Blog : Tourism

AMERCIAN HOLIDAYS INVESTS IN THE FUTURE OF ITS BELFAST BASE

AMERCIAN HOLIDAYS INVESTS IN THE FUTURE OF ITS BELFAST BASE

Northern Ireland’s US Travel Specialist, American Holidays opens the doors on its brand-new premises in Belfast City Centre, following a significant investment and a renewed strategy to grow its operations locally.

Whilst remaining in Lombard Street, American Holidays will now occupy the old Ulster Bank site that has lay vacant for several years. This new space will allow for the expansion of its retail shop and call centre for its trade partners, with a larger dedicated Belfast team in place to answer every call.

The new retail shop will be a relaxed and comfortable environment for both staff and customers. Planning a holiday to the USA can be daunting at times; therefore it is reassuring to speak directly with a specialist to receive expert advice – something American Holidays continues to see a demand for from customers.

Speaking on the continued success of American Holidays, Karen Sheals Hoy, Manager says: “We pride ourselves in offering a seamless and dedicated customer journey delivered through exceptional service. It is this passion shown by the team that resonates with our customers and gives them confidence in the services we offer. Today American Holidays has over 50 staff based in Belfast, Dublin and Leeds and we are proud to be part of the world’s largest collection of specialist travel brands.

“American Holidays has developed longstanding relationships across the industry, and we continue to forge new associations. American Holidays prides itself in having a dedicated team in place to negotiate and secure the best prices for our customers, so we can remain competitive in the marketplace.”

Starting as an independently owned company in Lombard Street 27 years ago, the business has gone from strength to strength. American Holidays opened its Belfast branch in 1991 and this new level of investment into the branch signals confidence in the local market and the continued demand for this specialist travel offering.

The larger premises will now allow for a new dedicated training room to be housed onsite, enabling American Holidays to host regular training sessions for their staff and the Northern Ireland Travel Trade with partnered airlines, hotels, destination team specialists and suppliers.

Karen says: “As specialists in our field we can share the expertise we have at our fingertips with those who support us and to better develop everyone’s knowledge, especially of the lesser known areas of the USA and Canada”.

Astrid Bell, Cruise Product Manager, Belfast and Dublin adds: “American Holidays’ biggest strength is our team. We know North America inside and out, upside and down and have a great heritage as a specialist North American Tour Operator. We go the extra mile and know that it’s often the little things that make a big difference. Our sales staff have collectively visited almost every state, so we have the USA and Canada covered.

“We understand the need to invest in education and training for our staff and work very closely with training partners to develop training programmes for all.”

American Holidays is part of Travelopia, the world’s largest collection of Specialist Travel Brands. It is always working to develop and grow new products to the USA & Canada – next year will be no different. 2020 will see a new 148-page North America brochure and a 100-page Escorted Touring brochure including Cruise and Canada. The new brochures will offer some new exciting experiences while also offering some old favourites. The new brochures will hit the shelves November 2019.

American Holidays is summed up in its tagline, Possibilities Unlimited!

END

GLENS COASTAL TOURISM INITIATIVE CREATES 58 NEW JOBS

GLENS COASTAL TOURISM INITIATIVE CREATES 58 NEW JOBS

Carrickfergus Enterprise has announced that results of its recent tourism initiative, ‘Glens Coastal Hub’ has exceeded expectations, boosting sales, local visitor expenditure, jobs, and visitor numbers.

Funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and following on from the huge success of its East Antrim Coastal Hub pilot in 2015, this new initiative has had a direct impact on the number of visitors and expenditure in the East Antrim Coastal Way route. Ambitious targets were in place from the outset, yet these have been surpassed significantly with the creation of 58 full time, part time and casual jobs and over 22,000 new visitors to the region, resulting in over £3million generated in additional expenditure.

The overall goal of the scheme was to develop the capacity and confidence of local businesses within the area, that are often considered the ‘hidden gems’ of the region but are not necessarily on the typical tourist routes.

The Glens Coastal Hub was devised to increase sales, enhance visitor experiences and fully take advantage of the huge opportunities’ tourism can offer for the local area. 30 businesses signed up to take part and avail of support services such as business mentoring, ICT support, WorldHost training, mystery shopping and a joint marketing campaign which included a visitor map and website.

Kelli Bagchus, Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, said: “The success of our East Antrim Coastal Hub and tourism map set the precedent for what could be achieved in the tourism sector within the area. It was therefore the right time to request further funding to create a larger spectrum of support. With the local interest high and the strong proposition already existing it made sense for us to build on this momentum.

“This programme has enabled us to showcase our diverse range of tourism attractions from across Ballygally to Ballycastle/Rathlin, that include the Ossian’s Grave, Layde Church, Dark Hedges Estate, the Ballygally Castle Hotel, Cranny Falls and Glenariff Forest Park; whilst empowering the businesses across these areas to capitalise on the buoyant tourism industry.

“With tourism at the fore of Northern Ireland’s economy, it is in our interest to support the lesser known locations, to keep history and heritage alive as well as helping the launch of new tourism businesses in the area.”

Speaking on his involvement in the programme, Gary O’Loughlin from Laragh Lodge said: “The programme has been really successful and has definitely brought us more business. We attended various workshops including social media training which was very helpful. The publicity from the programme put a spotlight on us and being located beside the Glenariff Waterfall has brought even more tourists to us.”

The project is funded by Coastal Communities Fund which is funded by the government with income from the Crown Estate Marine Assets. It is delivered by Big Lottery on behalf of the UK Government.

Sarah Daly, Funding Officer from The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We are delighted that Coastal Communities Fund has been able to support the Glens Coastal Hub Programme. It enables smaller businesses to develop their capacity, enabling them to capitalise on the growing tourism industry in Northern Ireland. It also helps to highlight what Northern Ireland has to offer beyond the major tourism sites. Thus, encouraging longer stays and contributing to and increased visitor spend.”

Carrickfergus Enterprise has created a successful model specialising in supporting tourism and hospitality businesses where it will seek opportunities to further support even more businesses to sustain and grow the future of this industry.

ENDS

TIME FOR TEA AT WHITEHEAD RAILWAY MUSEUM

TIME FOR TEA AT WHITEHEAD RAILWAY MUSEUM

Whitehead Railway Museum is rolling out its cake-stands and best china for a new season of its popular Afternoon Tea after a sell-out year in 2018.

Having celebrated its most popular year with visitor numbers increasing by 50%, the award-winning Museum will welcome guests to step back in time and enjoy Afternoon Tea in a stationary historic railway carriage, located on the tracks within the Museum premises.

General Manager of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Lisa Adair said: “We have had an extremely successful summer so far with speciality train rides, bespoke events, and our visitor numbers are continuing to rise. We were overwhelmed with the bookings we received for the Afternoon Tea last year and the start of this year so we know there is a big demand for this event. As we run a very busy summer schedule this offering finished in May, so we are really looking forward to kicking off our Autumn season and inviting people to experience the atmospheric carriage.

“Whitehead has always been a railway town and we want to make it a visitor spot that appeals to everyone, not just the railway enthusiast community, so having unique offerings such as Afternoon Tea brings visitors from near and far to the Museum.”

Operated by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), the Museum also offers a gallery experience that weaves through the rich rail history of generations, from seaside trips to tales of smuggling butter across borders. Visitors can enjoy an array of steam and diesel locomotives plus heritage carriages, see work in progress in the restoration workshops, enjoy afternoon tea in the Edwardian Tea Room, and hear all about the social impact of the railways and Whitehead.

Bookings have now opened for this season’s Afternoon Tea and the first event takes place at Whitehead Railway Museum on Saturday 7th September. Book now via https://www.steamtrainsireland.com. Whitehead Railway Museum is open 10am to 4pm Thursday to Saturday, while the Edwardian Tea Room, which is admission-free, serves tea/coffee and freshly prepared lunches. Experienced RPSI members are on hand for conducted tours at 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm, with tours lasting just over an hour.

NEW HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ® OPENS IN DERRY~LONDONDERRY

NEW HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ® OPENS IN DERRY~LONDONDERRY

The new Holiday Inn Express ® Derry – Londonderry has opened its doors in the bustling city centre, creating the second largest hotel for the city. The £7million investment will generate 44 new jobs, enhancing employment and business opportunities for service providers in the region.  The major multifaceted development plan is set to boost the Strand Road area.

The hotel which boasts 119 modern bedrooms will offer competitive rates, lending to the thriving tourism in the city, as the increased visitor rates have helped to achieve record occupancy levels and welcomed thousands of visitors year on year. Holiday Inn Express has introduced Next Generation – an innovation developed to meet the needs of today’s Smart Traveler and suited to the idea of ‘express travel’. It’s excellent central location is just a short 5-minute walk to popular attractions such as the historic 17th Century Walls, the Peace Bridge and Guildhall, as well as a range of retail outlets and the city’s vibrant bars and restaurants.

The hotel offers an Express Start™ Breakfast included in the rate for all guests. In addition, super connected bedrooms offer appealing amenities such as Smart TVs, blackout blinds and a choice of pillows. The hotel has two meeting rooms ideal for small board meetings, interviews or brainstorming sessions.

Phase one of the development will focus on the opening of the hotel, with plans to add another 31 bedrooms by the end of the year.  Phase two will elevate the hotel offering by introducing a brand-new bar and restaurant, whilst phase three will bring the development of 25 self-catering apartments in 2020, ideal for corporate events or longer stays.

General Manager Stephen Redden said, “We are delighted to open the doors of Holiday Inn Express, adding a fresh and exciting dimension to the city’s accommodation offering. We are proud to generate 44 local jobs, whilst greatly adding to the continued growth of the destination. To be based in the heart of Derry-Londonderry, we are confident that we will be adding to the great vibrancy of Strand Road, complimenting the many emerging and existing businesses.”

Foyle Cup team members are amongst the first guests to stay at the hotel. The tournament hosted in the city in July is one of the largest youth soccer events in the country, attracting thousands of visitors. Holiday Inn Express will welcome Glenavon FC, Barnsley FC and Beann Mhádagháin FC providing a central location for the duration of the tournament.

The hotel is part of the IHG ® (Intercontinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies representing 17 hotel brands with over 5,600 partner hotels worldwide. IHG® Rewards Club gives guests the opportunity to build loyalty points with every stay and avail of exclusive member benefits including discounted or free hotel stays at any IHG property worldwide, free airmiles and discounted brand name merchandise.

ENDS

STEAM SATURDAYS ROLL IN TO WHITEHEAD TO KICK OFF THE SUMMER SEASON

STEAM SATURDAYS ROLL IN TO WHITEHEAD TO KICK OFF THE SUMMER SEASON

Whitehead Railway Museum is pleased to announce the commencement of their Steam Saturdays at the Excursion Station. The return of the steam train rides marks the start of what is expected to be the award-winning museum’s most successful year. 2018 was recorded as the busiest year for the unique tourist attraction, as it welcomed visitors from across the globe, including America, Australia and Europe and the numbers are set to continue.

A steam engine built 100 years ago which celebrated its centenary this year, will be the star of the show this summer. No. 3BG Guinness, which worked at the famous Dublin brewery for 45 years before being presented to the RPSI, will be providing steam train rides as part of the Whitehead Railway Museum’s Summer Steam season.

The steam train rides stir the senses as you step on board a traditional steam train. Visitors will have the chance to see The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) footplate crew at work, shovelling coal into the firebox and preparing the engine for each of its runs.

RPSI General Manager Lisa Adair said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this extra attraction at Whitehead Railway Museum over the summer months. The steam train ride is always very popular for our visitors young and old as the sound, smell and sight of the locomotive creates a magical atmosphere. We have a really exciting programme of events coming up over the summer including our Afternoon Tea and Steam & Jazz events and we would be delighted to welcome visits, old and new to experience all that we have to offer.”

The train rides will operate this Saturday 25th May, Saturday 29th June and every Saturday in July and August from 12 midday to 4pm, departing from Whitehead Railway Museum platform every 15 minutes.

There is also the chance to visit the award-winning Whitehead Railway Museum which is open from 10am to 4pm, Thursday to Saturday and guided tours are at 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm. Later in the summer, the Museum will also open on Sundays.

Tickets for the steam train rides can be purchased on the day and are priced at £2 for children and £2.50 for adults. For further details about Whitehead Railway Museum opening times and the steam train rides, visit www.steamtrainsireland.com.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK FOR YOUNG VOLUNTEER WHO WINS TOP PRIZE AT NATIONAL AWARDS CEREMONY

ON THE RIGHT TRACK FOR YOUNG VOLUNTEER WHO WINS TOP PRIZE AT NATIONAL AWARDS CEREMONY

Belfast train enthusiast Matthew Wilson has won “Young Volunteer of the Year” at the annual ceremony of the Heritage Railway Association.  Matthew who is 23 years old, is a volunteer at Whitehead Railway Museum. Despite being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (autism), he never lets this get in his way.

Matthew has become a well-respected team member and he is regularly complimented by Museum guests and colleagues for his ability to conduct enjoyable guided tours at Whitehead Railway Museum as well as being a friendly and charismatic steward.

The recently introduced Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer of the Year prize is to give nationwide recognition to a young person who is taking on the responsibility for driving various schemes within railway preservation forward.

Lord Faulkner, the HRA President, who sponsored the award, commented it was vital that the wider railway heritage movement cherished its young volunteers. He said: “Many of those enthusiasts who founded the railway preservation movement are now past retirement age and it is important that we look to the future and harness the talents of the next generation. There was vast competition for this award from some of the leading railways in Britain but I am pleased to say that Matthew was a worthy winner.”

Speaking on his success Matthew said: “I am delighted to have received the award but this would not have happened without the support, encouragement and leadership of the team at Whitehead.”

Matthew’s dad David and mum Ellen who accompanied him to the awards evening in Birmingham on Saturday said: “Matthew does not let this disability prevent him from pursuing his love of steam trains. He is a proud volunteer at Whitehead Railway Museum and gets considerable enjoyment and satisfaction from carrying out his duties as a tour guide.”

General Manager of Whitehead Railway Museum, Siobhan Dillon said, “We are delighted to have Matthew as part of our team. We have guests visit us from around the world who often compliment Matthew’s enthusiasm for steam trains. We are very proud of his successes and to be recognised at National level is extra special. Congratulations Matthew!”

CITY OF MERCHANTS FESTIVAL PROVES TO BE A BIG HIT WITH VISITORS

CITY OF MERCHANTS FESTIVAL PROVES TO BE A BIG HIT WITH VISITORS

The City of Merchants Festival saw record numbers line the streets of Newry to enjoy a fabulous weekend of activities, culture and a spectacular firework display.

Returning for a second year, the festival was bigger and better than ever, captivating visitors in Newry with three days of amazing interactive events, family fun and the best food and drink.

Organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the festival event brought a programme of culture, history and street performances to the city to celebrate the waterways, canals and rich maritime history of Newry.

On Friday night the famous SPARK! Drummers led visitors on a carnival parade to the fathom line, where audiences were wowed with a breath-taking firework display set to music. The fireworks lit up the skies above the Newry waterways in the biggest pyrotechnic show the district has seen to date. This was coupled with the Twilight Market that saw a mix of craft and artisan producers showcase the best of the area’s culinary offerings, along with free children’s workshops and street entertainment.

On Saturday visitors experienced the history of the city with live street theatre performances, guided tours, exhibitions, family activities and a chance to explore the Tall Ships, La Malouine, Soteria Breinne, and Brian Boru.

A third day was added this year to welcome, in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), an Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Formula 1. Visitors were enthralled to see the car up close and hear its engine rev. Street entertainment continued throughout Sunday and brought this year’s three-day festival to a fantastic close.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Mark Murnin, said: “This year’s festival was terrific. It was great to see so many people come to Newry, some for the first time, to explore the various activities and see first-hand the fantastic culture and heritage of the area. The Giant Adventures season has been a wonderful way of showcasing the region and the City of Merchants brought it to a close in a spectacular way.”

City of Merchants festival was the fifth and final event in the Giant Adventures summer programme, a series of family festivals run by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to showcase the region’s breath-taking mountains, coastline and mythical stories which included Footsteps in the Forest, Skiffie Festival, Festival of Flight and Wake the Giant.

For more details on City of Merchants, pictures and videos from the event, visit https://heaveninaheartbeat.com/giant-adventures and www.facebook.com/VisitMourneMountainsand www.twitter.com/VisitMourne.

SPARK! STREET THEATRE SET TO DRUM UP MAGICAL SHOW FOR CITY OF MERCHANTS FESTIVAL

SPARK! STREET THEATRE SET TO DRUM UP MAGICAL SHOW FOR CITY OF MERCHANTS FESTIVAL

Get ready to be immersed in an evening of free carnival family fun at this year’s City of Merchants celebrations.

Street theatre team Spark! will be drumming up interest at the magical, movement and lighting street theatre show, shinning a light on this year’s City of Merchants event on Friday 2nd November.

The renowned Spark! team are composed of light and sound, transforming the surrounding landscape to captivate their audience, combining high impact drumming, dynamic choreography and playful characters with colourful lighting design. The cast will take the audience on a vivid dreamlike journey, set to be memorable and mesmerising.

The Spark! drumming troupe will be leading a procession from Hill Street outside the Twilight Market towards the viewing area of fireworks at Fathom Line, leaving at 7.15pm with a magnificent firework display to follow at 8pm.  After the fireworks, the Spark! team drummers will then lead the crowd back to the Hill Street Carnival area, ending the evening on an up-beat!

Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Mark Murnin said: “It is great to see the Twilight Market return to the City of Merchants celebrations. This year with Spark! leading the festivities we are sure that it will be a spectacular and memorable evening for all the family.”

The City of Merchants Festival will take place from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November and will see a host of activities take place to celebrate the area’s maritime and trading heritage. Activities on Friday alongside the Walking Tour & Banquet at Bagenal’s Castle include a Twilight Market from 5pm to 10pm in Newry Variety Market Hill Street; free children’s art and craft workshops at the market; a parade to the Fathom Line at 7.15pm; ending with a magnificent firework display from 8pm.

On Saturday you can enjoy the Tall Ships from 12noon to 4pm; a theatrical Merchant Quest through the streets of Newry created by theatre company Big Telly; a theatrical guided tour of Bagenal’s Castle; plus, a comical look at trade through the years taking place in both The Buttercrane and The Quays Shopping Centres.  For tickets, visit: https://bit.ly/2Az1gDK

This year will also see the inaugural Scenic Carlingford Ferry Loop Sportive in which hundreds of keen cyclists will take on a 62km route around the shores of Carlingford Lough. More details on this event can be found at www.loopsportive.com

On Sunday in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will be bringing one of its famous Formula 1 cars to Marcus Square in Newry. Set to take up its podium position outside the newly opened First Derivatives building, the car will be on display between 2pm and 4pm.

For more information on the overall City of Merchants Festival programme, which is supported by Tourism NI,  and for details on how to book tickets for other events please visit: www.heaveninaheartbeat.com/giant-adventures

BE TRANSPORTED BACK IN TIME DURING THE GREAT WORKHOUSE ESCAPE

BE TRANSPORTED BACK IN TIME DURING THE GREAT WORKHOUSE ESCAPE

Clip, clop your way around Newry in style! You may have been in the city many times on foot or visited by car, but have you ever travelled by horse and carriage? As part of the extensive events programme for this year’s City of Merchants, “The Great Workhouse Escape” will offer an interactive and fully immersive experience, which promises to be historical yet hysterical.

Be part of Marie and Daniel’s great escape from the Newry Workhouse as they attempt to flee the city, but by horse and carriage. You can hitch a 30-minute ride around the Merchant City, taking in the tales of the past, as you enjoy the sights from a whole new perspective.

The pony and trap tours will run throughout the day, offering rides to the public, leaving from Newry Town Hall. Tours depart every fifteen minutes from 11am to 3.45pm on Saturday 3rd November. Your journey will encompass historical sights, including Sugar Island, Needham Bridge and Merchant’s Quay.

Liz and Mervyn, from L&M Carriage Driving will be providing their horses and carriages for the event. “We love our horses and it is an absolute pleasure to share them with the people of Newry and beyond for this special occasion.  In the 18th century, horse transport was the only transport. Families would come to town to do their shopping. When sugar, coal or other goods came in off the boats, Clydesdale horses would have been used to do heavy lifting.  This event gives the public a unique opportunity to experience a side of history they aren’t familiar with.”

Deputy Chairperson Oksana McMahon said, “This particular part of the City of Merchants Festival is fantastic. I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the tour and it is so imaginative, not to mention unforgettable. The beautiful horses and carriages will make this event memorable for all ages. The fun theatrical elements and the important historical messaging are the perfect combination to share the city’s heritage.”

This is a free ticketed event. Tickets can be booked online at https://bit.ly/2Evl9jh

The City of Merchants Festival will take place from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November and will see a host of activities take place to celebrate the area’s maritime and trading heritage. Activities on Friday alongside the Walking Tour & Banquet at Bagenal’s Castle include a Twilight Market from 5pm to 10pm in Newry Variety Market Hill Street; free children’s art and craft workshops at the market; a sensational parade to the Fathom Line at 7.15pm; ending with a magnificent firework display from 8pm.

On Saturday you can enjoy the Tall Ships from 12noon to 4pm; a theatrical Merchant Quest through the streets of Newry created by theatre company Big Telly; a theatrical guided tour of Bagenal’s Castle; plus, a comical look at trade through the years taking place in both The Buttercrane and The Quays Shopping Centres.  This year will also see the inaugural Scenic Carlingford Ferry Loop Sportive in which hundreds of keen cyclists will take on a 62km route around the shores of Carlingford Lough. More details on this event can be found at www.loopsportive.com

On Sunday in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will be bringing one of its famous Formula 1 cars to Marcus Square in Newry. Set to take up its podium position outside the newly opened First Derivatives building, the car will be on display between 2pm and 4pm.

For more information on the overall City of Merchants Festival programme, which is supported by Tourism NI,  and for details on how to book tickets for other events please visit: www.heaveninaheartbeat.com/giant-adventures

BEST FOOT FORWARD FOR CITY OF MERCHANTS HISTORICAL WALKING TOUR

BEST FOOT FORWARD FOR CITY OF MERCHANTS HISTORICAL WALKING TOUR

As part of the programme of events organised for this year’s City of Merchants, the Newry and Mourne Museum is once again hosting its highly anticipated walking tour culminating in a celebratory banquet at Bagenal’s Castle on Friday 2 November.

Focusing this year on Newry’s railway heritage, the tour will start at 2.30pm from the Museum, and will visit locations once occupied by stations, bridges and platforms. Participants will find out how the railway and port provided the foundation for Newry’s development as a mercantile centre on Carlingford Lough.

Starting at 5pm the banquet will be a sumptuous and enjoyable end to the walking tour. The menu consists of a cold meat buffet including a dressed salmon, ham and a choice of dessert, plus a glass of mulled wine.

Entertainment will be provided by Living History re-enactors who will perform songs and poetry inspired by the 1885 Golden Wedding celebrations of Newry MP and railway investor, Peter Quinn.

Peter Quinn was a merchant in Newry and served as a Justice of the Peace in the counties of Armagh and Down. He also served on the committee which issued the prospectus for the Newry, Armagh and Enniskillen Railway in the autumn of 1844 (the company was formed in 1845) and was on the Board of the Newry Navigation Company.

Speaking on Newry & Mourne Museum’s activities, Deputy Chairperson Oksana McMahon said: “It is great to see the return of the 2018 City of Merchants celebrations. The walking tour has proved extremely popular and it is a wonderful insight into the heritage and history of Newry as a Merchant town. By celebrating Peter Quinn through the banquet, it is a great way to acknowledge those that have helped build the trading legacy we are proud of.”

Numbers are limited and due to its high demand, we urge people to book tickets soon. Tickets are £10 and available from Newry Visitor Centre, Bagenal’s Castle Tel. 028 3031 3170

The City of Merchants Festival will take place from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November and will see a host of activities take place to celebrate the area’s maritime and trading heritage. Activities on Friday alongside the Walking Tour & Banquet at Bagenal’s Castle include a Twilight Market from 5pm to 10pm in Newry Variety Market Hill Street; free children’s art and craft workshops at the market; a sensational parade to the Fathom Line at 7.15pm; ending with a magnificent firework display from 8pm.

On Saturday you can enjoy the Tall Ships from 12noon to 4pm; a theatrical Merchant Quest through the streets of Newry created by theatre company Big Telly; interactive Horse and Trap tours; a theatrical guided tour of Bagenal’s Castle; plus, a comical look at trade through the years taking place in both The Buttercrane and The Quays Shopping Centres.  This year will also see the inaugural Scenic Carlingford Ferry Loop Sportive in which hundreds of keen cyclists will take on a 62km route around the shores of Carlingford Lough. More details on this event can be found at www.loopsportive.com

On Sunday in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will be bringing one of its famous Formula 1 cars to Marcus Square in Newry. Set to take up its podium position outside the newly opened First Derivatives building, the car will be on display between 2pm and 4pm.

For more information on the overall City of Merchants Festival programme and for details on how to book tickets for the events please visit: www.heaveninaheartbeat.com/giant-adventures