It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Cocktails

The Christmas party season is upon us once more and it’s beginning to look a lot like…cocktails!

Our friends at Fratelli Belfast have been causing quite a stir, shaking up a mix of new festive themed cocktails to enjoy this festive season. Drink in the festive season with a perfectly mixed cocktail whilst enjoying food with friends and family at Fratelli or shake up some sparkle at home with these easy to make Christmas cocktails. 

Featuring a range of different spirits and garnished to perfection, these winter wonders will guarantee guests a very merry Christmas.

The Duchess

This playful cocktail is sure to be the talking point of any Christmas gathering! Inspired by the inventor of afternoon tea, Duchess Anne of Bedford, bring a little naughtiness to the celebrations by spiking Blood Orange Tea with the decadent Galgorm Estate Gin, rounded off with a dash of peach liquor.


50ml Blood Orange Tea (Chilled)

50ml Galgorm Estate Gin

10ml Peach Liquor

15ml Lemon Juice

2 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

For Garnish

Orange slices

Cinnamon stick


Add all the ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 8-10 seconds. Fine strain the mixture into a china teacup. Garnish with orange slice and cinnamon stick on the side plate.


Festive Fiero

The Festive Fiero is guaranteed to keep you fiery this Christmas! This cocktail features a modern take on the traditional vermouth cocktail. Bold, zesty flavours are complemented by the sweet tones of raspberry. Beautifully finished with a snowy sprinkle of icing sugar, the Festive Fiero captures the spirit of Christmas perfectly.


50ml Martini Fiero

25ml Amaretto

25ml Lemon Juice

25ml Raspberry Syrup

For Garnish


Mint Sprigs

Icing Sugar



Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake together for 8-10 seconds. Fill a crystal tumbler with crushed ice and strain the mixture into the glass. Garnish with raspberries, a sprig of mint and finish with a dust of icing sugar.



A timeless classic, the 1857 is the perfect way to usher in a new decade. Combining the authentic local taste of Galgorm Estate Gin with the luxuriousness of Alfred Gratien Champagne, treat yourself to an 1857 to ring in the new year. A modern take on a classic taste – the perfect guest for your new year’s eve party.



35ml Galgorm Estate Gin

20ml Lemon Juice

10ml Sugar Syrup

2 Dashes of Orange Bitters

Alfred Gratien Champagne

For Garnish

Orange Twist




Add all ingredients apart from champagne to a cocktail shake. Add ice and shake for 8-10 seconds. Fine strain into crystal champagne coupe. Top with Alfred Gratien Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist and a blueberry.


Let’s Get Blitzen

Guests can’t help but get into the spirit of Christmas with this cheerful concoction. The homemade festive mix imbues the drink with traditional cinnamon and clove flavours synonymous with Christmas, while the fresh citrus and raspberry flavours provide a lighter note to the drink.


35ml Homemade Festive Mix (Method of how to make below)

25mls Lemon juice

25mls Sugar syrup

15ml Crème de Cassis

For Garnish

Candied Orange


Mint Sprigs

Icing Sugar



24 hours before you make the cocktails, add the orange peels, juniper berries, a stick of cinnamon and four cloves to a bottle of vodka. Leave to infuse for 24 hours to create your homemade festive mix.

To make each cocktail, add 35mls of the homemade festive mix to a cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Shake all ingredients together for 8-10 seconds and strain the ingredients into a glass over crushed ice. Finish with candied orange, a raspberry, a sprig of mint and a dusting of icing sugar on top.



The Columbian gives an invigorating boost to even the weariest of Christmas party-goers. Re-boot your energy with this caffeine-infused masterpiece, which combines the indulgent chocolate flavours of Crème de Cacao with the beautiful botanical flavours of Galgorm Estate Gin.


2 Shots of Coffee

35ml Galgorm Estate Gin

20ml Crème de Cacao

10ml Sugar Cane Syrup

2 Dashes of Orange Bitters

For Garnish

Orange Twist

Coffee Beans



Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Fine strain mixture into tall coupe glass. Garnish with orange twist and coffee beans.

No matter what your taste is this festive season, these showstopping cocktails will have your guests drinking in the spirit of Christmas and are the perfect accompaniment to any Christmas party.

Fancy another round? Visit for more cocktail inspiration, or follow Fratelli on Instagram @fratelli.belfast and on Facebook @FratelliBelfast.


Punk’s Back in Belfast as The Outcasts Reveal New Release

Legendary Belfast band The Outcasts  ‘Stay Young’ with brand new EP.

Fresh from their 5-date run in Japan, The Outcasts are bursting back onto Belfast’s music scene with their first release in almost 40 years.

Belfast-born punk icons, The Outcasts, were formed in 1977, when three brothers and a friend came together to offer local music fans a “night off from the Troubles”. Their unique sound proved a hit and they were signed to Terri Hooley’s infamous Good Vibrations record label. Branded by local media as “the band you love to hate”, The Outcasts embraced their bad boy image and were central to the development of the youth punk scene in Belfast.

Forty years later, the punk rockers are back stronger  than ever and have recently signed with US Philadelphia-based record label, Violated Records. The new ‘Stay Young’ EP will be released in January 2020, and will be available as a 3-track Vinyl record as well as a 5-track CD with bonus songs.

The EP release marks the launch of The Outcasts’ US Tour in 2020. The band are set to take the States by storm with their East Coast tour from the 9th-24th April, finishing up in Canada with a closing set at the Montreal Oi! Festival on 25th April.

Lead singer and bassist, Greg Cowan, said:

“When we formed The Outcasts we wanted to unite everyone with a love of punk and celebrate Belfast’s vibrant music scene. It’s a really big deal for the band that we have been signed by an American record label Violated Records, who have supported us in releasing our first material in almost 40 years. We are overwhelmed by the continued support of fans, both old and new, and can’t wait to celebrate in the only way we know how!’

 The Outcasts will be marking their triumphant return to Belfast’s punk scene with their famed annual Christmas Party at the Black Box on Saturday 21st December. Promising to be a raucous affair, with a DJ set by Good Vibrations icon Terri Hooley, the Christmas party this year will have a unique French theme. Hand-picked by The Outcasts to open their show in style are The 1984, a young punk band and The Dead Ritans, a punk accordion band, both travelling from France to party with Belfast’s music-lovers. Tickets are priced at £10 and are available now from the Black Box ( or Ticketmaster (

‘Stay Young’ will be available to buy from January 2020 from record shops across the UK, as well as on The Outcasts Facebook page.

The Outcasts can be found on Facebook @officialoutcasts.

Armagh celebrates fresh Georgian Festival success

 Thousands flock to the Cathedral City for the ultimate Georgian experience

 A record crowd of more than 30,000 people descended on Armagh City over the weekend to celebrate the riches of Armagh’s unique history, heritage and architectural beauty as part of a five-day Georgian extravaganza.

With the most extensive programme ever assembled in its 16-year history, organiser Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council confirmed that visitors had flocked from far and wide to attend the award-winning heritage-themed festivities.

One of the largest outdoor festivals ever held on the island of Ireland, it has welcomed thousands of new and regular visitors since it was first established in 2004.

This year’s extended event kicked off last Wednesday, with peak festivities taking place on Saturday for the traditional ‘Georgian Day’ event which featured a jaw-drawing light show at Market Square and an atmospheric Christmas market.

The festival, which marks the official countdown to Christmas in Northern Ireland, wrapped up on Sunday.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Mealla Campbell, said the event had been an outstanding showcase success for both the city and wider borough.

“Armagh’s traditional Georgian Festival has consistently grown in popularity over the past 16 years to establish itself as Northern Ireland’s largest and most successful festive outdoor event and it continues to attract record numbers of visitors every year.

 “This Georgian spectacular represents an outstanding celebration of our city’s rich history and heritage and allows visitors and locals to immerse themselves in an enchanting atmosphere of times gone by with a unique and unrivalled programme of family-friendly events, entertainment, food, drink and festive activity.”

Earlier this year, the Armagh Georgian Festival was commended at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards as one of the region’s top authentic tourism experiences.

Hosting a range of traditional and new experiences to celebrate the Cathedral City’s iconic Georgian traits, the event featured a Christmas themed children’s market, horse and carriage rides along the stunning mall, live music, talks, tours and not to forget a unique and spectacular light show performance which burst the city’s Market Square to life to launch the official Christmas celebrations of the city.

A signature event, Georgian Day is just one part of a packed programme of events scheduled for the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area this year.

Celebrating the festive season, the council has also launched a new ‘Discover your Christmas’ programme of unrivalled events and activities.

From glittering Christmas light switch-ons, twilight markets and fairs, music, theatre, dance and crafts, this year’s ‘Discover Your Christmas’ festive programme of exhilarating events and magical experiences brings big sparkle to the borough’s seasonal celebrations

To find out what is on near you, and to download the full programme, visit

Santa Paws is Coming to Lidl

Santa Paws is coming to Lidl this Christmas for those pets who have made the nice list. Spoil your pets this year with a range of dog and cat goodies to choose from in Lidl’s 162 stores nationwide from 9th December while stocks last.

With the weather getting noticeably colder, you can wrap your furry friend up in one of Lidl’s Dog Jumpers (£4.99) or to really cosy them up, pick up a Radiator Pet Bed (£7.99) which sits on top of your radiator so they can stay toasty by the Christmas tree.

Keep safe and light up your dog walks with Lidl’s LED Light-Up Dog Harness (£9.99), LED Light-Up Dog Lead (£9.99), LED Light-Up Dog Collar (£4.99) and Light-Up Dog Coat (£11.99). And not to worry if your dog gets caught in the rain on your walk, Lidl has Pet Towels for just £4.99.

For anyone heading away over the holidays, Lidl has a 5 Day Automatic Holiday Pet Feeder (£19.99) so you can enjoy your Christmas break while your pet can stay in the comfort of your own home. There is also a Cat Scratching Post (£27.99) to keep your feline friend occupied during the holidays.


Lidl Northern Ireland opens new Dundonald store

Northern Ireland’s fastest growing supermarket creates 16 new jobs in latest expansion

Lidl Northern Ireland today opened the doors of its brand new store in Dundonald, creating 16 new jobs, and marking its 39th store in the region.

The freshly refurbished store was officially opened by Lidl Sport for Good ambassador and MMA gold medalist and jiu jitsu champion, Leah McCourt, who cut the ribbon and welcomed hundreds of customers to the new store.

The Dundonald store incorporates a total sales floor of almost 1,300 square metres inside a 1,550 square metre building which has been transformed to include additional parking, higher ceilings, a more spacious interior layout, an enlarged bakery area and a Lidl To Go coffee machine.

The new store format, which is part of a wider plan to dramatically enhance its service provision across Northern Ireland, forms part of a multi-million-pound investment programme to expand its presence in the region.

Located adjacent to Translink’s Glider hub at 2, Dunlady Road in Dundonald, the store uniquely benefits from immediate access to Glider’s cross-city service at Dundonald Park and Ride, offering customers from across the city a reliable, relaxing and affordable transport option for visiting the new store.

Eoin Doherty, Dundonald Store Manager said:

“We’re delighted to open the doors of our new store this morning just in time for the festive season and provide local customers with greater choice and a dramatically enhanced shopping experience. As Lidl is committed to delivering high quality, locally-produced products at market-leading prices, we’re thrilled to bring this winning formula to Dundonald and the wider area.

We would like to thank our colleagues for their hard work and commitment in the run up to today and a special thanks to our loyal customers who were patient while we worked on the new build.”

To celebrate the new store opening, Lidl is hosting a number of family-friendly festive events at the Dundonald store, including a family drive-in cinema screening of Elf on Sunday 1 December and Santa’s Grotto appearing in-store from Thursday 5 December.

Lidl also welcomed teachers and pupils from local schools, Dundonald Primary School and Longstone Special School, to the new store who each received a £500 bursary as part of the retailer’s commitment to positively contributing to its local community.

Earlier this year, Lidl Northern Ireland confirmed plans for a new supermarket at Holywood Exchange and at Newry’s Buttercrane Shopping Centre, while plans for new stores in Newtownards, Newcastle, Castlereagh and at Bow Street Mall in Portadown are also progressing. Lidl also recently opened a new store at The Junction retail complex in Antrim.

In September, Lidl Northern Ireland revealed that it contributes around £180 million a year to the local economy, sustaining 3,500 jobs while buying and exporting as much as £290 million worth of local goods and products. Marking its 20th anniversary this year, the company commissioned Oxford Economics to directly examine its growing impact and capture its value to the local economy.

To support its expansion and new store programme, Lidl Northern Ireland has also invested around £8 million every year since 2008 – last year, that figure was almost £13 million.

SRC leads Northern Ireland in WorldSkills UK medal success

SRC students secure a winning seven-medal haul and Top 3 UK ranking at Birmingham’s WorldSkills UK Live

Southern Regional College has put in its best performance ever at this year’s WorldSkills UK Live final event as it championed Northern Ireland’s overall success with a haul of seven top-winning medals.

The college also retained its enviable top three leader board ranking and was once again the only Northern Ireland further education college to secure a place within the UK’s 20 best performers in this intense competition.

Held in Birmingham, the annual event is the UK’s largest elite skills and careers event covering a range of professional disciplines from plumbing to catering and beauty therapy to tiling. It also pitches the UK’s best performers against their peers for a chance to win top medals in their skill and represent the UK on the international stage.

With more than 530 apprentices and students competing in over 70 disciplines, SRC’s seven-medal haul from the event also saw it retain its number one place in Northern Ireland on the strength of its performance.

Facing tough competition, SRC’s team of students from across the Newry and Mourne, Armagh and Craigavon areas secured two gold medals, three silver and two bronze medals across a wide variety of disciplines, including beauty therapy, professional cookery and tiling.

The event attracted more than 80,000 young people gearing up for a vocational pathway to work and was the backdrop for the all-important National Finals of WorldSkills UK Competitions. A total of 19 students competed from SRC.

Brian Doran, Chief Executive at SRC, attended the competition alongside officials from the Department for the Economy, and said:

“Southern Regional College’s success within the region and across the UK reflects the strength of our skilled and talented teams, the dedication of our staff and the support of family and friends and I am thrilled by the unrivalled, collaborative success shown.

“This elite skills competition is tough and the hard work that goes into a winning performance like this is a real triumph for everyone and I’m grateful to everyone who took part. With our top three ranking still unchallenged and as the only Northern Ireland college inside the Top 20, SRC has every reason to celebrate.”

SRC’s outstanding medal performance put the college firmly inside the UK’s best-performing colleges and organisations – including Toyota Manufacturing, KMF Group (Precision Sheet Metal) Ltd. and QinetiQ – with only the City of Glasgow College and New College Lanarkshire scoring higher.

Putting SRC out in front was Portadown’s Shelby Jones and Dylan Calvert from Tandragee who faced down the competition in Beauty Therapy and Floor & Wall Tiling respectively to take home gold medals.

Three silver medals were secured by Blackwatertown’s Shannon Fearon and Kirsty Frazer from Newtownhamilton in Beauty Therapy and Beauty Therapy Practitioner respectively. Dylan Gillanders from Armagh also claimed a silver medal in the Floor and Wall Tiling category.

Two bronze medals were won by Newry’s Steven Megaw and Armagh’s Aaron Gillespie for Culinary Arts and Floor & Wall Tiling respectively.

Following their success, some of the winning students are already vying to be chosen by WorldSkills UK to join the training programme for WorldSkills Shanghai 2021, where they could be selected to represent the UK in their chosen skills area on a global stage.

SRC has seen significant success in previous years, including at WorldSkills São Paulo, where local man Gary Doyle was crowned the world’s Best Plumber in 2015. Armondus Tamulis also reached the WorldSkills Abu Dhabi final last year, delivering a sterling performance representing both SRC and the UK in wall and floor tiling.

Ben Blackledge, Deputy CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “This is a life-changing moment for these young people. They have already won regional competitions and now their National Finals – they are the new generation of high-flyers that will give UK employers a competitive edge.”

With a total medal point score of 21, SRC ranks number three in the UK behind New College Lanarkshire and City of Glasgow College in first and second place, respectively. SRC won two gold, three silver and two bronze medals.


Gin Lovers Get A Taste of Galgorm with Own-Label Gin Launch

Copeland Distillery provides the perfect mix for new Galgorm Estate Gin

Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort is launching its first premium own-label gin, developed in partnership with Northern Ireland’s newest artisan gin producer, Copeland Distillery.

Using botanicals harvested from Galgorm Estate for an authentic local taste, Galgorm Estate Gin is the resort’s first own-label spirit. It’s also the latest addition to its extensive gin menu, widely regarded as one of the most exclusive menus across the island of Ireland.

Launching from Friday 29 November, Galgorm Estate Gin is available within the Resort and across the Galgorm Collection Portfolio, including Templeton Hotel in Antrim and Fratelli and Café Parisien in Belfast City Centre.

Commenting on the partnership, Colin Johnston, Galgorm Collection Managing Director, said;

“A fresh and innovative new gin producer, Copeland Distillery was a natural partner to help us create a premium drink which perfectly embodies the taste of Galgorm and complements the decadent gin experiences on offer at the Resort. We’re excited to roll this out to all of our properties across the collection and bring a piece of our heritage to gin lovers across Northern Ireland.”

To celebrate, Galgorm has also launched an exciting cocktail menu for gin-lovers based on the new gin’s botanical flavours. Created by expert mixologists, each cocktail has been crafted to showcase the unique flavours of the gin and features a mix of exciting new concoctions along with a twist on the classics.

“Our dedicated Gin Library is home to over 450 different types of gins, making Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort a mecca for gin lovers. Whilst we celebrate the diversity of our gin offering, which includes labels from all over the globe, we wanted to create something truly special and capture the unique taste of Galgorm by using our own, home-grown botanicals to create this exclusive gin”, added Colin.

Copeland Distillery was established in 2016 and in this time has grown its production capacity and product range to include a range of Irish Gin, Single Malt and Pot Still Whiskey for local consumers and global export. The new collaboration represents a significant partnership for the distillery as it continues to push boundaries and produce innovative, quality spirits representing the ‘spirit’ of Northern Ireland.

Gareth Irvine, Founder of Copeland Distillery, said;

“We are delighted to be working alongside Galgorm on this exciting partnership. Galgorm is an iconic brand here in Northern Ireland and we’re honoured to pair our coastal distillery from the shoreline of Donaghadee with the beautiful countryside of County Antrim to create this unique Galgorm Estate Gin.”

For more information on  Galgorm Estate Gin and Galgorm’s exclusive gin experiences, please visit or to find out more about the Copeland Distillery, please visit


There’s More for Everyone This Christmas with Lidl Northern Ireland’s Ultimate Black Friday Offers

For savvy Christmas shoppers, Black Friday is the ultimate day to grab a bargain. Lidl Northern Ireland has an incredible selection of electricals on offer, with everything from tablets and TVs to toasters and hoovers, there’s something for all the tech lovers in your life.

Gifts for gadget lovers

For the music lover, there’s the Skullcandy In Ear Bluetooth Headphones (£14.99 from 29th November) with a 6-hour battery life whilst the wall mountable Sharp Slim Soundbar and Subwoofer System (£69.99 from 29th November) will provide endless entertainment. Fitness buffs will enjoy the Fitbit Inspire (£49.99 from 29th November) which tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep, as well as viewing smart phone messages and notifications. For those in the market for a new smart phone, there’s the LG Smart phone LG K50 (£159.99 from 30th November).

For the ultimate in TV entertainment, there’s a range of sizes to fit your needs: Sharp 40” 4K ULTRA HD Smart TV (£299.99 from 30th November), Toshiba 43” Full HD Smart LED TV (£199.99 from 29th November) and Samsung 50inch 4K SMART TV (£349.99 from 29th November)

The Lenovo Chromebook S330 (£149.99 from 29th November) has a 4GB memory and 14 HD display or for something more compact, there’s the Lenovo 10” 16GB Tablet TB-X104F (£79.99 from 30th November).

To capture those precious Christmas moments, the Silvercrest 360° Panorama Camcorder (slashed from £129.99 to £39.99 from 30th November) is Wi-Fi ready, making it easy to connect via smart phones, and contains a 16GB memory.

Home appliances

The Hoover 22V Freedom Lite Pets 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum FD22LPT (£79.99 from 29th November) is great for sprucing up your home in time for Christmas and the accompanying pet turbo brush is perfect for pet lovers tacking troublesome pet hair. Alternatively, the Beldray 22.2v Cordless Quick Vac Lite has a 45-minute operating time from a single charge and is great for vacuuming the whole house, without the worry of tripping over cables.

The Black & Decker 18v Li-Ion Cordless Hammer Drill with additional battery, fast charger and 80 accessories in storage case (£89.99 from 29th November) has a two-gear combi drill, ideal for an array of DIY needs over the festive period.

The Parkside Electric Leaf Vacuum/Blower (£29.99 from 30th November) will ensure even the keenest gardener has the lawn up to scratch, with a 3-in-1 powerful blower, 55l collection bag and adjustable shoulder strap.


The Tower T80244 Pressure Cooker 6L (34.99 from 30th November) makes cooking a breeze and is suitable for all hob types, including induction. The Salter Deep Fill Sandwich Toaster (£14.99 from 1st December) has XL cooking plates for deeper filled sandwiches and large slices of bread while the Salter Kettle and Toaster Combi (£24.99 from 1st December) has all elements of breakfast covered. The Silvercrest Hot Air Fryer (£39.99 from 1st December) fries without using added oil or fat – perfect if you’re looking for a healthier way to cook fries.

Lidl Northern Ireland’s Black Friday deals are available across all 38 stores nationwide, while stocks last.


30 Years of Hope, Healing and Growth

The countdown is underway for the 3rd Annual Hope, Healing and Growth Event which will be held on Saturday 4th January 2020 in the Crest Centre, South West College.

This year’s event will be particularly significant as it will mark the beginning of a milestone year for local charity, Aisling Centre, which will be celebrating 30 years of tireless promotion of positive mental health and emotional wellbeing in Fermanagh.

Adrian Dunbar, award winning local actor and Aisling Centre Patron, recently launched the event along with Aisling Centre founding Member Sr Edel Bannon, Chairperson Dr Ann McDermott, Aideen McGinley, and Noelle McAlinden. Adrian will give a personal reflection on the theme of Hope at the plenary session on the day.

Dr Ann Mc Dermot, chair of the Aisling Centre, highlighted the growing success of the event and the momentum it was building in helping to inspire people in living life to the full and to support people in difficult times:  “The event will build on the successes of the last two years, presenting a programme of some of the most inspirational and motivational speakers on the Island of Ireland.

Keynote speakers include the ever popular Declan Coyle whose ‘Green Platform’ work has helped transform countless lives with his approach to positivity and Gerry Farrell, psychiatrist and lecturer, who helps people build the resilience necessary to manage tough times. Agnes Lunny OBE, native of Fermanagh and a leading voice on the island of Ireland for people with learning and intellectual disability, will share her personal insights on managing adversity, while Bridgeen Rea-Kaya, a pioneer of mindfulness and mindful self-compassion work in NI and TED x speaker, will present on the theme of the need for more compassion.

The overall programme is a wonderful combination of authentic life stories of how people have thrived over adversity, with a focus on self-care and coping strategies supported by a focused ‘lifestyle’ element.

Sharing their life stories are Dr Agata Stanek on coping with depression, tireless community champion Betty Leonard and a special showing of the recently launched poignant documentary by producer Fergus Cooper, “The Quiet Shuffling of Feet”, telling the story of David Bolton founding Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation.

A series of seminars and workshops will run throughout the day and back by popular demand is Karen Dwyer’s how to be a superhero workshop and Patrick Drury’s mind mastery seminar. The award winning Wheelie Mama blogger recently turned children’s author, Sarah Griffiths focuses on how to tap into our limitless potential, while Vivian Mc Kinnon will inform and inspire on how to move from trauma to growth.

The opportunity to consider aspects of our lifestyle include environmentalist Teresa O’Hare of the award winning Orchard Acre Farm, looking at nature-friendly food and sessions on mindfulness and yoga as important aspects of self care. The day will also provide an opportunity to view exhibits created by local Charities Action Mental Health and SWELL.

This day of inspiration could not happen without the generosity of so many people, not least the speakers all of whom give of their time freely; our partners, the South West College who provide the fantastic venue in the Crest and Skills Centre and Terry McCartney of the Belmore Court Motel who sponsors the speaker’s accommodation.

All proceeds from the event will be used in support of the provision of counselling and play therapy services at the Aisling Centre.

Aideen McGinley, one of the organisers, encouraged people to attend: “You will hear personal stories of everyday miracles in a day of reflection, relaxation and restoration. The positivity of the event has inspired many and this year once again we have a lot to learn from others to help us all on our own life journeys.”

Tickets are available on Eventbrite –  – numbers are limited and demand is expected to be high.  As Aideen explained, “at only £15, it is a very affordable event and in previous years we know that many people bought tickets as Christmas gifts for friends and family – so get online or contact the Aisling Centre who will be happy to help.”



Annual Christmas parade is set to ‘chill’ with spectacular performances from The Frozen Princess

CastleCourt is getting ready to ‘deck the malls’ ahead of its annual Christmas parade this Saturday 16th November, which will see thousands of families line the streets of Belfast to welcome Santa as he flies in to CastleCourt for the festive season.

Entertaining thousands of families for nearly 30 years, the CastleCourt Christmas Parade is a highlight in the festive calendar and this year’s parade promises to be so magical that even the Grinch can’t help but get into the spirit of Christmas.

Setting off from Writer’s Square at 11.50am, Santa will lead the procession in his Frozen inspired sleigh, joined by Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Reindeer, as they travel along Donegal Street, past St Anne’s Cathedral, and make their way towards CastleCourt to herald Santa’s arrival at 12.00noon alongside the U105 crew.

Families are invited to wrap up warmly and follow the parade as Santa and his famous friends take to the streets to spread festive cheer throughout the city. Travel to infinity and beyond alongside the Toys are Alive float, with a much loved astronaut and cowboy duo, and “let it go” with the Snow Sisters and the infamous Snowman, as they treat audiences to a magical performance from The Frozen Princess playing at the Waterfront.

To add to the magic, a host of Christmas characters will be there to entertain the crowds as they await Santa’s arrival, including a juggling elf, a giant toy soldier, a stilt-walking ice-queen, the Grinch, the ugly sisters and even Mrs. Christmas! Join in the festive fun with the colourful characters and help give Santa a big Belfast welcome as he takes up dwelling in his grotto at 1pm.

Families can make a day of it by staying on for some festive entertainment. Belfast’s annual Christmas Lights Switch On kicks off at the City Hall at 6.30pm and starting at 4pm, families can follow the animated adventures of Soda the Cat and Champ the Dog as they try to make it home in time for Christmas, with a new episode airing each Saturday on the buildings opposite CastleCourt – a “purrfect” way to wrap up a festive family day out at Belfast’s best-loved shopping centre.

Binder Tohani, Marketing Manager at CastleCourt said: 

“We are delighted once again to officially mark CastleCourt’s month long calendar of festive activity with this year’s annual Christmas parade. 

CastleCourt is proud to play an important role at this time of year and create an occasion where so many wonderful memories can be made with family and friends alike.

“This is our way of thanking our customers and the people of Belfast and we cannot wait for the sensational entertainment to kick off this year’s Christmas celebrations, which promises to spread some festive cheer.”

For more information, please visit

Follow @CastleCourt on various social networks and join the conversation using #CastleCourtSantaParade


Santa Parade – Key Timings

11am – 1pm:                       U105 Radio roadshow on Royal Avenue

11.30am – 1.30pm:           Stilt-walking entertainment at CastleCourt

11:50am – 12.30pm:          Santa parade departs Writers Square opposite Cathedral, proceeds up Donegall Street, turns left onto Royal Avenue towards CastleCourt

12.00noon – 2pm:              Face painting at CastleCourt (next to Customer Relations Desk)

12.30pm – 1pm:                 Santa meets & greets shoppers in CastleCourt mall

1pm:                                      Santa takes up residence in his Grotto in CastleCourt


Christmas Activity at CastleCourt – Key Dates

Christmas Grotto:

16th November-24th December 2019

Times: Please see for full schedule


Soda and Champ Animation:

16th November 2019- 10th January 2020


Sat-Tues: 4pm-7pm (Saturday 21st December, the animation will run 4pm-9pm)

Wed-Fri- 4pm-9pm


Britain’s Got Talent Belfast Heats:

23rd November, 10am-4pm


Pop up Concert:

14th December

A host of musical entertainment acts in association with Belfast City Council



Shoppers Get Set to Bag a Free Christmas Shop as Lidl Trolley Dash Returns

Sweepstake tickets on sale in 38 Lidl stores across Northern Ireland from 11th November to aid NSPCC

Lidl Northern Ireland is gearing up to give away thousands of pounds worth of free shopping this December with the return of its major festive fundraiser for charity partner, NSPCC Northern Ireland.

The ‘Lidl Trolley Dash’ gives customers the chance to take part in their very own supermarket sweep and win their entire ‘big Christmas shop’. For just £1, shoppers can purchase Trolley Dash tickets in all 38 stores across Northern Ireland from Monday 11th November to Sunday 1st December. One winner from each store will be selected from a draw to go wild in the aisles and bag their Christmas shop entirely free of charge.

The 38 lucky contestants chosen for the dash will have two minutes to stock up on as many Christmas goodies as possible.

Lidl’s Trolley Dash is the flagship event to raise vital funds for charity partner, NSPCC Northern Ireland. Over the past two years, Lidl has raised over £340,000 for NSPCC with £103,975 raised through Lidl’s Trolley Dash last year.

Deirdre Ryan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Lidl Ireland said:

“Shoppers always enjoy saving on their grocery bills at Lidl but, with the Lidl Trolley Dash, lucky winners can fill their trolley completely free of charge and enjoy Christmas on us. The Trolley Dash initiative is a fantastic way for us to reward our customers whilst raising money for our charity partner, NSPCC. Every penny raised from ticket sales goes directly to charity to support the important work carried out by NSPCC across Northern Ireland.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of going ‘wild in the aisles’ or think you’re a savvy shopper, this is the perfect opportunity to stock up for Christmas and have a ‘dashing’ good time, all for a worthy cause. We really want everyone to get involved and help us smash last year’s target to enable NSPCC to continue its vital service for children, young people and families across Northern Ireland.”

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, Childline Founder and NSPCC Ambassador, said:

‘I was delighted to dash with my trolley – I thank all Lidl’s staff and customers for their wonderful support for NSPCC. Christmas is a very tough time for the children who need our comfort and support, and your help means we can continue to be there for them.  On their behalf, thank you so much and a very Happy Christmas.’

The Lidl Trolley Dash will take place in all 38 stores across Northern Ireland on Saturday 14th December at 7.45 am, before store opening times to allow winners an uninterrupted dash through the aisles.

For more information about how to get involved and for competition terms and conditions, please visit the terms and conditions page at


Review: Cruise into Christmas with AC Hotel Belfast

Ulster Tatler’s Hannah Reilly visits AC Hotel Belfast to get a taste of their upcoming festive offerings.

Once the period of costumes, candy apples and spooky decorations passes, our car radios are quickly overloaded with merry music, and shop displays inundated with gift ideas. In the midst of autumn, the countdown to Christmas is officially on, with many businesses and corporations in the planning stages of their festive celebrations. While the traditional set-up of ‘a three-course meal and entertainment’ is rarely a let-down for party-goers, AC Hotel Belfast is offering a unique experience for those looking for a Christmas party with a nautical twist. I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening of private dining to get a taste of what this modern, riverside hotel is cooking up for the festive season.

The four-star AC Hotel is an attractive building that boasts luxury décor and contemporary dining, as well as breath-taking views across the River Lagan to Titanic Belfast. I knew I was in for a treat as soon as I walked through the doors and was taken to the hotel’s restaurant, Novelli at City Quays, for a prosecco reception. The restaurant’s stylish furnishings and stunning riverside views make it the perfect spot for an intimate meal or for after-work drinks with colleagues.

Following the reception, we were shown to a private dining room on the first floor to begin the festivities. This seasonal offering is available for groups of 20 to 40 people, ideal for a Christmas work party or a large family gathering. Each table was beautifully decorated with a mini sleigh full of chocolates, and crackers for each diner; with Christmas music playing quietly in the background, I became instantly immersed in the room’s joyous atmosphere. We were looked after all evening by friendly waiting staff, who ensured that our wine glasses were never empty and that we all received our courses at the same time – the high level of attentiveness was clear.

The indulgent Christmas dinner, specially designed by Michelin-starred chef Jean Christophe Novelli, was certainly a highlight of the evening. The meal began with a creamy goat’s cheese tartlet, with shallot and thyme marmalade and port sauce. Beautifully presented, the tart was a comforting start to an indulgent dining experience. Christmas was definitely in full swing with the arrival of the main course: ballotine of Antrim turkey, which was served with apricot and sage stuffing, roast potatoes, braised ham hock (which was particularly delicious), and Brussel sprouts. It is an unwritten rule in my house that turkey is eaten exclusively during the Christmas and Easter period, so while enjoying my meal and watching the evening draw in outside, I almost forgot that it was only October.

With simple strawberry trifle being a staple dessert at home on Christmas Day, AC Hotel’s more eclectic menu offered a twist on the classic, with a passion fruit and clementine trifle and cardamom shortbread presented to us to conclude the meal. Other options on offer for this course include poached pear, dark chocolate delice and the classic Christmas pudding.

Dinner certainly got me in the mood for the festive period, but the star of the show was the fantastic river cruise following our meal. With the weather being less than ideal, we were provided with Christmas jumpers to keep us warm outside – a lovely, thoughtful touch. The hour-long journey along the Lagan featured gift-wrapped boxes of wine, festive music, disco lights, and stunning views of Belfast everywhere we looked. The cruise is definitely a unique and entertaining aspect of AC Hotel’s indulgent Christmas offering. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, spirits were high and everyone enjoyed a warming cup of mulled cider as a nightcap.

This Christmas season, AC Hotel Belfast is offering the ultimate festive experience, full of exceptional dining, scenic views and woolly jumpers. For those looking to shake up their company’s Christmas work party, or for a family gathering with a difference, I highly recommend AC Hotel as a destination for seasonal celebrations.

Private Dining is available from Friday 29th November – Tuesday 31st December, Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 10pm. A Prosecco reception and 3 courses is £40 per head. There is a £15 supplement to combine a river cruise with a private dining package.

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