Hi All, apologises in the delay between posts but it’s been a pretty hectic year and here we are already in December. Less than two weeks until we celebrate one of my favourite days of the year; Christmas Day!

So this blog post is dedicated to all things festive. I’ve highlighted my favourite Christmas adventures, I’ve given some suggestions of shows and gigs you don’t want to miss next year and I’ve included my theatre gift guide.

Happy reading and Merry Christmas.

E xx

Christmas Adventures

Here are my top three favourite winter adventures for this year:

  • A winter retreat to Lusty Beg: Set in the wind swept lakes of Fermanagh. Lusty Beg in Kesh is a winter retreat like no other. A warm welcome awaits with friendly, attentive staff who can cater for your every need. Book in some me-time with the amazing Island spa, charter a speedboat for an adralaine thrill like no other or simply relax be the fire with a delicious cocktail and the house band. You will have the Christmas nights you thought where only true in the movies! 
  • Christmas in Carrickfergus: On a chilly winter morning I set off to discover one of Northern Ireland’s most historic boroughs, the day may have been a little grey but the welcome was bright and warm.Carrick is a hidden gem for shoppers and tourists alike with the majestic castle and 800 years of history over shadowing lots of quirky, creative independent retailers and a lively high street. I highly recommend a day trip to find some unique stocking fillers this Christmas!
  • Christmas at Hillsborough Castle: Meet the Victorian household of Lord & Lady Arthur Hill, the Tower of London’s famous Yeoman Warders, Lucy Worsley and, of course, Father Christmas as you explore Northern Ireland’s royal residence. I meet the most amazing Father Christmas in the beautiful surrondings of Hillsborough Castle this year and I am sure I will make this an annual visit as I was swept off my feet with festive feelings.

Emer’s Entertainment Gift Guide

Need some suggestions for entertainment gifts this Christmas? Look no further than this ultimate guide packed full of fantastic shows and gigs to suit all ages and tastes!

First up gigs there are an array of fantastic bands coming to Northern Ireland in 2019 but here’s the top three I would like to find in my stocking:

  • Snow Patrol-Ward Park Bangor- 25 May 2019: Having seen the band play to a sold out crowd in the SSE Arena Belfast this week. Snow Patrol have hit the top of my list this year. After their 8 year hiatus the band seem to have come back with more energy and focus plus they looked like and they got a real kick out of the home crowd! So I can’t wait to see what Gary light body and co get up to on their return visit to Gary’s hometown Bangor. Ps the guys are joined by a stellar lineup of Northern Irish talent including; Foy Vance, Ash, SOAK, Word Burning Savages and so many more. Buy it to yourself or a friend for Christmas and you won’t regret it. Tickets on sale this Friday!! 
  • Foo Fighters-Boucher Road-19 August 2019: Foo Fighters have announced a HUGE Belfast show at Boucher Road Playing Fields on August 19th 2019. Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee continue to sell out stadiums and arenas the world over. The band’s current live show, described by Rolling Stone as “explosive and euphoric… wild and combustible at the place where Grohl’s love for punk and classic rock coalesce into something raging and tuneful… a show of enthusiasm that has grown over decades”. Tickets for the Belfast Foo Fighters show are on sale now and having seen these guys live before you do not want to miss this show!
  • Cher-3Arena Dublin-1st Nov 2019: Cher is bringing what she insists is her farewell tour to Ireland in November. The American songstress described as the Goddess of Pop hasn’t been in Ireland for 15 years! I would say this is the hottest ticket in town for 2019!

Theatre Gift Guide (originally penned by me for the Grand Opera House, but lots of shows you don’t want to miss!)

  • For the Trend Setter in your life why not book tickets for The Rocky Horror Show (18-23 March)

With a worldwide cult following, The Rocky Horror Show is a must-see! Hot from a sell-out worldwide tour and now having been seen by over 30 million theatregoers across the globe, the world’s favourite Rock ’n’ Roll musical is coming to the Grand Opera House this March! Featuring timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is the story of two squeaky-clean college kids – Brad (boyband heartthrob Ben Adams) and his fiancée Janet (Strictly Champion Joanne Clifton). Sure to put a smile on everyone’s face, a trip to The Rocky Horror Show is certainly an Instagram-able event for the trendsetter.

  • For the Love of Your life why not book tickets for The Bodyguard (6-16 February)

The ultimate love story made famous by Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in the 1992 movie, this breath-taking, romantic thriller is coming to the Grand Opera House with tickets available for Valentine’s night! This iconic musical features a whole host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, Greatest Love Of All, Million Dollar Bill, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the greatest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You. Guaranteed to earn you lots of Christmas brownie points!

  • For the Kids in your life why not book tickets for Madagascar (23-27 April)

I like to move it, move it… I like to move it! You sang that…right? Bring your little ones (3+) to the all-singing, all-dancing animal extravaganza of the year! Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Imagine how much their little faces will light up when they see this one! Family tickets avalaible from £90.

  • For the Culture Vulture why not book tickets for The Magic Flute (27-29 June)

Unwrapping a treat for opera aficionados and newbies alike, Scottish Opera brings a spectacular world, inspired by the Victorian futurism of HG Wells and Jules Verne to life in the enthralling Magic Flute. A handsome prince, a damsel in distress, sorcerers, priests and a bumbling bird-catcher – all are given life through Mozart’s sublime blend of lyrical love duets, folk-like ditties and the explosive coloratura of the Queen of the Night arias. The acclaimed international cast includes tenor Peter Gijsbertsen, baritone James Cleverton, name-to-watch Julia Sitkovetsky and Gemma Summerfield, First Prize winner at the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. Scottish Opera favourite Tobias Ringborg conducts. A beguiling mix of comedy, fantasy and pantomime with a profound story of the search for wisdom, love and truth.

  • For the Shakespeare fan why not book The National Theatre’s Macbeth (5-9 March)

When shall we three meet again… join the coven of witches as The National Theatre brings their sell-out production of Macbeth to Belfast. Directed by National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris (Cabaret, London Road) and designed by Rae Smith (War Horse, This House) this new production propels Shakespeare’s classic title into a post-apocalyptic world of anarchy and uncertainty.

  • For the rock star in your life why not book tickets for Rock of Ages (18-22 June)

With over 25 classic rock anthems this hilarious musical comedy will have every closet rock star singing and laughing along with its EPIC songs. Top tracks include Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Wanted Dead or Alive, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight this Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is, played loud and proud by an AWESOME live band. Grab your leathers and air guitar and prepare to ROCK!

  • For the drama lover in your life why not book tickets for Marie Jones’ Fly me to the Moon (21-26 January)

Marie Jones comes home to the Grand Opera House with comedy gold Fly me to the Moon. Marie is one of the most prolific and successful playwrights ever to emerge from Northern Ireland, earning an OBE for her services to drama and having her work staged all over the world. This hilarious comedy investigates whether we are valued more in life or in death.

  • For the aspiring ballerina in your life why not book tickets for Northern Ballet’s Victoria (29 May-1 June)

Inspire the young or not so young ballerina in your life with this beautiful new biopic, which brings the sensational story of Queen Victoria to life in dance. Passion, tragedy, fierce devotion: Queen Victoria’s diaries revealed a life so fascinating that her daughter Beatrice tried to rewrite history.

  • For the whole family why not book tickets and bring everyone to see Annie (29 October – 2 November)

Set in 1930’s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck soon changes when she’s chosen to spend a fairy-tale Christmas with famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family. With its Tony® award-winning book and score, including the unforgettable songs, It’s the Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar that the whole family will love this one!

Happy Christmas to you all! E xx