Blog : Events



After announcing its largest line-up to date with headliners such as Orbital, Denis Sulta, and the long-awaited return of Laurent Garnier and Fatima Yamaha, AVA has revealed a first glance of its new site plans and stages for the now outdoor festival. Set for May 28th-31st, AVA makes its debut at Boucher Road Playing Fields Belfast, along with an opening show and free conference at the MAC with closing events in the city.

In keeping with the ethos of AVA Festival, this year sees an uncompromising approach to the design and creativity, collaborating with the very best of local artists and bringing back some of the most exciting international performers to the city. The festival landscape will have a distinctive set up by merging industrial stage design with visual & electronic art and music across four enclosed intimate experiences.

The AVA Main Stage will maintain the warehouse style for the Festival, by providing a large enclosed headline-ready setting, complete with the iconic AVA lighting and visual show, set to show-case Orbital, Laurent Garnier, Denis Sulta and many more in the best possible light to Belfast.

Returning, will be the infamous Boiler Room and Red Bull Stages, AVA has sourced and will utilise shipping containers, accompanied by lighting installations designed and developed by local creative Oisin O’Brien, who runs Visual Spectrum.

‘Immerse AVA’ is a new edition and a groundbreaking concept from the team supported by Future Screens NI; the scaffolding stage will create a fully immersed ‘drenched’ like experience of light and visuals, incorporating surround sound systems to create a unique experience, that is set to tour beyond the Festival in Belfast.

Festival Director & Founder, Sarah McBriar said: “Working with a blank canvas is exciting, as the opportunities are endless. We have been developing the new site design for some time, incorporating the elements we believe will showcase the artists in the best way and make this year’s AVA experience unique.  The breadth of local and international artists in the line-up is a testament to the successes and growth of previous years. We are proud to bring AVA to one of the best crowds in the world for our sixth year running.”

Beyond the dancefloor, AVA will once again deliver a full programme of art installations and music/art/culture led conferencing at the MAC, chill spaces, local food traders, a new cocktail bar experience and visual art exhibitions, plus much more. Full festival passes can be bought online at £75 as part of a group ticket or £85 as a stand-alone, with a deposit scheme from £25. Tickets to AVA Festival are on sale via




This month Foyleside Shopping Centre will host a unique collaborative fashion event in partnership with Foyle Women’s Aid and Marks & Spencer.

Dress for Success was established by Foyle Women’s Aid, with a mission to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire advice and development tools to help them thrive in work and personal life.

Hosted by Cool FM’s Melissa Riddell, there will be fabulous fashion previews and exclusive giveaways from some of the centre’s top retailers including Debenhams, Next and Monsoon as well as live on-stage styling sessions. Whether you are starting out in your career or want guidance to thrive in your profession, it’s the perfect place to get all the advice you need to Dress for Success.

The unique event isn’t just about fashion. Women are also offered guidance to enhance their CVs and interview preparation. The Dress for Success service is open to all women including school leavers, graduates or anyone who is attending interviews and would like support with presenting themselves for the workplace.

Marie Brown, Director of Foyle Women’s Aid said “We believe that every woman, no matter where she comes from, has the potential to reach great heights and achieve economic independence.  Dress for Success gives them the tools they need to get there.  It’s not about where you’ve been, it about where you’re going.”

Fergal Rafferty, Centre Manager for Foyleside Shopping Centre said, “We are delighted to be the host venue for this unique Dress for Success event. The positive work of Foyle Women’s Aid is well known in the city and we are delighted that a number of our key tenants are making a significant investment in resources in support of this initiative, which will be a real highlight in our summer events programme.”

Dress for Success is taking place on Saturday 30th at the Central Mall on Level 2 in Foyleside Shopping Centre from 12pm – 3pm.

If you are interested in finding out more about Dress for Success and the services available visit the website at or email



The Irish Curry Awards, in association with Cobra Beer, UTIS Holdings and BJ Productions, took place on Tuesday 24 October at the Crowne Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, and celebrated the best restaurants and curries on the island of Ireland, for a second year.

An estimated 700 curry houses operate successfully between Ballyferriter in Kerry and Ballycastle in Antrim. These awards were created by Belfast-based restaurateur Askir Ali to recognise the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.

Speaking on the success of the event, Founder Askir Ali said: “Curry may have been born in India, but it has grown and matured across Ireland. The Irish Curry Awards are recognition of that.

“I was really surprised and thrilled to see the level of support that was out there for the Irish Curry Awards and I am delighted that year two has been just as successful as the first. Nominations were up this year and the standard was too. We had in place a broad mix of judges and food critics onboard again this year.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all our judges for taking time out of the busy schedules to be part of the Irish Curry Awards; to all our supporters that have helped make this year’s awards possible and to all the restaurants that took part. Congratulations to all this year’s winners.”

UTV’s own Pamela Ballentine oversaw hosting duties for the glamourous event, allocating awards which covered a wide range of categories including Best Chef, Best Restaurant and Best Newcomer, among others. Asian restaurants had more opportunity than ever to win, as new categories were introduced this year including Best South Asian Restaurant and Best Romantic Restaurant. The judges, made up of esteemed food critics and journalists, had the enviable job of testing out the delicious food to decide who would triumph on the night.

Guests from across the industry and media were treated to a tremendous evening celebrating Asian culture in Ireland, with entertainment in the form of Bollywood dancing from the talented BJ Production team. The Irish Curry Awards is a not-for-profit event with all profits and money raised donated to the event’s official charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust. The charity delivers emotional and practical support to children and young people with heart disease in Northern Ireland and their families.

Plans have already been put in place for next year’s event which will mark the third year of the Irish Curry Awards. These awards were supported by BJ Productions, UTIS Holdings, Asian Restaurateur, Hospitality Ulster, Cobra Beer, Coca Cola, AJ Stuart, Hugh Jordan, Glenisk and Order on Chef.

Full Winners list can be viewed here: 

LCCC Celebration of “Legacy and Learn to” at Hilden Brewery

LCCC Celebration of “Legacy and Learn to” at Hilden Brewery

Photo by Aaron McCracken/HarrisonsLisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) recently hosted a luxurious celebration to conclude the month of “Legacy and Learn to” at the Tap Room Restaurant at Hilden Brewery, as part of the Year of Food and Drink.  Several leading food bloggers and writers, as well as local press gathered to taste, smell and devour an outstanding menu that combined some of the best local produce within the area.

The evening kicked-off with a cocktail reception sponsored by the award-winning, Ruby Blue Vodka, Irelands first potato vodka producer.  Their signature serve consisted of its renowned potato vodka with premium lemonade, a crisp slice of apple and a sprig of thyme, and was a refreshing start to the evening.  This was followed by a tour of the famous Hilden Brewery guided by Seamus Scullion who founded Irelands oldest independent brewery in 1981. He introduced guests to the production of their range of craft beers and the workings of the brewery.

Photo by Aaron McCracken/HarrisonsComing in out of the cold guests were seated in the beautiful Tap Room restaurant, welcomed by Cllr Uel Mackin and guided through a bespoke four-course menu by their host and local girl, Denise Watson.  Each course was specifically designed by Head Chef Dave McCarthy, to showcase the produce from the local suppliers which included, Hannans Meats, Tempted Cider, Tynedale Goat Kid, Abernethy Butter, Brambleberry Jams, Draynes Farm Ice-cream and of course Hilden Brewery.

In his closing comments, Cllr Uel Mackin, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee at LCCC, said “These are but a few of the amazing food and drink producers we have in the council area, we as a council are immensely proud of these thriving local businesses and we are determined to support them in their growth and development.”

The evening was a huge success and guests were thrilled with the array of beautiful food and drink they enjoyed, the local producers will be very busy in the coming months as word of their excellence spreads.

Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons

Roast parsnip and white bean soup, smoked paprika cream, with Hilden Brewery's Molly's Chocolate Stout wheaten bread.

Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons

Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons