The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging everyone to stay active in the run up to the New Year by enjoying a range of activities that are taking place in Northern Ireland from Boxing Day right through to New Year’s Day.
Whether you want to walk off the excesses of Christmas, cheer on the Belfast Giants, catch a performance at one of the many theatres or even take a dip in the sea, there’s still plenty going on in the run-up to the big day.
“Lounging around may seem like a good idea at the time but it’s surprising how quickly you can get bored doing nothing,” said NITB’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley.
“We want to make sure everyone is aware that there is still plenty to do to keep you entertained after Christmas Day and in the run up to New Year’s Day to help you make the most of your time off,” she said.
To help get your started, NITB has highlighted a range of events taking place over the holidays;
The Belfast Giants get set to face the Braehead Clan on December 27 and the Hull Stingrays on December 30 at home in the Odyssey Arena. Enjoy a great family night out and be part of the action as they battle it out for the Elite League Championship.
Rumours of Fleetwood Mac take to the stage at the Waterfront Hall on December 27 as they replicate the power, subtlety and emotion of the original music legends during this 35th anniversary celebration of the iconic Rumours album.
Alongside their Christmas family show, Hatch! Adventures of the Ugly Duck, the MAC are inviting children to break out of their shells with artists for some Terrific Transformations. Waddle down until January 4 and transform into a fairy-tale character by making masks and props to create the marvellous makeover.
Local comedy duo, Grimes & McKee make a return to the Grand Opera House for the annual Christmas show It’s a Wonderful Life So It Is from December 27 – 29 which tells the story of a Christmas club manager who has to deal with the local community following a financial crisis, with a little help from guardian angel, Clarty.
Belfast Winter Wonderland offers a fun day out for the whole family with its spectacular open-air skating rink as well as rides including The Festive Ski Jump, Santa’s Sleigh Ride, Santa’s Reindeer Ride and Santa’s Tea Cups. Taking place in Custom House Square until January 5 there is also some seasonal goodies on offer to keep you warm this winter.
If you’re feeling lucky on Boxing Day, come along to Down Royal Racecourse in Lisburn for the great Christmas tradition, Boxing Day at the Races. A popular day out for families with a fantastic post-Christmas atmosphere.
The Braid in Ballymena hosts the exhibition No Batteries Required featuring toys which will attract and entice children as well as bringing some nostalgia back for the older children. On display until January 6 will be a classic Tr-Ang peddle car and tractors as well as charming MOBO Bronco horses.
The Courtyard Theatre Picture House welcomes singer and yodeller Kenny Archer for two nights with his Old Time Country Show on December 30 – 31. Performing alongside Melissa Hamilton, Kenny will welcome Billy McFarland and Anne Breen on December 30 and Gregory Donaghy and Crawford Bell on New Year’s Eve.
Enjoy a day of golf on January 1 at the Hilton Templepatrick Opens where both members and non-members can play a round of golf at this 18-hole championship golf course with prizes to be won.
Eternally Scrooged tells the story of Evangaline Scroogè, the romance writer who needs to learn a tough lesson, it really is all about having a big heart. Played by Nuala McKeever, this hilarious show takes place at Theatre at the Mill until January 5.
When you wake up feeling tired and sluggish on New Year’s Day, why not shake off the excesses of Christmas by running into the sea. This is the seventh year that an ever-growing group of hardy souls have taken the plunge during the New Year’s Day Dip in aid of a good cause, Marie Curie Cancer Care, so why not start the year with something fun at Browns Bay in Islandmagee.
The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre in Armagh hosts the Christmas Country Showtime on December 27. Get into the festive spirit for the last big country night of 2013, performances include Louise Morrissey, Boxcar Brian and Joe Moore as well as the brilliant Country Harmony.
The Market Place Theatre will also welcome Flash Harry – The Music of Queen on December 28. Having performed to audiences across Ireland, Britain and America this fantastic tribute act will guarantee a good night with hits including Bohemian Rhapsody and Radio Ga Ga.
Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh opens its doors over the Christmas period inviting people to come and enjoy festive services, carol singing, music and readings up until December 29.
Join Armagh Planetarium as they journey back more than 2,000 years to Bethlehem and seek to discover a scientific explanation for the star the Wise Men followed in a modern re-telling of the Christmas story with the digital theatre show Mystery of the Christmas Star. The event runs until January 4.
Burn off the Christmas calories at Castle Espie Wetlands Centre in Comber on Boxing Day with a refreshing walk with good company. Enjoy a brisk guided walk where you can feed the birds, visit the hides and simply make the most of being out in the fresh air.
The Ballynahinch Vintage & Ploughing Society 25th Ploughing Match takes place on December 27, becoming a regular fixture on the festive calendar, this is a great fun family day out, while comedian and singer Conal Gallen, takes to the stage in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on December 29 for a night of fun and laughter.
Come and experience something completely new and different for the whole family to enjoy at Project 24 in Bangor. Out of the Shadows runs from December 27 – 29 and is a unique festival of shadow theatre featuring performances of well known and loved children’s stories told through puppetry.
Enjoy a festive family day out at Newry on Ice and Winter Wonderland until January 5 and enjoy the fun attractions including the ice rink, drive-in cinema, crazy golf, food village, ice bar and Ferris wheel.
Take this chance to start the New Year as you might mean to go on with the New Year’s Resolution – Get Fit event at Murlough Nature Reserve on January 1 at 12pm. Work off the excesses of the Yuletide and New Year binge with a guided gentle exercise trail and walk to gently break you in and blow away the cobwebs.
The Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen has a host of musical treats in store in the run up to the New Year. Enjoy some folk music at Home for Christmas with the Sands Family on December 27, sing along to Top of the World – The Music of the Carpenters on December 28 or tap your feet along to the country music of Robert Mizzell and his band The Country Kings on December 30.
Enjoy a New Year’s Eve family party night at the Millennium Hall in Lisnaskea on December 31. Enjoy entertainment and dance the night away with a disco suitable for the whole family to ring in 2014.
The Alley Theatre in Strabane welcomes the Jazz Gazette Christmas Special on December 27, offering a fun and entertaining night of jazz songs with a sprinkling of festive numbers and the auditorium will be filled with the sounds of classic and modern jazz. You can also enjoy some laughs at the Christmas Comedy Gala on December 28 when James Walmsley, the guitar-wielding comedian, brings his solo show to the town. James will be supported by Terry McHugh as he shares his comical and fresh insights into parenthood.
The Valley Hotel in Fivemiletown offers a host of entertainment over the festive holidays including country singers Gerry Guthrie on Boxing Night and Lisa McHugh on New Year’s Eve.
Take the family along to the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh to find out what life was like for the emigrants from Ireland who boarded Titanic in their exhibition, Titanic: Window on Emigration. Explore the stories of some of the emigrants and find out why they left for the New World.
The Gordon Gallery ends the Derry~Londonderry’s UK City of Culture year with the fifth BigSmall Show running until December 31 with over 100 artists from Ireland or living in Ireland showcasing a variety of small paintings.
Derry~Londonderry lights up with their Festival of Trees as one hundred trees around the city centre will be illuminated until January 5. Explore the city and enjoy the twinkling lights accompanied by music, entertainment and animation perfect for the whole family.
Peter Pan – The Panto flies into the Millennium Form to offer an entertaining show for the whole family. With a packed performance of fantasy and bucketfuls of fun, there will be lots of music, dance and audience participation until January 5.
Derry~Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture is coming to an end but there is still plenty to enjoy in the city. The 2013 Turner Prize exhibition which features the work of four artists is continuing until January 5 at Ebrington, this is the first time the award has ever been held outside England. The London Street Gallery is also hosting the Beyond… What’s Possible? exhibition which celebrates the work of 48 talented individual artists and marks the culmination of what has been an amazing year for the gallery.