The Belfast International Tattoo – The Most Diverse Belfast Tattoo Yet

Thousands were regaled in the SSE Arena, Belfast, this weekend by the rousing pageantry of the Belfast International Tattoo.  Over 600 local, national and international artistes, with hundreds of sets of bagpipes, drums, brass and various instruments, dancers and singers, delivered three captivating concerts which showcased some of the world’s most famous military and community marching bands.  Fresh from duties at Buckingham Palace, the Band of Irish Guards performed in their trademark bearskins, and from Canada, over 60 artistes made up the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipes, Drums, Dancers and flagbearers.  Switzerland’s famous 100-year old Lucerne Band wooed the crowd with a theatrical display culminating with pyrotechnics, while the majestic Band of the Brigade of Ghurkha Rifles also delivered a moving performance.  It was the sixth annual Belfast Tattoo and by far, it’s most diverse and internationally-fused line up yet. 

For further coverage of this event see our October Issue, on sale Friday 28th October.

AC Hotel Belfast Is Feeling The Culture Night ‘Love’

AC Hotel Belfast is feeling the Culture Night ‘Love’ with the announcement of their pop-up theatre and special ‘Love’ platter for Belfast’s biggest evening of celebration Culture Night 2018, taking place on 21 September.

Marking its 10th Anniversary, Culture Night is encouraging revellers to love all things culture this year and take to the streets of Belfast to engage with a cast of thousands.

Robin Spencer, Tony Murphy-Cowan, Con Jordan from Belfast Busking Band, Jim Mulholland, AC Hotel Belfast and Hannah Bevan Wooley, Belfast Busking Band. Jean-Christophe Novelli and John Makem, Belfast Busking Band.

AC Hotel Belfast have a culture match made in heaven with an all singing, all dancing, line up of performers at their pop-up theatre positioned on the river bank outside the hotel.

With over 100,000 people expected to take to the streets this year, the man behind the hotel’s restaurant, celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli, was on hand with his Executive Chef Jim Mulholland alongside some of the Culture Night performers to officially start the count down to the big night.

To further celebrate this year’s theme of ‘Love’ the hotel will be offering culture-hungry audiences a one-day only ‘Love Charcuterie Sharing Board for 2’, including two glasses of prosecco, for £16.

Culture Night ‘X’ events will kick off from around 1pm on Friday 21st September!

Pictured at the location of the AC Hotel Belfast pop-up theatre for Culture Night 2018.

Fall In Love With The Autumn Fair At Botanic Gardens

Belfast City Council have a weekend of music, prize blooms and free family fun lined up in Botanic Gardens, Belfast this Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of September from 12.30pm – 6pm.

Come along and be amazed at the spectacular award-winning prize blooms on display including enormous vegetables, floral art displays, and many other wonders from community gardens, greenhouses, wine cellars and beehives.

Younger visitors will be spoilt for choice with plenty of activities to keep them entertained including:

  • arts and crafts in the crafty caravan
  • autumn sand art workshops
  • crazy golf
  • safari train rides
  • laser combat
  • carnival game stalls
  • dance workshops
  • sensory play with Mini Explorers
  • nature activities
  • giant bubble displays
  • amazing magic shows and hilarious street performers.

New to the event this year is the Autumn Fair Trail where you can pick up a map and follow the trail through the beautiful Botanic Gardens, solving the clues and meeting some hilarious characters along the way.

Have a browse through the wide variety of stalls and relax to the sounds of live music from local bands and musicians.

On Sunday, the Belfast Parks Music in the Parks programme will draw to a close with the Grand Finale Band Concert, running from 2pm-5pm.

Spotlight On Belfast And Northern Ireland In China

A delegation from Belfast – including the Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey and officials from Visit Belfast – are visiting Shenyang, a city in China’s northeast Liaoning Province which is twinned with Belfast, this week.

They met local travel journalists and travel agents, at a showcase event organised by Tourism Ireland yesterday (13 September).

According to Tourism Ireland, we welcomed around 90,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland in 2017, up +43% on 2016.

Tourism Ireland is rolling out a busy programme of promotions in China this autumn, to continue to raise awareness of Northern Ireland and to position us well for 2019.

Activity includes co-operative promotions with Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific to highlight ease of access to Ireland, as well as partnerships with key influencers and bloggers.

James Kenny, Tourism Ireland’s Manager China, said: “This week’s visit by the Belfast delegation is an excellent opportunity to highlight Belfast and Northern Ireland to influential travel professionals and journalists in Shenyang.

“China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 90,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights to Dublin from Beijing and Hong Kong this year is a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us to grow this emerging travel market over the coming years.”

Deputy Mayor of Shenyang (back, 10th left); Deirdre Hargey, Lord Mayor of Belfast (back, 11th right); Tim Losty, NI Bureau (back, centre); David Boyce (back, fifth left), Steffi Zhang (back, second left) and James Kenny (front, third left), all Tourism Ireland; Gerry Lennon (back, sixth left) and Rachel McGuickin (back, seventh left), both Visit Belfast; Laura Leonard, Belfast City Council (back, second right); Ms Zhang, Hainan Airlines (back, third left); and officials from Shenyang, at the Belfast showcase event organised by Tourism Ireland.
Deputy Mayor of Shenyang; David Boyce, Tourism Ireland; Ms Zhang, Hainan Airlines; prize-winner from the Shenyang Media Company; and Deirdre Hargey, Lord Mayor of Belfast, at the Belfast showcase event organised by Tourism Ireland. The lucky winner – from the Shenyang Media Company – won two return flights to Dublin with Hainan Airlines, a three-night stay at Hastings Grand Central Hotel and admission to Titanic Belfast.

Queen’s Film Theatre to celebrate 50 years of movie magic

The internationally renowned Queen’s Film Theatre is set to host a month-long series of films and events to celebrate its golden year this October. 

To mark its fiftieth birthday, QFT, which is an independent cinema based at Queen’s University Belfast, will host a range of events including brand new films and old classics. It will also show off its newly refurbished cinema which has now been completed after a £350,000 investment.

The month-long celebrations, funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Film Institute, will also see over thirty special events take place including in-depth Q&As with Mark Kermode, Jim Sheridan and the Derry Girls cast. 

QFT50 will kick off on 5 October with the opening of a special exhibition that will showcase a range of artefacts, photographs and memorabilia from the past 50 years, as well as screen a preview of new film First Man starring Ryan Gosling. 

President and Vice-Chancellor of Queens University Belfast, Professor Ian Greer said: “As we begin this month-long programme of events, I am excited and honoured to lead the celebrations which mark 50 years of QFT. At Queen’s University Belfast, we are privileged to have such a unique cultural venue on campus, with vast experience of bringing a high quality film experience to Belfast audiences. 

“As well as being a social hub for our students and the wider community in Northern Ireland, QFT brings many positive economic, cultural and social benefits to the local economy.” 

Joan Parsons, Head of QFT Belfast said: “We are so excited to be celebrating the golden year of Queen’s Film Theatre with an amazing programme of events that takes a trip down memory lane and also looks to the future of film. 

 “The QFT is deeply embedded in the fabric of student life at Queen’s but it has also been an  important part of culture in Belfast itself and I am really excited to be able to present this programme of events and welcome old friends and new faces to the QFT in October.

“With more than 30 special events, as well as our regular programme of film screening there is quite literally something for everyone to enjoy and get involved with. We have films, workshops, talks with renowned film experts like Mark Kermode, book launches, Derry Girls and even a French themed disco with tunes provided by DJ David Holmes. 

“The celebrations will mark the contribution that the QFT and film has made to Belfast during some very difficult years in the past and is a testament to the power of film that the QFT is thriving today. We thank National Lottery players for supporting us to highlight and share our fascinating 50 year heritage. We hope that after QFT50 we will have welcomed a whole new audience to the QFT.”

Festival Programme and tickets are available on the QFT website:  

Culture Night Belfast: It’s Turning 10!

The biggest evening in Belfast’s cultural calendar is set to celebrate its tenth birthday in super-psychedelic lovin’ style!

The programme for the 10th Culture Night Belfast boasts over 230 family friendly, free events which are set to take place on Friday 21st September across the spaces and places of the city centre and beyond.

Last year, over 100,000 people flocked to attend Culture Night Belfast and this year a similar figure is expected.

The theme of this year’s Culture Night  is “Love”, with the evening falling upon the UN International Day of Peace.

From Street Countdown and the Camper Van of Dreams to the Culture Night PWU Wrestling Championships, the city is set to come alive for an evening of exploration and adventure.

This year, Culture Night promises two world stages, a tap-dancing world record attempt, culture bites galore,  live music, children’s activities and so much more.

From The Big Fish to City Hall and Royal Avenue to St Anne’s Cathedral, those attending are told to expect “something new and surprising around every corner”.

This year also sees the launch of the first ever Culture Night Belfast App, with goodies, extras and a brand new Culture Night Belfast planner, to design your very own personalised Culture Night experience!

Culture Night Belfast takes place on Friday 21 September from 1-10pm. Full programme is available at

Claire Leonard, Kerry Rooney and Ruby O’Rourke.

Belfast Actor Ciarán Hinds Honoured At This Year’s Ulster Tatler Awards

ONE of Northern Ireland’s finest and most successful actors Ciarán Hinds has been awarded with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement accolade at the Ulster Tatler Awards in association with Optilase Eye Clinic, which took place on Thursday in Belfast’s iconic City Hall.

The Game Of Thrones star flew into town to pick up the award which in the past has been won by a host of local legends including Dame Mary Peters, James Galway, Brian Friel, Phil Coulter, Gloria Hunniford, Michael Longley, Gerry Armstrong, Barry McGuigan, Terri Hooley and Marie Jones.

Ciarán Hinds won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ulster Tatler Awards at Belfast City Hall. The Belfast-born actor was honoured for his impressive Hollywood and Theatrical career which is recognised all across the world. Northern Ireland’s longest-running glossy magazine, Ulster Tatler, is celebrating over 50 years on the shelves of NI, and its eleventh annual awards recognise the people and businesses of Northern Ireland that have lit up its pages since 1966.

Hinds is no stranger to being recognised for his talents in drama, having picked up The Theatre World New York Award for best debut in Closer in 1999, as well as picking up Best Actor at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.  In 2014 he also returned to Queens University to pick up an honorary degree for his services to film and drama.

With a career that extends over three decades, his film appearances have included some of the most prevalent films of our time, including Harry Potter, Frozen, Justice League, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, There Will Be Blood, Road to Perdition,Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Sum of all Fears, In Bruges, to name but a few.

He has just finished playing the part of charismatic school master Hugh, in the National Theatre’s revival of Translations, which was written by 2009 Ulster Tatler Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, the late Brian Friel.

Ulster Tater editor Chris Sherry said that Hinds was an extremely worthy winner of the evening’s pivotal award. “I have huge admiration for Ciarán as a Belfast-bred Hollywood success,” said Chris.  “He is one of the most respected stage and screen actors in the business, and the list of films that he has starred in, along with the actors and directors that he has worked with, reflects a truly extraordinary career.

“Importantly, Ciarán is also a marvellous ambassador for Northern Ireland and someone who, in every way, represents the essence of what our Lifetime Achievement Award is all about,” he added.

Other big winners on the night included World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea, who was named Sportsperson of the Year in a hotly-contested category that also included boxing champion Carl Frampton, gymnast Rhys McClenaghan and Ulster and Ireland rugby aces Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale.

Ulster, Ireland and British Lions legend Tommy Bowe was awarded The Bank of Ireland Special Merit Award on the night for his services to rugby for both Ulster and Ireland.

Jonathan Rea, Sportsperson of the Year, Celebrity of the year Pamela Ballantine and Special Merit Award winner Tommy Bowe pictured at the Ulster Tatler Awards.

The Celebrity of the Year award was won by much-loved local star Pamela Ballantine who was also the glamourous host on the night.

“This year’s awards were particularly difficult to judge as the standard of local talent in Northern Ireland seems to get higher every year and every single category was bursting with worthy nominees,” said Ulster Tatler editor Chris Sherry.

“I want to extend huge congratulations to the winners from each category and all those shortlisted, who should all be extremely proud of what they have achieved within their businesses throughout the last year.  I also want to personally thank everyone for their support.”

Winners in other categories included Radiance Beauty and Day Spa which lifted Beauty Salon / Spa of the Year and Titanic Hotel which received the award for Hotel of the Year; Lily Rose Boutique which was presented with Fashion Boutique of the Year; Donna Monteith of Monteith Interiors who was named Interior Designer of the YearKillinchy House took the award for House of the Year, Weir Travel was awarded with Independent Travel Agent of the Year; Shauna McAuley Hair which was named Hairdressing Salon of the Year; The Ivory was awarded Restaurant of the Year; who took the award for Website of the Year; The House Bar which snapped up the title of Pub of the Year, Conor Cole of Cole Groundwork who earned himself Business Man of the Year and Roisin McFeely of Amazing Brains who was named Business Woman of the Year.

Look out for our special Ulster Tatler Awards 48 page supplement in our October issue!



Lidl Selects 11 Brand New Northern Ireland Suppliers to Hit Shelves This September

Hailing from every county in Northern Ireland and producing a range of locally made artisan products, 11 suppliers in Northern Ireland have been selected to take part in Lidl’s Kick Start Supplier Development programme. The chosen suppliers will see their products go on sale in all 195 Lidl stores throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland from September 17th for a limited period while stocks last.

Earlier this year Lidl called on small and medium-sized Northern Ireland suppliers to enter the Kick Start Supplier Development Programme which is designed to help small and medium suppliers in Northern Ireland to grow their brand and build their supply network. Beating off competition from over 200 entrants, a total of 20 new and exciting products from Northern Ireland have been selected.

The range is vast and includes products like; bacon jam from Enniskillen, Rhuberry gin from Saintfield, chilli beef craft peanuts from Newtownards, hot chocolate from East Belfast, premium pesto from Ballymena, pulled pork from Newry and many more.

One of this year’s successful entrants is Belfast based supplier, Refuge Hot Chocolate. Founder, Tara Mullan, was inspired to create her artisan chocolate product after sampling a similarly delicious product while skiing in Andora. Refuge Hot Chocolate was established as a social enterprise to help support survivors of human trafficking.

Tara said; “For our product to be recognised by one of Europe’s leading retailers is an incredible endorsement. Having our products on Lidl shelves this month will bring a whole new level of exposure to Refuge, taking us from a regional to a national level. We are delighted to be able to reach more customers than ever before.

“Refuge is so much more than our product. We aim to use ethically sourced eco products while raising awareness of important issues through our support of the anti-trafficking charity, Flourish.”

Another of this year’s chosen suppliers is Noisy Snacks, founded by ‘Noisy’ Noel Allen.

Noisy Snacks owner Noel struggled to find a beer pairing snack which didn’t give drinks a peculiar taste, and in the end decided to launch his own. After significant research and development Noel held a sampling night where his unique style of shaking together the seasoning and nuts in a tub, grabbed the attention of the samplers and from that moment on making NOISE was what the product was all about.

Speaking ahead of the Kick Start in-store promotion Noel said; “We were blown away to be selected as one of the suppliers for the Lidl Kick Start promotion. Up until now we’ve been selling Noisy Nuts locally and online, but this means now our product will be in over 190 Lidl stores across Ireland and there will be even more happy customers enjoying our snacks and making NOISE.”

As well as the limited edition in-store promotion, Kick Start also provided the ambitious companies with free business development seminars delivered by a panel of Lidl and wider industry experts, covering key disciplines such as quality control, packaging, communications and brand building.

Liam Casey, Commercial Director at Lidl Ireland & Northern Ireland commented: “This is Kick Start’s Northern Ireland debut, and as a committed local sourcing champion with ambitions to grow our current Northern Ireland supplier base, we were very encouraged by the vision, skill and commitment of the producers who applied. A total 86 products have been selected from across the island and more than a quarter were from Northern Ireland which is fantastic to see.”

Pictured from left to right, Connor Morgan from Oh So Lean, Tara Mullan from Refuge Hot Chocolate, Joel Kerr from Curious Farmer and Lidl Andersonstown Deputy Store Manager Rebecca O’Neill.

Royal Visitor At Sheepdog Trial

Thousands of local, national and international visitors descended on Dromore’s Gill Hall Estate when the International Sheepdog Trial 2018 got under way this week.

More than 600 dogs and 300 top handlers from the UK and Ireland went through their paces to secure a place for the competitive three-day event. Vying for the title of ‘International Supreme Champion’ among a range of top titles, the trial kicked off on Thursday 6th September and runs until Saturday 8th September at the stunning country estate.

John McCullough (President of the International Sheep Dog Society) looks on as Tom Huddleston (Chairman of the International Sheep Dog Society) welcomes Princess Anne to the Sheepdog Trial at Gill Hall Estate, Dromore on Thursday 6th September.
Julie Flaherty (Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council) pictured with Ellie and Katie McCullough.

Supported by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, this key international event is expected to attract more than 12,000 visitors to the area who will enjoy the grandstand, family-friendly spectacle.

International Sheepdog Society National president and organiser, John McCullough, said: “This is a major event in the international sheep dog trialling calendar and I’m delighted that Northern Ireland, and particularly Dromore, has the opportunity to host what is a thrilling event which everyone will enjoy.”

Princess Anne was the special visitor on Thursday 6th September; also present was Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty who said: “Renowned for its natural beauty and intriguing history, Dromore’s Gill Hall Estate provides an exceptional and unique backdrop for this exciting international event and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of participants and visitors to this wonderful part of Northern Ireland. This important event provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate the warmth of our welcome, our award-winning food and drink and our exceptional hospitality offer.”

Established in 1906, the annual event was last held in Co Down, Northern Ireland in 2002 when it took place at Seaforde Estate.

Walter Ferris (Chairperson of Donaghcloney Community Garden Group), Alderman Ian Burns, Julie Flaherty (Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council), Robbie Butler (Lagan Valley MLA), Kyle Savage (TADA Rural Support Network) and Alderman Arnold Hatch.
Julie Flaherty (Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council) looks on as Ellie and Katie McCullough present flowers to Princess Anne.

Belfast Street Artists Make Their Mark On Colombia

ICONIC Belfast street artists Friz (Marian Noone) and EMIC (Eoin McGinn) recently set off to Cali, Colombia to participate in an international street art festival as part of a 10-day programme facilitated by the British Council.

The Graficalia Street Arts Festival was established last year as a way for the local authorities to minimise youth violence – with the aim of showcasing the role of the arts in peacebuilding.

Friz, who works in both traditional and digital mediums, and EMIC, a member of Vault Artists, produced three pieces of street art around the theme of peace and delivered workshops on the Belfast urban arts scene and its transformation over the last 20 years.

As part of their design brief they were asked to come up with something that reflected ‘non-violence’ with an anti-gun/peace theme.

Street Art by EMIC
Street Art by Friz

They were joined by Urban Arts Curator Adam Turkington – who runs Hit the North – the largest street art festival across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Speaking beforehand he said: “This is the furthest we’ve been with our street art and I think we’re all going in to this with no expectations – I’m personally just looking forward to the experience and will enjoy being in a new culture.”

The artists were invited to Cali following conversations at British Council Northern Ireland’s International Peace and Beyond conference in April, which marked the anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement – with a focus on countries including South Africa, Lebanon, the Western Balkans and Colombia.

Speaking about the project was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said, “The British Council has been making connections between Northern Ireland and Colombia over the past three years especially in the arts. Belfast and Cali share many parallels – with both working to address political instability after years of conflict – and through projects such as this we can share best practice and find new ways to overcome some of our biggest hurdles.”

Belfast street artists FRIZ (Marion Noone) and EMIC (Eoin McGinn) and Urban Arts Curator Adam Turkington.

Top International Beauty Influencer Shares Love For Ireland’s BPerfect Cosmetics To 10 Million Followers

Known as the Queen of Make Up – Nikkie Tutorials has amassed a dedicated audience of over 20 million followers across her YouTube and Instagram accounts thanks to her in-depth tutorials, honest reviews and supreme make up artistry talents.

The latest product to be given the NikkieTutorials seal of approval is Irelands very own BPerfect Cosmetics and their sell-out Carnival Palette, created in association with Top UK MUA Stacey Marie. Nikkie showcased the palette in her latest YouTube video “The Cloud Eye Make Up Trend”.

Nikkie’s not the first international beauty influencer to fall in love with the BPerfect Carnival Palette, YouTube favourite Manny MUA showcased his Carnival look in a video to his 5.2 million followers in a collaboration with Ireland native Keilidh Cashell. UK influencer Holly Boon also created a variety of looks using the Carnival palette which she showcased on her YouTube channel to her 580k subscribers.

The Carnival Palette has already sold out in retailers across the UK and Ireland and just last month sold out within 2 days after the brands’ launch on Beauty Bay, Europe’s largest independent online beauty retailer.

Founder of BPerfect Cosmetics Brendan McDowell said: “I had been following Stacey on Instagram for a long time, she had been trending in Ireland and loved by MUAs across the country. She is amazingly talented. Her looks are perfection so for me it was definitely the right person to work with next. I am blown away by what we’ve produced and I know it will become a make-up staple for women across Ireland and abroad.”

Link to Nikkie Tutorials YouTube Tutorial –

NikkieTutorial’s finished look using the BPerfect Carnival Palette.

Ulster Youth Orchestra Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Vienna and Bratislava welcomed 91 of Northern Ireland’s most talented, young musicians in concerts on 21 and 22 August as part of the Ulster Youth Orchestra’s 25th anniversary celebrations.  The tour, which was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, culminated in a spectacular performance at Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Saturday 25th August and featured new work by Northern Irish composer, Ryan Molloy, which was specially commissioned for the anniversary and supported by Arts Council National Lottery funding.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is one of the jewels in the crown of the local arts sector with a reputation for excellence in all its performances.  Following rigorous auditions, 91 young orchestral players were selected to attend the annual summer course in preparation for the concerts in Vienna, Bratislava and Belfast.  As part of the experience, the aspiring musicians received coaching by a team of highly-experienced professional tutors.

Paula Klein, UYO General Manager, commented, “The Ulster Youth Orchestra has been providing access to excellence for 25 years and we are thrilled to be able to mark this special anniversary by promoting local musical talent in Vienna, Bratislava and in the Ulster Hall, Belfast.  We are grateful for the substantial funding we receive from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support our work alongside all of the other Trusts and Foundations, Corporate Sponsors and private donors who have made this significant celebration possible.  The UYO staff and board have worked tirelessly this year to ensure that these talented young musicians get the recognition and cultural experience that they deserve and we can’t wait to get started!”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “Congratulations to the Ulster Youth Orchestra on achieving 25 years as the foremost youth music provider in the training, development, and showcasing of our finest young musicians in Northern Ireland.  The Arts Council is proud to be principal funder of this important organisation and is also delighted to have been able to support the commissioning of a new composition by Ryan Molloy and tour to Vienna and Bratislava to mark this special 25-year milestone.”

For more information on the Ulster Youth Orchestra, visit

Pictured at rehearsals are Ulster Youth Orchestra principal violinist, Suzie Griffin, principal clarinettist, Russell Coates and composer, Ryan Molloy.