The summer holidays have arrived and with all this glorious weather, what better time to start planning how to make the most out of the carefree summer months.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging everyone to get out there with friends and family and take advantage of all of the fun activities and entertainment that is available all over Northern Ireland.
This summer will see a jam-packed calendar of festivals taking place in every county of Northern Ireland from outdoor music at Belsonic Belfast and the traditional market fair The Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle to the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh and the Legenderry Maritime Festival in Derry~Londonderry.
NITB’s Destination Marketing and PR Manager Ruth Burns is encouraging everyone to take a short break and enjoy the vast range of activities that are available.
“When the sun is shining there is no better place to be than Northern Ireland and even when the rain makes an appearance, as it undoubtedly will, there are still lots of activities on offer to keep everyone entertained,” said Ruth.
“There really is something for everyone whether you would like to spend time with friends, family or a partner, now is the time to enjoy everything that Northern Ireland has to offer,” added Ruth.
NITB has prepared a list of up-and-coming festivals and events occurring right across Northern Ireland during the summer months.
In west Belfast, Ireland’s largest community festival the August Feile 2014 will play host to headlining music from home and abroad from July 31 – August 10 with a diverse range of dance, literature, drama, exhibitions, family fun, tours and much more. Alternatively, the Belfast Mela returns to Botanic Gardens on August 24 transforming it into an exotic wonderland of world music, dance, fashion, food and celebration not to be missed.
Festival lovers should check out Belsonic at Custom House Square, Belfast from August 15-22. The festival will include a host of international acts including Example, Biffy Clyro, Chic, Queens of the Stone Age and more. Tennants Vital will also be perfect for music lovers and runs from August 21 -24. Acts include The Killers, Bastille and David Guetta with guest Steve Angello for one of the biggest events of the summer.
The Dalriada Festival, taking place in Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim from July 13-19 is a festival of sport, music and fine food. The festival has something for everyone from World Class Highland Games to celebrity chef demonstrations, live music and children’s entertainment.
Those after something a little more fast paced should experience the thrill of the races at the Armoy Motorcylce Road Race, Armoy, Co.Antrim from July 25 – 26. The three mile circuit attracts many of today’s top riders in what is thought to be the best national road race on the racing calendar and is perfect for an exciting day out.
The Heart of the Glens Festival 2014, Cushendall, Co. Antrim, August 2-10 is a community festival catering for all ages with popular events like the Lurig Run, Theme Street Night Ceili, a Family Fun Vintage Day and more. One of Ireland’s best known fairs takes place in Ballycastle on August 26. The Auld Lammas Fair 2014 is Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair and offers street entertainment and market stalls attracting thousands to the seaside town.
For those interested in Scottish culture and heritage, the Argory Tartan – Festival of Music and Food is a must and takes place in Armagh on July 20. The Argory estate will be filled with the sound of pipes, drums and folk music along with Scottish dancing workshops, traditional Scottish food and more.
Literature enthusiasts should book their place at the John Hewitt International Summer School which takes place in Marketplace Theatre and Arts Centre, Armagh, from July 28 – August 1. The internationally renowned festival of literature and the arts, adopts a specific theme each year and includes creative writing workshops, poetry study, discussion and readings, open debate, music and more.
Blues fans around Northern Ireland should be sure to go along to the 7 Hills Blues Festival which takes place in Armagh City from August 7-10. Local bands will take their place amongst some of the finest international Blues bands, as they bring their music to the atmospheric streets of Armagh.
The Tanglewood Music & Arts Festival 2014 at Narrow Water Castle, Warrenpoint, Co. Down takes place from July 4-5 and will showcase the best artists and performers from all over Ireland in a unique setting and will include a craft beer festival and various different performance areas to cater for all tastes. Alternatively, the Herring Gutters Festival takes place from July 25-27 at the Harbour, Newcastle and will offer live music, games, workshops, stalls, a daft raft race, oyster tasting and much more.
The Festival of Flight takes place in Newcastle, Co Down from August 8-10 and is an air show spectacular which will see the skys over Dundrum Bay filled with the roar of engines and displays by various airplanes. Alternatively for a fun family day out why not visit the Fiddler’s Green Festival in Rostrevor. The Festival takes place from August 20-27 and is more than just a music festival, with hundreds of events which cater for families who want to soak up the scenery, music and culture.
The Sunflower Fest takes place at Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough from August 22-25 and is a four day family friendly festival of music and arts with the cream of local and international bands and artists performing on five different stages. Also worth a visit is the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival in Hillsborough from Sept 2-7, where attendees can enjoy the World Oyster Eating Championships as well as a Castle Fun Day, a Gourmet Food Market, a Fashion Show, Super Car Sunday and live entertainment. A perfect event for friends, couples and families alike.
For some quality family fun, Mussenden Festival in Castlerock from July 4-6 celebrates the beginning of the holiday season with a range of activities for all ages and tastes from top-class musicians, superb food, family entertainment, sports and more.
More family fun will be available at the Red Sails Festival in Portstewart from July 20-26. This annual community family friendly event includes live music, golf competitions, talent shows and culminates with a magnificent fireworks display on the Portstewart seafront.
The Maiden City Festival in the City of Derry from August 2-9 will celebrate the diversity of Northern Ireland, offering something for everyone while the Stendhal Festival 2014 at Ballmully Cottage Farm, Limavady takes place from August 8-9 and will bring a vast array of musical genres with over five stages of entertainment on offer during the music and arts extravaganza. From August 27 – 30 The Walled City Tattoo 2014 in Ebrington Square from August 27 – 30 will offer four nights of unforgettable, truly multi-cultural entertainment.
Families will enjoy the Maguiresbridge Festival Fun Weekend held at the Villiage Common, Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh from July 25-26 – events include tug-o-war, Irish and Highland dancing, line dancing, traditional Irish Music and much more.
Waterways Ireland All-Ireland Wakeboarding Championships in Enniskillen from July 26-27 is the perfect event for thrill seekers who wish to take part or spectate. The competition offers a weekend of action as well as a chance to try out the sport with special sessions.
Alternatively culture vultures should try out the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, taking place in Enniskillen from July 31 – August 10. It is the world’s largest annual multi-arts celebration of Irish Nobel Prize writer, Samuel Beckett and takes place at venues throughout Enniskillen where Beckett attended the Portora Royal School.
Other festivals available in Fermanagh include Forfey Festival in Lisnaskea from August 8-10 which is a small festival promoting the best in grassroots bands, musicians, artists and artisans or the Maid of Lough Erne Festival in Kesh from August 8-17. This is a week-long festival with action packed activities from treasure hunts to a tractor run, arts and crafts to floats and fancy dress, a donkey derby and It’s a Knockout with live entertainment and talent competitions.
The Glenelly Rockin By The River Festival, Plumbridge, July 13-20 provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the scenic Sperrin Mountains while enjoying a range of events from hill walks, vintage displays, a family fun day and the best in traditional, country and contemporary music.
Traditional music enthusiasts should try out the Ulster Fleadh, taking place at various venues around Dromore from July 20-27. The Fleadh is a week-long festival of music, song, dance and fun with competitions, concerts, street entertainment and more. Families should also go along to the Omagh Festival which is the first community festival in Omagh from August 1-3. It will host a variety of events for families including a kids magic show, circus skills, Vintage Tea Dance, Raft Race and Duck Derby as well as a Soapbox Challenge, comedy and much more.
The sights and sounds of the pipe bands will come to Omagh for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (NI branch) Ulster Championships and the huge number of bands will delight the crowds of spectators. This is the perfect day out for both pipe band fans and families.
For those who are fans of blues music, the 23rd Annual Bluegrass Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh will be a perfect weekend of entertainment. The festival runs from August 29-31 and will be a must for all fans of Bluegrass and American Folk music as international and award winning artists from America and throughout Europe perform afternoon sessions and evening concerts.
To find out more on festivals and how to book your short break click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or visit your local tourist information centre.