St George’s Market to Showcase the Best of Taste the Island

Tourism NI is partnering with Belfast City Council this autumn to offer an allocated stall to local food and drink producers to showcase their produce at St George’s Market Belfast, in support of the Taste the Island initiative.

Every weekend until the end of November, different producers from across Northern Ireland will have an opportunity to showcase their produce at the iconic market. This platform will enable local producers to sell and promote their product to thousands of local and international visitors in support of the all-Island food and drink initiative.

The latest research estimates visitor expenditure at £968m of which approximately one third, £350m, is spent on food and drink.

Gary Quate, Food and Drink Development Officer at Tourism NI, commented: “We have been working closely with Belfast City Council and St George’s Market, who have helped us bring new and exciting opportunities to the industry. We are delighted to offer this space to talented local producers such as Jack Morton from Jack’s Fudge and Barbara Hughes from Hughes Craft Distillery and we look forward to working with many more of our food and drink industry to support the Taste the Island campaign.”

“We are also pleased to support the Twilight Market which will take place on the 12th and 13th November through Tourism NI’s Taste the Island Events Scheme 2019. It is fantastic to see the industry fully embrace the initiative and I would encourage everyone to visit the event and get a taste of the delicious local produce on offer,” Gary added.

Councillor Deirdre Hargey, from Belfast City Council, said: “Fostering business growth in the city is a key goal in our Belfast Agenda, so we’re delighted to partner with Tourism NI as part of their Taste the Island campaign to support local producers to showcase their offers.

Deirdre added: “Food tourism continues to grow – as our Twilight Market, which started back in November 2015 shows – it just keeps getting bigger and better every year. It’s such a special way to discover local produce, in our much loved historic and atmospheric St George’s Market. I encourage everyone to get along for an evening to remember!”

Galgorm Collection Unveils Templepatrick Hotel Development Plans

£7m transformation includes brand new restaurant & bar, stylish accommodation and bespoke wedding offering

Galgorm Collection today unveiled detailed internal and external transformational plans for their Templepatrick development, which it acquired earlier this year for £7 million.

Work on the multi-million-pound redevelopment, which will create a workforce of around 100 employees when complete, starts this week with a grand opening launch planned for next year.

All 24 guestrooms will be replaced and upgraded within the iconic property as part of the schedule, bringing a dynamic new look and feel. A brand new and expansive bar and restaurant, Hunters Bar & Grill, will also take centre stage on the ground floor and will be open to guests and walk-in visitors when it opens in March.

The hotel’s extensive conference and banqueting facilities are a key focus of the planned investment and will be a defining feature of the new hotel. A stunning new wedding event and function room – The Loft – is expected to be a major draw for bookings into 2020 and beyond.

Located in the heart of the picturesque village of Templepatrick, Co Antrim, the hotel is located only 15 minutes from Belfast City Centre and is just a 10-minute drive from Belfast International Airport.

Galgorm Collection Managing Director Colin Johnston said:

“With plans agreed and contractors in place, we’re incredibly excited to share our plans which will dramatically enhance this unique property, ensuring that its future as a premium, stylish boutique hotel is secured for a new generation of discerning visitors and travellers.

 It’s our shared mission to ensure that this development is firmly on the local, national and international map and continues to be a great place to stay, relax and work.

Stunning new rooms and the addition of an outstanding restaurant and bar will fully complement a compelling new wedding brand which is backed by years of expertise and exceptional service – our ‘Love in the Loft’ wedding packages are already available to book now and we look forward to welcoming our first wedding guests over the spring and summer.” 

The purchase of the hotel in Templepatrick adds to Galgorm’s already impressive suite of hospitality investments this year. A £3 million investment is underway at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort with the development of 17 cottage suites, refurbishment of the popular Gillies Bar, upgrade to 23 standard guestrooms, spa developments and a conservatory at Castle Kitchen & Bar at Galgorm Castle. In Belfast there has been a £100,000 investment at Café Parisien with its Grey Goose Terrace, due to open later this month.

Galgorm are renowned for creating world-class hospitality experiences throughout their award-winning properties in Northern Ireland and their stellar reputation was bolstered last month with Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort being awarded the Four AA Red Star Award for excellence in quality and hospitality, in addition to the property currently holding the title of Global Luxury Spa Hotel of the Year .

Castle Leslie Estate Scoops The Award For Ireland’s Favourite Place to Stay

CASTLE LESLIE ESTATE once again was a winner at the 2019 Gold Medal Awards held in association with Hotel & Catering Review magazine. The stunning Monaghan estate triumphed at the 31st Annual Gold Medal Awards, winning the hotly-contested Gold Medal People’s Choice Award for Ireland’s Favourite Place to Stay, for the third year in a row.
Run by leading hospitality industry magazine, Hotel & Catering Review, and judged by an independent jury of experienced hospitality practitioners, the Gold Medal Awards are widely regarded as the most prestigious and coveted awards in the business. A total of 31 category awards were presented at this year’s gala ceremony in the Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny on 24th September, which was attended by over 400 leading hoteliers, restaurateurs and caterers from across Ireland.
Running for 31 years, the Gold Medal Awards are intensely competitive, drawing entries from hundreds of hotel, restaurant, guesthouse, club, spa and catering businesses every year. Each entrant is rigorously assessed for this category by the public and members of the Gold Medal Awards Jury.
On receiving the award, Castle Leslie Estate CEO, Brian Baldwin said:
“I couldn’t be more proud! To receive this award for the third year in a row is a fantastic achievement.  The team at Castle Leslie Estate is what makes this all happen. Without their hard work and their commitment to each and every guest to make their experience magical, this simply would not happen”. 

Bassetts fundraising takes off with Air Ambulance Partnership

Support for Air Ambulance NI has been given a lift thanks to a recent partnership with leading bathroom, tiling and heating merchant, Bassetts, as it announced it has chosen the organisation as its charity of the year.

Staff from across Bassetts’ 17 branches will now work towards bringing support to the charity through initiatives such as coffee mornings, payroll giving and several other planned fundraising events.

Air Ambulance NI, a partner of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), exists to provide the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service for Northern Ireland. Accidents and emergency situations can occur anywhere and at any time, with statistics indicating that there is at least one desperate individual every day on average who requires the service of Air Ambulance NI.

Kerry Anderson, Head of Fundraising at Air Ambulance NI, said:

“£2million is needed in fundraising every year to keep the Air Ambulance flying and the medical team treating trauma patients. This includes funds from community events, Club AANI members, gifts in wills and partnerships with local businesses. We rely heavily on the support from businesses like Bassetts and we are thrilled to have been chosen as their charity of the year. Every donation could save a life.”

Bassetts is Northern Ireland’s largest bathroom, tiling and heating merchant with a total of 17 branches across the province. They hold the latest in bathroom tech and provide a gorgeous range of bathroom furniture and tiles. with Belfast Boat Club and Ulster Senior Open Tennis Championship

Online insurance brand has announced a two year sponsorship of Belfast Boat Club (in South Belfast), the venue which hosts the annual Ulster Senior Open Tennis Championship.  As part of the deal has completely branded the centre court.

Belfast Boat Club is home to a state-of-the-art boat house and fleet of modern boats; a two level fully equipped fitness suite; five heated squash courts and 12 tennis courts. Thousands of people access the club’s facilities and attend events, including the Ulster Senior Open Tennis Championship finals.

Stephen Lamb, Director of BConnected Media, MCL InsureTech’s media agency which operates the brand in Northern Ireland, discusses the sponsorship deal:

“We are delighted to be sponsoring Belfast Boat Club and the Ulster Senior Tennis Championship. its4women insurance is online and therefore is the perfect option for busy people on the go, just like those who use Belfast Boat Club. I had the pleasure of attending the recent Ulster Senior Tennis Championship finals and would like to congratulate the winners. Their skill, determination and dedication were truly impressive.”

Grand Opera House’s Summer Youth Project

This summer, for the first time, the Grand Opera House will present not one but two large-scale productions – Bugsy Malone and Miss Saigon® School Edition

Over 1,700 young people have taken part in the Grand Opera House’s Summer Youth Project since it began in 2011.  This summer, for the first time, the Grand Opera House will present not one but two large-scale productions – Bugsy Malone, starring 150 local 10-18 year olds, and Miss Saigon® School Edition, with a cast of 80 talented young people aged 16-18, supported by Phoenix Natural Gas and National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Now in its ninth year, the Grand Opera House Summer Youth Production gives young aspiring singers, actors, and dancers the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people on the iconic Grand Opera House stage, following in the footsteps of stars including Laurel and Hardy, Luciano Pavarotti and Darcey Bussell.

Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of the Grand Opera House, added, “Everyone at the Grand Opera House is extremely proud of the Summer Youth Productions. We look forward to staging the biggest and most ambitious productions ever in July and August.”

For tickets visit

Mount Stewart Conversations Festival

The National Trust Mount Stewart team is announcing a partnership with Open House Festival, which will see Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2019 headlined by Sky News Presenter, Mark Austin, on one of the two days of the Festival.

Mark will regale audiences with tales from his 35-year career, spanning warzones  and major sporting events including four Olympic Games and four World Cups.

Access to Mount Stewart will be free. The two day festival will take place 7 and 8 September 2019, which last year attracted over 6,000 attendees, and is supported by both Ards and North Down Borough Council and Tourism NI.

Visit to find out more.

As a conservation charity, the National Trust is bolstered by the support of volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, visit

Irish Interprovincial Track & Field Championships 2019

Congratulations to Grosvenor Grammar School pupil Jenna Breen, Year 11, who performed superbly whilst representing Ulster Under 17s at the Irish Interprovincial Track and Field Championships 2019, held at Santry, Dublin, on Saturday 22ndJune.

Sprinter Jenna, who three weeks earlier claimed gold in the 300 metres at the Irish Schools’ Championships, secured first place in the same event, in a championship record time of 39.39 seconds! Jenna later backed up her earlier victory by securing gold in the 4 x 300 metres relay, as well as in the shorter 4 x 100 metres relay, where she made up an incredible eight metre deficit to anchor her team to gold

Furthermore, Year 11 pupil Dylan McBride went one step better than his performance at the Irish Schools’ event, where he claimed bronze in the 1500 metres, by this time finishing as runner-up in a personal best time of 4 minutes 04.27 seconds.

Elsewhere Grosvenor’s representation was completed by Nathan Stewart, Year 12, who finished 6th in the 100 metres, and Helena Rieske, Year 11, who placed 10th in the Hammer.

Well done to all of Grosvenor’s competitors on the day. To be selected for this elite event was an accomplishment in itself. As a result of their success, Jenna and Dylan are now in line to represent Ireland at a Schools’ International, due to take place on 20th July in Swansea.

TEDx QueensUniversityBelfast

Queen’s University Belfast hosted the first ever TEDxQueensUniversityBelfast event on Thursday 23 May. TED is an organisation that aims to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused, and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter. PwC was the event Corporate Partner.

Belfast Trad Fest

Traditional music fans are in for a treat as Belfast’s Trad Fest returns this summer from 27thJuly – 2ndAugust 2019. The festival will be the only one of its kind in the North and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture and heritage.

Descending upon the city – in a series of concerts, masterclasses, workshops, talks and sessions – will be a host of world-renowned traditional musicians. For full details, visit

This year Belfast Trad Fest will hold a very special opening concert on Saturday 27thJuly when three of the hottest acoustic acts in the Trad scene play Belfast for one night only.

The Arts Council wishes the Belfast Trad Fest another very successful event as it brings this highly accessible, upbeat and positive addition to the creative and cultural life of the city.

Belfast Trad Fest 2019 welcomes the support of its generous sponsors The Dirty Onion, The Cloth Ear, and Bullitt, who are supporting the launch of the event by offering 10 bursaries to young people during the festival. Trad Fest is also delighted to be sponsored by esteemed local business Dawsons; as well as Comhaltas and Ulster University. A full list of funders and partners can be found on the back of our official programme brochure.

Belfast Trad Fest is also proud to be generously supported by Belfast City Council.

Virgin Media Reveal New Belfast Offices

Virgin Media has opened a brand new state of the art office in Belfast. Former Ireland International rugby stars, Stephen Ferris and Isle van Staden, joined Virgin Media Ireland CEO Tony Hanway and the local Virgin Media Team to officially open the new office.

The new headquarters will be home to the majority of the company’s 350 Belfast employees, many of who are overseeing the company’s multi-million pound network expansion and investment programme.

Virgin Media has invested more than £65 million in Northern Ireland since 2015 and now 300,000 homes and businesses are connected to its ultrafast, gigabit-capable network.

Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media Ireland, said:

“Virgin Media is Northern Ireland’s fastest widely available broadband provider and our new office signals our continuing and unstinting commitment to the province.“

We’ve big plans to continue rolling out our gigabit capable network to more citizens and businesses to support economic growth and underpin Northern Ireland’s long-term success.”

Since Virgin Media launched its Project Lighting expansion programme in 2015, more than 100,000 premises in Northern Ireland have been connected to Virgin Media’s network and more than 300,000 homes and businesses can benefit from the new speeds.

More than 10 million metres of cable have been laid by their build crews across Northern Ireland as part of Virgin Media’s network expansion programme. The company is a major investor in Belfast, having connected 98% of the city to its ultrafast network.

Virgin Media’s new network investment is supporting the Belfast Region City Deal where up to £1 billion could be invested over the next decade, generating up to 20,000 jobs across the region.


Northern Ireland Musicians Showcased At Major Music Gathering In Canada

Two of Northern Ireland’s top emerging artists, Steve Scullion of Malojian and singer-songwriter, Brigid O’Neill recently took part in Folk Alliance International- the world’s largest gathering of the folk music industry and community. 

The five-day event took place in Montreal and offered musicians who are at critical stages of their careers the chance to promote their work through showcasing performances and networking with industry leaders. 

Vanessa Reed, CEO at PRS Foundation said, “We’re delighted to partner with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Invest NI in extending our vital career development and international showcasing opportunities to talented music creators in Northern Ireland. It’s fantastic news that the whole of the UK is now eligible to apply to this important fund which has a significant impact on music creators’ careers and continues to promote the strength of UK music worldwide.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland added, ISF, is open to artists in Northern Ireland who wish to travel to and perform at music industry facing showcase events including, SXSW, WOMEX, Folk Alliance, Classical:NEXT, Eurosonic, JazzAhead, Reeperbahn Festival and Canadian Music Week.  ISF can support costs for international travel, accommodation and visas for those artists invited to perform at an industry event in a territory that will be beneficial to their career development. 

The International Showcase Fund is currently open for applications.  Visit for details.

Joanne Wright, Brigid O’Neill, Stevie Scullion and Lyndon Stephens.