Feather Down, creator of the best-loved family glamping holiday in the UK and abroad, announces the launch of the 2017 season.
This season, it introduces flexible arrival days, new farms, seasonal activities and an exclusive offer for customers aged 55 and above.


Feather Down offers more possibilities for arrival dates – such as any weekday for a two-night minimum stay – on selected farms. Furthermore, it is now offering up to a £35 discount for customers aged 55 years and above who are looking for a relaxed glamping holiday with their spouse and (grand) children


The 10 Person Tent has been upgraded too.

It now has a covered entry and a bigger stove and dining table, as well as a large outdoor kitchen. Feather Down also offers a new type of Canvas Frills Lodge, with wooden entry doors (instead of the traditional canvas slit with ropes). Customers can find this new type of Canvas Frills Lodge at East Shilvinghampton, in Dorset (England).


New locations for 2017

New farms have been added to the Feather Down family. Customers can expand their glamping adventure abroad with new farms in the UK as well as in Ireland, France, The Netherlands and Germany.
Fancy a glamping adventure in Scotland, in the middle of the Highlands? Then you might want to plan a trip to Feather Down’s brand new location close to one of the most popular UK holiday destinations.

Loch Ness.

There is also now a unique Feather Down Collection location in Ireland. Discover Loop Head Collection, a seaside glamping retreat that offers yoga classes and hosts small-scale festivals throughout the year. Furthermore, Feather Down has also opened two new farms on the other side of the pond. Grange du Bost is an organic farm in the Dordogne, France, which produces eggs, honey, walnuts, cereal and more.
La Grange is run by an English couple, so communication will be as easy as at home. Or enjoy a glamping stay at Hof Viehbrook in Germany, near the Baltic Sea. Here visitors can cuddle with the farm animals and enjoy the delicious local cuisine.

An introduction to Glamping

Glamping is a blend of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. If one thinks about camping, the first things that come to mind are a tent, air mattresses, a gas cooker and communal showers. Feather Down thought ‘We can do better!’


The Feather Down glamping concept combines the cosy feeling of camping with the luxury of a cottage. No stress about setting up tents, leaky air mattresses or scurrying across the camping site with a roll of toilet paper; instead the pure luxury of high-quality mattresses, a well-equipped kitchen, and a private shower and toilet.

Feather Down, Glamping Pioneers


European leader in glamping holidays, Feather Down, once again offers its luxurious accommodations at the most beautiful locations in the UK and abroad. Holidays with Feather Down are about getting back to the simple life, without electricity and Wi-Fi. The concept was born about 10 years ago in the Netherlands, and Feather Down now has thousands of customers from all over the UK and Europe; in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and the US.

An original holiday for families that is all about total relaxation.




A Feather Down tent is spacious and comfortable. The interior evokes the idyllic country life of times gone by. The Feather Down tents are equipped for up to 6 people (maximum 5 adults and 1 child up to 12 years), although there is a group tent that sleeps 10 people. Feather Down also offers an entirely wooden Log Cabin. In each of Feather Down’s accommodations there is a stove, toilet and fully equipped kitchen. Customers do not have to bring anything from home – everything will be provided.

10 Person Tent and new Canvas Frills Lodge


The 10 Person Tent has been upgraded. It now has a covered entry and a bigger stove and dining table, as well as a large outdoor kitchen. Furthermore, Feather Down now offers a new type of Canvas Frills Lodge, with wooden entry doors (instead of the traditional canvas slit with ropes). Customers can find this new type of Canvas Frills Lodge at East Shilvinghampton, in Dorset (England).

Seasonal Activities!

On Feather Down farms, there are different activities for every season.

They will kick off with their annual Easter Weekend, with a complimentary breakfast basket and Easter egg hunting activities with the children.


Find all of their seasonal activities here.

A special time away spent in close proximity to nature will remain etched in the memory of young and old. A unique family holiday glamping experience… It is no surprise that the average satisfaction rating of Feather Down customers is 9.5 / 10!



We all like a bargain, and for many travellers, I suppose we want ease of use and a one-stop shop for our travel needs. I was checking out the web recently and I came across a website that featured just those things and then I started to delve a little deeper into the site.

What I found was extremely interesting. is a global ferry comparison site that offers a quick and easy way to search, compare and book thousands of scheduled ferry crossings worldwide.

This one stop site represents 189 ferry companies (and the Eurotunnel), 2377 ferry routes and around 674 ferry ports, connecting travellers by sea to over 229 countries and Islands.


The Direct Ferries network covers virtually every ferry route around the world and it continues to grow.

Whether it’s a family break across the continent, Greek island hopping or an intrepid adventure across Asia, for anyone planning a ferry holiday, Direct Ferries is the essential planning tool.

Featuring literally thousands of ferry crossings and the very best ferry deals all in one place, Direct Ferries’ site and mobile app puts an end to hours of researching ferry travel options or navigating through non-English sites.

There is a comprehensive list of ports and detailed information on routes and destinations, allowing travellers to find the cheapest and most direct ferry crossing. The special offers page lists the best local deals for customers with a localised site depending where in the world you are.

Amazing Deals

For example, for bookings made before the end of January 2017, Direct Ferries is offering customers up to a 20% discount and a free flexi-ticket upgrade for ferry travel between Northern Ireland and the UK for travel throughout the year on certain routes.

It’s not just about the deals

The route and port finder makes it easy to find out which operators sail on which routes by looking at a country or by port in the drop down list.

Reaching customers across multiple-platforms, not only does Direct Ferries offer unrivalled access to the best global ferry deals, it also offers a range of supporting products including vehicle breakdown cover on certain routes, train tickets and accommodation.

Combination tickets

Train and ferry combined tickets, ideal for travelling between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland are available on the site and there’s a dedicated information page for this route. There’s also a mini cruise section for travel in Amsterdam, Bruges, Rotterdam and Copenhagen.

By partnering with accommodation provider,, visitors to the site also have the widest choice of accommodation at the best available prices. Whether stopping overnight on the way to or from the ferry port, or looking for accommodation for the duration of the holiday, there are hotels included for every port and destination.

And the Direct Ferries site isn’t just for future travel planning; the same flexibility and excellent value can be found via the mobile app.

In fact, in 2016 Direct Ferries found that in the UK and Europe, customers were opting to book on the go using their app rather than on their desktops.

Founded in 1999, Direct Ferries is a global company with offices across the world. Present in numerous markets, the company has developed a localised product for ferry travellers in the UK, across Europe, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China and more whilst the website available in 25 languages.

The company continues to grow rapidly and in 2016 they reported a 35% increase in global bookings. The route with the biggest increase of booking traffic up by 440% globally was Singapore to the popular holiday resorts on Bintan Island whilst the Wellington to Picton route, connecting New Zealand’s North and South islands, was the second most popular route with an increase in global booking figures of over 400%.

For those in search of that welcome winter sun, another handy travel hack is a new route, launched on Direct Ferries’ site at the end of last year, for ferries to Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea Riviera. With the continued lack of flights to the region, holidaymakers can now fly into Hughada and hop on a ferry, arriving in Sharm el Sheikh in under 2.5 hours – a journey that would take over 10 hours if completed by road.

With such a huge reach of ferry routes available, the site has some unusual routes to inspire the wanderlust in everyone; how about travelling by ferry from Tahiti to Moorea Island for amazing landscape, or Japan to Russia for the exotic and for a handy travel hack, go visa-free to St Petersburg in Russia only by ferry from Stockholm, Tallin or Helsinki.

So if you are thinking of a new ferry route or one you have used before, consider

Copyright Frank Lose


The Wallawwa

This week our guest writer visits Sri Lanka, Adam Jacot de Boinod worked on the first series of the BBC panel game QI for Stephen Fry. He is a British author and avid travel writer. Enjoy the wonders of Sri Lanka

Of all the tropical islands I have visited, Sri Lanka has the most heady mix of exoticism. Kúpa-mandúka is their local phrase for one who never leaves his home, one ignorant of the world (literally, a frog in a well). But, for me, Sri Lanka was definitely somewhere I knew I would be enriched by and had to visit.


I was soon to relax at my first hotel, the Wallawwa ( Colombo features a number of iconic colonial-era hotels with its charm and romance of a bygone era.

The drawing room has ‘Fly BOAC to Ceylon’ vintage posters and plays ambient music, lending itself well to the breezy vibe. Set in five acres of tropical gardens, it really proved a secluded boutique bolthole.


Anantara resort

Next up and down to the coast at Tangalle and the new Anantara resort (
The verandahs look out to sea and all around the resort are little lobster basket lights giving off a spiders’ web effect. Lounge chairs are actually cemented into two lengthy infinity pools and out to sea fishermen brave the rocks. And it’s mercifully mosquito free. Peace haven or ‘piece of heaven?’ It’s certainly pampering and tranquil.


I felt a real delight in witnessing the source of my food as manual workers, up to their knees in mud in the paddy fields, left behind them immaculate rows of rice. And to taste their rice that evening made me appreciate my food all the more.

Beach Office



Close by is Amanwella ( I arrived first at the large, red-pebbled courtyard, then through a an orchard of frangipani trees that suggested a place for convalescence.
There’s a super-sized swimming pool, pleasingly green rather than the usual blue, thus blending into the natural habitat. It’s virtually Olympian length helps to echo the height of the trees that in turn are reflected in the water.



Kahanda Kanda

And up inland to Lake Koggolo and onto the Kahanda Kanda ( Fifteen minutes inland and five miles from Galle, this style-conscious hotel looks down from its prominent bluff over a dense twelve-acre tea plantation. As for the feel, it is decidedly colonial. There are old portraits, oil paintings of horse racing, block-print cotton furnishings, antique loo seats and four-poster beds. There are games boards on the verandah and sofas outdoors on the porches.





Maliga Kandy

My next treat was to be at the nearby Maliga Kandy ( It’s part of Hideaways Club Classic Collection portfolio with properties all around the world. It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t want to be restricted to one location or have the hazzle of maintenance. Meaning Mountain Palace, Maliga Kanda is perched on a hill. This large, purpose-built villa is surrounded by wildlife and it was here that I got the true sense of the Sri Lankan paradise many had told me about. There’s music in the jungle. Especially with the dawn chorus. Colourful birds abound, peacocks strut upon their stage while fireflies shine out like mini stars and I was soon a twitcher, straining to spot the cormorants, eagles, kingfishers, blue pigeons and grosbeaks.


I took the most wonderful of all walks down through the village where I felt all of the island’s innocence and timeless charm. Dogs sit out by day to protect the houses and lie on the road at night to enjoy the tarmac’s warmth. A row of houses awaits the sound of ‘Fur Elise’ that heralds the bread truck or was it for ice cream? A multi-coloured school bus goes by. Schoolgirls in their white uniforms have thick platted hair that descends beyond the top of their legs. A washerwoman by the stream thinks twice about agreeing to be photographed amongst her laundry. Elderly ladies parade in pairs beneath their vivid-coloured parasols. Old men stick their legs out at right angles on old colonial bicycles that cause them to adopt staunch, upright postures.


Sri Lankan Cuisine

I was next to experience the period charm of a bygone era, at the Amangalla Hotel ( And while clearly the supreme standard of an Aman hotel must have given the building quite some makeover, I sensed nonetheless the residual authenticity. It’s full of character with triangular stairwells, wonky tiles, and those Portuguese terracotta tiles that I much prefer to the red roofs of the more modern Sri Lankan structures. The Zaal (great hall) divides between somewhere to sit and somewhere to eat. It has its original polished teak floors and a grand piano that I sat down to play. What a sublime experience across such a long room under such an echo from the high roof. The thirty bedrooms and suites have been cleverly converted from their original cell dimensions into sections where the arches and gaps lend a sense of privacy. The baths are freestanding and the carpets are from seagrass. There are Pettagama chests and planter’s chairs and the four-postered beds with their Dutch blue bedspreads have neither canopy nor mosquito nets.


Transport has its own challenges even now with the right of way always open to question. So renting a car would not be my suggestion. Tuk-tuks are fun to take and breezy especially on the minor roads. While dishing out advice, I stress you just have to respect the midday intensity of the sun and likewise the savage currents of the Indian Ocean.



I was to spend my last night at the lovely boutique hotel called Maniumpathy ( It’s tucked away in its own little world . Built over 100 years ago and renovated 10 years ago it opened in 2015. The eight suites with artefacts and vintage furnishings are named after the members of a fifth generation Tamil family from Jaffna (where Manipay was a thriving and wealthy locality). The owner, Hallock, was a ‘mudhaili’ (self-made man). So it’s not strictly speaking a colonial house, rather a family home. It’s in a desirable residential district and bang in the city centre near the National Museum, and the railway and bus termini.


Unlike other popular tropical destinations, Sri Lanka remains relatively untouched and unspoilt. The war is finished, the tsunami is a decade past and the highways now connect the island efficiently. With tourism rates projected to explode over the next few years, now is the perfect time to visit.



Adam travelled with The Holiday Place that has a wide range of holidays to Sri Lanka from just £699, including flights, accommodation and transfers. Call 020 7644 1770 and let the experts tailor-make your holiday or visit to book.


With Christmas only a few days away and most of us having stopped work for the holidays, it’s time to indulge in some last minute Christmas shopping for friends, family and even a year end treat for ourselves.

Whether you’re looking for designer clothing or searching for unique souvenirs, Northern Ireland can tailor your shopping experience to ensure that you shop and drop in style this festive season.

Tourism Northern Ireland’s Destination PR Officer, Rachel Quigg, said: “From shopping centres and high streets filled with designer brands to village studios selling the wares of local craftspeople, Northern Ireland is a great place for shopping.”

“Don’t forget to finish your shopping trip with a sumptuous coffee, festive cocktail or delicious meal at one of Northern Ireland’s award-winning eateries. After all, a hard day’s work requires a reward.” added Rachel.

Tourism Northern Ireland has put together a list of key destinations to hit the shops in the lead up to Christmas Day:

Victoria Square, Belfast

This luxury shopping centre located in the heart of the city has over 60 stores, including a four-storey House of Fraser, an Apple Store and many designer names: Michael Kors, Reiss, Ted Baker, Kurt Geiger and L. K. Bennett to name a few. For something extra special, dine in the Ivory Restaurant and afterwards take the elevator up to the glass dome and experience 360° panoramic views of Belfast.


Castlecourt Shopping Centre, Belfast

Debenhams is the big draw at Castlecourt, where there are more than 80 high street stores.  Spend a few hours browsing and you can even get a professional makeover by the experts including MAC, Urban Decay and Yves Saint Laurent.  Additional stores in the centre include Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Jack & Jones, Schuh Kids, H. Samuel and Hawkin’s Bazaar.

St George’s Market, Belfast

Belfast’s historic St George’s Market is where much of the best local food produce is gathered under one roof – from fresh fish, fruit and vegetables to ‘Belfast baps’, Bailies Coffee and Ann Pantry’s award-winning black pudding potato bread. Named Best Market in the UK 2016 by the Observer newspaper, it is also great for clothes, vinyl, bric-a-brac and arts and crafts. The market takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a different theme each day.

Lisburn Road
South Belfast

Independent designer fashion and homeware boutiques are scattered along the Lisburn Road, interspersed with coffee shops and restaurants. Shop at Jo Jo Maman Bebe, Bedeck, MavenOliver Bonas, Velvet BoutiqueReal, Moda Shoes, and Hugo Thomas. Then relax with great food and drinks at Deane and Decano, The Albany, The Chelsea or Shu. 

Bloomfield Avenue, East Belfast

Looking for something unique and individual, look no further than Bloomfield Avenue for specialist boutique style. Spend time browsing for that special item in shops such as Siren, Peels Fashion Store, Harlequin, Annabelle Ladies Fashions and Arabesque shoe shop with its selection of Italian and Spanish shoes and handbags.   

Queen’s Quarter, Belfast

For something old school head to South Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter in South Belfast. Botanic Avenue has the Vibrant Yellow Submarine and the Rusty Zip and Viva Retro is in nearby Bradbury Place. After you’ve come across that special outfit, why not indulge in great food at French Village Patisserie or get lost in a whodunit at No Alibis, a specialist crime bookstore.

Belfast city centre also has some vintage and retro shops: Fresh GarbageVintage Magpie, Liberty Blue and Octopus Garden.

Abbeycentre Shopping Centre, County Antrim

With High Street names such as Next, Monsoon, Pandora and TK Maxx, the Abbeycentre and surrounding Valley Retail Park on the outskirts of Belfast is popular with locals. Take a break from shopping to sip a coffee at Costa or grab a bit to eat at Synge and Byrne.

Ballymena, County Antrim

The town of Ballymena has unique, independent shops with fashion at Primrose in Greenvale Street and the department stores McKillens in Church Street and family favourite Camerons in Broughshane Street. There are also two shopping centres in this bustling town centre – FairHill and Tower Centre.

Near Ballymena are Marmalade, known for its eclectic mix of well-known designer labels, and Pretty Woman Boutique in Kilrea for the latest designer fashion. There is also Junction One, located just off the M2 motorway, with its Next Clearance and M&S Outlet stores.

The Craft Village, Londonderry

Visit the Walled City of Derry’s Dickensian Craft Village for gifts created by some of the best craft producers in Ireland. The quaint winding lanes showcase a dazzling array of fine art and photography, exquisite accessories, millinery tweeds and knitwear and jewellery along with beautiful soaps, candles and ceramics. Aran knitwear designer Edel MacBride is based here, who has designed for Hilary Clinton and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Coleraine, County Londonderry

Here you will find a number of unique small shops:  Daisy Mae boutique in Belhouse Lane specialises in 1950’s vintage style reproduction clothing and accessories, Ken Young is known to provide the finest menswear in Ireland and Bishops Footwear is in the Diamond Centre amid other high street brands.

Magherafelt, County Londonderry

Spoilt Bella, Sarah-Jane and The Queen Bee are all to be found in Magherafelt’s Broad Street, where stylish fashion collections have been handpicked from Europe’s best designers.  Other shops include The Fashion House in Market Street and for glamourous ladies’ footwear and handbags a visit to Four Seasons Boutiquein Queen Street is not to be missed.

The Linen GreenCounty Tyrone

This fantastic designer shopping village in Moygashel is full to the brim with quality homewares and interiors shops, including AnthologieBedeck, Gareth McFarland Design Yard and Lavish. These sit alongside fashion stores The Lingerie Room, Storey, Panache Shoe Company and The Boudoir – which is home to the leading young fashion blog My Sister’s Closet, whose popular dresses can be found in store. Anyone with a sweet tooth will love The Loft Coffee Bar’s cakes and traybakes.

The Buttermarket, County Fermanagh

The Buttermarket in Enniskillen, found on the site of a 19th century dairy is full or art galleries and craft studios waiting to be browsed, showcasing pottery and ceramics to handmade jewellery, textiles and picture framing.  Your day can only be completed with a coffee and homemade fayre in Rebecca’s Café.

The Outlet Village, County Down

The Outlet at Banbridge hosts outlet stores offering up to 70% off their retail price, from Gap and Jaeger to LK Bennett and M&S. It sits alongside the main A1 Dublin to Belfast road, and now has an Omniplex Cinema on site.



If the kids are getting restless, then consider there are plenty of things to keep them occupied for a few more sleep until Santa Arrives

Tourism NI has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (December 19 – December 25).


  • Around the World Christmas Winter Wonderland, Kool Kidz Childcare, Derry~Londonderry, until December 23. Enjoy a magical night out with the kids at Kool Kidz Childcare. With a fantastic synchronised light show, snow tunnel, market stalls, treasure hunts in a gingerbread forest and activity huts highlighting winter festivals of other cultures, it is a night not to be missed. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Christmas at QFT, Queens Film Theatre, Belfast, until December 23.
    If you love sitting down with a hot drink and watching a classic festive film then you’re in for a treat this Christmas at QFT. From timeless classics such as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Meet me in St. Louis’ to modern favourite such as ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ there is something for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Walled City Market, Guildhall Square, Derry~Londonderry, until December 23. The city’s Guildhall Square will welcome the very best of artisan traders, offering visitors a friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of speciality foods ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to homemade jams and preserves, artisan breads, cakes, sweets and treats plus handmade crafted products.
  • Cairn Illumination Hikes, Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Co. Armagh, until December 22. Don your walking shoes and climb to the summit of Slieve Gullion, home to the highest surviving passage tomb in Ireland, known locally as ‘the Calliagh Berra’s House’ on a winter walk. The walk will be happening at dusk so it is recommended for experienced hill walkers. Appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear essential. To book call (028) 30 828594.
  • A Magical Christmas Experience, Titanic Belfast, Belfast, until December 23. Step back in time, join Father Christmas and explore Titanic Belfast’s traditional Christmas street scene from 18th December. Visit Ye Olde Picture House, peek through the toy shop window at the toys from a bygone era and check out the Post Office where Father Christmas has his elves hard at work! Hear a classic Christmas tale, challenge each other at one of our traditional games, or visit our old fashioned wardrobe and find the perfect outfit to transport you back in time. Booking essential.
  • Lady of the Lake Festive Sailings, Manor House Country Hotel, Co. Fermanagh, until December 23. Hop on board the Lady of the Lake cruiser for a special festive cruise with mulled wine on arrival. Enjoy the wintery landscape of the Fermanagh Lakelands as you cruise Lough Erne dining on a sumptuous four-course meal. Cost £27.50pp. Booking essential. To book call (028) 68 62 2200.
  • Cinderella, Grand Opera House, Belfast, until January 15. ‘He’s behind you!’ ‘Oh no he’s not!’ Panto season is back and what better way to celebrate that heading to the Grand Opera House for this year’s performance of Cinderella starring May McFettridge and singer Gareth Gates. Will Cinderella make it to the ball in time and meet Prince Charming? Booking essential.
  • Strabane Community Carol Service, The Alley Theatre, Co. Tyrone, December 20. Gather your family and friends and head to the Alley Theatre for a heart-warming festive evening of carol music. Enjoy music from St Joseph’s Brass Band and the wonderful harmonies from Strabane Chamber Choir and soloist Alyson Keys with readings from local clerics.
  • White Christmas with Cantilena, Market Place Theatre, Co. Armagh, December 21. We all dream of a White Christmas and Happy Holidays so join Armagh’s sensational a cappella group ‘Cantilena’ as they pour some festive spirit into the Christmas Celebrations and ring in the festive season in their own inimitable a cappella style. Booking essential.
  • Go West & Nik Kershaw

    Go West and Nik Kershaw, Belfast Waterfront, Belfast, December 22. The 80s are back! Two critically acclaimed legends of the era join forces in this major concert. With millions of album sales, and iconic hits from both artists such as, ‘We Close Our Eyes’, ‘Call Me’, ‘The King of Wishful Thinking’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’, ‘The Riddle’, ‘I Won’t Let The Sunday Go Down’. This authentic 80’s double bill is a concert not to be missed!


Northern Ireland has a unique collection of irresistible places to stay including quirky B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and hidden gem properties for the perfect short break and Tourism NI has selected the best offers of the week for you to choose from.


  • New Year’s Eve Package, Manor House Country Hotel, Co. Fermanagh, from £195pps.  Welcome 2017 in style with a luxurious break in FermanaghLocated in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands, the award-winning 4-star Manor House Country Hotel combines old world charm with modern hotel luxury. New Year Package includes two nights’ accommodation, full Irish breakfast each morning, pre-dinner drinks & canapes, New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner in the Grand Ballroom with live entertainment and complimentary use of the health suite. Valid 30 Dec – 1 Jan. Pre booking essential. To book 028 (68) 622200


  • New Year’s Eve Dinner, Corick House Hotel & Spa, Co. Tyrone, from £109pps. Nestled in the heart of the Clogher Valley, where style and elegance meet country hospitality, this idyllic four-star 17th Century hotel offers a haven of tranquillity. See in the New Year with family and friends with pre-dinner drinks and canapes while listening to a live harpist before dining on a four-course evening meal in the Carleton Restaurant followed by a piper bringing in the New Year.  Enjoy a fully cooked breakfast the following morning after spending the night in a deluxe room. Valid 30 Dec – 1 Jan. Pre booking essential. To book 028 (85) 548216


  • Dine, Dance and Stay, Kilmorey Arms, Co. Down, from £89pps.Nestled in the Kingdom of Mourne, an area of outstanding natural beauty; the three-star Kilmorey Arms Hotel is an ideal location for a short break away. Start the New Year as you mean to go on and treat yourself to a luxurious night away with that special someone. Package includes overnight accommodation, four-course evening meal with complimentary bottle of prosecco, live entertainment by the Lunar Eclipse Band and full Irish breakfast the next morning. Offer valid 31 Dec – 1 Jan. Pre booking essential.  To book call 028 (41) 762220


For further information log on to

Airport Parking

Parking has always been a hot topic at both Belfast Airports

There have been a number of value car parks that have been closed much to the annoyance of the savvy traveler and as a travel writer I am always on the look out for a cost effective, convenient and good service.

SkyParkSecure is one of the UKs leading airport parking providers, they compare prices of airport parking all over the UK with Official on Airport Parking or Offsite Parking options to choose from.

During the last 15 years SkyParkSecure has helped over 1.5 million people park there car saving them over £5 million in the process, as well as achieving a 96% customer rating. With SkyParkSecure you are only offered car parks that meet a very high standard of security and meet the official Park Mark seal of approval.

Independent Review

The independent review system quickly lets customers see other people’s experiences and with more than 1,500,000 there are plenty of reviews available to compare.
If a car park falls below a certain level SkyParkSecure will issue a warning, and if the reviews still don’t improve they won’t hesitate in removing the car park.

This is unique for an airport comparison website and ensures on the best car parks are listed. SkyParkSecure has direct relationships with more than 300 UK airport car parks, which means you should always find the car park that is most suited to your needs.

Given the relatively large distance between the International airport and Belfast itself you will be glad to know that they able to offer Belfast airport parking at incredibly low prices. A customer favourite is the conveniently located Belfast Cosmo which is situated literally across the road from the terminal. Whichever Belfast airport parking location you decide to book, you can be sure that with SkyParkSecure you’re guaranteed the lowest possible rate and impeccable customer service at all stages of the process.


SkyParkSecure have over 15 years of experience behind us and a consistent rating of ‘excellent’ on independent review sites Trustpilot and Reevoo..


Price Check Promise

The added bonus of booking your Belfast International Airport parking with SkyParkSecure is that you can also be sure that you will be paying the cheapest possible price. I used them a couple of weeks ago for a trip to Italy. The process was seamless I booked on line and when I arrived at the airport the system read my number plate and the barrier opened I parked my car and on my exit a few days later the barrier opened automatically and I was off.

Simple, effective and great value.

So check out

Titanic Belfast named “king of the world”!

Titanic Belfast CEO Tim Husbands MBE and Vice Chairman Conal Harvey celebrate as Titanic Belfast is named ‘King of the World’ at the World Travel Awards.

Titanic Belfast has been crowned ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards in the Maldives.
Having already beaten the Colosseum, the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower to become Europe’s official Leading Tourist Attraction, Titanic Belfast sailed its way to victory to become the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction, bringing the award back to UK after ten years.

With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was crowned as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction. It beat off stiff competition from eight global finalists, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland. It is the first time an attraction from Northern Ireland has won this prestigious accolade.

Tim Husbands MBE, Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive, said; “Over the past few years, we have continued to go from strength to strength but to be voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by both the industry and the public for excellence in tourism and for our original product, is really the jewel in our crown. We are delighted that this award firmly shines a spotlight not only on RMS Titanic Belfast but Belfast and Northern Ireland, and celebrates our authentic insight and connection to RMS Titanic. The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception. Our interpretation of the story and ability to engage with visitors on many different levels has been fundamental in winning this award. Through this award, we hope to attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover it. A huge thank you to our staff and all our supporters that voted, locally and across the world, to help us reach this iconic goal of being the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.”
The public, industry partners, well-known personalities, politicians, sports stars and businesses provided their support to crown the landmark as ‘King of the World’ on par with previous winners including the Taj Mahal, Las Vegas Strip and the Pyramids of Egypt.
Described by The Guardian as “an inspiring testament to the Titanic and the city that built it”, more than three million people from around the world have already visited Titanic Belfast since opening in 2012. For more information, visit

About Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is an iconic six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the City and people which made her. It is the World’s Largest Titanic exhibition.

The building houses temporary exhibits, a banqueting suite, education and community facilities, catering and retail space, and a basement car park. Visitors learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the wide and rich story of Northern Ireland’s industrial and maritime heritage.

Supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, Titanic Belfast is a unique public/private partnership funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd. It is operated by Titanic Belfast Ltd and owned by the Titanic Foundation Ltd.

About Titanic Foundation
Titanic Foundation Limited (TFL) is a registered charity, set up to educate the public on Belfast’s industrial and maritime heritage, past, present and future. Titanic Foundation’s ambition is to create a dynamic maritime destination where preservation of heritage complements regeneration and where public realm, events and amenities attract, engage and connects everyone in Belfast to Titanic’s narrative – human endeavour, pride, inspiration and innovation.  To date TFL has delivered Titanic Belfast and is currently progressing the restoration of the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and Headquarters Building as a heritage centre and boutique hotel. As part of Titanic Foundation’s remit to protect and promote the maritime and industrial heritage of Belfast it has taken on ownership of the SS Nomadic from April 2015.
Useful links:

  • Titanic Belfast:
  • Belfast City Council:
  • Visit Belfast:
  • Titanic Quarter:
  • Tourism Northern Ireland:
  • Titanic Foundation Limited:

Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, located on the spot where the famous ship was designed and launched, has been named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction. To celebrate here are a few things you may not know about award-winning attraction:

  • With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was crowned as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.
  • It beat off stiff competition from eight global finalists, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland.
  • It is the first time an attraction from Ireland, North or South, has won this prestigious accolade.
  • This was not the first round of the competition, Titanic Belfast had to triumph over the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, La Sagrada Familia, Spain, The Eiffel Tower, France, Acropolis, Athens, Buckingham Palace, England, Ribeira do Porto, Portugal, and The Roman Colosseum, Italy in its European heat, before getting to the world final.
  • In four and half years, it has welcomed 3 million visitors from over 145 countries.
  • It had its busiest day to date this August.
  • Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience.
  • It is located at the sport where the Titanic was designed and launched – it only took 62 seconds to launch Titanic from the Slipways on 21st May 1911! On the same day, the Olympic, and the tender ships, Nomadic and Traffic left Belfast, drawing over 100,000 spectators and journalists travelling from London and America.
  • It can hold over 3,547 visitors at any one time, the same number as the capacity of Titanic!
  • Since opening, it has welcomed Her Majesty The Queen, former US Secretary of State and Presidental candidate Hillary Clinton, TITANIC director James Cameron, the discovery of Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and, as well as celebrities including Adele and Michael Bublé, to name a few.
  • The world-class exhibition, which has been described as ‘magnificent and dramatic’ by TITANIC movie director, James Cameron.
  • The building’s overall shape represents the bow of the ship and the hulls are the same height of Titanic from keel to Boat Deck!
  • From the sky, the building is the shape of a star, which represents the White Star Line connection.
  • The plaza surrounding the building is actually a map (one of the largest maps of the Northern Hemisphere at 10,000 m2) and follows the route of the Titanic from Belfast to South Hampton, Cobh towards its final resting place.
  • The wooden benches encircling the building and are spaced in Morse code sequence. Moving clockwise around the plaza they read “DE (this is) MGY MGY MGY (Titanic’s call sign) CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD” – the distress message that Titanic sent after hitting an iceberg.
  • Since opening, it has sold 338,000 postcards and over 20,000 Titanic snow globes!
  • It has also sold over 73,000 Americanos, 65,000 Cappucinos and 60,000 Lattes!

To delve deeper, visit the home of the story – Titanic Belfast. The World’s Leading Tourist Attraction is easily accessible. For more information, visit



  • The Pound has weakened against 46 of the 50 most popular global currencies in 2016
  • But a trip to the Red Sea could still leave you in the black after sterling rocketed by 86% against the Egyptian Pound
  • Brits face being frozen out of Iceland after sterling plunged by nearly a third against the Icelandic Krona 

2016 has not been a vintage year for the Pound. New research by the travel money specialist No1 Currency has revealed that sterling fell against 46 of the 50 most common global currencies – meaning most foreign holidays cost more than they did a year ago.


However, there is some good news for anyone hoping to escape the December chill – the beleaguered Pound does go further in a handful of destinations, and all of them offer the prospect of some winter sun.

Top of the Christmas getaway tree is Egypt, home to the Valley of the Kings and the pristine waters of the Red Sea. Egypt’s currency – also called the Pound – has had a terrible year, and Sterling is currently worth 86% more against the Egyptian Pound than it was last December.

For those inspired by Ed Balls’ gyrations on the Strictly dancefloor, a trip to the home of the tango – Buenos Aires – could be a bargain after the Pound rose by nearly a third (32%) against the Argentine Peso. Argentina’s capital is currently basking in average daytime temperatures of 24 degrees.

But at the other end of the scale, sterling’s dramatic fall is likely to send a chill down the spine of British holidaymakers. Iceland’s footballers humiliated England at Euro 2016, and its currency now threatens to freeze out Britons this winter. Sterling’s 30% fall against the Icelandic Krona means anyone travelling to the volcanic island to see the Northern Lights this Christmas will return with a much lighter wallet.

Table: Sterling’s performance against 50 popular global currencies over the past year

Country Currency How much £1 bought on 01.12.15 How much £1 bought on 01.12.16 % increase / decrease in exchange rate
Egypt Egyptian Pound 11.798




Argentina Argentine Peso 14.609




Venezuela Venezuelan Bolivar 9.568




Mexico Mexican Peso 24.908




Turkey Turkish Lira 4.359




Jamaica Jamaican Dollar 179.309




China Yuan 9.644




Sweden Swedish Krona 13.103




Malaysia Malaysian Ringgit 6.367




Philippines Philippine Peso 71.071




Poland Polish Zloty 6.076




Sri Lanka Sri Lankan Rupee 215.644




India Indian Rupee 100.161




Nepal Nepalese Rupee 160.445




Costa Rica Costa Rican Colon 800.462




Dominican Republic Dominican Peso 68.409




Singapore Singapore Dollar 2.120




Peru Peruvian Sol 5.089




Colombia Colombian Peso 4716.918 3905.835  


Canada Canadian Dollar 2.014




Morocco Moroccan Dirham 15.147




Eurozone Euro 1.4189




Czech Republic Czech Koruna 38.348




Hong Kong Hong Kong Dollar 11.681




Saint Lucia East Caribbean Dollar 4.068




UAE Emirati Dirham 5.534




Cuba Cuban Peso 39.930




US US Dollar 1.507




Barbados Bajan Dollar 3.014




Hungary Hungarian Forint 442.529




Denmark Danish Krone 10.585




Kenya Kenyan Shilling 154.010




Thailand Thai Baht 53.917




Bolivia Bolivian Boliviano 10.411




Israel Israeli Shekel 5.833




Norway Norwegian Krone 13.027




Croatia Croatian Kuna 10.831




Mauritius Mauritian Rupee 54.772




Cambodia Cambodian Riel 6094.504




Botswana Botswana Pula 16.383




Switzerland Swiss Franc 1.551




Australia Australian Dollar 2.059




Russia Russian Ruble 100.317




Fiji Fijian Dollar 3.244




Chile Chilean Peso 1060.326




South Africa South African Rand 21.747






New Zealand New Zealand Dollar 2.256




Japan Japanese Yen 185.156




Brazil Brazilian Real 5.797




Iceland Icelandic Krona 199.440


139.93 -29.84%

Simon Phillips, Retail Director at No.1 Currency, comments: “Sterling began 2016 on a roll but has struggled badly since June’s EU referendum. Despite recovering a little in recent months, the Pound is still well down against many of the most popular foreign currencies.

“As a result, more holidaymakers are considering destinations further afield – where their Pounds will go further – and being increasingly savvy in the way they buy their foreign currency.

“While the exchange rate is an important factor when choosing a holiday, it is not the only one; and a little forward planning can ensure you get the best possible deal when changing your sterling.

“Never leave it to the last minute, as exchanging money at the airport could leave you with up to a third less foreign currency than if you had pre-ordered online.”

Beguiling Bergamo




grace-hedgleyBy Grace Hedgley

ryanair-aircraft-(2)Bergamo, the birthplace of Donizetti and home of Lorenzo Lotto, is a stunning little city in the Lombardy region of Italy; it lies about 40 km northeast of Milan and 30 km from the lakes Como and Iseo. To the north of the city are the foothills of the Bergamo Alps.
With a population of around 120,000, Bergamo is the fourth-largest city in region.

Bergamo is well connected to several cities in Europe and the Mediterranean through Il Caravaggio International Airport, the third-busiest airport in Italy with 10.5 million passengers in 2015, and the highly impressive A4 Motorway that crosses the axis between Milan, Verona, and Venice.


Citta Alta

Ryanair’s new flight from Belfast international airport gives you the opportunity to explore this wonderful part of Italy.
Flights leave on a Wednesday and Saturday. I checked the Ryanair site (end Nov) and found return flights in middle January for an amazing £40-00.


Getting to the City

Getting to the city from the airport is really simple and very cheap. The Airport bus, is No 1 and it runs from outside Bergamo airport to Bergamo train station situated in Piazza Marconi.
It then proceeds to the lower town, then onto the Funicular station and then up to the upper town ‘Città Alta’. The 20 minute journey is great value at €1.20 approx. Tickets are available at the airport.

Local specialties


Polenta e Osei

Local specialties to try include casonsei; fresh pasta filled with salami, roast meat, garlic, parsley and Grana cheese and served with melted butter, pancetta and sage. For those with a sweeter tooth try the Polenta e Osei, a sweet polenta cake with a chocolate bird on top. Local wines, polenta, pasta and cheese what’s not to love?

The two cities

Bergamo is divided into two parts; the lower city, Citta Bassa, and the upper city, Citta Alta. They are connected by a delightful funicular railway, which affords spectacular views as you ascend to the heights of Citta Alta.

img_2573At the top Caffe della Funicolare is a fine little café with a terrace where you can get a birds eye view of the city below.


Explore the medieval streets of Citta Alta.

The main street leads to Piazza Vecchia, the beautiful heart of the city, has one of Italy’s most ancient libraries along with the 52 meter-high tower, which can be climbed using the many steps or if you prefer there is a lift.
Citta Alta has a host of places to visit so be sure to look out for the treasures in Piazza Duomo, while the Museums in Piazza della Cittadella will give you a great overview of this city’s history, science and art treasures.

After visiting the Venetian walls, the main squares of Piazza Vecchia and Piazza Duomo with its Basilica, Baptistery and Cathedral, you will be ready for lunch.

This is a very important meal in Italy, as locals tend to spend the whole afternoon eating and chatting. One place I can recommend for traditional food is Da Mimmo ( this wonderful space has been a restaurant for nearly 60 years and it provides fine, locally sourced, traditional food at very reasonable prices. Excellent service, like most places I found in Bergamo, it was discreet but friendly. There are two connected dining rooms beautifully decorated, spacious and airy. You can read all about the history of Da Mimmo and it’s owners, it’s obvious they put their heart and soul into what they do.


Dining room of the Hotel San Marco

My first night in Bergamo I stayed at the Hotel Excelsior San Marco. In an excellent location facing an elegant square in the lower town, the hotel is a few steps away from the funicular that goes to the historical Upper Town inside the Medieval Walls.
With a twin room from €90-00 per night it is superbly located and well priced for a city hotel.


img_281615181240_1139040892859510_4889737000275915676_nFor dinner I chose to eat at Mille Storie e Sapori.

Italian food with a twist in a warm and friendly setting with excellent local wines. Buzzing contemporary atmosphere  for a truly authentic Italian meal.


Province of Bergamo

I was in Bergamo for only a short while as I had some exploring to do in the region. My first trip took me to Sarnico this charming town lies on the edge of lake Iseo and is full of little winding streets and local shopping opportunities.


4 star Cocca Hotel in Predore,


During the summer months this beautiful town turns into a hub for visitors to the lake and surrounding countryside.
I then checked into the 4 star Cocca Hotel in Predore, a few km from Sarnico.

Set on the shores of Lake Iseo, it offers relaxation and comfort in a sophisticated environment with a superb Royal Thai Spa. See

Predore has wonderful views of the lake and Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe. While the locally made Riva launches may be out of your price range, you can still take the ferry to explore Lake Iseo.

Ski Country
lizzola_%e2%80%a2_%e2%80%a2_visit_bergamoThe beauty of the ski resorts in Bergamo province is that nearly all are no more than an hour by car from Bergamo. Indeed local school children go skiing as part of their PE programmes from the age of three!

The Bergamask Mountains, which climb directly from the Po valley and reach altitudes of up to three thousand metres, offer summer and winter holiday opportunities.

The 130 downhill pistes are almost all concentrated in the two main valleys that cross the great mountain barrier – Val Brembana and Val Seriana.

The pistes offer almost 400 kilometres of snow; 45 are rated easy, 64 are intermediate, and expert skiers have 21 more difficult slopes on which to test their skills.

There are approximately 70 ski lifts, and everywhere there are quality facilities and services together with cross-country ski trails, toboggan and sled runs, ice-skating rinks and extremely modern snow parks. In fact everything you need for a holiday of sport and fun.

The Ski season opens on the 8th December 2016.

The most well-known ski resort is Foppolo in Valle Brembana. It is surrounded by other ski resorts all located in the upper valley: Carona, San Simone, Piazzatorre, Valtorta Piani di Bobbio, Oltre il Colle Zambla.

The top resort in Valle Seriana is Monte Pora, which has developed over the last few decades; then Lizzola, in a setting of rugged peaks, Spiazzi di Gromo and the Presolana Pass, a “historic” Lombardy ski resort, where at the beginning of the last century people started skiing down the hills watched by bemused mountain inhabitants.


Hotel Milano Presolana

If you are considering a holiday to the region then look no further than:, where great offers include short breaks, with ski passes, accommodation and return transfers to Bergamo Airport.

When in the area I stayed at the 4 star Hotel Milano in Castione della Presolana, located in the heart of the Bergamask Dolomites, this stunning mountain resort offers the opportunity to chill out, relax and enjoy good food in the most beautiful surroundings.





Agriturismo Ferdy in Lenna

The Bergamo region is not just about skiing and cities, there is a very big movement in the travel industry and that is towards Agriturismo.
A fine example of this is the unique Agriturismo Ferdy in Lenna.
Their farm philosophy is based on the breeding of traditional animals, which have always lived in the region. They also provide wonderful eco friendly accommodation to a very high standard, prices from as little as €60 per night. Agriturismo Ferdy offers its guests many activities including cheese making, horse riding, working with animals, exploring on foot and cycling trails. If that all seems like too much hard work then you might want to consider their wellness centre where they only use Agriturismo Ferdy products such as essential oils, all produced in Val d’Inferno. See


Also worth visiting:


The medieval village of Clusone

The medieval village of Clusone is beautifully situated. The frescos in the Disciplini Oratory date back to the Middle Age, while the complex astronomical clock is still working in its original state. It has astonished visitors for four hundred years!

Cornello dei Tasso is a fascinating village once the home town of the Tasso Family who established a private mail company which monopolised all postal services in Europe from the 14th century.

They say that San Pellegrino is “the gem of the Brembana Valley”, The art nouveau palaces, the Casino, the historical spa with the thermal baths, the San Pellegrino mineral water, renowned all over the world and there’s so much more to discover when you get there.

Why not treat yourself ?
A choice of packages can be tailor made for you by QC Terme San Pellegrino to celebrate your hen or stag night, birthday, anniversary or any special moment.