With longer days and brighter nights, there is no better time to make the most of precious free time with friends and family than a visit to Armagh. Right on our doorstep but still largely undiscovered by many, this gorgeously secluded Orchard County offers everything you need to relax, unwind – and have fun!
Armagh Planetarium and Observatory
For an unforgettable cosmic experience, visit Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, which has been at the forefront of astronomy and scientific research in the UK and Ireland for over 50 years. Experience an all new out-of-this-world 3-D Star Dome show in the Planetarium’s Digital Theatre – tour the night sky, discovering some of the myths behind the star constellations and exploring black holes and cosmic chemistry. The Observatory is located together with Armagh Planetarium, in 14 acres of attractive, landscaped gardens known as the Armagh Astropark. Open during daylight hours, a walk through the Astropark is a stroll through the Universe. It really is out of this world!
Located just two miles from Armagh City, Navan Centre and Fort is a place where myth and reality meet and as the ancient seat of Kings and the earliest capital of Ulster, there is plenty to explore. With educational fun for all the family, visitors can explore an exhibition of Navan in a local and national context, an audio-visual show bringing the myths and legends of the Ulster Cycle to life, fully guided mound tours and dress up in Celtic costumes for the little ones. Visitors will step back in time by 2000 years with a visit to the Iron Age dwelling and meet the Celts going about their daily lives and bringing history to life through Living History characters as they engage you in a highly interactive and unique experience. End your day with a visit to Navan Centre Coffee Shop and enjoy a bite to eat from a delicious lunch menu serving up hearty dishes throughout the day.
Oxford Island and Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
Located on the South-Eastern shore of the breath-taking Lough Neagh in County Armagh you will discover Oxford Island and the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, a National Nature Reserve due to the diversity and importance of the flora, fauna and wildlife there. Boasting four miles of footpaths, five birdwatching hides, woodland, ponds, wildflower meadows, picnics and play areas, nature lovers will fall in love with Oxford Island and Lough Neagh Discovery Centre. Get lost in the many long and winding trails of The Woodland Wander, The Old Shoreline Walk, Meadow Trail and Kinnego Pond in this place of nature and beauty. Listen in and enjoy the thousands of voices of critters and creatures that wander these lands, and keep your eyes peeled for some beautiful and vibrant wildlife. It truly is nature’s haven.
Picnic at Palace Demesne
Situated within walking distance of Armagh City, for over two hundred years, the undulating parkland of the Palace Demesne has been one of the glories of Armagh. The Demesne, comprising some 300 acres, is the creation of Archbishop Richard Robinson. The Palace was the residence of the Archbishops of the Church of Ireland from 1770 to 1975. Recognised and commended around the world for its Georgian past and heritage, Armagh architectural splendor is clear for all to see. Palace Demesne is the perfect spot for a family picnic where you can bask in the sunshine with plenty of vast green grass to roll out your picnic blanket and relax.
Stay for the day, sleep the night at Teepee Valley
Having spent the day exploring Armagh, enjoy an overnight stay with a difference. Located just seven miles from the Cathedral city, Teepee Valley Campsite offers luxurious glamping accommodations for all the family, with each cabin carefully decorated with unique historical elements that complement the era in which they originate from. From the vintage china in their gypsy caravan to the gorgeous roll top bath in Abram’s House, Teepee Valley is a quirky haven with beautiful countryside views of Armagh.
Book an Armagh City walking tour
Take in the sights and history of Armagh’s vibrant history with a guided walking tour. Book an outdoor Armagh City Walking Tour for a leisurely stroll around the city’s cobbled streets, learn about its renowned architecture, and listen to the stories & tales about the area – expertly guided by Donna Fox Tours. Tours take place each Thursday – Sunday until 12 September.
For more inspiration on what to see and do in Armagh this spring and summer, jump into www.visitarmagh.com.
NI Food and Drink Pavilion Back at Balmoral Show with Delicious Flavours
Delicious and original food and drink from a range of local artisan companies from across the country will be showcased at this year’s Balmoral Show in the colourful Northern Ireland Food Pavilion organised by leading promotional body Food NI, and supported by the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, and Tourism NI.
Visit Balmoral Park from 22nd – 25th September where there will be hundreds of innovative products on Show. The NI Food and Drink Pavilion will host the biggest celebration of the outstanding tastes and rich flavours from local companies, including many which have won top awards for originality and quality in prestigious national and international food challenges.
These high-profile food accolades include the UK Great Taste Awards, the Blas na hEireann Irish National Food Awards, the UK Food and Drink Quality Awards and the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards where the smaller food and drink producers have ‘punched above their weight’ in such challenges for many decades. A host of excellent local companies including Milgro, Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Erin Grove, Ballylisk of Armagh, Kennedy Bacon, Natural Umber, Ke Nako Biltong and Irish Black Butter will be sampling and selling their products.
An exciting new addition to the Pavilion this September is the NI Food and Drink Experience Kitchen, supported by Tourism NI. Situated right in the heart of the Food Pavilion, the Experience Kitchen will provide a platform to showcase dozens of talented producers and foodie experiences from across Northern Ireland. Visit www.nigoodfood.com to download the Experience Kitchen Timetable in the run up to the Show.
The Food NI Food Pavilion is one of the most popular attractions at the Balmoral Show and it provides opportunities for visitors to meet producers and learn how they hand craft the food and drink to ensure consistent quality and memorable flavours.
Virtually every sector in this vibrant industry, Northern Ireland’s largest single manufacturer and the only industry represented in every community, especially rural areas, will be featured in the pavilion. It’s an industry which generates over £5 billion annually to the local economy and contributes particularly to the wellbeing of rural communities.
Food and drink products from local companies are now exported to over 60 global markets such as the Republic of Ireland, other parts of the EU, as well as the US, Middle East and Asia.
Food NI’s Chief Executive Michele Shirlow, commented, “It’s marvellous to be setting up the Food Pavilion again for thousands of people to see and sample the best of local food and drink. It’s always been one of the most popular presentations at a show which draws visitors from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and further afield.
“Food writers and journalists we’ve worked with from outside Northern Ireland have always been impressed by the overall showcase and talented producers.
“We’ve certainly missed the show since it was paused over the last two years by the awful pandemic. During the Show, we have taken steps to ensure visitor safety by implementing systems which promote social distancing and hand sanitation throughout the pavilion. We have also involved increasing space between stands and reduced company numbers this year. Visitor and participating company safety is a priority for us. We would urge visitors to comply with Government guidance and to make yourself familiar with the mitigations implemented by the Balmoral Show to ensure the event is as safe as possible for all who attend.
“I am sure that our changes won’t impact the enjoyment of visitors to the pavilion. They’ll have an unprecedented opportunity to experience the very best of our outstanding and award- winning food and drink.”
The Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank, Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food event will take place from Wednesday 22nd September to Saturday 25th September at Balmoral Park, Lisburn. Tickets are available to purchase online at www.balmoralshow.co.uk. Please note this year tickets are day specific only and must be purchased prior to the Show. Conditions of entry can also be found online.
Ministers hold Progress Meeting on All-island Rail Review
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. held their first progress meeting with the consultants ARUP who are taking forward the all-island Strategic Rail Review.
This All-Island Strategic Rail Review, will consider how the rail network on the island of Ireland can improve sustainable connectivity between major cities and towns, enhance regional accessibility including to the North West and support balanced regional development across our island. In addition, the Review will consider the feasibility of higher speeds on the network and whether there is a potential to increase use of the network for freight. ARUP were appointed in July to carry out the review.
Minister Mallon said: “The appointment of ARUP was an important step forward in delivering our All Island Strategic Rail Review and I welcome the opportunity to meet them today, along with Minister Ryan to hear the progress that has been made and importantly to personally convey a shared North South ambition for this important work which will allow us to consider and improve our rail network across this island for everyone.
“I am pleased with the detailed work already carried out by ARUP and share with Minister Ryan the determination and dedication to make progress on this key project as quickly as possible. I have huge ambitions for our rail network on our island and it was encouraging to hear the shared vision at today’s meeting. There are real opportunities for communities across Ireland and significant benefits that a better connected island could bring not just to people but also for our environment. With the Climate Crisis and the immediate challenges facing our natural environment, Minister Ryan and I have once again recommitted to working together to deliver clean and green transport on the island of Ireland. This transformative project is key to our joint effort.”