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.



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.

Following the Painters Impressionist Tour



Honfleur Harbour

Continuing on my recent French tourist trail, I headed north up to Normandy. I was in search of one the most famous French painters, amazing locations, but I had a few towns to visit on the way. HonfleurMy first stop was Honfleur, how can I describe it? Take beautiful Dutch merchants’ houses that are found on the canal side in Amsterdam, add in the beautiful costal situation of Northern France, add loads of colour and wonderful French food and hey presto, you have Honfleur.

Hiding around the coast from Le Harve, this beautiful medieval town is simply charming. The town is spectacular to walk around during the day and in the evening the brightly lit restaurants offer the ‘catch of the day’ to the many tourists who have been luck enough to have found this idyllic little gem.

Formerly a shipbuilding centre with a very strong nautical theme, this is one town many painters seek out  to capture on their canvasses. Not to be missed sites are the seventeenth-century church of Santa Caterina, and the 17th century Basin surrounded by elegant sailing craft.


After a wonderful days walking I was ready for a quiet lie down and a glass of wine. My accommodation was a delightful little hotel in Honfleur called the Hotel Monet (www.hotel-monet-honfleur.com)  If you want a beautifully quaint and extremely reasonably priced hotel, then this is the one for you. With prices from as little as €40 pps you can bag yourself a wonderful little hotel in this beautiful part of France.
I had a superb nights sleep and rose early in the morning as I had more travels in mind and much more of Normandy to visit.




Le Harve Town Hall

Next morning I was off again and heading for Le Harve. Most people head there to leave France to go back to the UK or Ireland, but I was traveling  there as a tourist. My aim for visiting Le Harve was actually to discover its beauty.

This city was heavily bombed at the end of the Second World War and the city centre was practically re-built during the 1950’s under the direction of architect Auguste Perret.  In 2005, Perret’s modernist city centre was the first post-Second World War city in Europe to be awarded Unesco World Heritage status.

It’s clear that’s Perret’s interest was in concrete, Its clear to all that he really liked this medium.  Some of his masterpieces included St Joseph’s Church and the MuMa Art Gallery with its Impressionist collections.

This beautiful art gallery was renamed the Musée Malraux in 1999. It then changed names again in 2011, its 50th anniversary to become the Musée d’art moderne André Malraux—or MuMa for short. A very contemporary space, it is a pleasure to walk round and admire the beautiful paintings stored within. (www.muma-lehavre.fr)


IMG_3172Boudin (Monet’s mentor) was born in Honfleur, however he began painting and developed his talent in Le Havre. A few years later, Monet started the founding movement of Modern Art with his painting “Impression Sunrise”. This painting is kept in the Marmottan Museum in Paris, and as because of this it is often forgotten that it was painted in Le Havre.

Le Havre, its port, its beach and its regattas have inspired all the major painters of this movement (Pissarro, Sisley, Boudin, Monet, Jongkind, etc.). Monet and the impressionist painters have given art a new lease of life by challenging centuries of codified academic painting. Though impressionist painters kept a strong link with the real world’s painting, they managed to free themselves completely from the fetters of the past by picking the themes of their paintings in every day life.

St Josephs Church in Le Harve is quite simply astounding, built to act as a memorial to the five thousand civilians who died in the conflict. The church was designed by the chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre, Auguste Perret, teacher and mentor to the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The sombre interior is in the Neo-Gothic style. The tower is 107 metres tall and acts as a beacon visible from out at sea, especially at night when illuminated. This is a must see building.

As I was on an impressionism tour of Normandy it would be unfair to miss out on a short trip up to Etretat, 28 km from Le Harve. The spectacular coastline and chalk needle at Etretat were immortalised by Monet and the resort beach attracted artists including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet and of course Claude Monet. Two of the three famous arches are seen from the town, the Porte d’Aval, and the Porte d’Amont.


The spectacular coastline and chlk needle at Etreta

During the 1930’s, in the era of the train, a line was built from Paris out to the coast for the great and the good to enjoy the fresh sea air and to view the white cliffs of Dover. The train line went through Rouen the town which was to be next on my impressionist tour.

Rouen and the Seine Valley have attracted and continue to attract many artists with their colours, culture, lights and way of life. It has attracted all the masters. Turner, Monet, Gauguin, Pissarro, Sisley and for some of them to the point of obsession. Today, the Museum of Fine Arts and its Depeaux gallery still hold the second largest Impressionist collection in France for the pleasure of tourists and the pride of the people of Rouen.

Several works by Claude Monet, numerous creations from the École de Rouen and the Normandy Impressionist Festival marvellously illustrate the reciprocal love between the capital of Normandy and Impressionism. This city really has it all. Wonderful paintings and a connection to the historic lady herself, Joan of Arc.

I was fortunate enough to join a walking tour of Rouen with a true expert, Catherine Brandon-Delattre.  Catherine expertly gauged the level of interest and the speed at which the visitors wanted to walk. This is a knack that not many guides have, but mine did. Catherine was superb, I remember sitting for coffee outside the High Court in Rouen as Catherine told us the history of the splendid building, whilst lady barristers crossed the forecourt with their “bundles”.

IMG_3185 (1)

La Couronne

After a splendid walking tour, which covered everything beautiful Rouen had to offer, I had made my way to dinner at the oldest restaurant in France. La Couronne (www.lacouronne.com.fr) loved by the great and the good. Darwin Cauvin the Maitre D, directs La Couronne as a theater, every day, every night, La Couronne is a feast. Grace Kelly herself, called the place magic. Little has changed in the restaurant since 1345. Outside La Couronne was the spot where Joan of Arc was burned in 1341.

So as you can imagine it’s a pretty special restaurant and tables are hard to get. Thankfully my connections in Normandy tourism had secured me a table from where I was able to watch the ceremony of the Le canard à la presse, it’s a dish I had never seen prepared before. Let’s just say it’s roast duck and look up the rest on YouTube, its interesting.

So after dinner as I walked back towards my hotel, I came across a crowd of people staring at a church, quite a number of churches and impressive buildings in France put on spectacular light shows at nightfall which are projected onto the facades. They are truly spectacular. It is quite difficult to describe just how amazing the shows are but Google the one in Rouen and you will see what I mean. Captivating and spectacular are two words that describe the amazing view. It’s something you must see as describing it is near impossible.



JANUARY can feel like a long month after the excitement of the festive season and New Year celebrations.  So to brighten up your January, and as a fun and delicious way of catching up with loved ones, why not head out for an afternoon tea?

There is a huge range of places all over Northern Ireland offering afternoon tea and almost every hotel, restaurant and venue has their own signature take on it featuring exquisite little treats washed down with NI’s favourite drink, tea.

Ruth Burns, PR and Marketing Destination Manager at Tourism NI explains why enjoying an afternoon tea is the perfect way to while away a day.

“We’re lucky here in Northern Ireland to have a huge selection of hotels and restaurants where you can beat the January blues with a fun day out sampling a range of delicious treats and given that 2016 is the Year of Food and Drink we are encouraging everyone to explore what’s available.  We are a nation who love our tea plus a catch-up with friends and family and if you add sumptuous sandwiches, cream filled buns and a lovely venue, the combination is irresistible” said Ruth. To help get you started,

Tourism Northern Ireland has highlighted a range of places where you can sit back, relax and enjoy an afternoon tea:


The Merchant Hotel's Great RoomThe 5* Merchant Hotel offers the ultimate luxury afternoon tea experience with finger sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones with clotted cream all adorned on a silver tea stand. This is complimented with tea, coffee or if you’re feeling particularly decadent – champagne.

Afternoon tea at 4* Ten Square Hotel is served up in the surroundings of the Grill Restaurant, with a chilled glass or Prosecco, selection of teas and coffee, mini savouries, side salad, cakes and mini desserts to finish.

Relax and unwind in the opulent Titanic Belfast where you can soak up the stunning surroundings, including a replica staircase of the RMS Titanic, as you listen to the smooth sounds of the musicians playing jazz.

Co. Antrim

The Galgorm Resort & SpaSpoil your nearest and dearest with a traditional Afternoon Tea for Two at 4* Ballygally Castle.  Choose from finger sandwiches, savouries, pastries, cakes and lots of speciality teas and coffees before taking a walk along Ballygally Beach opposite the hotel.

The 4* Galgorm Resort & Spa also offers afternoon tea in the beautiful River Room & Conservatory. Dive into the delicious treats available which include freshly brewed tea, sandwiches, miniature savouries, freshly baked scones and miniature desserts.

Co. Armagh

Ballydougan Restaurant & Coffee LoungeTreat your mum or best friend to an afternoon at the Ballydougan Restaurant & Coffee Lounge. Relax in the beautiful surroundings of Bloomvale House where you can enjoy locally produced and freshly prepared food.  Why not make a day of it and join in one of the Pottery Classes or bring home a piece of Ballydougan from the gift shop.

At The Charlemont, you can treat yourself to a sumptuous afternoon tea made with pastries, scones, savouries and lots of sweet bites to tantalise your taste buds. All ingredients are locally sourced and the menu is designed around each season’s produce.

If you want a walk after an afternoon of indulgence there are many superb walks and trails nearby like the Slieve Gullion Forest Park or Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.

Co. Down

The 4* Old Inn, Crawfordsburn is the perfect place for a cosy afternoon where you can curl up on a comfortable seat by a roaring fire and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea of Earl Grey tea, dainty sandwiches, homemade shortbread and chocolate dipped strawberries. For a real treat, add a glass of Prosecco or sweet sherry.

At the 4* Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, Newcastle you can enjoy steaming cups of tea, and pretty plates piled high with dainty sandwiches and sweet treats. The popular seaside location is perfect for unwinding as you take in the stunning views where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

Plus, it is only a short drive to the beautiful Tollymore or Castlewellan Forest Park where you can enjoy a walk or for something really invigorating breathe in the sea air along Cranfield Beach near Kilkeel.

Co. Fermanagh

Lough Erne Resort, FermanaghEnjoy afternoon tea at The 5* Lough Erne Resort & Spa, Enniskillen where you can chat with friends and family in the comfort of The Garden Hall by the log fire with views over Castle Hume Lough.  If you are looking for something really indulgent then sample the Chocolate Afternoon Tea or the Pink Afternoon Tea which includes a glass of Billecart – Salmon Rose Champagne.

At the 4* Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen you can choose from Classic Afternoon Tea or Cream Tea Delight and you can add a little sparkle to your day with a glass of champagne.

Round off your day with a visit to the National Trust properties of Florencecourt House or Castle Coole just outside Enniskillen.  Florencecourt is one of Ulster’s most important 18th century houses whilst Castle Coole is one of Ireland’s greatest neo-classical houses.

Co. Tyrone

The delicious afternoon tea at the 3* Silverbirch Hotel begins with an Amuse Bouche and is followed by a selection of finger sandwiches, lovely cakes and scones served with fresh cream and local jam accompanied by a selection of fresh leaf teas.

Enjoy scrumptious afternoon tea in Lady Ada’s Tea Room at The Argory, Dungannon.  The Argory was built in the 1820’s and is the former home of the MacGeough – Bond family renowned for its wonderful views over the gardens and 320 acre wooded estate which borders the River Blackwater.

Visit the nearby Linen Green in Dungannon where you can enjoy an afternoon browsing through a range of unique shops bursting with items to suit every taste and style.

Co. Londonderry

Hastings-EvergladesThe 4* Everglades in Derry~Londonderry offers plates of dainty sandwiches, fluffy scones, buttery cakes and pastries. There is no better way to spend a relaxing afternoon with a handful of your best friends.  Derry City is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland so take time to explore the city walls, take a stroll through the Craft Village, enjoy a tour of the historic Guildhall or meander across the Peace Bridge.

At the 4* Beech Hill Country House Hotel you can enjoy a variety of cakes, pastries and sandwiches made freshly every morning.

For more information on things to do in Northern Ireland click on www.discovernorthernireland.com  or visit your local visitor information centre.


P&O Ferries is cutting prices for all football fans planning to travel to the continent for the biggest sporting event of 2016 by £50.

P&O Ferries, which has been providing services across the Irish Sea for 40 years, has made the outstanding offer to celebrate the first ever occasion on which both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have qualified for a major football tournament.

Neal Mernock, P&O Ferries’ Sector Director on the Irish Sea said: “We are the only ferry company in Europe which has routes across both the Irish Sea and the English Chanel. The offer which we are launching today gives football fans the opportunity to travel on our route from Larne to Cairnryan in Scotland and then down to France via Dover and Calais.

“There is no more enjoyable and relaxing way to travel than by ferry and once you arrive on the continent you have the freedom to explore France in your car. On behalf of everyone at P&O Ferries, I would like to wish both the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland teams the best of luck and I’m sure that the supporters who follow them will have a memorable summer holiday regardless.”

P&O Ferries discount applies from 8th June to 12th July 2016 and is applicable on the Larne–Cairnryan and Dover-Calais routes. It is valid for long breaks only (i.e. more than five days) and both the Irish Sea and English Channel journeys must be booked at the same time. Visit www.poferries.com/euro2016 or call 0800 130 0030 for more details.

P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry operator, sailing on nine major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium. The company operates 20 vessels which carry more than 10 million passengers, 1.6million cars and two million freight units every year.

Academy Restaurant one of Belfast’s best kept secrets.

What a Find !

I thought I knew most eating establishments in Belfast, so you can image I was delighted to discover a new one on me.
The Academy is situated within the York Street campus of the Ulster University and can be easily accessed through the main doors on York Street.

It is the training restaurant for the Ulster University students, who are studying the BSc Hons degrees in Culinary Arts Management and International Hospitality Management.

This fully functioning restaurant gives the students the chance to hone their skills on ordinary members of the public and in return you get a superb evening out and great value.


chive and potato basket, steamed turbot and salmon topped with dill and lime butter sauce

My six course-tasting menu cost me the princely sum of £17-95.

My wonderful dishes.

My starter was a beautiful warm chive and potato basket, steamed turbot and salmon topped with dill and lime butter sauce. This was expertly crafted and presented in a white serving plate; I shall let the picture speak for itself.

Next came the Beef Consommé garnished with savoy chicken and mushroom quenelles, this was again a superbly prepared dish and tasted delightful.



vodka and apple infused blueberry sorbet

Following the consommé came vodka and apple infused blueberry sorbet, perfect for cleansing the pallet. Frozen to perfection, this delightful frozen sorbet cleansed the pallet preparing it to receive the main course.

Seared lamb cutlets, wine vinegar and pomegranate jus, served with chive olive mash. It’s a long time since I have had such delicious lamb, beautifully prepared, cooked and without a doubt expertly rested before being served. The quality of food and service at the Academy is second to none, the surroundings are delightful and attention to detail is again sublime.


Seared lamb cutlets, delightful

When eating at the Academy it is so easy to forget that you are in a training environment and that it is young students who are doing all the work. And you do have to remind yourself you really are eating the finest food, served by some of the finest waiting staff in the country, most of whom have part time jobs in the best restaurants in Ireland.



Eating at the Academy reminds me of my days training as a chef many years ago in the College of Business Studies in Brunswick Street, Belfast. Then we did a similar restaurant service on a Thursday evening but the produce was not quite to the same standard.

IMG_3462After my main course, came dessert, chocolate and vanilla sponge, espresso mousse accompanied with forest berry compote. I can tell you it was to die for.

One of the most demanding jobs for waiting staff is serving at the table.

Its high pressure and you are all alone, from experience one of the most difficult jobs at a table is an Irish Coffee.
Get the cream to thin, not enough sugar, cold coffee and you’re sunk, quite literally

Amazing Food.


Jayde our expert server

Jayde our expert server  pulled it off with all the expertise and flair of a seasoned professional. She brought over a delightful serving table, two types of whiskey and made the perfect Irish Coffee.

Needless to say the remainder of the diners saw the flair with which mine was prepared and promptly started ordering for themselves.

Eating at the Academy you really do have to remind yourself (if you need to) that these are students because such is the level of service and quality of food you would think you were elsewhere. So if you want to support the next generation of Michelle Roux or Jamie Oliver’s then get down to The Academy on a Tuesday or Thursday evening.
The Academy restaurant is open to the public throughout the autumn and spring semesters. (They also cater for out of term functions – for more details contact 028 953 67327)

Serving Times Academy_Restaurant

The Academy serves lunch each day, Monday to Friday from 12.30pm.

Starters are priced at £3.00, main courses at £6.50 and desserts at £3.00.
Tea, coffee and petits fours are complimentary when ordering a full 3-course meal at £12.50
Dinner is served on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7.00pm
Dinner menus are set 6 course meals devised by each supervisory student in close liaison with the chef and are priced at £17.50.
Tuesday evening offers a ‘Gourmet Experience’ while Thursday evening has a ‘Culinary Journey’ theme.

A fully licensed and well stocked bar includes a wide selection of wines to complement your meal.

Contact The Academy Restaurant here 

UEFA Euro 2016 French Host Cities

Whether you’re a UEFA football fan or not, it’s safe to say the entire country is in high spirits after the two Ireland teams qualifying wins.

After an impressive victory earlier this week, the Northern Irish and Ireland teams
IMG_1032 can look forward to taking part in the 15th UEFA European Championship 2016 in France. This exciting tournament will take place from 10th June until 10th July and a record 24 sides will contest in ten beautiful host cities across the country.

The draw determining which nation will play who and where will take place on 12th December. Each nation will play in three different cities so there’s plenty of opportunity for visitors to experience what beautiful France has to offer.

1. Lille: Lille is the city where traditional and contemporary mix to spectacular effect. This former industrial hub has reinvented itself without losing any of its rich heritage.

2. Lens: The town of Lens-Liévin is enjoying a new lease of life as the home of Louvre-Lens, the first out-of-town museum of The Louvre, which opened in 2012, and a wealth of new cultural and community sites.

3. Lyon: The gastronomic capital of France, Lyon offers outstanding museums and a dynamic cultural life, from the Renaissance Old Town to the brand new Confluence district.

4. Saint-Etienne: A former industrial city famous for its ribbons, bicycles and firearms, 21st century Saint-Etienne is now renowned for its cultural activities.

5. Marseille: France’s second largest city, Marseille has throbbed with life since the Greeks first came ashore in 600BC. Cycle along the coast or catch public transport to visit the famous calanques – rocky inlets with hidden beaches and bright blue water.

6. Saint-Denis: 10 km outside the centre of Paris, Saint-Denis is best known to sports fans as home of the Stade de France. The town’s towering basilica is a must-see too – the last resting place for some 75 French kings and queens.

7. Bordeaux: An UNESCO World Hertiage site, Bordeaux’s incredible restaurants, neoclassical architecture and buzzing culture make it a top destination for holiday-makers.

8. Toulouse: Known as La Ville Rose – the Pink City – because of its brick-built buildings, Toulouse is a vibrant southern city with a cultural scene to match. Stroll the towpath beside the Canal du Midi and take a cruise on the river Garonne on your visit.

9. Paris: The French capital needs no introduction and is home to some of Europe’s best known monuments and museums like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre.

10. Nice: Whatever you’re looking for, Nice has it – in abundance. Travel highlights include watching the sunset from the stylish Promenade des Anglais and exploring the breath-taking Old Town.

The following airlines and ferry companies offer direct travel options from Ireland to France:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Ryanair
  • Air France
  • CityJet
  • Brittany Ferries
  • Irish Ferries
  • Stena Line

All UEFA host cities apart from Lille, Lens and Sainte-Etienne have direct flight connections from Ireland. Lille and Lens are best reached via Paris Beauvais airport and Sainte-Etienne can be reached via Lyon.

For more information on France, visit http://www.france.fr/


V19A0061HALLOWEEN is just around the corner and to celebrate the spookiest time of year, Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging everyone to have a bewitching time and explore the frightfully haunted places and skin crawling events that are available all over NI.  Whether you are planning a short break or dress-up days away with your little wizards and witches there are lots of great happenings to choose from including fireworks displays, spooky tours and fancy dress competitions.

There is something for everyone and thrill seekers are sure to find something that’s spine-tinglingly good explained Tourism Northern Ireland’s Destination PR Officer Pauline Gormley.

“Halloween is celebrated all over Northern Ireland and is the perfect time of year to dress up and explore all the wickedly wonderful spooky goings on that are happening with friends and family,” said Pauline.

“Whether it’s creepy castles or haunted hotels that you would like to visit or perhaps something a little less spooky and more suited to families, there is something to suit everyone this Halloween.

“We’ve put together a terrifyingly good list of just some of the events and would encourage everyone to check out what’s happening in their local areas for some guaranteed fun,” added Pauline. 


To help get you started, Tourism Northern Ireland has put together a list of spooky events to make sure you get into the Halloween spirit:


Co Antrim

The Dark, Dark Room, The Mac, Belfast, October 24 – November 1. Bring your little ghouls, ghosts and goblins along to The Mac in their best fancy dress to explore this Halloween sound installation.

Halloween Monster Mash, Titanic Slipways, Belfast, October 31, FREE event. Head along to Belfast’s biggest Halloween celebration featuring haunting street theatre, fire jugglers, music and an impressive fireworks display.

Paranormal Tours at Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, 15-31 October. This special edition 60 minute tour will take you to the various hot spots of the Gaol where Paranormal Activity has been reported and the guide will tell you of the harrowing stories associated with these areas. There have been sighting, noises and unexplained happenings within the walls that have seen 17 men executed over its 150 year history.

Broomstick Belle Steam Train, Belfast, October 31.  Ghosts and ghouls of all ages are invited to come along in seasonal costume to sample the unique steamy atmosphere aboard this Steam Trains Ireland trip from Belfast Central Station to Whitehead and back. Children with a ticket receive a Halloween themed Spooky goody bag from the Wicked Witch.


Halloween_Rowallane GardenCo Armagh

Little Spooks at the Navan Centre, Armagh, October 29 – November 1. Have spooktacular fun as you meet with Hansel and Gretel at the witch’s house in the woods. Visitors should beware of what could be lurking in the trees and enjoy the interactive ‘Billy Bones’ games and activities.

Halloween Arts and Crafts Club, Palace Stables, Armagh, October 29. Children can unleash their creative side at the Palace Stables by experiencing hair raising fun with arts and crafts workshops as well as action packed games and entertainment.


Co Down

Hallowtides Festival, Newcastle, October 31, FREE event. The popular seaside town will host a jam-packed calendar of frightful events as part of its annual Halloween celebrations. Go along to experience live music, a fancy dress competition, themed float parade and one of the area’s largest

fireworks displays.

Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, every weekend throughout October (excluding 17 and 18). Visitors can pop along and enjoy some autumnal fun with their ‘little spooks’ such as popping into the café to dunk apples in molten chocolate before playing conkers.

Pumpkinfest, Castle Ward, Downpatrick, October 24 and 25. Kick your half term holidays off with a bang at this year’s Pumpkinfest where families can choose their favourite pumpkins, scoop out the insides and draw on their own unique designs before handing them to expert carvers to complete before taking home. Visitors can also create their own spooky scarecrow to enter into the scarecrow pageant with some fantastic prizes. Other activities running across the weekend include organic pumpkin soup sampling, an autumn trail and horse and carriage rides.

Little Spooks at the Navan CentreHalloween at the Outlet, Banbridge, October 30. Come along to The Outlet in Banbridge for a spine-tingling Halloween. Enjoy a fun filled evening packed with creepy characters, fair rides, costumes and spot prizes.

Scary Newry Halloween Festival, Newry, October 26 – November 1. Discover Newry’s most famous ghosts and grisly history with Newry City Tours. Choose between a Pyschic Ghost Walk which ends in the haunted tunnels beneath the city streets and the kid-friendly Children’s Ghost Walk, which follows a ghost buster on an adventure through Olde Newry in search of ghouls and ghosts.

The Dark Side of Ballycultra, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, October 28 – 29, 6.30pm and 8pm. This is a rare and unique opportunity to visit the museum at night and hear lots of spooky stories from members of staff who will take participants through their experiences of ghostly happenings. Children must be over 12 years.

Visitors should also come along on October 31 for the Halloween Family Festival where they can embark on a mysterious adventure through the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Cultra’s misty rural dwellings and dark train carriages.


Co Fermanagh

Share Halloween Howler, Lisnaskea, October 29 – 31. This spectacular event promises to entertain the whole family with lots of frightful fun and hair raising activities. One of the highlights of the experience will be a Ghost Ship where there will be storytelling, games and ghoulish snacks on board.

Halloween Fest and Craft Fair, Florence Court, Demesne, Enniskillen, October 25. Come along for a hair raising, fun filled afternoon where families can meet the gardener to discover what it takes to grow the perfect Halloween_Rowallane Garden 2pumpkin or even take a spooky house tour to meet the ghosts and ghouls of Florence Court.


Co Londonderry

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry~Londonderry, 29 October – 1 November. This world famous celebration of Halloween will allow revellers to experience creepy GhostBus tours, night-time markets, thrills and spills galore, with a week-long hive of devilish activities that everyone will adore.

Attractions include the Trail of terror, Awakening of the Walls, Hall of Horror and a Family Funday with fortune telling, scary storytelling, dance performance, arts and crafts, games, apple bobbing, gunge dipping and much more. Key highlights of this festival include the world famous spooktacular carnival parade- the biggest in Europe, culminating in the explosive fireworks cascade.

The Rise of the Ghostly River Gods will also offer a packed programme of events which includes the Chateau le Fear which will bring a trail of terror to Ebrington from October 16th to November 1st.

Halloween Day Tours to Derry~Londonderry, October 30 and 31. Ulsterbus Tours have teamed up with Visit Derry to offer exciting days out to celebrate the spooky season taking revellers straight to the heart of the action on one of their luxury coaches.  For further details go to www.translink.co.uk/Special-Offers/halloween-daytours-to-derry~londonderry.

Haunted House on the Hill, Springhill, Moneymore, 29-31 October. Not for the faint hearted, this is for people brave enough to visit one of Ireland’s most haunted houses. Aimed at adults, this event allows people to experience the spooky story behind the house and encounter witnesses of the headless horseman and will be tasked with navigating their way through ancient woodlands amidst freshly dug graves.


V19A0061Co Tyrone

Halloween Torchlight Tours at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, October 29-31. Take your friends and family along to a tour of the outdoor museum where you can listen to ghost stories as the darkness falls.

Pumpkins and Potions, The Argory, Dungannon, October 24 – 25. Come dressed in your most frightening costume and enjoy a weekend of family fun. Go along with your family to enter the spooky shed for ghoulish tales and a creepy Halloween trail.

Fright Night at the Courthouse, Cookstown, 22-31 October. This Halloween, the Old Courthouse, located on Chapel Street, Cookstown will be opening its doors from October 22nd for a frightful fear fest. The team behind the popular Crumlin Road Gaol, is bringing Belfast’s number one scare attraction to Cookstown for the first time. The special event will also give visitors a chance to see inside the Old Courthouse building – but be warned to expect some scares along the way.

There are lots of places all over NI which are rumoured to be haunted and Tourism NI has put together a list of these below:


Ballygally CastleHaunted Hotels and Castles

Ballygally Castle Hotel on the North Coast is one of Northern Ireland’s most famous haunted hotels. A ghost called Isabel Shaw is said to wander the corridors at night knocking on guests doors and giving them a fright. Visitors who are feeling particularly brave can request to stay in the ghost room.

The White Horse Hotel in Derry/Londonderry is rumoured to be haunted by a mail stage coach whose driver pulls up and enters the hotel only to then mysteriously disappear.

Dunluce Castle was once the scene of a tragic accident as a few centuries ago the kitchens slipped into the sea below and took some members of staff fell to their deaths. It is reported that on certain nights you can still hear the screams of the people as they fell to their watery graves.

Carrickfergus Castle is said to be haunted by Button Cap who carries his head under his arms as he walks through the battlements. Dobbins Inn, also in Carrickfergus, is said to be haunted by his girlfriend.


Spooky Locations

In Mullanakill, Co Armagh, there is said to be the ghost of a headless horse. It is claimed that Sir William Verner took his trusty steed Constantine to battle in the Napoleonic Wars and when it was killed in action, he brought it home to bury in the family graveyard.

Tollymore Forest Park is haunted by the Blue Lady, a former resident in the seat of the Roden family at Tollymore House. Visitors have reported spotting the ghostly vision wandering through the forest park and along the tree lined avenue.

Beware if you are taking a walk through the Mourne Mountains as legend says that the Slieve Binnian light will block the path of unsuspecting walkers to steer them away from the haunted trees near Spelga Dam where it is claimed that an Irish Chieftan is buried.


Coastal creepiness

There have been reports of ghostly sightings at Bogey Hill which overlooks Newcastle Harbour. A fishing disaster occurred in 1843 and since then, sightings have been reported of a grieving woman dressed completely in black, sobbing and looking out to sea in the hope of seeing her loved ones.

Sightings of a huge black dog have been seen at St John’s Church, Newcastle and the dog is said to have eyes of blazing fire and gleaming white teeth.

Mussenden Temple which is situated on the Downhill estate on the Causeway Coastal Route is said to have blood appear on the floor only to mysteriously disappear within minutes.

Newcastle Harbour is the location of many spooky legends including a banshee which has been seen walking silently among the tied up boats and lobster pots. Locals have described the banshee as a small woman with a high pitched voice.


For more details on these and other events click on www.discovernorthernireland.com/events, visit your local tourist information centre or log onto www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland.


Win a Deadly night for Halloween in “the world’s largest grave”

Win a Deadly PrizeFor the most terrifying night of the year, the Catacombs of Paris and Airbnb give you a chance to be the very first live person to sleep amongst the dead…

Airbnb, the world’s leading community driven hospitality company, has revealed that the Paris Catacombs, one of the world’s largest cemeteries, become the latest host on the platform.

For one night only, two brave souls will have the chance to experience a Halloween night they will never forget, 65 feet under the city.

During the night of October 31st, the Catacombs of Paris and Airbnb are offering an exclusive night in the depths of the city, alongside the centuries-old remains of millions of Parisians, including the famous Jean de la Fontaine, Charles Perrault and François Rabelais*.

After a private tour of the labyrinth of bones and skulls, the guests will enjoy a daunting culinary experience to the sound of violins. At bedtime, a storyteller will read some catacombs legends to make sure the pair don’t experience any sweet dreams. The next morning, the guests will become the first people to ever wake up from the Paris Catacombs.

“After the incredible night in a ski lift 2700 meters above the ground last year in Courchevel, Airbnb is now sending you 65 feet under Paris! Our travelers are always on the lookout for original experiences and what could be more unique for Halloween than spending a night among the bones and ghosts below Paris,” commented Nicolas Ferrary, France Country Manager of Airbnb.

Located south of the former city gate, the Catacombs of Paris contain the remains of millions of Parisians transferred there gradually between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries as City graveyards were closed due to public health risks. Each year, 500,000 people from around the world visit the Catacombs, but this will be the very first time that people are allowed to spend the night there. This exclusive night is organized through a partnership which contributes to the financing of renovation works in the Catacombs. Special measures were put in place to ensure the safety of participants and the preservation of the ossuary.

517167_num1107008How to win a spot?

For a chance to win this unique experience, visit the Catacombs’ listing on Airbnb no later than October 20th at 11.59pm (CET) and tell the host why you think you are brave enough to spend a night in theCatacombs. The contest is open to everyone, two people maximum. All terms and conditions of the contest are available on airbnb.com

House Rules

  • Thanks for respecting the peaceful sleep of Parisians
  • Do not try to summon bad spirits
  • Do not follow the ghosts through the galleries, you might never find the exit
  • Trick or Treaters beware

About Airbnb

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and over 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions. airbnb.com

Orange Is the New Black: Eight Luxury Prison Hotels

Emmy Award-winning drama Orange Is the New Black recently returned to our screens (via Netflix).

If the tales of Piper, Alex and the other inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary have left you longing for a prison-like experience, look no further than this list courtesy of trivago.ie.

Once correctional facilities, these buildings have been converted into luxury hotels, boasting unique architecture, comfortable rooms and fine dining.

Many retain original features, making it possible to spend the night in a prison cell – with a little added comfort.


image002.1image0031) Het Arresthuis, Roermond, Netherlands

Het Arresthuis is located in the quiet and picturesque Dutch town of Roermond, close to the German border
The building served as a house of detention and later a state prison until recent years, with the hotel opening in 2011. Guests can choose between comfort cells, made up of three former prison cells, and deluxe cells, which are housed in former recreation rooms. Although the original bars still line the windows, guests will find the cells transformed to comfortable havens complete with flat screen televisions, tea and coffee making facilities, rain showers and dressing gowns and slippers. Staff are happy to arrange flowers, chocolate or Rituals beauty products for special occasions – a far cry from life in prison.

Cells available from €132: http://www.trivago.ie/roermond-46796/hotel/het-arresthuis-1852649


2) Malmaison, Oxford, UK

The Malmaison Oxford is housed inside the former HM Prison Oxford, which is part of a Grade I listed medieval castle.

image005malmaison_extThe prison closed in 1996 and was reimagined as a boutique hotel, incorporating the original castle walls and many features from the prison. A range of 95 rooms and suites are available, including the cell double, cell superior double and rooms located in the adjacent House of Correction building. Malmaison prides itself for its unique concept and high standards, with each room boasting power showers, mood lighting, 24 hour room service and exclusive toiletries. Inmates won’t have to worry about sub-standard food here: the stylish Brasseries serves generous portions of fresh, local and classic food.

Cells available from €285: http://www.trivago.ie/oxford-39929/hotel/malmaison-oxford-139392


sultanahmet_ext3) Four Seasons Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Four Seasons Sultanahmet is found in a century-old neoclassical Turkish prison in Istanbul’s Old City, with the 6th century Haghia Sophia and the 17th century Blue Mosque a few steps away.
Views of these landmarks are best enjoyed from the A’YA Rooftop lounge, which specialises in wines from different regions of Turkey and traditional Turkish snacks.
The prison operated between 1919 and 1969, located adjacent to the courthouse and housing inmates awaiting trial or serving brief sentences.
Today, the inner courtyard houses a lush garden and alfresco dining area.
The spacious rooms and suites bear little resemblance to the former prison cells, boasting private bars, large plasma televisions and marble bathrooms complete with deep soaking tubs.

Cells available from €605: http://www.trivago.ie/istanbul-32123/hotel/four-seasons-istanbul-at-sultanahmet-37541


4) Långholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

Like many parts of Stockholm, Långholmen is situated on an island, incorporating a hotel, hostel, conference centre, restaurant and prison museum. langholmen_exteriorimage007
The prison, which operated between 1725 and 1975, was one of the largest in Sweden, housing over 500 cells. Guests can visit the museum to see how former inmates used to live, or alternatively check into one of the hotel rooms – which are housed in former prison cells.
The original windows remain, although the cells have been updated with contemporary design solutions to include flat screen televisions and other amenities.
Guests can choose between single cells, double cells, family cells and even romantic cells, featuring sparkling wine, chocolate, dressing gowns and slippers.

Cells available from €78: http://www.trivago.ie/stockholm-52297/hotel/langholmen-41280


Liberty HotelLiberty Hotel5) The Liberty, Boston, USA

The Liberty is housed in the former Charles Street Jail, constructed in 1851 and formerly housing inmates such as Malcolm X and World War II prisoners of war.
Today, this architectural gem has been redesigned to house a luxury hotel and six different bars and restaurants.
While the former prison cells were just 80 square feet, the 298 rooms and suites range from 400 to 800 square feet. Guests can expect advanced technology and contemporary style, including mahogany woods and touches of stainless steel. Those wishing to see the original prison should head to CLINK restaurant, where guests can sit in parts of the original cells while enjoying modern American cuisine.


Cells available from €453: http://www.trivago.ie/boston-34602/hotel/the-liberty-222701

Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Not only is Lloyd Hotel located in a former prison, but it’s also the world’s first one-to-five star design hotel.
This means the rooms range in comfort and price, from cosy one-star rooms to deluxe five-star suites, featuring grand pianos, swings, hammocks, milk bottle chandeliers and much more.
Each room is unique, created using the inspiration of over 50 designers and artists, making the hotel an icon of Dutch design.
A prison is just one of the hotel’s former functions: it was primarily used to house immigrants, before becoming a prison, a collection of artist’s studios and finally Lloyd Hotel in 2004.
Today, the hotel strives to bring travellers and locals together by hosting cultural events ranging from design exhibitions to percussion performances and Japanese markets.

Cells available from €70: http://www.trivago.ie/amsterdam-46814/hotel/lloyd-hotel—cultural-embassy-42138


katajanokka_intkatajanokka_room7) Best Western Premier Katajanokka, Helsinki, Finland

 Best Western Katajanokka was previously the Helsinki Country Prison, serving pre-trial criminals from Southern Finland between 1837 and 2002. Extensive renovations, reportedly costing €15 million, were undertaken in order to create the hotel, although strict guidelines concerning historic buildings means the exterior remains largely unchanged.
Sets of two or three cells were combined to create spacious and comfortable four-star hotel rooms, ranging from queen rooms to junior suites, accessible by the original prison corridor.
Restaurant Jailbird has a prison theme, complete with exposed brick walls, barred windows and medieval-style chairs. Here guests can sample Scandinavian specialities, including the acclaimed President Ryti’s beef.

Cells available from €103: http://www.trivago.ie/helsinki-81568/hotel/best-western-premier-katajanokka-340191




image011clink_exterior8) Clink78, London, UK

Not technically a luxury hotel, but certainly a “posh hostel”, Clink78 is found in a 200 year-old courthouse.
The Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court previously housed The Clash, who were fined for shooting expensive racing pigeons and inspired the name of the hostel’s late-night bar: Clashbar.
The former courtrooms now serve as a TV and film lounge and a computer room, complete with the judge’s podium and witness and usher stands.
Guests can also choose to sleep in one of the original prison cells, which accommodate one or two people in bunk beds.
Original features such as the heavy metal door, barred windows and steel toilet (no longer in use) remain, but the cells have been refurbished to add colour, warmth and humour.


Cells available from €103: http://www.trivago.ie/london-38715/hotel/clink78-1032784