Stranmillis Formal 2020

The 2020 Stranmillis Formal saw 450 students attend, making it one of the most popular formals in the College’s history. The night was a great success which was down to the Crowne Plaza hosting a memorable occasion. Students enjoyed a three course meal which was followed by evening entertainment by Chris Pollock and his team hosting the yearly awards. The dance floor was busy right up until 1am as well as the s’mores, photo booth and candycart.

For more coverage of this event, check out the March edition of Ulster Tatler, out now.


Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort announced as sponsor of Best Dressed at Down Royal Festival of Racing

The Down Royal Festival of Racing will be the highlight of the year for racing aficionados, socialites and fashionistas alike as Down Royal once again hosts an unprecedented weekend of entertainment on 1st and 2nd November.

With the Ladbrokes Grade 1 Champion Chase the highlight of the race card, it is no less competitive away from the race track with the ‘Best Dressed Lady Competition’ taking place on Saturday 2nd November, when frocks, fascinators, heels and hats will be the order of the day.

This year, the principal sponsor has been confirmed as Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Northern Ireland’s premier luxury hotel and spa.

The ‘Best Dressed Lady Competition’ is open to all female racegoers, with the winner taking home an amazing prize package worth£3,250 to include an overnight stay with private dining, cocktail masterclass and spa treatments – the perfect girls’ escape. Prize details include:

  • Luxurious Private Accommodation – enjoy an overnight stay in the Resort’s hidden gem, the Red Oaks Residence (for up to 6 guests). Located a stone’s through (should read throw) from the Hotel, Red Oaks provides the perfect escape offering privacy and comfort with its own delightful gardens and outdoor hot tub area.
  • Private Cocktail Masterclass – perfect your 4 favourite cocktails with a personal bartender
  • Private Dining – enjoy a 3-course gourmet evening meal in Red Oaks prepared by a personal chef
  • Thermal Spa Village Access – enjoy an array of heated and cool spa experiences as you take in the idyllic views of Irelands largest Thermal Spa Village
  • Spa Treatments – enjoy either the Galgorm Massage or Personalised Spa Facial in the comfort of Red Oaks.

The other finalists will each receive a luxury goodie bag. Judges for the prestigious competition include Cool FM Breakfast Show Presenter and Fashion Stylist, Rebecca McKinney.


Northern Ireland to shine at Edinburgh International Festival

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council Northern Ireland are supporting three arts organisations from the region to perform at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Kabosh will perform their play, ‘Green and Blue’, written by local writer, Laurence McKeown, PrimeCut Productions and Oona Doherty will perform’ Hard To Be Soft, A Belfast Prayer’ and The Lyric Theatre in partnership with the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, will stage ‘Crocodile Fever’ a play written by Meghan Tyler.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, said, “It’s vital that our artists and arts organisations are given opportunities to show their work to audiences outside of Northern Ireland.  It’s incredibly exciting that hiqh quality work from here is performed at the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.“

Visit and for tickets and further information

Portavogie Seafood Festival

There will be lots of fun for all the family at this year’s Portavogie Seafood Festival when the popular event returns for a fourth year on Saturday 10 August!

Organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council, food fanatics can expect to taste the best of the port’s fare at a fun-filled, free to attend event where all the family can enjoy food, activities and more…

Award winning, multi-Michelin starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli will pass on his wealth of culinary knowledge during interactive cookery demonstrations; visit the fish market to sample some of our world famous Portavogie prawns and treat yourself to some culinary delights at the range of artisan food stalls.

Live music, children’s activities, a fancy dress competition, a fun fair, motorbike simulators, model boat displays, bouncy castles, a Punch and Judy show and street entertainment that includes a giant octopus and the Underwater Enchantresses will provide entertainment for all ages.

The free event takes place on Saturday 10 August 2019 from 12noon – 5pm at Portavogie Harbour. Free buses will be in operation to transport the public to and from the venue. A full timetable and other event information is available from


Fern Software 40th Anniversary Celebrations

In celebration of 40 years of delivering banking software, customers and staff came together to acknowledge the longevity of their company and the resourcefulness of the personnel involved in consistently producing cutting-edge solutions.

In 1979, Fern Software was founded in Belfast with 1 full-time staff and 3 part-time staff to service the new microcomputer market with easy to use affordable banking software.

Now a global leader in the provision of banking systems, Fern still is an independent private company and a recommended business model for sustainability.

With over 100 staff and partners, Fern has systems installed in 40 countries around the world. And they accredited technology partners in 10 different countries.

Fern is truly a company born in the 20th century that has taken on the challenges of the 21stcentury and is set to continue on the journey of inclusion.

Still Worlds Turning: New Short Fiction

‘Still Worlds Turning: New Short Fiction’ edited by Emma Warnock with an introduction by June Caldwell and published by No Alibis Press and the book was launched recently at No Alibis bookstore on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue. The publication gathers original stories from twenty award-winning and emerging writers from the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is not an anthology tied to one place, nor does it claim to be representative of a generation or define the contemporary moment. And yet, despite the plurality of voices collected here, recurring themes, explored in differing ways, suggest shared preoccupations of writers pushing the boundaries of the form.

‘Williams is a writer for whom one struggles to find comparison, because she has arrived in a class of her own.’ (The Guardian)

‘Here is a new writer working out what he can do, and realising that he can do anything.’ (Daily Telegraph on Sam Thompson’s Booker Longlisted Communion Town)

For more coverage have a look at our August issue, out soon.


Grosvenor Grammar School Junior Certificate Prize-giving Ceremony 2019

Recently, Grosvenor Grammar School staged one of its calendar highlights in the form of the annual Junior Certificate Prize-giving Ceremony, held for all pupils in Years Eight to Ten in the School’s William Moles Hall.

The ceremony provides an opportunity for the School to celebrate academic, co- and extra-curricular successes amongst its Junior School pupils each year. As well as all members of Year Ten receiving their Junior Certificates, notable awards were also distributed in acknowledgement of pupil attainment.

Following an informative speech from Principal Dr Frances Vasey, the ceremony was concluded with an engaging and inspirational talk from Guest Speaker Reverend Edward McKenzie, a former pupil, about his own memories of Grosvenor, as well as the qualities and sacrifices required in order to achieve success.

Many thanks to Reverend McKenzie and well done also to each of those pupils whose achievements were recognised at this year’s event; the School now looks forward to celebrating further Junior School successes, for the academic year 2019/2020.

Down Royal Summer Festival of Racing

The Down Royal Summer Festival of Racing will be the highlight of the year for racing aficionados, socialites and fashionistas alike as Down Royal once again hosts an unprecedented weekend of entertainment on 21 and 22 June.

Northern Ireland’s biggest and richest flat race of the season is set to take place on Saturday 22 June – the Magners Ulster Derby

A prize pot of €100,000 ensures that the Magners Derby entices the cream of runners and riders, as well as more than 10,000 racegoers, to what is the jewel in the crown of Down Royal’s unprecedented two-day racing festival.

This will be the 9th year that Magners has sponsored what has become one of Ulster’s most popular and stylish race meetings.

Jeff Tosh, Commercial Director at Tennent’s NI said: “We are delighted to once again sponsor the Ulster Derby at Down Royal.  Magners Irish Cider is synonymous with the summer season and there is no better fit than that of the Down Royal Summer Festival of Racing. 

Down Royal Chief Executive, Emma Meehan said: “With a prize package worth £3,500, this year’s principal sponsor is Jack Murphy Jewellers and our judges include Irish lifestyle influencer and VIP Style Awards Most Stylish Influencer, Louise Cooney and Cool FM Breakfast Show Presenter and Fashion Stylist, Rebecca McKinney. We’re looking forward to an amazing occasion!

“Gents won’t be left out with a £500 gift voucher for Remus Uomo up for grabs on the day for the most stylish male.”

Gates open at 12 noon. Admission is £15 and tickets are available at the turnstiles on arrival. Children under 16 go free and free car parking is available.

BBC Northern Ireland will have live coverage of the Summer Festival, taking in three races including the feature race, the Magners Ulster Derby at 3.25pm approximately.

For full details on the Summer Festival or to book tickets please visit 

Stena Line voted Best Ferry Company by Irish media

Travel writers, bloggers and influencers from all over Ireland have voted Stena Line Best Ferry Company for the seventh year in succession.

More than 200 guests gathered at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin for the 2019 Travel Media Awards, which are the only awards that call on members of the media to vote for their favourite travel companies.

Diane Poole OBE, Stena Line’s Travel Commercial Manager, Irish Sea South, was thrilled to pick up the award on behalf of Ireland’s market leading ferry company.

“This award is very special to us as it is voted for by travel media across the island of Ireland, who play such an important role in communicating what the travel industry has to offer Irish holidaymakers,” said Diane.

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Ireland and Britain including Dublin to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Belfast to Liverpool. Belfast to Heysham, and Belfast to Cairnryan – with a total of 232 weekly sailings.  The company is the only operator to offer a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week.

12 finalists announced for Invent 2019 competition

Twelve entrepreneurs have secured their place in the final of Invent 2019, an annual competition run by Catalyst and supported by Bank of Ireland UK, with the aim of discovering the product with the greatest commercial potential.

The 12 Finalists are:
Creative Media and Consumer and Handicaddie 
Life & Health Science: Airbrio and G-Science
Electronics: STAND and Signal Optimiser
Engineering: WriteEasy and Concrete Jungle
Enterprise Software: Obbi Solutions and Equitas
Agri Science: CropSafe and P_Sense

For nine months, the Invent competition challenges and develops innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and start-ups to develop their proof of concept idea in a bid to win a share of the £33,000 final prize fund.

The 12 winners of this stage will go forward to the Invent final and pitch to more than 700 investors, entrepreneurs, executives, students and researchers on Thursday 10 October 2019.


Ibe Sesay announced as Ambassador for Parentline NI.

Children in Northern Ireland and Relate NI have announced father of four and Q Radio presenter, Ibe Sesay as the new ambassador for Parentline NI.

The free and confidential helpline, offers advice, support and guidance for all parents and carers.

Ibe Sesay said: “As a dad of four young children, aged from eight to 16, I’m very much aware of the highs and lows of parenthood.  It’s great to know that there is someone at the end of a phone for us parents when we need advice or support on our parenting journey.”

The Parent Support Workers are truly dedicated and I am confident they can make a difference to thousands of people every year.

If you have any concern or just need someone to listen, without the feeling of being judged, I would urge you to call free on 0808 8020 400 or chat online at – the support is there for when you need it,” Ibe added.

Parentline NI is open Monday to Thursday from 9am – 9pm, Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday from 9am – 1pm and you can call free on 0808 8020 400 or chat online at

The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast Celebrates 10 Years

The Fitzwilliam Hotel is celebrating its tenth birthday this month after opening its doors to the public for the first time in March 2009.

Affectionately known as ‘The Fitz’ by locals, it welcomes over 60,000 guests each year, including high profile guests such as Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Hillary and President Bill Clinton.

The Fitzwilliam Hotel prides itself on its people and the ability to go above and beyond guest expectations such as a receptionist providing a guest with a choice of three evening gowns after she realised she had forgotten her own. Or when a member of the concierge team drove halfway to Dublin to reunite one of their youngest guests with his favourite teddy bear; much to the relief of Mum and Dad!

The hotel has made its mark in the tourism industry and has celebrated many milestones and successes. In 2016, Tourism Northern Ireland officially marked the hotel with a five-star rating. Last year, the hotel was then further awarded a five-star rating by the AA, acknowledging its excellence in hospitality. The à la carte restaurant was also presented with an AA Rosette Award for its quality of food and fresh produce.

General Manager of the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Cian Landers said:

“The hotel’s success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees who have helped The Fitzwilliam to become the top hotel choice in Belfast.”

Among the Fitzwilliam employees, there is a group who have worked at the hotel since the opening of the doors in 2009 and are extremely proud to celebrate this birthday with the hotel.

Janine Gelston, Director of Sales and Marketing said:

“Having recently joined the team, it is an honour to come on board at such a monumental time in the hotel’s life. The tourism industry in Northern Ireland is booming and the future is looking very exciting!”

For further information, visit: