Countryside Festival

Charlotte McCurrie, Emma Dalton, Glenn Ross, Joanne McGivern and Karen Rushe from Bjorn Identity� Edward Byrne Photography
Charlotte McCurrie, Emma Dalton, Glenn Ross, Joanne McGivern and Karen Rushe from Bjorn Identity� Edward Byrne Photography

THE biggest Country Sports Fair in Northern Ireland is back in Moira Demesne at the end of May and promises to be even better than before as the two-day spectacular expands to Three Great Events in One Giant Festival.

The hugely popular extravaganza is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Lisburn City Council and saw 18,000 people attend last year.

Joanne McGivern and Emma Dalton � Edward Byrne Photography

Joanne McGivern and Emma Dalton � Edward Byrne Photography

This year’s festival has been rebranded from The National Countrysports Fair to The Northern Ireland Countryside Festival. It is celebrating its 17th anniversary and its tenth year at Moira Demesne over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27.

Families can enjoy all the fun of the fair as children under 16 years are admitted free and this year will see three great events - the National Countrysports Fair, the Tea on the Titanic Music Festival and the Finn McCool Strongman Festival - rolled into one giant festival.

On display will be the Phoenix Falconry birds of prey, Drakes of Hazard sheepdog and ducks display and Gundog handling demonstrations.

There will also be a chance for visitors to try their hand at country sports activities including clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry. The Tea on the Titanic Festival will give guests the opportunity to relax and enjoy some entertainment, food and refreshments right up to 9pm on Saturday evening. Music on offer over the weekend will include traditional music and dance, Hugo Duncan and his band, The Bjorn Identity Abba Tribute Band, the Blues brothers and even an Elvis Tribute act. Entry to the evening entertainment is just £5 after 5.oo p.m. for adults with kids going free.

The Strongman arena is set to stage the Finn McCool Celtic Games, where five times UK Strongest Man Glenn Ross will host both the Highland and Celtic Games on Saturday 26th May and the Irish Novice Strongman challenge on Sunday 27th.

The event also offers novelty events including the Scruffs Dog Show on Sunday, where you can enter your pooch with the chance of being crowned ‘The Scruffiest’, ‘The One with the Waggiest Tail’ or ‘The One the judge would most like to take home’. There will also be a display of the ‘Titanic Dogs’ a Newfoundland, Pomeranian and Pekingese, three breeds of dog which survived the fateful sinking of the ship. Visitors can tantalise their taste buds at the Food Festival & Farmer’s market. The crafts fair gives visitors the opportunity to peruse a wide variety of country related products from walking sticks to candle making and there will also be vintage vehicles on display. Event Director, Bill Beckett said, “This year the Northern Ireland Countryside Festival is bigger and better than ever. With the two additional events - Tea on The Titanic Festival and the Finn McCool Strongman events, as well as the National Countrysports Fair, it really is set to be a fantastic weekend to entertain all ages and tastes. Whether you want to come for the whole day to view the different displays, take part in the have-a-go events or enjoy the various stalls and musical entertainment or come later for the evening entertainment for the music and food festival we are providing something for everyone but as kids go free it’s a cost effective family day out!”  

The festival runs from 10am–9pm on Saturday and 10am–6.pm on Sunday. The adult admission fee is £10 for adults and children can go free when accompanied by an adult.  The event also offers free on-site car parking. More information is on the event’s website nicountryside.com and Twitter and Facebook.