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THE LONG summer evenings offer families the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together and with a host of great family events taking place in Northern Ireland this year the months of July and August are ideal for great family days out.

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging everyone to take advantage of this summer’s jam-packed calendar of family fun events which range from dancing and arts and crafts to carnivals and aircraft displays – there really never is a dull moment.

NITB Market Manager (ROI) Fiona Cunningham believes the choice of festivals offer something for all tastes and all ages.

“This summer’s calendar is action packed with events and activities for the whole family and it is also a fantastic time of year to unwind and enjoy the entertainment available,” said Fiona.

“Summer is the perfect time to visit some of our key outdoor events including the ever-popular Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, the exciting Festival of Flight in Newcastle, Co. Down and the tantalising Dalriada Festival in the beautiful Glens of Antrim to name but a few,” Fiona added.

NITB has prepared a list of up-and-coming festivals over the summer months to help get people started.

Enjoy Storytelling with a Sparkle at Belfast Castle on July 3.  Experience old-time magic with Randall Stephen Hall’s story of the enormous Cave Hill diamond.  It’s a tale full of mythical creatures, greed, power and a journey around features, still found upon the hill to this day.  Stephen’s storytelling session also contains hilarious poems about everyday things, a drawing demonstration, music, interactive singing and lots of craic for all ages.

Tyrone Farming Society hosts its 173rd Annual Omagh Show from July 5 – 6 and once again The Showgrounds in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, will come alive with packed programme of show jumping, agricultural competitions and exhibitors.

The Dalriada Festival, taking place on July 13 – 20 at Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim, and the surrounding area, aims to highlight the unique historic cultures of both Ireland and Scotland, reflecting the shared heritage which extends back in time to the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada and beyond.  The festival has something for everyone including highland games, fine foods, celebrity chef demonstrations, arts and crafts, live music, children’s entertainment and a large outdoor concert featuring this year’s headline act, country music star Nathan Carter.

The Kingdom of Mourne Festival, has a long tradition and will once again celebrate the local heritage of fishing, farming, granite and flight when it returns to the seaside town of Kilkeel, Co. Down, from July 29 – August 2.  As part of the celebrations there are lots of family activities, including raft races, craft and local produce stalls, children’s events, traditional music, guided walks, Irish & Scottish Dancing, local heritage displays, funfair and lots more.

Feile 25, Ireland’s largest community festival returns to Belfast from Aug 1 – 11 to celebrate its 25th Birthday with a fantastic line up of music, comedy, drama, talks, exhibitions, children’s events and much more.  The line-up includes a Teddy Bears Picnic, a colourful Carnival Parade, performances by The Wolfe Tones and Damien Dempsey as well as a Féile Grand Finale Party.

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The Maiden City Festival is a flagship celebration of diversity in Northern Ireland with music, song and dance being celebrated from August 3 – 10.  The festival presents a packed programme of diverse performances in music, dance and drama within and around the historic Walls of Derry.

The Festival of Flight in Newcastle, Co. Down, returns from August 3 – 10 with flight themed entertainment across the land, sea and air including displays from the world famous Red Arrows Aerobatics Display Team.  The spectacular air displays are part of a programme made up of numerous exhibitions, music, street entertainment, vintage vehicles and a finale open air concert on the promenade.

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From August 11 – 18 the Fleadh Cheoil takes place across the city of Derry – it’s the biggest festival of Irish culture anywhere in the world and the first time it has taken place in Northern Ireland since its foundation in 1951.  The celebration includes traditional music sessions, fun-days, pageants, marching bands, competitions, ceili bands, drama and arts exhibitions

Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, the Auld Lammas Fair, will be returning with horse trading, street entertainment and market stalls, attracting thousands of people to Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, from August 27 – 28.

To find out more about the summer festivals in Northern Ireland or for further information on places to stay or things to see and do : www.discovernorthernireland.com

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