THERE is an exciting range of family friendly fun taking place across Northern Ireland this summer including golf’s annual NI Open, which is returning to Galgorm Castle Golf Club in County Antrim.
Professional golfers from across the globe will descend on Ballymena for the highly anticipated European Challenge Tour event, which runs from Thursday August 10 to Sunday August 13.
Around 40,000 spectators are expected to follow the exciting action on the fantastic parkland course during the event – which is completely free to attend.
But the pros will not be the only ones getting into the swing of things, as there will be an opportunity to try out the game, with free golf lessons and a pitch and putt course.
With a family focus at the centre of the golf tournament, this year boys and girls between the ages of 6-13 will take part in the fun Junior NI Open running alongside the main competition.
There will be a chance to win numerous prizes including new clubs and junior membership at the Ballymena golf club, with One Direction star Niall Horan at the tournament representing sponsor Modest! Golf Management on the lookout for young talent.
The NI Open food festival is one of the main attractions at the event and will showcase top local produce from across Northern Ireland.
A wide range of artisan producers and food traders are bringing their local offerings to Galgorm Castle for guests to enjoy throughout the tournament.
Away from the fairways, local family-friendly attractions, restaurants and hoteliers are pulling out all the stops to impress the huge crowds expected to descend upon the area.
For families working up an appetite during their outdoor adventures, Italian restaurant Fratelli at Galgorm Resort and Spa welcomes little ‘foodies’ to don their chef’s hat and cook up a perfect pizza in a rustic family setting.
With a jam-packed tournament weekend, the Adair Arms Hotel in the heart of Ballymena, provides the ideal spot for families to relax and make their base during a short break.
The bespoke property also offers a range of catering options from light snacks to evening meals.
There are a number of outdoor family-friendly activities in Ballymena and the surrounding areas for explorers of all ages.
The Creative Gardens at Galgorm Castle are only a short distance from the main event, where adults and families can enjoy a huge range of colourful plants sourced both locally and from across Europe.
Younger visitors are also well catered for with a kids’ fun area on the Castle grounds and the chance to go on a hunt along the magical Castle Fairy Trail.
Antrim Castle Gardens is a historical gem hosting 400 gardens and a programme of activities suitable for the whole family, including a summer Minion Madness clay workshop during the week of the tournament.
Raceview Mill, which is set across 15 acres in the nearby village of Broughshane, offers craft shops and cafes as well as an enjoyable walk along the river where families can keep a lookout for the hedgehog habitat.
A visit to The Jungle NI, nearby in Magherafelt, offers a range of fun activities for families looking for an exhilarating break, from treetop adventure courses and zorbing to paintballing and llama trekking through the enchanted woodlands.
Just 40 minutes’ drive from Ballymena, Carrickfergus Castle offers a special discount so the whole family can immerse themselves in this famous Norman structure.
Children can have fun and get interactive, dressing up as a true Norman knights while learning about the unique heritage and history of the castle.
Eimear Callaghan, Tourism Northern Ireland’s Golf Marketing Manager, said: “The anticipation is building for the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm and we’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Ballymena and the surrounding areas.
“With tickets for the Northern Ireland Open free of charge and so much to see and do, both at Galgorm and away from the golf course, the County Antrim area will be top of the list for a fun, family break this August.”
Entry to the NI Open is free, simply register for free tickets online at www.niopen.golf or download the NI Open app. U16s do not require an entry ticket.
To plan your short break visit www.discovernorthernireland.com