas guests and a unique Santa’s arrival. It’s guaranteed to be a day filled with festive fun for all the family

For all your Christmas food and gift ideas make sure you call into St Colmcille’s Church between 10am – 2pm. With over 25 stalls featuring artisan food and a craft market kids will be entertained by Santa’s bouncy snow globe! Kids can also meet Teenage Ninja Turtle Raphael and the beautiful Snow White. Watch out for the arrival of a very special couple, Santa and Mrs Claus, who will get a helping hand to arrive on a Fire Engine – just in time for Santa’s yuletide storytelling, face painting and balloon modelling.

Festive music treats include the Ormeau Concert Band from 12-2pm at St Colmcille’s. Whilst you enjoy the festive music treats make sure you visit the fantastic eateries across the village.

Emma Woods, Chair of Ballyhackamore Business Association, organisers of the Christmas Annual Family Fun Day, said: “Our annual Ballyhackamore’s Christmas Family fun day is the perfect opportunity to show off Ballyhackamore Village, one of Belfast’s most desirable shopping and eating areas. With support from Belfast City Council and local traders, we are looking forward to a fantastic Christmas. There really is a festive treat to suit everyone; from great entertainment, tasty artisan treats, delicious healthy vegan food, fantastic Christmas hampers, superb handmade gifts and crafts as well as kids’ entertainment. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Ballyhackamore on 9th December and hope that it helps to get everyone in the festive mood.”

Cllr Mairead O Donnell, Chair of City Growth and Regeneration Committee said: “We are delighted to support Ballyhackamore Business Association’s initiative under our Area Support Programme.  This support is central to the continued health and vibrancy of local neighbourhood retail and hospitality businesses.  It’s a great opportunity for local people to celebrate and support their independents and will provide shoppers with fun activities and great deals in the lead up to Christmas.”

The council has a range of support programmes in place to help small businesses develop and thrive.  If you run a small business in the area – be it a shop, café, pub or restaurant now is the time to get in touch with the council.  Visit or email the  or contact the Economic Development Unit on 028 9027 0482.

For information on the Ballyhackamore Christmas Annual Family Fun Day visit Ballyhackamore Business Association and the Market at Ballyhackamore Facebook pages.

Emma Woods, from Ballyhackamore Business Association, Eva Frazer (9) and Evvie Bishop (10) get ready for Ballyhackamore’s Christmas Annual Family Fun Day, from 10am on Saturday 9th December.

Share More this Christmas with Lidl Northern Ireland’s Ultimate Gift Guide

Share More this Christmas among your family and friends with Lidl Northern Ireland’s ultimate gift range which has something to suit all budgets and tastes. Available in Lidl Northern Ireland’s 38 stores from Monday November 27th, there is an incredible selection of Christmas gifts on offer from gadgets, tech items to stocking fillers and even gifts for your pets.


Gifts for Grown Ups

Always a hit are ‘toys for big boys’ and there are plenty to choose from includingA Quadcopter with Camera, Toy Helicopter/Quadcopter and Premium Weather Station. Coffee lovers will rejoice with an Espresso Machine with Milk Frother allowing them be an ‘at home’ barista. For those hosting over the holiday season, mix up your own bespoke cocktails with a rose gold or silver Cocktail Shaker Set using Lidl’s range of spirits which includes the new Wild Burrow London Dry Gin and Pota Cuig Premium Irish Wheat Vodka in stores now.

Toy Town

Treat aspiring master chefs to a Kid’s Play Kitchen with Sound which has real life cooking sounds to bring the play kitchen experience to life.  For the younger kids, choose from a large selection including First Words Baby Doll, Oversized Teddy and Foam Building Blocks.

High Tech

Blast your favourite Christmas tunes throughout the house with the Silvercrest Bluetooth TV Stereo Soundbar which connects televisions, stereo systems, MP3 players and wireless music streaming via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth Mini Speaker comes in 3 different colours and has up to 8 hours of battery for continuous music and the Silvercrest Bluetooth Speaker is both stylish and functional, available in slate, rose gold and gold.

 Stocking Fillers

Whether you are looking for a secret Santa present for a colleague or to fill your children’s stockings, Lidl has fantastic gifts to choose from for just under £10. Adult Relaxing Colouring Books, Shower Gift Sets and Jigsaw Puzzles are just some of the many stocking fillers available.


Not to forget something special from Santa Paws for your pet this Christmas. Spoil your cat and dog with a Pet Stocking or keep your dog warm during the winter months with a water-repellent Dog Coat which has reflective details for enhanced visibility, ideal for walks on dark nights.

Get in the Festive ‘Spirit’ with this Gin-Inspired Christmas Tree!

Kelly’s Cellars is set to delight Belfast revellers this Christmas with its in-gin-ius Christmas Tree, made entirely from empty Jawbox Gin bottles. The Tree, which soars to an impressive 8ft and has been in planning for almost a year, with the ‘spirited’ team at the city centre venue saving the empty bottles since spring.

Chief tree designer and manager of Kelly’s Cellars, Kieran Uprichard came up with the idea for the tree at the start of 2017 when they noticed just how popular Jawbox Gin had become with customers. Sure enough by the time Christmas came along they’d collected enough bottles to make a gin tree a reality. Gin is one of, if not the most popular spirit at Kelly’s Cellars so it’s great to showcase a locally produced brand. The tree signals the start of the Christmas season and is a surprise for their loyal customer. It will be in the upstairs bar which opens Thursday December 7th.

Jawbox Gin launched just 18months ago but has already secured a cult following of gin-lovers both at home and abroad. Named after the ever celebrated Belfast sink, colloquially known as the ‘Jawbox’, this small batch gin is an ode to a time when the front door was left unlocked and the craic was heard around the heart craft, Jawbox is a modern expression of Belfast’s traditional, impressive and uncompromising character. To see the Jawbox Christmas Tree, visit the upstairs bar at Kelly’s Cellars, 30-32 Bank St, Belfast, from next Thursday.

For more ginspiration, visit or @jawboxgin on social.

Small Businesses urged to Spotlight their Success

Small businesses across Belfast are being urged to shine the spotlight on their success stories this weekend, highlight the benefits they bring to the local economy and at the same time kick start the Christmas shopping season in style.

Small Business Saturday, which takes place this Saturday (2nd December), is a national grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

On the day, shoppers are urged to go out and support local, independent traders, while the businesses themselves are encouraged to use the event to raise their profile, by staging special events or offering discounts.

In Belfast, businesses on the Belmont Road will be holding a Victorian-themed event, with a Santa’s grotto, a ‘Christmas Bake Off’ among traders and a fun day to encourage footfall and sales in the area.

In the city centre, BID One are planning a children’s reindeer hunt in association with ten small businesses. You can explore Belfast City Centre with the kids and hunt down Santa and his reindeer in windows of independent shops and restaurants across BT1.

There’ll be lots of fantastic prizes up for grabs, so visit for full details.

The event will give all kinds of small businesses in the city a great opportunity to market their products, increase trade and attract new customers.  Shoppers are urged to keep it local this year and buy some of their Christmas presents from local, independent traders.

To find out more about how to take part in Small Business Saturday, and to download a free marketing pack, visit




The five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast has launched a search to find a ‘Five-Star Signature Cocktail’ to feature on the bar’s infamous cocktail menu in 2018, in partnership with locally distilled Jawbox Gin. Since it opened nine years ago, the hotel’s New York vibe bar has made its mark with locals and international travellers alike as the urban place to enjoy a perfectly balanced cocktail in the city. In 2017, the Fitzwilliam Hotel was awarded five-star status and now it is calling for all ‘at-home bartenders’ to make their mark by submitting a ‘Five-Star Signature Cocktail’ recipe which will take pride of place on next year’s menu.

Entrants are encouraged to be creative with their use of ingredients, presentation and style, and the recipe can be sweet or sour, shaken or stirred but must use a base spirit of award-winning Jawbox Gin, and ginger ale as a mixer.Brian Crozier, Beverage Manager at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, will be one of the judges when three finalists will be invited to the Fitzwilliam Bar on Great Victoria Street in January to mix up their cocktails with flair in front of a judging panel. Joining Brian on the judging panel will be broadcaster and cocktail enthusiast Pamela Ballantine and Gerry White, Founder of Jawbox Gin. “Craft cocktail culture has been on the rise and lots of people are getting creative at home mixing up cocktails for family and friends. Jawbox Gin is an excellent versatile cocktail base as it is delicate in flavour and aroma which works in perfect harmony with so many other ingredients.”

As well as having their ‘Five-Star Signature Cocktail’ featured on the Fitzwilliam Hotel Cocktail menu, the winner will also enjoy an overnight stay in the hotel and a bottle of Jawbox to take home. Two runner’s up will win an evening meal for two in the hotel’s a la carte restaurant and all finalists will be taken on a VIP guided tour of the The Echlinville Distillery on the Ards Peninsula with Founder, Gerry White.


To enter, submit a copy of your cocktail recipe, along with a photograph of your finished serve along with 100 words explaining why your cocktail is five star to: by 15 December 2017.Or post to Fitzwilliam Cocktail Competition, Smarts Communicate, 157-159 High Street, Holywood, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, BT18 9HU.


Belfast’s Jewel in the Crown sparkles once again!


Belfast’s Grand Opera House has lifted the curtain on the magnificent newly restored exterior of one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic buildings. Over the past four months, the outside of the Theatre has undergone extensive restoration, cleaning and painting.


Opened on 23 December 1895, the imposing façade, built of brick and cast stone, features an eclectic mix of ornamental elements including decorative columns and oriental style onion-domes and minarets, all of which have been expertly restored, cleaned and repainted.


The Theatre’s iconic statue of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, situated on the corner of the building has undergone a stunning transformation. The statue, which originally held aloft an electric lit torch, has been fully restored and once again shines bright above Great Victoria Street having been gold leafed, thanks to a private donation.


The restoration, cleaning and painting project, paid for by the Grand Opera House Trust, was managed by Patrick F O’Reilly Limited in conjunction with Consarc Design Group, and was delivered by a team of skilled specialists including Clarke Restoration, Oakridge Carpentry and Joinery Limited, McCrory Access and D Harkin and Co Roofing Limited.


Together with the Grand Opera House Trust, Ian Wilson and his team are currently putting together the final plans for a significant restoration project for 2020 that will see the unique auditorium returned to its former glory, in time to celebrate the Grand Opera House’s 125th anniversary in December 2020




Hospitality Awards for Professionalism Launched for 2018

The Institute of Hospitality NI , the professional membership body for individual managers and aspiring managers who work and study in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries, has officially launched the 23rd Institute of Hospitality Awards For Professionalism. The awards will take place at Titanic Belfast on Friday 11th May 2018.The nominations are now officially open for these highly coveted awards recognise talented individuals who have contributed to their business and the industry over the past yea. For 2018 there are 21 categories with 4 brand new categories including;

  • Duty Manager of the Year,
  • General Manager of the Future,
  • Human Resource Manager of the Year
  • The Unsung Hero Award.

The two-day judging process features an experienced team of independent judges who come from a huge range of non-hospitality related sectors, and who give their time and expertise freely to assess a large number of nominees. Through an interview process, judges look for individuals who clearly demonstrate how they develop themselves, their people, as well as shape their business.This year the Institute of hospitality is delighted to announce that the charity partner for the awards is Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI, the only charity in Northern Ireland dedicated to blood cancer research. As a registered educational charity with a global membership, the Institute offers a wide range of benefits including online resources, regional networks and industry-specific management publications and research.

For details on how to enter and the closing dates visit or follow Institute of Hospitality NI on Facebook InstituteofHospityalityNI/ and Twitter @IOH_NI #IOHNI18.



Fed up with the cold already? Well here is something to brighten your day…

The latest brand new and Jet2holidays destination from Belfast International is a Turkish delight! Jet2 have recently announced flights and holidays to Dalaman, the ninth brand new destination for Summer 2018, with 23 destinations now on sale from Belfast International.The biggest ever summer programme from Belfast International!

Earlier this year, the leading leisure airline and package holiday specialist launched its Summer 18 programme with eight new destinations. This has now increased to nine brand new destinations with the addition of weekly flights will go to Dalaman in Turkey, which is otherwise known as the ‘Turquoise Coast’ thanks to its stunning seas and coastal scenery.

The new flights to Dalaman will depart every Tuesday from June 26th until September 25th 2018. This is the company’s second new Turkish destination from Belfast International Airport for Summer 18, having already added Antalya to its Summer 18 are confident that Dalaman will be very popular with Northern Ireland holidaymakers, just as Antalya is already proving to be. Check out the stunning picture below.

For more information and to book visit or

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas In Donegal

A Little Taste of Christmas event is happening in Donegal Town on Sunday 26th November at  The Abbey Hotel from 11.00 am – 6.30 pm. Preparations to turn the Hotel into a Winter Wonderland are well underway, with over 40 Exhibitors showcasing a wide variety of gift ideas, and products available to purchase and order in time for Christmas. Celebrity and local chefs will be giving loads of festive tips and recipes for the perfect Christmas dining experience. Christmas cheer and magic will have all your little ones enchanted and amazed with Mr Majestic providing a fun filled live family show live with an interactive magic show. Bring your cuddly forever friend to life with TJ’s Teddies Get the faces painted with Susan. Don’t forget to pull on your Christmas sweaters and have your family photo taken in a beautiful setting by one of the Exhibitors Barbara McGroary Photography There will also be a  MEET & GREET Mickey & Minnie, enjoy a sleigh ride with SANTA CLAUS!

The “Annual Christmas Lights Switch On” will take place at 7pm to end the day with Frosty, Rudolph, Big Bear, and of course the big man himself Santa and of course couple of very cheeky Elves.

For further information email or call 074 9723760

Inspirational Olympic sailor lined up for RYANI awards

Sailors from across Northern Ireland will be recognised by the RYANI and Olympic Gold medallist Shirley Robertson at an awards ceremony on Friday 24 November. The RYANI annual awards recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements made over the last year by clubs, teams and individuals across Northern Ireland. This year the awards, in association with Greers of Antrim and SMW Belfast, will take place at Malone House, Belfast. UTV Sports Reporter Denise Watson will compere the evening and inspirational Scottish sailor Shirley Robertson will be the guest speaker.Shirley Robertson made it into the history books after becoming the first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals at consecutive games, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. She was named female World Sailor of the Year by the International Sailing Federation in 2000, and was awarded an MBE in 2000 and an OBE in 2005. The RYA Northern Ireland Annual Awards are a great opportunity to recognise the hard work and commitment made by volunteers across Northern Ireland. The event is being supported by SMW Belfast and Greers of Antrim.

Cash For Kids Santa Dash

Be a Claus for good with Cash for Kids!

Cash for Kids Santa Dash Belfast is returning for it’s sixth year on Sunday 3rd December.

The already popular event, will be even bigger and better  this year with the addition of a new timed 5k city centre route, a great way for runners to work on their personal best and support young people in need at the same time. Albeit in a Santa suit with all running the 5k receiving a finishers medal.

Participants of all ages and abilities are welcomed to attend with the event traditionally attracting hundreds of entrants and supporters of this amazing cause.

The usual 2.5k dash led by Santa’s sleigh is great fun for all so get down to the kick off at writer’s square, grab your free Santa suit and get walking, running or dashing through the city. Money raised through the registration fee and sponsorship will help to support disadvantaged children from across Northern Ireland.

The Cash for Kids Santa Dash supports nominated local children’s charities each year, which receive 100% of registration donation and sponsorship. This year, participants can support Cash for Kids, Cancer Fund for Children, Mencap NI, Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, Parenting NI or VOYPIC (Voice of Young People in Care).

For full details visit to register for Cash for Kids Santa Dash Belfast City