The Discover NI Christmas gift guide

Struggling for the perfect gift? Buy an unforgettable experience in Northern Ireland

For those who have everything, or for that unique gift no one else will think of, check out these alternative gift ideas. Forget the bath sets, perfumes and making sure to get a gift receipt – instead give your loved ones something new and exciting right on their doorstep.

Tourism NI’s Communication Officer; Claire Cromie said: “This year Northern Ireland has seen an abundance of new and unique experiences emerge, many of which would make wonderful gift experiences.

“These activities create long lasting memories, whether it’s an insight into craft beer brewing, a Game of Thrones tour or a luxurious hotel stay.”

The foodie

For a budding baker or someone who enjoys having a go at new things, give the special gift of a traditional Irish bread-making experience with NI Food Tours in County Down. NI Food Tours offer a memorable lesson in a thatched cottage on the shores of Strangford Lough, in making potato bread, soda bread and traybakes. Or learn to cook traditionally at home, with local food hero Norah Brown at the Grange Lodge, County Tyrone. Norah’s food really does represent the best in family cooking, traditional but nutritious, and full of new twists and flavours, emphasising the opportunity to make the best seasonal use of local produce. These food experiences in Northern Ireland are guaranteed to cook up a storm and leave you dishing out the best gift of the season.

The tea lover

From the lavish to the quaint, there are many stunning locations hosting some very special afternoon teas, from the renowned five-star Merchant Hotel’s afternoon tea in Belfast City Centre. to County Armagh’s Ballydougan Restaurant & Coffee Lounge.  The Merchant provides delicately served afternoon tea in the decadent surroundings of the Great Hall, on a silver tea stand with a choice of tea, coffee or for that extra treat, champagne. Ballydougan Restaurant & Coffee Lounge allows you to relax and enjoy scones and sweet treats in the wonderful surroundings of a restored linen barn. All freshly prepared with the finest local produce, and served on Ballydougan’s famous hand-thrown pottery. You can even make a day of it and join in on one of the pottery classes. The perfect gift for the tea lover with a bit of indulgence.

Something a little stronger

For the craft beer or gin aficionado a taste and tour experience would be the ideal unique gift. They can become immersed in a botanical journey and full Shortcross Gin tasting experience at the Rademon Estate distillery in County Down. David Boyd-Armstrong, the head distiller, talks through the fascinating process, from how they harvest local botanicals, draw fresh water from the distillery well, distill on a bespoke copper pot still and bottle and label the finished product on site. Or learn about the ancient craft of beer brewing at Hilden Brewery in County Antrim, a working brewery with licensed restaurant in a beautiful and historic setting at Hilden House. Visitors can discover the magic of brewing from the master brewer and share in his enthusiasm for the wonderful process which converts malt and hops into one of the finest beverages known to man, traditionally brewed beer.

For someone who deserves a spa break

If you’re looking a gift for someone who would appreciate some well-deserved relaxation time, treat them to a city day spa, ultimate getaway or beautiful retreat– depending on your budget, all offering luxurious pampering. Sitting proud in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lough in County Down is the majestic five-star Hastings Culloden Estate & Spa. Just a short drive away from Belfast’s city centre, it’s the perfect retreat for couples looking for some sought after pamper time, great for a day-trip. Or the four-star Hilton Templepatrick in County Antrim, complete with 18-hole championship golf course, onsite restaurant, spa and swimming pool, makes for the perfect weekend break in Northern Ireland. These are just a few of the many spa options throughout Northern Ireland offering a range of choices for the perfect gift voucher.

For the Games of Thrones Fan

For “Thronies” who have enough DVDs, mugs, and novelty t-shirts, treat them to a Game of Thrones experience at Castle Ward Estate. Located just 40 minutes from Belfast, it was used extensively for the filming of George R.R. Martin’s epic adaption of his Game of Thrones® novels.

Bed down for a night in one of the quirky glamping pods deep in the forest of ‘Winterfell’. Explore the sprawling demesne and its many filming location hotspots and recreate your very own Game of Thrones® moments. Packages include archery, cycling and filming experiences.

Alternatively, for the thrill-seeking fan, try Cutting Edge Helicopter’s Game of Thrones Air Tour. Enjoy stunning aerial views and the picturesque scenery of the North Antrim coast used as film locations by HBO in the award-winning series plus the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge.

From boat tours, walking tours and door tours – there are enough Game of Thrones experiences in Northern Ireland to keep any fan busy until Season 8.

For the budding craftsman

For those who like to get their hands dirty, treat them to a blacksmithing class at Hot Milk Forge in Ballymena. An unmissable infusion of fire and artistic expression, create something truly traditional by welding with fire, not electricity. Learn the basic skills of bladesmithing, such as tempering and hardening as well as modern bladesmithing techniques, to ensure you gain a rounded insight into the art of blacksmithing. Attendees can create their own fireside set, wrought iron gate or knife.

For the starry-eyed romantic

Finally, for the perfect romantic gift, treat someone to a great escape with a star-gazing break at the Finn Lough Resort in County Fermanagh.  Immerse in the tranquility of nature with a unique night in a bubble dome in the middle of one of County Fermanagh’s forests. These unique domes feature 180-degree transparent walls, allowing guests to truly escape the noise of the outside world whilst admiring the beauty of nature.

For more Christmas ideas or short break inspiration, visit www.DiscoverNorthernIreland.com.

Post Author: Belfast Times

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