May day


THE May Bank Holiday is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the long weekend with friends and family and to help people along, Tourism NI has listed some of the exciting events and things to see and do that are available all over Northern Ireland.

Rachel Quigg, Communications & Destination PR Officer, explains why everyone should get out and about this May Bank Holiday:

“With so much choice on offer from arts festivals and walks to family fun days and music events, everyone will find something they really want to go and experience.

“For those with an adventurous side there are a wide range of fun outdoor activities and events to choose from and if you prefer something a little bit more laid back there are lots of places to visit where you can kick back and enjoy some rest and relaxation.”

To help make the most of the May Day Bank Holiday, Tourism Northern Ireland has highlighted a number of fun events which are happening across NI. 



The sound of laughter will be echoing all over Belfast this Bank Holiday weekend, as the 13th Festival of Fools comes to town. Over 120 performances will be taking place from April 29 – May 2, all free of charge with daredevil acrobatics, circus acts, comedy, magic and much more from some of the leading street theatre companies from Europe, America, the UK and Ireland.

On Bank Holiday Monday, line the streets to support over 17,500 participants in the 2016 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon, which will take in the north, south, east and west of the city.

The 17th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will provide a packed line-up of music, comedy and spoken word beginning on April 28, through May Day weekend and continuing until Sunday May 8. To celebrate Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, the festival will also include a one day meat-free mini-festival, Vegstock, taking place in the festival marquee on May 2.



Cushendun is one of the most picturesque villages in the Glens of Antrim and will be hosting four days of music, drama, exhibitions and family fun as part of Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend from April 29 – May 2. Showcasing the rich culture and spectacular landscape of the area, this fun and varied weekend is sure to have something for everyone.

For those who would like to do something more active over the Bank Holiday weekend, there is the Causeway Coast Challenge Walk on May 1, commencing at Portballintrae and following the coastal cliff path via Giant’s Causeway to reach Portbradden, before returning. Not for the faint of heart, the walk is 30km in length and is organised by local club Bannside Ramblers, attracting walkers from all over Ireland and beyond.

Visitors to Ballycastle can invigorate their senses and tickle their taste buds as the Naturally North Coast & Glens Artisan Market comes to Ballycastle Seafront on Sunday, May 1, featuring food and craft producers from all around the North Coast and Glens area.



The Orchard County celebrates its reputation as the Orchard of Ireland over the holiday weekend with the Apple Blossom Fair, taking place from April 30 – May 2. The festival comprises many different events at Ardress House and Loughgall Country Park, with shuttle buses to transport visitors between the two sites. Celebrate local food traditions with orchard tours, cider tastings, barbecues and entertainment for all the family.

Armagh is also home to plenty of places for a family walk or cycle on Bank Holiday weekend, such as the beautiful Gosford Forest Park and country estates like the The Argory or Derrymore House.



Enjoy the annual May Day celebrations in Holywood town centre with traditional May Day dancing by local school children, a selection of market stalls and fantastic family-friendly entertainment from 10am – 4pm on Monday, May 2.

Elsewhere in County Down, Newry will be holding its first annual Craft Beer Festival on April 30 and May 1, with ten craft breweries exhibiting over 30 craft products to taste including Mourne Mountain Brewery, Armagh Cider Company, Whitewater Brewery and more. Enjoy the best of local craft products with a top notch entertainment line-up.

The Newry and Mourne Museum is hosting the last weekend of its ‘The World Has Become Smaller – Transport in Newry and Mourne’ exhibition, examining all aspects of transport in the area over the centuries, and open to visit until May 2.



It is the golden jubilee of Castle Archdale Caravan Park and Camp Site, and the whole family is welcome to join in the celebrations, which on Saturday April 30 include balloon modelling with Mr Twister and a kid’s quiz with prizes.

April 30 will also be an exciting day for dogs, dog owners and dog lovers as Castle Coole holds Paws In The Park. Dogs are always welcome at Castle Coole, but especially on this day, when dogs and their owners can join in the dog walk, enter the pet dog show, and pick up some behaviour techniques and grooming tips.

The May Day weekend is also the perfect opportunity for families or groups to visit SHARE Discovery Village. The Share Extravaganza gives visitors an opportunity to try out an array of land and water activities in one-hour, two-hour or taster sessions.



Fun for all the family is on offer at The Jungle NI in Moneymore on May 1 as its popular Family Fun Day takes place, where visitors can buy tokens to exchange for a variety of outdoor activities on offer throughout the day.

During the evenings from April 29-May 1, music lovers should head to the village of Macosquin near Coleraine for the Big Marquee Weekend II. This year’s line-up features a thrilling mix of big name dance, indie, country and Britpop stars, in a purpose-built marquee in the grounds of Mary Pat’s Bar.

However if jazz is your musical style of choice, the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival is a must, with Derry~Londonderry reverberating to the sound of jazz from bars, theatres, shopping centres, restaurants and on the streets around the city from April 28 – May 2.



Pull on your wellies as rare and minority breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry make the Ulster American Folk Park home for the weekend in the Rare Breeds Show. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the variety of farm animals on show. The event takes place from April 30 – May 2.

Also this Bank Holiday weekend in Co. Tyrone, the number one country music festival in Ireland returns as Jamboree In The Park comes to Ecclesville Centre, Fintona. Taking place on April 30 and May 1, there will be headline performances from Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan along with many other exciting artists, making this a must for country music fans.

Finally, on April 30, beer enthusiasts can enjoy the North West Brew Fest at Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh. The inaugural event will showcase local beer, ale, stout and cider produced across the North West, with the hotel’s pavilion transformed into a beer garden theme with fantastic live music across the weekend.


V important Food Allergies 

Hi please read and heed!!


Survey shows improvements for those with allergies since new allergen labelling rules came in – but more needs to be done.


Research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK has found that despite improvements, one in four people with a food allergy has experienced a reaction while eating out in a restaurant or cafe since new allergen labelling legislation came in a year ago. The survey also found that nearly one in five (19%) of those allergic reactions resulted in a hospital visit. 


The EU Food Information for Consumers (FIC) Legislation came into force in December 2014, and means that food businesses have to make information on 14 allergens available to consumers. This ranges from the most common allergens, such as peanuts and gluten, to less well known triggers for allergic reactions such as mustard and celery. It is estimated that 2% of adults and 8% of children (which equates to around 28,000 adults and 30,000 children) in Northern Ireland may have a food allergy.


The survey, which was carried out to mark Allergy Awareness Week 2016, found that overall, 83% of respondents have noticed an increase in measures designed to make life easier for allergic consumers – including menus marking out allergens, and staff actively checking food information with the kitchen. 


More than half (58%) of allergic consumers said that their overall experience of eating out has improved; just 6% said it has got worse. As a result, a similar proportion (52%) say they now feel more confident eating out than they did before the legislation was introduced.


However, people with allergies still report a number of problems when eating out. More than two-thirds (69%) have experienced staff not understanding the severity of an allergy, and how easily a mistake can cause a reaction. A similar number (68%) have seen staff with a lack of knowledge of what’s on the menu or in the food – including staff confusing eggs with dairy, or assuming that the customer was asking for gluten-free rather than avoiding lupin (a grain commonly used in place of wheat). Over half of allergic consumers (56%) said they have been made to feel like an inconvenience due to their allergy.


In total, around a third of those with a food allergy have experienced a reaction in the last year when eating out of the home. The vast majority of these (25%) took place in a restaurant or cafe, with 9% being a result of takeaway food. In most cases (88%) the reaction was self-treated, with 19% of reactions resulting in a hospital visit.


Sharon Gilmore, Head of Dietary Health at the FSA in NI commented: “The number of people who have food allergies and intolerances has increased in the last decade and this is something businesses can’t ignore. Since the introduction of new legislation in 2014, we’re pleased to see real progress in how businesses provide information on allergens but it’s an area that still needs improvement.


“We continue to support local businesses and have produced MenuCal, a free online tool that helps food businesses manage the allergy information of the food they serve. We are working very closely with district councils and food businesses in Northern Ireland to ensure we’re providing food people can trust.”


If anyone encounters a food business not providing information on the 14 allergens, they should report it to their district council who will investigate. The survey showed that those affected are currently more likely to report it to staff in the first instance (69%) or complain on social media after the event (23%). 


Food businesses have been given flexibility on how they provide allergy information. This can be communicated verbally through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found on menus or in additional leaflets.


For more information on the EU FIC regulations please visit: or to keep up to date on FSA in NI news visit: or follow us on Twitter @FSAinNI.


You can sign up for allergy alerts on the FSA in NI website at:


Food businesses can also register to use our free online tool, MenuCal, which helps identify the allergens in the food they serve. Visit: for more.