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Travel & Tourism

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.

Travel & Tourism

4 Towns In Northern Ireland Voted Friendliest Visitor Destinations in UK

Tourism NI has welcomed the news that four towns in Northern Ireland have been awarded the friendliest visitor destinations in the UK with Enniskillen in County Fermanagh voted number one most welcoming in the UK.

Alongside Enniskillen, Ballycastle, County Antrim; Bushmills, County Antrim and Newcastle, County Down all appeared on the Booking.com top 10 most welcoming list.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the news was a much needed boost for the tourism sector in Northern Ireland that has experienced a two year blow to an industry which was riding high after a record breaking 2019 when revenue surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

He added: “While it has been two years of unprecedented crisis for the industry, I am pleased to know that despite the enormous challenges, our towns have dominated the top 10 list of friendliest visitor destinations. The news comes in the same week as the Game of Thrones Studio Tour opens its doors to the public and will help to put Northern Ireland on the map as a must visit destination for those far and wide.”

McGrillen believes the tourism industry has been incredibly resilient in the face of the global pandemic. 

“There will be brighter opportunities in the years ahead and I have confidence that with the appropriate support, tourism in Northern Ireland will bounce back,” he said. 

Other locations which made the top 10 list were Frome in Somerset; Glastonbury, Somerset: Shetland; Wick, Highlands and Kelso, Scottish Borders.

Following research from more than 232 million verified reviews as part of Booking.com’s 10th annual Traveller Review Awards, the awards recognise more than 1.25 million travel providers around the world for their hospitality, including 53,623 in the UK.

The winning list was decided by the total share of Traveller Review Award 2022 recipients when compared to the total number of eligible properties in that town or city.

McGrillen added: “Tourism is absolutely vital for us as it provides passengers for our public transport and supports sea and air routes; it generates revenue to support our culture and heritage assets and can contribute to the protection of our natural environment; it provides revenue for central and local government and promotes a positive image of Northern Ireland overseas, supporting foreign direct investment.”

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Travel & Tourism

Experience an ‘out of this world’ Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory

The Chair of the Council, Councillor Paul McLean and Santa enjoy the Christmas OM Odyssey as part of the OM Santa Experience at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

Enjoy an ‘out of this world’ Santa experience this Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

This Christmas, children can enjoy a Santa experience with a difference at the new star gazing facility at Davagh Forest in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains.

During the OM Santa Experience, children, and adults alike, will be utterly ‘star struck’ as they are taken on a tour of the unique facility and then watch the Christmas OM Odyssey, a bespoke festive film capturing Santa’s magical journey through the sky on Christmas Eve.

The festive film will be screened on the side of the OM building, with families watching from a dedicated viewing area using individual headsets.

Children will then get to write their letters to Santa in the crafts room before getting to deliver them in person to the man himself during a special visit where they will receive a stocking full of goodies.

The OM Santa Experience will run over three weekends beginning on Sunday 28 November and finishing on Sunday 12 December. Tickets cost £10 per child and adults go free (limited to two adults per family).

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean is pleased the Council can offer this festive event to families in the district.

“The last 20 months have been extremely difficult for all of us and none more so than for our children who have had to endure so much and adapt to different ways of doing things in almost all aspects of their lives. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration and so it pleases me greatly that we can offer this one-of-a-kind magical Christmas experience to families and children in Mid Ulster this Christmas.

“This year marks OM’s first Christmas, having only opened its doors to the public in June this year. The Santa experience is the perfect debut seasonal event for the centre, complementing and enhancing its already established and successful offering and extending its appeal to the family market.”To book your tickets for the OM Santa Experience, go to:www.omdarksky.com or telephone the Observatory on: 028 8676 0681

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