Ballyholme Yacht Club sets sail with Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover for Icebreaker series

One of the biggest dinghy sailing events in Ireland started in Bangor last month with the launch of the Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover Icebreaker Series at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Around 100 competitors are expected to sail in the challenging series throughout the winter season, in fleets ranging from Toppers and Lasers to high performance boats such as the RS200 and multi-hulls.

The first race in the series took place on Sunday, October 6, and saw hardy sailors compete right through a fiercely contested 22 race schedule.

This is the first year Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover has sponsored the event, which was launched at Ballyholme on Friday, 27 September. The series is one of the events run by Ballyholme Yacht Club, which is marking its centenary year.

Charles Hurst is the largest and longest established dealer in Northern Ireland for the quality and performance Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

“We are delighted to be backing such a prestigious event, and to be working with an organisation with an outstanding track record of achievement,” said Alan Thompson, Head of Business at Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover.

“The Icebreaker is a tough and demanding competition that requires high levels of skill, stamina and ability; all of which is reflected in the wide range of vehicles created by Jaguar Land Rover.” 

Welcoming Mr Thompson to Ballyholme Yacht Club, Commodore Aidan Pounder said: “The competitors who join us for this series come from a variety of clubs and we are thrilled to have the support of Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover to ensure that each race is a success, whatever the weather may throw at us.” 

Part of the Lookers Group, Charles Hurst is the north’s largest motor retailer, representing 20 brands across seven sites including its 20-acre Belfast headquarters, the largest automotive park in Europe.

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort Triumphs at Prestigious Global Awards

Northern Ireland’s Luxury Spa Resort Crowned Best in Northern Europe at World Luxury Hotel Awards

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort has been crowned winner of Best Luxury Spa Resort in Northern Europe at the World Luxury Hotel Awards.

The awards, which were held in Finland, celebrate the best in world-class hotel service excellence and represent the pinnacle of achievement in the luxury hotel industry.

Over the past ten years, Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort has invested more than £50 million into its facilities and has plans for further expansion of over £15 million over the next five years. The investment has helped lead to a string of accolades for the Resort as it takes its place on the world-stage as a luxury spa destination, beating competition from some of the world’s most iconic spa retreats.

After last year’s Global Luxury Hotel Spa of the Year win, which firmly cemented Galgorm’s position as a world-leading hotel and spa resort, Galgorm continues to gain worldwide recognition for its brand and best-in-class facilities and service.

This year, Galgorm was one of eight resorts around the globe to receive the prestigious regional title and one of only three hotels in the island of Ireland to be officially recognised by the awards.

Commenting on the win, Colin Johnston, Galgorm Managing Director, said;

“We are thrilled to win Best Luxury Spa Resort for the Northern Europe region and to continue to be recognised for our sustained commitment to excellence and outstanding achievement in the international luxury hospitality industry.

The World Luxury Hotel Awards offers us a chance to showcase our unique spa facilities and wider destination offering to a global audience and cements our reputation as a world-leading spa destination. In recent years we have invested heavily in upgrading our spa facilities and providing an unrivalled customer experience and we’re delighted to add this award to our burgeoning list of accolades.”

Voted by guests, travellers and industry players alike through an online public vote, the accolade reflects the hard work and dedication exhibited by Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort’s exceptional staff and its unparalleled service offering. Attended by over 300 guests from across the globe, the awards took place at a prestigious ceremony in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, on Saturday 12 October.

World Luxury Awards Marketing Director, Michael Hunter-Smith, said;

“We congratulate this year’s winners. True luxury is not easily attained. It takes highly efficient and dedicated staff who are willing to go the extra mile and stop at nothing to ensure that every guest feels cared for and no challenge goes unresolved. This is the definition of luxury. It is what makes the winners shine.”


Armagh Chimes Return of Georgian Spectacular

Countdown starts to Cathedral City’s Georgian Festival next month

Next month marks the triumphant return of the Cathedral City’s iconic Georgian Festival where you can revel in the riches of Armagh’s unique history, heritage and beauty.

Renowned for its stunning Georgian architecture, the historic city will thrust open its doors to celebrate this epochal bygone era and the legacy it has provided for this captivating city.

From literature to fashion and arts to food, visitors can fully immerse themselves in an authentic Georgian way of life and travel through the mists of time to this quintessential age as part of a major celebration.

Make a weekend of it as the festival encompasses a breath-taking programme of 40 unique and unmissable events for all ages and tastes, from Wednesday 27th November until Sunday 1st December.

Festival highlights include the Great Georgian Banquet at Palace Demesne where guests will step back in time to a stunning 18th Century Venetian themed evening to experience a flavour of Georgian high society.

Encounter the golden age as you enjoy a sumptuous five-course banquet evoking the menus of the time and served with a modern twist. The evening includes a Viennese Serenade with authentic Viennese songs and operetta arias sung by the Irish singer Niamh McCormack and Dublin harpist Teresa O’Donnell.

The landmark ‘Georgian Day’ on Saturday 30th November is the pinnacle of the Festival and when darkness falls, experience a light show extravaganza like no other as the family-friendly ‘A Christmas Cracker’ light show bursts to life, illuminating the backdrop of the Georgian Market House – an enchanting display and unrivalled across the island of Ireland.

Soak up the atmosphere in a vibrant city and trace your steps through Armagh’s historic core as streets buzz with reminiscent Georgian characters, street entertainment and festival market stalls hosted by traders showcasing local artisan produce and culinary delights – all against a backdrop of carol singers and horse drawn carriages echoing through the cobbled Streets.

The jubilant five-day festival is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the city where they will experience the Armagh’s fascinating heritage and culture.

The festival is proud to be part of new major tourism initiative ‘Taste the Island’, promoting food and drink events across Ireland and is kindly supported by Tourism NI.

Culture vultures, food, drink and entertainment hunters can travel hassle-free with a complimentary return bus service on Saturday 30th November, from Portadown Train Station to Armagh for Dublin and Belfast bus and rail passengers in partnership with Translink.

To see the full festival programme and secure your place on these unmissable events, visit:

Cruise into Christmas with AC Hotel Belfast

Contemporary-luxe riverside hotel launches festive offering

The four-star AC Hotel Belfast, located at City Quays, has officially launched its hospitality offering for Christmas 2019, with a selection of unique dining and social packages to celebrate the festive season.

Multi-Michelin-starred chef, Jean Christophe Novelli launches his exquisite Christmas menu available from Friday 29th November at destination restaurant, Novelli at City Quays. Inspired by Mediterranean culinary techniques and harnessing local produce for an authentic taste experience, diners can enjoy a specially curated Christmas lunch or dinner in the restaurant with spectacular views of the River Lagan. Uniquely positioned on Belfast’s waterfront, guests can snuggle up with a warming digestif out in the open-air terrace and soak up the scenic river views.

AC Hotel Belfast brings a new package to the festive offering for 2019, with the launch of its private dining. Available for groups of 15 to 40, the private dining room located on the first floor offers an intimate space with stunning panoramic views, dedicated waiting staff and a mouth-watering Christmas menu.

For those looking to do something a little different to ring in the festive season, the ‘Dine & Cruise’ package will see guests enjoy the private dining experience before embarking on an hour-long festive river cruise, followed by a complementary winter warmer drink on the terrace.

If a casual setting is preferred, AC Hotel’s Christmas Socials at Novelli at City Quays restaurant, or in a private suite, are the perfect way to celebrate the festive season. Guests will enjoy a sparkling reception and feast on a grazing table bursting with delectable Christmas canapes all in the comfortable luxury of a dedicated social space.

Put the finishing touches to any celebration with a pre-ordered drinks package and choose from a wide selection of beers, wines and spirits including drinks hampers and the AC Hotel Belfast’s special take on the traditional bucket of beer. For something really unique, take a table on the terrace for a hot drinks reception with blankets, mitts and scarves available for those frosty evenings!

To find out more about the Christmas hospitality available at AC Hotel Belfast this year, visit or call 028 9531 3180.


Charles Hurst Land Rover were the proud match day sponsors of the CIYMS game against Instonians last weekend (28th September). Instonians celebrated a 33-24 victory, but the rivalry continues as both teams continue to be pitted against one another in the Championship One rugby league. As worldwide partners of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Land Rover promotes the brand values of integrity, strength and commitment that are emulated in rugby, and Charles Hurst Land Rover continue to promote these values in clubs at the local level. Charles Hurst Land Rover wish both teams the best of luck for the rest of the season.


A Grand Prize for Crisp Lovers

The hunt is on for winning packs of Tayto containing £1k golden chips

Crisp lovers across Northern Ireland are in for a treat as Northern Ireland’s leading crisp brand*, Tayto, is giving away up to £10,000 in cash prizes in its new Grab A Grand promotion.

Ten £1,000 “golden chips” have been randomly hidden in packs of Tayto, sold in retail outlets across Northern Ireland, and the grand search is now on for the winning packs. Packs will be distributed from 9 September through to 11 October.

The much-loved crisp brand has launched ‘Grab A Grand’ as part of its #TaytoHappy campaign and £1m investment in its brand assets, having recently launched its largest-ever TV, digital and promotional campaign and revealed new-look recyclable and redesigned packaging.

Tayto Marketing Director, Elly Hunter, said, “Tayto is a brand synonymous with fun and the Grab A Grand campaign perfectly captures the essence of our brand. Earlier this year we launched our #TaytoHappy campaign to connect with our fans and spread joy with our great tasting crisp range.

 For this campaign, we decided to reward our loyal fans and congratulate them on their great taste by giving some of our standard packs of Tayto a little more bite. Ten golden chips, each representing a £1,000 cash prize, have been randomly inserted in packs of Tayto and excitement is mounting across Northern Ireland as winning packs hit retailers’ shelves and Tayto lovers snap up their chance to win.

 If you’re aged 16 or over, grab a pack of Tayto and grab your chance to bag a grand. Who knows, a winning pack could be in your local shop!”

 The ten winning “chips” have been randomly inserted across ten packs of the standard Tayto range (37.5g packs). These flavours include Cheese & Onion, Pickled Onion, Beef & Onion, Prawn Cocktail, Ready Salted, Roast Chicken, Salt & Vinegar, Smoky Bacon, Wuster Sauce and Spring Onion.

The promotion is open to Northern Ireland residents aged 16 or over. For more information, full terms and conditions, or to redeem a winning voucher, please visit

 Established in 1956, Tayto Northern Ireland’s parent company, Tayto Group Limited, is one of the largest crisps and snack makers in the UK and Ireland, producing more than five million bags a day across seven sites and exporting to more than 40 countries across the world. It is also the number one crisp brand in Northern Ireland*.

With more than 360 staff and famous for its Tayto Castle and Mr. Tayto visitor experience in Tandragree, Tayto remains a family-owned business with a product portfolio that includes Golden Wonder, Real Crisps, Mr. Porky, Ringos and, of course, Tayto.

*Source: IRI Market Place

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort Shines Bright with AA Four Red Star Award for Quality and Excellence

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort is celebrating after receiving the prestigious AA Four Red Star Award for its excellent levels of quality throughout the Resort and outstanding levels of hospitality and service, presented at a glittering ceremony at Grosvenor House in London this week.

Each year, AA inspectors select the best hotels within each star rating, representing the very best in the British Isles and are known as ‘Inspectors’ Choice’ hotels. Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort is the only Northern Irish hotel to receive the prestigious accolade.

The award complements the Resort’s existing three AA Rosettes award for culinary excellence at fine-dining restaurant, the River Room. Led by Head Chef Chris Rees, the River Room is one of only four establishments in Northern Ireland to hold such a coveted title and is awarded to  outstanding restaurants that ‘demand recognition well beyond their local area’, and that demonstrate excellence in timing, seasoning and judgement of flavour combinations, as well as boasting a select wine list.

Colin Johnston, Managing Director of Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, said: “We are delighted to accept this award which is testament to the continual hard work and dedication of our fantastic staff. Their commitment to delivering excellence across all our offerings at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort is unparalleled, from luxury accommodation, to famous golfing greens, a world-renowned spa offering and an award-winning fine dining restaurant.

In 2015 we were honoured with the triple AA rosette award for our River Room restaurant and we are delighted to build upon this with the prestigious AA Four Red Star Award. We are very proud to be the only hotel in Northern Ireland to receive this rating and to be recognised officially for the high quality service and hospitality offering which Galgorm is renowned for.”

For more information please visit or call 028 2588 1001.

Charles Hurst Land Rover ‘Discovers’ New Sporting Talent

Charles Hurst Land Rover Belfast has announced a new partnership with local football club, Green Island FC. Recently promoted to the premier division of the South Belfast Youth league, the club is set to accelerate to success with the support of Charles Hurst Land Rover. Pictured beside the new Land Rover Discovery Sport are Green Island F.C Members Spencer McGregor, Chris Wilson, Catherine Kerr (Sales Executive, Land Rover Belfast), Michael McGrath and Jay McGregor. For more information on the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, please see the Land Rover Belfast website at


Review: The River Room at the Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

Ulster Tatler’s Hannah Reilly visits the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort to enjoy a taste of the River Room Restaurant’s summer menu.

With the gradual arrival of darker and drearier evenings, summer is unfortunately coming to a close. Yet at the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort, the season is still in full swing, with Executive Head Chef Chris Rees’ Summer-inspired six-course tasting menu celebrating the best of seasonal and local produce. I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive preview of the menu recently, and enjoyed a sensational dining experience from start to finish. After a welcome drink at the fabulous Café Parisien in Belfast City Centre, myself and several other guests enjoyed comfortable transport via a Travel Ireland coach to the Galgorm, located only an hour’s drive away from the city.

If you are planning a trip in the near future, a visit to its River Room Restaurant is a must. With scenic views of the resort’s grounds, visitors can enjoy a fine dining experience within the surrounds of a wonderful natural environment. I was lucky to be seated by the window with my colleague, and as we sipped our welcome drink of Boatyard double gin with grapefruit and rosemary tonic, we were eased into an atmosphere of comfort and tranquillity – it was bliss. Being one of Ireland’s largest gin collections (over 400 and counting), the gin was wonderfully balanced with the accompanying London Essence tonic, and it was freshly garnished with pink grapefruit.

Following a tasty plate of canapes, we were presented with our starter – pea, ham, goat’s cheese and tarragon, perfectly presented in a dainty glass. What initially struck me was the vividness of the dish – the bright green of the peas against the creamy-white goat’s cheese created an overt contrast of colours, reflecting the bright tones we associate with summer. Having dined in the River Room before, I was all-too-aware of the high standard set by Chris Rees and the kitchen team, and upon tasting my starter I was not disappointed. Delicate and light, the dish was the ideal beginning to the seasonal menu, and was paired perfectly with a glass of Bodegas Alvia Livius Rosado by independent wine importer, Neill Wine. Neill Wine, based in both Helens Bay and Groomsport Co.Down, imports from every major wine region globally, but focuses particularly on European wine. As a result, we enjoyed a taste of Spain, France and Italy throughout the evening.

The fish course soon followed: halibut served with courgette, miso and chicken skin. Again, the presentation of the food displayed a stark contrast between the bright colours of the food, and the black plate on which it sat. The fish was wonderfully flaky, and the dusting of chicken skin on top provided another level of texture and taste. This course was paired with a glass of Chateau de Mirande Macon Villages, which heightened every flavour of the dish.

What I enjoyed about the meal was its private yet communal nature. Each table enjoyed a level of intimacy, which for couples or groups of friends is certainly ideal; yet I could gather from the atmosphere of the room that the entire party was in food heaven as we moved from dish to dish, each one a sensational tasting experience. Robert Neill’s individual explanations of each wine choice also brought the group together, as we listened intently and tasted the wine before being presented with each course.

The meat course followed, which was in my personal opinion the star of the show. The dish comprised of a substantial piece of beef, which was genuinely the nicest cut of meat I have ever eaten. Served with tomato, onion and girolle mushrooms, the meat melted in my mouth, and its indulgent taste was enhanced by a wonderful glass of Cantine Torri Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. I would return to the Galgorm simply for another serving of this dish, which was sourced by Chris and his team from local suppliers.

The meal progressed to its sweet course, and I was once again floored by the dish, which included strawberries, rose hip, pistachio and vanilla. After several savoury courses, this dish was a perfectly light way to bring the evening to a close – each element was fresh and seasonal, allowing us to enjoy the dish at its highest quality. I love dessert wines, and Robert’s choice of Vivanco Dulce de Invierno 4 Varietals complemented the dish finely. A selection of indulgent petit fours concluded the meal, and I left the restaurant feeling satiated and in anticipation of my next visit.

The evening truly was a culinary sensation, with each dish perfectly proportioned and balanced in taste. My colleague’s vegetarianism was easily catered for, with the relevant dishes having an equally delicious vegetarian option. For an indulgent celebration of local and seasonal produce, I recommend paying a visit to the River Room and enjoying a taste of summer, while autumn lies in wait.

To book into the River Room restaurant and enjoy the summer tasting menu, visit or call 028 2588 1001.


Summer-inspired, six-course tasting menu is a delicious celebration of flavour, produce and seasonality

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort’s award-winning restaurant, The River Room, is celebrating summer with a mouth-watering menu inspired by the wealth of local Northern Irish produce on offer, the best of seasonal flavours and a big pinch of culinary creativity.

Designed by Executive Head Chef, Chris Rees and his expert team, the delicious six-course menu offers guests a true gastronomic experience from start to finish. Guests will enjoy the menu below, with each course perfectly paired to a glass of complementary wine from independent wine importer, Neill Wine.

  • Canapés and a Boatyard Double Gin, London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic, Pink Grapefruit
  • Pea, ham, goat’s cheese & tarragon
  • Halibut, courgette, miso and chicken skin
  • Beef, tomato, onion and girolles
  • Strawberries, rose hip, pistachio & vanilla
  • Coffee and a decadent selection of delicate petit fours

The summer tasting menu is reflective of Chef Chris Rees’ personal food ethos and belief that fine dining should be fun, with this latest menu playing up seasonal flavours and incorporating local produce. Chris and his team have capitalised on the strength of the flavours available to them and blended these with other more subtle elements to create perfectly balanced dishes that highlight the skill and creativity of The River Room restaurant.

The showstoppers of the menu, such as the halibut and beef are sourced by Chris and his team from local suppliers, whilst the majority of the fruit and vegetable components of the menu are seasonal, such as the strawberries, tomatoes, peas and tarragon, allowing diners to experience the best quality food at its peak.

Head chef at The River Room, Chris Rees, said: “Here at the River Room restaurant, we are proud to create tasting menus that delight and excite our diners, ensnaring their senses and teasing their taste buds with new combinations. I love to show our diners how they can enjoy ingredients in ways they might not have imagined before and the summer River Room tasting menu is the perfect way to do this.”

“I have a few key mottos that I try to live by when it comes to cooking; keep your standards high, enjoy the creativity and most importantly, make dining fun! Creating a summer tasting menu that is built around seasonality is exactly the sort of creative culinary challenge my team and I enjoy and we are very proud to bring the latest menu to the River Room and celebrate the summer season.”

The River Room is one of only four restaurants in Northern Ireland to be awarded three AA Rosettes for culinary excellence.

Colin Johnston, Managing Director of Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, said: “Since the River Room restaurant opened at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, it has been the jewel in our culinary crown. Not only is our head chef Chris so in tune with flavour combinations, textures and presentation of dishes but he also has a brilliant understanding of and relationship with our local suppliers. His menus are always a showcase of local seasonal produce that has been put together in a contemporary style and something that our diners return to enjoy time and time again.”

To book into the River Room restaurant and enjoy the summer tasting menu, visit or call 028 2588 1001.

Charles Wood Festival and Summer School

The Charles Wood Festival and Summer School kicked off in Armagh on Sunday 18th August. The festival is a celebration of famous musician and composer, Charles Wood, where you can experience the very best in choral and organ music throughout the week with over 30 top-quality events – it promises to be an unmissable week of music-making!

Some of the world’s finest choral music will be performed by the Charles Wood Singers, conducted by the Festival’s Artistic Director David Hill. In addition to leading worship at various services, their performance with the Ulster Orchestra will be recorded for BBC Radio 3, with readings by celebrity Gloria Hunniford and the opportunity to have an intimate dinner with Gloria at Mulberry Restaurant.

Other highlights include an opening concert with the BBC Northern Ireland Senior School Choir of the Year, Thornhill College Londonderry, and Martin Baker, organist royalty and Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral London.For more information, visit:

The mall is alive with the sound of music!

Rushmere Shopping Centre is set to host a special Ulster Youth Orchestra performance this August, to celebrate its continued sponsorship of the Orchestra for 2020.

Hundreds of shoppers, visitors and employees will be treated to a full orchestra performance on Saturday 17th August from 3pm to 3:45pm, when the young musicians will come together to perform iconic tracks from popular productions such as Lord of the Dance, Jurassic Park, Chicago and Wicked.

Rushmere Shopping Centre has been a partner of the Ulster Youth Orchestra since 2018, with the centre regularly playing host to full orchestra performances, ensemble recitals and a variety of craft and entertainment activities on the mall, such as making toy instruments and general introductions to classical music.

Martin Walsh, Centre Manager, said;

“Our relationship with the Ulster Youth Orchestra has gone from strength to strength since we first hosted the young musicians for a number of performances in 2017 and started our sponsorship back in 2018.

 Half the members of the Ulster Youth Orchestra live within a 25-mile radius of Rushmere Shopping Centre and their families are regular shoppers here, so it made sense for us on a number of levels to extend our relationship into another year of sponsorship.”

 These talent on display from these young musicians is first-class and having them perform on the mall has brought a wonderful experience to Rushmere, for both our shoppers and employees. We’re looking forward to the sound of music filling the mall once again at this special event.”

Ruth McCann, Ulster Youth Orchestra Administrator, said;

 “We are thrilled to have Rushmere Shopping Centre on board as a key corporate sponsor for another year. Their support is invaluable to us in making the UYO accessible to new audiences, promoting our orchestra and classical music and enriching the shopping experience at Rushmere at the same time. Our young musicians love to play on the mall at Rushmere and always receive a very warm welcome from shoppers and centre staff.

 The performance this August is set to be a brilliant display of our musical talent, with a lively schedule of music from a variety of well-loved films and productions.”

 The sponsorship arrangement with the orchestra will include plenty of performances on the mall over the coming months, including a String Quartet this Christmas.

In addition to hosting Ulster Youth Orchestra events, Rushmere has cemented its support of the charity through visible branding of the Orchestra’s event programmes and promotional flyers, strengthening its supportive message of the arts across Northern Ireland.