16406_North_Coast_Boat_TourMORE and more people are choosing to holiday at home in Northern Ireland over the summer rather than go abroad and although warm weather may not always be guaranteed, NI is simply jam-packed with beautiful landscapes to enjoy and fun places to explore.

Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging everyone to find out more about the amazing staycation options that are available all over Northern Ireland and enjoy a short break over the coming weeks.

Rachel Quigg, Communications and Destination PR Officer, explains why everyone should consider a staycation this summer:

“Northern Ireland is simply bursting at the seams with great things to see and do which make it the perfect place to experience a staycation. We may not always get the weather we would like but we certainly make up for it in terms of interesting things to experience from a wide range of sightseeing tours, water sports, exciting events and days out on the beach.

“Why not get together with a group of friends or family and plan a break before the summers end,” Rachel added.

Tourism NI has created a list of options on how you can create your very own staycation. For more information go towww.discovernorthernireland.com

Not to be missed events

If you are planning a staycation then why not arrange it around one of the fun events that are being hosted over the coming weeks:


The popular EastSide Arts Festival takes place until August 21 with an array of music, comedy, theatre and poetry showcasing the talent in East Belfast. There will be more than a taste of the exotic in store as Northern Ireland’s biggest celebration of cultural diversity, Belfast Mela, celebrates its tenth anniversary on August 27-28.  Belfast is also the place to be for music lovers in August, with Tennent’s Vital taking place in Boucher Playing Fields on August 25-26, and Belsonic at Titanic Belfast until August 27.

Co Antrim

Join Portrush Harbourmaster and respected historian Captain Robert Anderson and hear about Shipwrecks and Stories of the Seas on a sailing tour from Portrush Harbour on August 21, or take part in the one-day From Nature to Plate workshop in Sleepy Hollow Restaurant in Newtownabbey where you can try your hand at ceramics, baking and painting.

Co Armagh

Food lovers are in for a treat with Moira Speciality Food Fair taking place on August 20, featuring many award-winning food offerings to suit all tastes, and Edible Geology Bus Tour on August 16 which will take in the key sites around the Ring of Gullion, with some home-baked delights along the way representing different geological features!

Another exciting family event is Vikings and Dragons Family Fun in Navan Centre and Fort on August 21. Meet with the Vikings, see what makes a dragon breathe fire and take part in a battle sequence as the Vikings and Irish boats clash.

Co Down

Children aged 5-11 can explore the many habitats to be found around the grounds of Mount Stewart with Wildlife Trackers onAugust 17, learning tracking skills through games and interactive activities.

It’s National and Traditional Breeds Weekend at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum on August 20-21, an activity-filled weekend allowing visitors to get up close to traditional breeds of cattle, horses, pigs, poultry and sheep. Also, you can enjoy the colours of the summer evening and soak up the magnificent scenery and fascinating wildlife of Strangford Lough on a Twilight Boat Tour on August 27.

Co Fermanagh

Take a Crom Castle Cruise on August 16 from Share Discovery Village and enjoy a tour of the entire castle, or explore some of the many outdoor activities Share Discovery Village has to offer throughout the summer.

Southbank Playhouse presents a production of Relative Values by Noel Coward, a vivid and vigorous farce at the Ardhowen Theatre from August 18-20, and a week later UK comedy stalwart Neil Dougan brings his hilarious one-man show Heretics and Head the Balls to the Ardhowen on August 26 (suitable for over 18s only).

Co Derry

The Ulster Rally is one of the premier motor rallies in Ireland, and it starts on the afternoon of August 19 from the Guildhall in Derry~Londonderry, continuing on August 20. As part of children’s month, Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre presents Pirate Adventures on August 27 where Mr Hullabaloo and his colourful puppet friends present a selection of classic tales live on stage. Also not to be missed is the Carnival of Colours taking place in St Columbs Park on September 3-4, packed with the best in international street theatre, circus fun, music and art.

Co Tyrone

Can you identify the spices used to create an Indonesian or Chinese meal, or the ingredients used to make a Hungarian goulash? If you enjoy meeting new people and tasting food from around the world, come along to Foodfest at the Ulster American Folk Park on August 20.  An Creagán in Omagh hosts Family Multiculture Day on August 29 with Mexican dancing, Polish puppets, Columbian piñatas and more, and Cookstown Continental Market comes to town on September 2-4.

Sightseeing Tours

There is no better way to explore Northern Ireland on a staycation, than on a sightseeing tour and there are a wide selection available –

Giant’s Causeway Cliff Path Guided Walk, Belfast – this spectacular day tour is focused around a five mile cliff walk and participants can take in breath taking coastal scenery along a rugged coastline in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  For more information go to www.awayaweewalk.com

Winterfell is Coming, McComb’s Coach Tour, Belfast – This is the perfect tour for Game of Thrones® fans who can transport themselves into the world of Westeros as they travel along the Kingsroad and visit the main filming locations from this phenomenal series.  For more information go to www.mccombscoaches.com/tours/game-of-thrones-tours

Panoramic Ireland Tours, Armagh – These tours are ideal for those looking for something a little different as they offer photo tours, photography experiences and workshops all over Northern Ireland.  Why not enjoy a staycation and also develop new skills. For more information go to www.panoramicireland.com

Foyle Taxi Tours, Derry~Londonderry – Foyle Taxi Tours have drivers who have trained as tour guides and can take visitors on a tour of this vibrant city as well as further afield in the North West. For more information go to www.foyletaxis.com

 Sail Away

For something unusual, why not explore Northern Ireland by boat on a trip around one of the many beautiful loughs and rivers available.

For an exciting weekend with friends try out Causeway Power and Sail in Coleraine which caters for every kind of water enthusiast from beginners to experienced sailors. Hop onboard the ‘Scallywag’ for an adrenalin filled ride around the beautiful North Coast.

 Aquaholics in Ballycastle and Portrush allows holidaymakers to discover the wildlife of the Causeway Coast and Rathlin Island on a fascinating boat trip. Soak up the breathtaking views and keep an eye out for the exciting wildlife which includes puffins, guillemots, seals and dolphins.

For a relaxing evening during your staycation, take The MV Kestrel on a cruise around the beautiful waters of Lough Erne. Hop on the boat in Enniskillen for a tour which lasts almost two hours and includes a visit to Devenish Island as well as dinner at the Killyhevlin Hotel.

The Copeland Islands are situated just off the coast of Donaghadee and comprise around 300 acres. Take a boat trip to take in these picturesque islands which are noted for their varied bird population and grey seals.

 Beach Life

You don’t need to hop on a plane to feel the sand between your toes as Northern Ireland boasts a wide range of beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored.

Benone Beach is a must-see and offers visitors seven miles of golden sand set against a magnificent back drop of mountains, scenery and stunning views. With a supervised playground, outdoor paddling pool and golf club, a fun filled day is guaranteed. It is a haven for nature lovers as the entire area is a paradise for the study of botany, entomology and shells.

A year round mecca for holiday makers, Portstewart Strand holds a prestigious Blue Flag award for the management, cleanliness and quality of the water. The beach attracts a range of visitors wishing to partake in activities such as surfing, swimming, horse riding and scenic walks all with wonderful views of the North Coast.

Visitors are sure to enjoy a day out at Crawfordsburn Beach as they can explore the two excellent beaches on offer, enjoy the views across Belfast Lough or a peaceful walk through the wooded glens and country park. The park also offers a large visitor centre, café, running trail and mobility scooters.

Tyrella Beach is an award winning beach nestled in a small, enclosed complex within Dundrum Bay in Co Down. The clean waters make it an ideal destination for families and water sports enthusiasts and the beach is perfect for a delicious picnic.

Northern Ireland boasts a wide range of places to stay from very luxurious hotels to quirky guesthouses. For more information on where you can stay during your staycation, go to https://www.discovernorthernireland.com/accomfinder/

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