Tayto Park Viking Voyage.

CONSTRUCTION is well under way for a major new Viking-themed flume ride that will open in Tayto Park this June.


As well as being the first ride of its kind in Ireland, Viking Voyage at the Park will also feature a Viking village, five replica Viking ships and 20 life-size Vikings.


The flume ride is the latest addition to Ireland’s only theme park and zoo and will use up to 1.7million litres of water.


Over 10,000 tonnes of concrete and 500 tonnes of steel have gone into the construction of the ride so far, with staff learning about and using building methods from the Viking age to create a truly authentic experience.


The construction team have used Viking methods including wattle fencing, currachs and thatch, all of which were techniques used thousands of years ago.


Tayto Park has even liaised with Viking experts from Sweden and themed contractors who have worked in major worldwide theme parks and film sets including Disneyland and Game of Thrones to ensure all elements of the setting are accurate.


Tayto Park Viking Voyage. Construction is well under way for a major new Viking-themed flume ride that will open in Tayto Park this June.

Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle said:  “We are very excited to unveil our new and exciting attraction The Viking Voyage at the Park in the coming months. We are dedicated to bringing cutting-edge attractions to Tayto Park and this particular ride is one of a kind.”


By the time the ride is complete, over 60,000 man hours will have been completed and will include the making of a man-made mountain which sits at 60ft above the ride.


Over 5,000 trees will be planted to recreate the Irish landscape from 1,000 years ago and Tayto Park is building one of only a couple of round towers to be constructed in Ireland in the last 900 years.


The Viking Voyage at the Park will open during June 2017. For more information on Tayto Park visit www.taytopark.ie.


Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.


Jet2.com and Jet2holidays spreads its wings at Belfast International

– EIGHT brand new destinations, including six exclusive routes

– 39% increase in capacity from Summer 17 means 30 new jobs created

– Larger aircraft added to fleet at Belfast International

Award winning flights and holidays driving huge growth at Belfast International

26 April 2017: Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has announced its biggest ever summer flights and holidays programme for Summer 18 from Belfast International Airport, with EIGHT BRAND NEW destinations and a Boeing 737-800 aircraft added to the fleet to support a phenomenal 39% increase in capacity.

The leading leisure airline and package holiday specialist will fly to 22 destinations in Summer 18, after adding eight brand new routes from Belfast International Airport. This growth means the creation of approximately 30 new jobs, mostly in flight deck and cabin crew positions.

Six of the routes will be exclusive to Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, including:

  • Antalya – one service every week to Turkey’s turquoise coast
  • Madeira – one service every week to this famous island, known for its green and rugged landscape
  • Crete – one service every week to Greece’s largest island, famed for its varied terrain, which ranges from fine-sand beaches to the White Mountains
  • Costa de Almeria – with two services every week, Costa de Almeria offers Blue Flag beaches and white washed villages. Customers can take their pick from the family friendly resort of Roquetas de Mar or the historic village of Mojacar for authentic Spanish charm
  • Naples – one service every week to one of Italy’s oldest, most artistic and most delicious cities, known for its culinary delights and access to the stunning Amalfi Coast
  • Paphos – one service every week to Paphos, famed for its archaeological sites relating to Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-tiled villas


In addition to these exclusive routes, there are two other new destinations to Malta and Rhodes for Summer 18, with a weekly flight operating to each destination.

This growth has resulted in the addition of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft at Belfast International, enabling Jet2.com and Jet2holidays to increase capacity and reach destinations such as Cyprus, Crete and Turkey. The aircraft, which seats 189 customers, means more Northern Ireland holidaymakers can escape to the sun direct from the airport with Jet2.com, which was last week named Best Airline – UK and Best Low-Cost Airline – Europe in the inaugural TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for airlines, and Jet2holidays which offers great value ATOL protected package breaks through a £60 per person deposit.

In total there will be over 400,000 seats available (over 110,000 more seats than Summer 17) for Summer 18, with more than 75,000 seats across the eight new destinations, meaning Northern Ireland holidaymakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where and when they would like to get away.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “This will be our biggest ever summer programme from Belfast International, with 8 brand new destinations, 400,000 seats and more hotels than ever before with our award-winning airline and package holiday operator. We have made a huge investment in Belfast, creating new jobs and putting in an additional aircraft to allow holidaymakers to fly to more destinations than ever in Summer 18. Such sustained growth is only possible by looking after customers, which shows that our continued investment into offering real package holidays and family friendly flights is working.”

Graham Keddie, Belfast International Airport managing director said, “Coming on the back of hosting the Routes Europe event in Belfast we are thrilled that Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are increasing their range of destinations at Belfast International Airport.   This 39% increase in capacity not only brings the total number of routes served by Jet2.com to 22 but will also mean a jobs boost for the local economy with the addition of a fourth based aircraft. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are clearly responding to customer demand for services to popular holiday destinations at affordable prices.”

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has also extended its flying programme to other key destinations including Faro, Ibiza and Fuerteventura so customers can really maximise the summer at the start and the end of the season. Flights to Fuerteventura alone will be increasing by 63% in Summer 18 and with the destination boasting over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year it is the perfect place to jet off to escape the gloomy Northern Ireland weather.

For more information and to book please visit www.jet2holidays.com



Allianz Garden Show Ireland 2017

Antrim Castle Gardens will be bursting with colour from 5th – 7th May 2017 as Allianz Garden Show Ireland returns to the beautiful venue for a three day festival of flowers, food and fun.

With a renewed focus on gardens this year there will be more to entice and inspire every level of gardener

Joe Swift Picture credit RHS Malvern

with a warm welcome being extended to Joe Swift from BBC Gardeners World, who will be sharing his extensive knowledge during a series of interesting talks on Friday 5th May.

Commenting on the return of the Show to Antrim, Allianz Garden Show Ireland Director Claire Faulkner stated,

“Thanks to the on-going support of our sponsors and partners, the 2017 Show will be bigger and better than ever before and I am delighted that Allianz joins us once again as title sponsor. This year will be a celebration of this country’s rich local heritage, a theme embraced by participants throughout the Show. So it is particularly fitting that the event is staged in Antrim Castle Gardens which is in itself a living museum of four centuries of local heritage”.

Local Northern Irish heritage is the influence behind the Show’s stunning large feature garden designed by Belfast based Architect and Landscape Designer James Purdy who takes his inspiration from the Mournes, while the community focused team challenge gardens will celebrate CS Lewis and draw inspiration from Narnia.

Damien O’Neill, Group Head of Marketing for Allianz commented,

“Allianz is delighted, once again, to be title sponsor in 2017. Last year’s event was a huge success and this year looks set to be better again. Allianz is committed to sustainability of the environment and we recognise the big part that our gardens can play in achieving this goal. We know that the Show not only brings communities together but also showcases the very best in the world of gardening with all its attendant benefits. We are very much looking forward to all that this year’s Allianz Garden Show Ireland has to offer.”

Gardening enthusiasts will have plenty of opportunities to learn at the Show with a wealth of talks and demonstrations running throughout the three day event including talks from GIY (Grow It Yourself) founder Michael Kelly,
expert gardening writer Geoff Stebbings and local expert and former director of Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, Reg Maxwell.

BBC’s Paula Mcintyre


Food also continues to be a major part of the Allianz Garden Show Ireland with the Food NI Kitchen showcasing the very best of local artisan produce as well as lively demonstrations from the much loved local food author Paula McIyntre. Paula will be joined on Saturday 6th May by the hugely respected food writer and cook Thane Prince who will be performing demonstrations and sharing her experiences through a series of talks.

The Food Garden will offer visitors an exciting range of local farm produce to enjoy in one of the many quiet spots throughout the Antrim Castle Gardens.

New to the Show this year will be a series of Art in the Garden events including a collection of wall hangings specially created for the Show and made by a talented group of quilt makers from around Northern Ireland. The Art theme continues with a range of musical offerings including talented young singers from Sestina, a brass ensemble from the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra and the Sing for Life Choir as well as the ever popular Martello Jazz Band.

Mayor of Antrim & Newtownabbey, Cllr John Scott is also looking forward to welcoming the Show back to Antrim,

“Following the huge success of last year’s event, I am delighted that the Allianz Garden Show Ireland will be returning to Antrim Castle Gardens this year. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase this stunning and unique venue to the thousands of visitors who travel from throughout Ireland and far beyond to the Show each year. Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is extremely proud to support this prestigious event, which contributes so much to the economy of the local area.” 


Returning to the Show bigger and bolder than last year will be the Flower Arranging Pavilion which will welcome massive floral displays created by members of NIGFAS as well as a series of demonstrations and workshops from Gold Medallists Therese Quinn and Roberta Orr.

The family focused event has, over the last number of years, engaged with schools province-wide ensuring that the Show is eagerly anticipated by all the children who take part in the Allianz supported schools challenges. Primary Schools will be displaying their garden containers under the theme of ‘Enchanted Gardens’.

Allianz Scarecrow Avenue meanwhile will come alive with scarecrows created by primary schools in the integrated sector who will be creating a ‘Legends of NI’ avenue.

Set in the stunning Antrim Castle Gardens the Allianz Garden Show Ireland continues to draw record crowds each year and with extensive local parking and a short travel time from Belfast it really is an accessible day out for all.

For tickets and more information please visit www.gardenshowireland.com


Keep on Running With the Top Five Marathons in Asia

The Great Wall Marathon

Ahead of the London Marathon this weekend, Asia touring specialist Wendy Wu Tours has pulled together a list of marathons taking place around Asia that keen runners can take part in. For those who would like to travel without the running, Wendy Wu Tours has paired each marathon with an exciting, active ‘Discovery’ tour around Asia, visiting those same incredible locations.

The Great Wall Marathon, China (20 May 2017)

Celebrating its 18th year, this is recognised as the most challenging marathon in Asia. Nearly 3,000 runners attempt to conquer the Great Wall’s 5,164 steps, reaching elevations of over 500m from the start line. The route travels along both restored and more traditional sections of the wall, as well as going through local villages and the picturesque surrounding hills, making it one of most unique marathons in the world.

For those who prefer to explore the wall at a slightly gentler pace, travellers could experience sunset on the Simatai section of the wall and a six hour trek from Gubeikou to the Jinshanling section on Wendy Wu Tours’ 17-day ‘A China Adventure‘ from £3,190pp.

The Angkor Empire Marathon, Cambodia (6 August, 2017)

Taking place in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, this picturesque marathon takes in several UNESCO Heritage Sites, including Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and Pre Rup. The race begins and ends in front of the majestic Angkor Wat, with the race beginning at 4.30am so that participants can experience the famous sunrise and avoid the heat of the day.

Another way to see the Angkor Wat complex is from the back of a traditional tuk tuk, which travellers can experience on Wendy Wu Tours’ 21-day ‘Vietnam & Cambodia Discovery’ tour from £3,190pp.

The Bagan Temple Marathon, Burma (25 November 2017)

This marathon takes place in the ancient city of Bagan in Burma, which is home to over 2,000 magnificent stupas, temples and crumbling pagodas, making it one of the most picturesque running events in the world. The marathon starts at the ancient Htilominlo Temple, which was constructed in 1211 AD, passing by various temples and traditional villages along the way with the locals creating a vibrant atmosphere to keep the runners’ spirits high.

The beauty of the Htilominlo Pagoda can be admired on Wendy Wu Tours’ 17-day ‘Hidden Treasures of Burma‘ tour from £3,690pp, which spends three nights in Bagan.

The Halong Bay Heritage Marathon, Vietnam (25 November 2017)

One of the newest marathons in Asia, this race takes place along the coastal route of Vietnam’s most famous site, Halong Bay. The route is a haven of natural beauty, taking runners through fishing villages and along the shoreline, before heading over Bai Chay Bridge, the longest single span bridge in Southeast Asia.

Travellers can also take in the natural beauty of Halong Bay with Wendy Wu Tours, spending two days and one night on a cruise of the area on the 17-day ‘Reflections of Vietnam’ trip from £2,790pp. Guests could alternatively spend three days on a deluxe boat on the luxurious 18-day ‘Classical Vietnam’ tour from £4,290pp.

The Tokyo Marathon, Japan (25 February 2018 – TBC)

Once runners have ticked off the London and New York marathons, Tokyo is often next on the list. Around 10,000 runners take to Tokyo’s streets, running through some of the city’s most famous areas including Shinjuku, Asakusa and Ginza. The flatter route allows runners to take in the blend of old and new architecture, from awe-inspiring skyscrapers to Buddhist temples.

Travellers can experience the fascinating fusion of past and present in Tokyo on Wendy Wu Tours’ 13-day ‘Trails of Japan‘ tour from £4,890pp, which includes visits to a traditional sumo wrestling match, the one-of-a-kind Robot Restaurant and a Japanese drumming Taiko class.

For more information or to book, please visit www.wendywutours.co.uk/blog/china/top-5-asia-marathons/  or call 0800 902 0888.



Dungannon Park

According to a recent report the number of caravans and motorhomes is set to soar by more than 50,000 in the next five years. And that will mean a staggering 807,000 of them to generate local spending and visit attractions, but in Belfast there is nowhere to park your motorhome or Caravan.

Londonderry or Legenderry has recently granted permission fro a new Motorhome and Caravan park, Dungannon has one, Larne has one, even Dundonald has one but there is nothing in Belfast City.

There is little doubt the homegrown holidays are becoming far more popular in the UK, thanks to global terrorism and its clear that many UK citizens choose to stay at home for their holidays. Stena line provides amazing prices for Caravan Club members to travel across the Irish Sea, but when they get to Belfast where do they go?

Well out of Belfast is the answer, as there is simply no provision for the Caravan or Motorhome in Belfast. The closest two parks to Belfast are provided by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh council, yet most of the visitors travel into Belfast.

As a regular Caravaner I have used both parks and only last Saturday I drove a German family into Belfast from Jordanstown Loughshore Park Caravan site to show them the sites of Belfast and take them to the wonderful Titanic experience.

They had planned to visit the north Coast that day and only due to my intervention and advice did I persuade them to visit Belfast. So come on Belfast City Council provide a motorhome / caravan park and generate some home grown investment in this wonderful city.

Belfastdaily.co.uk’s travel editor, Tim Hedgley has visited most of the Caravan Parks in Northern Ireland over the last year and he is well aware of the provision that is on offer to the traveling caravan/ motorhome community.

Tim explained:

Amazing Rushin House Belcoo

Without doubt the best Caravan Park in Northern Ireland is Rushin house in Belcoo, (www.rushinhousecaravanpark.com) Brenda and Cahal run this caravan park with the visitor in mind. Its spotless facilities and superb location give it the ability to win countless awards from the Caravan community from around the UK. To be listed in the top 100 sites for Practical Caravaner magazine and Practical motorhome magazine is no mean feat and it is their attention to detail and their award winning service that makes them consistent winners of awards each year.

Second in my list of great NI sites is Ballyness Caravan Park, Bushmills. (www.ballynesscaravanpark.com)

Ballyness is blessed with spotless pitches a great facilities block and superb facilities. It boasts fifty touring pitches, which are laid out in three landscaped areas.  The lower circle is overlooking or close to the ponds and the upper circles are nearer to the play park.  Each touring pitch has hard standing with individual electric, water and drainage hook-ups and is large enough to park a car beside the caravan.  Dogs are very welcome. It has an excellent shop and wonderful advice from the owners. Make no mistake, if you are going to visit the North Coast it has to be Ballyness.

Best Council Site

Best council provided site has to go to Dungannon Park (www.midulstercouncil.org)
Midulster Council recently upgraded their toilet and shower facilities to what can only be described as five star. They are simply fantastic.

Trust me you would not get better in a five star hotel.

If you have a lakeside view pitch, you are in for a real treat.
Now having married a Dungannon girl, I know Dungannon is not the first place to come to mind when touring but this is a great place to stop. Not least because Cookstown caravans are not too far away.

Six Mile Water Site Antrim

Second place goes to Sixmilewater Caravan Park. (www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk)
Antrim and Newtownabbey Council have invested heavily in Caravan and Motorhome parks and they deserve great credit for their foresight in this emerging tourism area. Antrim is a firm favourite with Caravaner’s and on many weekends you will find they are booked up. May brings the Mayflies, but don’t be put off it’s a great site and there are lots of activities in Antrim which is only a short walk away.
Toilet block needs updating but its still good.

A close third is Jordanstown Lough Shore Park at Whiteabbey. (www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk) This is the baby of Caravan sites in Northern Ireland and its proximity to Belfast makes it a firm favourite with the tourists. Great toilet facilities and recently extended free Wi-Fi makes this a great site. With a bus stop just outside the site and a wonderful coffee shop, which is open 7 days a week makes this a “great place to visit”





TAYTO PARK ATTENDANCE FIGURES GO NORTH… Ireland’s only theme park and zoo celebrates new season with rise in visitors from NI 

PARK LIFE: Amelia Bell (10) and brother Isaac (7) from Belfast are looking forward to Tayto Park’s new 2017 season which kicks off on Friday April 7 2017

TAYTO PARK, Ireland’s only theme park and zoo, has launched its new 2017 season with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland.


As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year.


Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions.


Speaking at an event in Belfast, Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle said:  “Since we first opened our doors in November 2010, the Northern Ireland market has become increasingly important to us with almost 200,000 visitors travelling from the north last year alone.


Last year was a record year for Tayto Park which is very encouraging as we get ready to open our gates to the public once again next Friday (April 7).  We are confident that this season will be our biggest and best yet and have invested heavily in new rides and attractions that we’re sure will be a big hit with customers from across Ireland.”


Mr Coyle said that the company was investing €9 million (approx. £7.7 million) in the park this year, with a further €17 million (approx. £14.7 million) already ear-marked for 2018.


New attractions for 2016 will include the Viking Voyage at the Park water flume ride and the World of Raptors birds of prey demonstration, which will both open in the summer.  These will complement a host of existing favourites including the gravity-defying Rotator, the Power Surge and The Cú Chulainn Coaster, Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s First wooden rollercoaster with an inversion.

Tayto Park Zoo hosts an exceptional and diverse animal collection, while Dinosaurs Alive, Ireland’s only life-size animatronic dinosaur exhibition, features the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus.


With easy access from Northern Ireland and free parking for cars and buses, Tayto Park offers a great day out for families, couples, schools, birthday parties, corporate events, etc,” continued Mr Coyle. 


There really is something for everyone and visitors to the park can expect to have a jam-packed day of fun during which they can try out the numerous theme park rides before taking in the animals at the zoo which include a mountain lion, fossa and a range of birds of prey, just to name a few!”


TAYTO PARK CELEBRATES RISE IN VISITORS FROM NI: Amelia and Isaac Bell from Belfast get ready to embark on a fun filled journey to Ireland’s only theme park and zoo. Tayto Park launched its new 2017 season today with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland. As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year. Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions. Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.

Tayto Park caters to a wide range of sectors including primary and secondary schools who can avail of various tours all of which include admission to the park, unlimited access to all attractions and educational aspects ranging from business to ecology and conservation.


Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.


Key attractions at Tayto Park include:

  • The Cú Chulainn Coaster… Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s First wooden rollercoaster with an inversion
  • Extreme Climbing Wall… challenge yourself on one of the many routes to the top of this extreme 21 metre climbing wall
  • The Rotator… hold tight and defy gravity when you get strapped into this awe-inspiring ride which soars 31 metres high and revolves 360°… are you brave enough?
  • The Power Surge… get ready to be tossed and turned at great heights on this thrill ride which spins you on both a horizontal and vertical axis
  • 5D Cinema… sit back and immerse yourself in this one-of-a kind virtual experience where you are part of the action, featuring air gusts, water jets, leg ticklers, flashing lights and bubbles
  • Endeavour… with speeds as fast as 60km and reaching a height of 68 feet, this ride is perfect for adrenaline junkies
  • Sky Walk… conquer many obstacles that will test your fear of heights and the unknown
  • Air Race… inviting pilots to soar, twist and spin on this amazing stomach-churning aerial adventure… not for the faint hearted
  • Tayto Park Zoo… an exceptional and diverse animal collection which includes the largest of the big cats, the Amur tiger, the illusive and stunning Ocelot, a growing primate collection which includes Squirrel monkey, Red-bellied tamarins and the Geoldi’s monkey, a selection of beautiful and colourful birds from around the globe… and the marvellous meerkats
  • Dinosaurs Alive… this awe-inspiring, life-size animatronic dinosaur spectacular is guaranteed to delight visitors of all ages, featuring the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus and more
  • Steam Train Express… sit back and relax on this traditional style steam train for a journey with views and attractions of the Park
  • Shot Tower… be prepared to get strapped in and watch the ground get smaller until you reach the top and feel the exhilaration as you shoot down to the ground
  • A host of eateries including The Lodge Restaurant, Pizza Place, Argentinian Grill, The Sweet Station and many more.  A gift shop is also available where visitors can pick up a fun memento to celebrate their time at the park.

Clarke and McDowell ready to mount Major challenge in Portstewart

Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell will add their Major clout to the Northern Irish contingent at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation when they join defending champion and tournament host Rory McIlroy at Portstewart Golf Club from July 6-9.


ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 16: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard on March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Both players will bring significant local knowledge to the historic tournament, which will be the third event of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series – a premium category of events each with a minimum prize fund of $7million.


The 2010 US Open Champion McDowell grew up in nearby Portrush while Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion, now lives there.


Clarke and McDowell, along with fellow Major Champions Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy and former Irish Open Champion Shane Lowry, will be hoping to continue what has been the most successful period of home dominance in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

STRAFFAN, IRELAND – MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


With Harrington having lifted the trophy in a famous 2007 campaign, Lowry triumphing as an amateur in 2009 and McIlroy delighting the crowds with victory last year, Clarke and McDowell are the only players among that quintet yet to experience glory at their home open.


Tickets to watch these home-grown superstars take on some of the game’s most celebrated international superstars can be purchased at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.


McDowell said: “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is always a special week for me but this year it will be even more so, returning once again to the area where I grew up.


“Portstewart is a fantastic golf course and it’s great to be going back to another classic links. The atmosphere is always something else when the Irish Open comes to Northern Ireland and I’m sure this year will be no different.


“Winning the Irish Open has always been something I’ve dreamed of doing and my game is shaping up nicely at the start of this year so hopefully I can put in a strong performance in front of the home fans.”


Clarke, who captained the 2016 European Ryder Cup team, said: “I am always so proud when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open comes to Northern Ireland and especially to an area which is so close to my heart.


“Portstewart is a spectacular links golf course and with this year’s event being a part of the Rolex Series, with a new date on the calendar and boasting an increased prize fund, I’m sure we’ll attract another great field.


“I believe the Northern Irish fans are some of the best in the world and it’s always a special atmosphere that they create, so I cannot wait for July to come around and hopefully I can bring some good form into the week.”


Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.


An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £90 over the course of the five days).


Concessions are available for customers aged over 60 and between 16 and 21, while children under 16 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.


To get a full seated view of all of the drama at the 18th green, grandstand tickets cost an additional £11.50 for Thursday and Friday, £16.50 for Saturday and £21.50 for Sunday.


Official Hospitality packages are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour’s dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on enquiries@europeantourhospitality.com or +44 (0) 1344 840681. 

Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort Opens For Its First Full Season

Wellness Orientated Beach Front Thermae Resort  

Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort OpensToday Greece’s largest and most spectacular Thermae Resort, Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort throws open its doors for its first full season. Officially opening in May 2016, and recently winning gold at the Ethos Greek Hospitality Awards 2017 as the ‘Best New Greek Resort’, ‘Best Greek Thermal Spa Resort’ and ‘Best Greek Hotel Marina’; this luxury family wellness resort is changing the way we holiday.

With the remarkable distinction of being located directly on the seaside, perched on the south-west coast of Kassandra, Halkidiki, Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort effortlessly combines the clear blue skies, golden sands and the welcoming waters of the Aegean, with a destination that sets a new standard in healthy travel.

Healing waters include a large thalassotherapy pool fed in directly from the sea and four separate thermal pools. These are filled with unique thermal waters of the region and a thermal well-life suite with steam baths, a Finnish sauna, tepidarium, herbal sauna, cold plunge walking path & two experience showers.  Each and every detail has been thoughtfully conceived – “The Queen of Detox”, as called by The Times, Amanda Hamilton, has created a selection of delicious juices and healthy signature meals and for those seeking cutting edge workouts – tailored fitness retreats with renowned specialists will focus on holistic wellness that is suited to every guest’s goals.

One of the world’s top thermal spa resorts, Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort is surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Aegean, and rests on a long stretch of sandy beach.  Secluded within a sheltered bay, along a pristine and perfect coastline, civilized pleasure coexists with authentic Greek hospitality – from seashore design pools, wellness and thermal spa, numerous restaurants, top branded shops and a beautiful and private marina. This new marina offers the very highest level of service housing 81 boats, up to 40 meters long in length. All boats are offered an individual and high quality mooring including launching ramp, 24-hour security and manning across 50,000 square meters of the marina, allowing yacht owners to experience the highlights of this new resort in full comfort.

The resort also houses 300 elegant, spacious rooms, 236 of which face Toroneos Gulf, and including 48 with private pools, furnished in lavish contemporary style and with the latest technology. These include their Double Rooms offer stunning views over the lush hotel gardens, the Junior Suites with their own private pools, larger Family Suites and Deluxe Duplex Suites complete with private pools with the finest sea views.  Furthermore, there is a fully operational and appropriately equipped convention centre with maximum capacity up to 450 people, ideal for prestigious events catered with sophistication.

For fine dining there are four restaurants on offer presenting exceptional  cuisine including all day dining in the sun dappled Kritamo Restaurant, a spectacular Seafood restaurant Torneo which serves freshly caught seafood direct from sea to table and an array of Mediterranean options. There are also four bars including a lovely wine bar and a spa health bar serving a wide range of fresh juices.

An unmissable destination for all ages – Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort Kids’ Planet features a football academy, astronomy, pirate ship building, kids’ radio station, pool games, pirates battle and a mini disco.

In celebration of their first full season Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort will be extending their opening dates from 31st March to the 31st October 2017.


New in the Vaucluse Provence 2017

The sun is out this weekend and when it shines it makes me think of France. this country has always been a favourite of mine and I recently got notification of some amazing places to visit Vaucluse Provence. so if you are traveling that direction consider these.

The wine is flowing at Châteauneuf du Pape: 2017 is the 700th anniversary of the castle of the Popes at Châteauneuf du Pape as they started its construction in 1317.  This was their summer residence.  It is also the 700th anniversary of the Enclave of the Popes in Valréas.  They say that it was because of his love of wine that Pope John XXII bought Valréas which stayed the property of the church until the French Revolution.  Events will take place all through the year reaching a peak on 4th – 6th August for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape celebrations and 19th – 20th August for Valréas. 

650th anniversary of The Synagogue of Carpentras: Carpentras is home to the oldest synagogue in France and celebrates its 650 year anniversary in 2017. It was built in 1367 and has been the subject of an extensive three year renovation programme. To celebrate the anniversary, there will be concerts, exhibitions, conferences, and so forth – including displaying some of the ancient Jewish texts from the library such as the Hebrew Bible that dates from 1550. This would be a grand time to visit the area and follow the route of Jewish history including Avignon and Cavaillon.


Marquis de Sade: Spring 2017 will see the doors opening of the newly restored Château of the de Sade family in Saumane.  It is one of many residences that the family owned throughout this part of the world and the labyrinth of corridors and passages shows the imagination of the young Marquis.  It has a medieval soul, a Renaissance charm and shows the fantasies of the eighteenth century.  The Marquis lived here from the age of five to the age of ten with his illustrious uncle who was a famous intellectual and scientist.

New accommodation options in the Vaucluse:  La Maison de Crillon, Crillon le Brave – only opening in June 2016, this little jewel of luxurious comfort overlooks the gorgeous Ventoux countryside. Just eleven rooms decorated with objets d’arts and fine furnishings in a modern building of stone, wood and glass. 

Domaine de Palerme, Ile-sur-la-Sorgue – This chambres d’hôtes, which also opened in June 2016, is in an eighteenth century farmhouse where Albert Camus stayed in the Fifties.  There are five enormous rooms with original tiled floors and blown glass windows.  The setting is magnificent – a garden of over 6000 square metres with masses of luxurious vegetation.  

Villa du Haut Vallon, Gordes – A very elegant chambres d’hotes, the Villa du Haut Vallon is situated just fifteen minutes from the village of Gordes in impeccably manicured gardens.  The interior is a perfect harmony of old and new with three vast suites that feature the original beams, doors and stairs.  The owner collects vintage luxury cars so one may take a trip around the Luberon in style.  

Hotel Le Petit Palais d’Aglae****, Gordes – This hotel also opened in June 2016 but is like no other!  It is like entering another world …an Italian Renaissance extravaganza where the normal codes of decoration have been totally ignored. There is also an exceptional restaurant L’Euphrosyne where the menu reflects the style of the property – happy, light, colourful, fizzy!

Avignon 2017:  7th April – 27th August 2017 sees the Raoul Dufy Exhibition in Avignon at the Angladon Museum collecting 60 of the great artist’s works in the recently added new space. 

New Openings:  Just opening – March 2017 will see the inauguration of an exceptional building dedicated to wine.  The Dubrule family have invested in an architectural marvel with their new wine cellar in Curcuron in the Luberon, designed by Jean–Michel Wilmotte using glorious materials such as dried stone, wood, glass etc.  They wanted to emulate some of the beautiful wineries of Spain and Aquitaine and this has certainly been achieved.  Not only will there be tastings of wines from all over the world chosen by Alain Graillot, but also a library of books dedicated to the Luberon and a collection of glasses on display.

September 2017 will see the opening to the public of the hydro-electric station at Bollène.  The majestic façade is classed as an historic monument and was known at the time as the French Suez.  It is a working industrial site where you can learn about hydro-electricity, the Rhône River and so on.  Guided visits take an hour and a half – Monday to Saturday inclusive.


They say a fiver doesn’t take you far these days!  Well ferry company Stena Line disagrees!

Their brand new Fiver Fever fare will take you across the Irish Sea, to Scotland or England, for a fun adventure that won’t break the bank – but be quick as you only have three days to bag a bargain!


Leading ferry company Stena Line clearly has that ‘Friday feeling’! With the launch of their Fiver Fever fare giving customers the chance to purchase a special £5 single foot passenger ticket to Liverpool or Cairnryan.

This extraordinary offer is available to purchase from March 17th until March 19th and is valid for travel up to December 15th 2017 on the Belfast – Liverpool and Belfast – Cairnryan routes.  This means BIG savings for upcoming Easter, mid-term and summer breaks.


Copyright Frank Lose

Orla Noonan, Travel Commercial Manager at Stena Line, said: “We are excited to launch our first ever Fiver Fever which gives our customers the opportunity to take a family holiday that won’t break the bank. Our £5 fares are only available to book from 17th to 19th March, so don’t miss out. Be quick to book as we expect this offer to prove very popular and for our sailings to fill up fast!


“On top of that, our low fare means there will be plenty left in the kitty to spend on having fun at your destination – so what are you waiting for?  Book now!

“Our Fiver Fever fare allows passengers to visit another country and enjoy all of these wonderful benefits once onboard, including excellent service, comfortable seating, speciality coffee house, free WiFi, free movies, great value dining options, kids play areas, discounted shopping, and so much more.”

Get online today to book your Fiver Fever crossing with Stena Line by visiting www.stenaline.co.uk/fiverfever.

*Terms and conditions apply. See the Stena Line website for full details.