Blog : tourism

MAC BELFAST AND PHOENIX NATURAL GAS LAUNCH NEW ARTS AND BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

MAC BELFAST AND PHOENIX NATURAL GAS LAUNCH NEW ARTS AND BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

The MAC, Belfast’s award-winning arts venue, and Phoenix Natural Gas, are delighted to announce the details of the MAC’s s comprehensive Christmas programme; the first events programme to be supported by the new title sponsor. The programme this year proves to be even more popular than ever and has already got off to a flying start with a number of dates for the MAC’s family show, Pinocchio, already sold out.

Each year the MAC presents a host of family events for the festive season, that has been one of the key drivers in its increased visitor figures which rose to an impressive 311,000 last year alone, more than 60% of what was forecast for the venue*.

Likewise, Phoenix is marking a milestone year as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, so the partnership between two of Northern Ireland’s leading brands seemed fitting.

Visitors to the MAC travel from across Northern Ireland and beyond, either as part of the MAC’s learning and outreach programme or as independent gallery visitors and theatre goers.

It seems mad to think about Christmas in June but that’s exactly what the MAC and Phoenix are planning towards.  Now celebrating its fifth Christmas, the MAC has become a place where new family traditions are created.  Many visitors have and will come to see the light switch-on, the unveiling of the magical Phoenix Natural Gas Christmas window and to watch the MAC’s anchor show, Pinocchio co-produced with award-winning theatre company Cahoots NI.

This year is anticipated to be the venue’s biggest year to date regards visitor numbers with the MAC set to welcome over 3,500 school children through its doors and over 10,000 families. Having already achieved 30% of its Christmas ticket sales in May, including seven sell-out school performances, the MAC has developed exceedingly strong relationships with local schools – some of whom are returning for their fifth Christmas visit in the MAC’s short, yet thriving, history.

Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive at the MAC, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with our partners, Phoenix Natural Gas, who are supporting our Christmas programme. A MAC Christmas is something very special and has quickly become a firm tradition for many schools and families across Northern Ireland. 

Just like Phoenix, we share a commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers from Northern Ireland and we look forward to announcing some very exciting plans together very soon.”

 

Michael McKinstry, Chief Executive for Phoenix Natural Gas, said:

“We are very excited about this partnership with the MAC, and as we approach our 20th anniversary this Christmas it gives us a real opportunity to celebrate our commitment to the community that we serve.

“We are very proud of our strong corporate social responsibility programme and we believe that the MAC’s additional programmes of support for communities and schools during the festive period are reflective of our vision and ideals. We look forward to a strong and creative partnership together.”

As part of that partnership, thanks to support from Phoenix, visitors to the MAC can expect to find the enchanting ‘Wishing Wood’ where families will be encouraged to make a wish. Just in time for Christmas, Phoenix Natural Gas will help to make one extra-special wish come true for at least one lucky family.  More details coming soon.

For more information on the MAC or to enquire about the Christmas programme, including the upcoming production of Pinocchio, please visit themaclive.com.

 

*From targets set in the Benefits Realisation Plan in 2011.

LISBURN BUSINESSES STIR UP NEW PARTNERSHIP

LISBURN BUSINESSES STIR UP NEW PARTNERSHIP

Italian eatery Alfredo’s on the Square and Hughes Craft Distillery, two thriving Lisburn businesses, have come together to further boost the fine dining experience for locals in Lisburn City Centre with the introduction of a fabulous new RubyBlue cocktail menu for diners to enjoy.

Under development since April, when Northern Ireland celebrated the best in home-grown brewing and distilling, the teams behind Hughes Craft Distillery and Alfredo’s on the Square had been hard at work concocting their unique drinks menu specifically with Alfredo’s diners in mind.

Using Hughes Craft Distillery’s award-winning RubyBlue Premium Vodka the new cocktail menu will complement the restaurant’s delicious mix of dishes and add another reason to dine out in Lisburn with friends and family for all occasions.

Owned by local restauranteur Richard Graham, Alfredo’s has invested heavily in refitting its premises to revitalise Lisburn’s growing reputation on the culinary map. With the summer season afoot, and locals yearning for a first-rate alfresco dining experience, the signature RubyBlue cocktail menu is set to attract food and drinks aficionados far and wide.

Richard Graham, owner of Alfredo’s on the Square, says:

“It was always our intention to introduce a quality range of beverages into Alfredo’s by way of an exciting cocktail menu. But we wanted to make sure that we were bringing something unique for customers to experience and we are delighted to be the first to bring them RubyBlue Vodka as part of our new offering. It was also important for us to invest in local producers and through its fast-growing reputation and demand, we knew it had to be RubyBlue.”

“We began working with Stuart and Barbara Hughes from Hughes Craft Distillery in early April on a cocktail menu specific to Alfredo’s and our customers. We’re delighted to finally announce that Alfredo’s is the first business in Lisburn serving up this exciting cocktail menu using the locally produced and award-winning RubyBlue range.”

The RubyBlue cocktail menu available in Alfredo’s serves original cocktails such as the Ruby Royale, a blackcurrant liqueur with chilled prosecco, and the RubyBlue Thyme, premium white lemonade infused with green apple, fresh thyme and RubyBlue Potato Vodka. But, for those less adventurous, the menu also serves cocktail favourites including, Bloody Mary and French Martini stirred with RubyBlue Premium Vodka.

Barbara Hughes, Commercial Director for Hughes Craft Distillery, which premiered RubyBlue Premium Vodka in 2015, adds:

“When Richard approached us we were extremely excited by the proposition of creating a cocktail menu using our own range of spirits. It is the first time we have had the opportunity to create a customer-specific cocktail menu for a venue. It’s a great opportunity to give the RubyBlue brand exposure in our home city alongside the exquisite dishes served in Alfredo’s by head chef Will Crawford.”

Alfredo’s on the Square is open Tuesday to Saturday 9:00am until late and Monday 9:00am until 3:00pm.

For more information on the RubyBlue cocktail menu or to enquire about bookings, visit www.alfredoslisburn.com or call (028) 9267 2554.

NI’s Only Mainland Puffin Colony Arrive at  The Gobbins for the New Season

NI’s Only Mainland Puffin Colony Arrive at The Gobbins for the New Season

A dash of vibrant colour has returned to the shores of Northern Ireland recently and we’re not referring to the brief, yet welcomed, outbreaks of sunshine and warmth we have been experiencing. The Gobbins, a dramatic cliff path walk located on the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route in Islandmagee, is home to Northern Ireland’s only mainland colony of Puffins.

Receiving a welcomed return to our shores for breeding season, the brightly-coloured bird colony dig burrows into the Islandmagee cliffs to lay their eggs and are expected to stay put until mid-August.

These delightful little birds, which are slightly smaller than a pigeon, are some of the hardiest birds that breed on our shores.  Fledging the nest between 38-45 days after being abandoned by their parents, the chicks have to take a leap of faith from their nests burrowed high into the cliff face and into the sea below.

After this momentous leap in their young lives, the chicks then disperse throughout the North Sea and Eastern Atlantic; some may even reach the Grand Banks located off Newfoundland or the Mediterranean. Here they will remain for 4-5 years to mature before returning to The Gobbins to take their place in the approximately 60-strong colony.

The Gobbins is the only attraction in mainland Northern Ireland where visitors flock to avail of this unique opportunity and catch a glimpse of the dazzling Puffin which typically nests in burrows on offshore islands or the crevices of out-of-sight coastal cliffs.

Speaking of the Puffins’ highly anticipated return, George McGrand, resident Tour Guide at The Gobbins, said:

“It’s tremendous to once again have the wonderfully coloured Puffins return to The Gobbins cliff path after such a long winter wait. The first Puffin to return was sighted on April 15th which was right on the expected arrival date. It’s now June and we are delighted to see that the full colony has now returned. Now we wait patiently with bated breath to catch a glimpse of the first chicks of the breeding season which are expected later this month.”

A location immersed with rich biodiversity, The Gobbins is an area of special scientific interest attracting many breeding sea birds for its high cliffs, abundance of concealed ledges perched safely above rising tides and bounteous population of fish for feeding.

To celebrate biodiversity of The Gobbins, in particular, the vibrant colony of Puffins that make the return journey to the site year after year, The Gobbins’ Visitor Centre will soon be introducing its latest team member, and playful mascot, Paddy the Puffin. Along with the resident team, Paddy the Puffin will be on hand to ensure visitors to the unique tourist attraction have a memorable, and educational, experience.

For more information on the biodiversity of The Gobbins or to book a tour, contact the Visitor Centre on 028 9337 2318 or visit www.thegobbinscliffpath.com