What’s On Guide

Details of events taking place within the Ards & North Down, Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough area. If you are organising an event please email us on admin@ferryfm.com and we’ll list it here.

Experience Ards and North Down through a range of guided walks and tours in 2019!

Explore Ards and North Down through a unique series of coach, boat and walking tours, which allow you to experience some of the wonderful sights and attractions the area has to offer. With lots of new opportunities to discover the history, heritage and mystery of the borough, book now, so you don’t miss out!

Visit Portaferry’s Market on the Square on the first Saturday of the month

Portaferry’s Market on the Square takes place on the first Saturday each month between April and December.

The Portaferry area has a wealth of talented and creative people so call down to the newly restored 18th century Market House and treat yourself to some great locally produced artisan food and arts and crafts.  Fun activities for children and music make the Market a must visit for all the family. Experience the atmosphere, get your taste buds tingling and fill your shopping bags with all manner of unique treasures and tasty treats.  .



Portico Portaferry

Steel Dickson Avenue, Portaferry, County Down. BT22 1LE
Tel: 028 4272 8808
Website: verity@porticoards.com

A wide range of entertainment, from classical to comedy:

Friday 4 October 7.30pm  Kevin McAleer
In his new show, Guru. £18

Sunday 13 October 3pm Finghin Collins 
Finghin makes a welcome return to Portico. £17/under 25s £5

Saturday 19 October 7.30pm Choir of King’s College, Wimbledon £15/under 25s £5
Gorgeous choral sounds. £15/under25s £5

Saturday 2 November 7.30pm The Iconettes and the Hitzvilles
The sounds of Motown. £15

Saturday 30 November 7.30pm Neil Delamere: End of Watch 
Time waits for no man… £22

Saturday 7 December 7.30pm Merry Opera presents Handel’s Messiah
“Powerful and affirming” dramatization. £17/under 25s £5

Heydays and Holidays Exhibition
08 June 2019 – 31 January 2020
Down County Museum, The Mall, Downpatrick. BT30 6AH
Tel: 028 4461 5218
Web: www.downcountymuseum.com

This exhibition features a wide range of images, objects and documents illustrating the theme of holidays and special days.

New alternative night out – Night at the Aquarium
27 July 2019 – 25 October 2019
Exploris Aquarium, The Rope Walk, Portaferry. BT22 1NZ
Time: 7.00pm-9.30pm. Full price £28. Child (under 12) £20
Tel: 028 4272 8062
Email: info@explorisni.com

Do things go bump in the aquarium at night – well now is your chance to find out.

Your evening will begin with a delicious 2 course meal using locally sourced ingredients at the beautiful Portaferry hotel. The hotel overlooks the shores of Strangford Lough which makes it a magnificent setting for evening dinner!

After dinner you will arrive at Exploris Aquarium for a fascinating guided tour of Northern Ireland’s only aquarium. The lantern lit tour will allow you to explore just a fraction of the amazing animals found in oceans, globally and a lot closer to home.

Four dates available, booking essential.

Friday 26 July, Friday 30 August, Friday 27 September and Friday 25 October.

An Evening of Fun and Nostalgia
14th October 2019
Comber Historical Society
Comber Community Hall, Parkway, Comber. BT23 5AR

An evening of humour and nostalgia mostly based on growing up in the farming countryside of Ballyhoy near Donaghadee. Stories of life and characters during those times. Speaker is Hugh Robinson.

Tickets must be pre-purchased through Ticketsource

Seapark Fireworks 2019
Saturday 26th October 2019 from 4pm onwards
Seapark Recreational Area, Seapark Road, Holywood. BT18 0LP
Tel: 028 9127 5622
Email: bangorvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Enjoy a frightfully good time this Halloween in Holywood . This family favourite event will keep you entertained with a children’s funfair and food stalls and live music. The night will conclude with a spooktacular fireworks display set to ghoulish music at 7.45pm.

Dress up warm, bring a torch, grab a warm treat from one of the stalls and have a thoroughly good time!

Parking is limited and where possible consider hopping on the train with stops just a short walk away at Marino and Holywood. For more info on the train and bus timetables visit translink.co.uk


Halloween at Exploris Aquarium
26th & 27th October 2019
Exploris Aquarium, The Rope Walk, Castle Street, Portaferry. BT22 1NZ
Tel: 028 4272 8062
Website: ww.explorisni.com

Dust off your broomsticks and fly down to Exploris Aquarium for our Halloween event Spooky A-scare-ium! Follow the trick and treat trail but watch out for those pesky pirates who have captured all the treasure.

Don’t forget to dress the part, mermaids and pirates, witches and wizards, ghost and ghouls…all are welcome for the family fun at the Ascareium! Your efforts will be rewarded with a £50 Gift Shop Vouchers with Free Annual Pass up for grabs for best dressed boys or girls. 

For full details including activities, demonstration and feeding times please visit explorisni.com. Book your tickets online (24hours in advance) to be fast tracked and discounted.  Free parking and disabled parking available. Café, lifts, toilets, baby changing, gift shop, picnic area and soft play area on site. 

Folklore in Ulster
Donaghadee Historical Society
Methodist Church Hall, Donaghadee. 7.45pm
Monday 28th October 2019

A look at beliefs, traditions, myths and superstitions in Ulster and Ireland over the centuries. Learn about how we have marked births, marriages and deaths over the generations as well as about traditional rural belief in the wee folk, giants and banshees.  Speaker is Laura Spence.

Tickets must be pre-purchased through Ticketsource

Spellbound Festival
WWT CastleEspie, 78 Ballydrain Road, Comber. BT23 6EA
29th – 31st October 2019. 10.00am – 5.00 pm
Tel: 028 9187 4146
Email: info.castleespie@wwt.org.uk

Take flight this Halloween at Castle Espie, with bats, brent and broomsticks!

Learn to fly a broomstick, make potions and try your hand at our woodland craft workshops. We have plenty of other frightful fun this half-term, including a new nauseating nature trail. Plus, facepainters, spooky stories and more!

Remembering Rollo Gillespie, talk by Bayburn Historical Society
Telling the story of Major General Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie.
Wednesday 20 November 2019 at 8.00pm
The Link, Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church, Bangor. BT19 1TP

This talk is based on a book co-authored by the speaker, Laura Spence, in 2014, telling the colourful life story of Major General Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie.  This dashing character stands atop a 55’ Grecian column in Comber Square – the largest Masonic monument of its kind anywhere – but few people know his story.  Born in County Down, he served across the world and his exploits on and off the battlefield make this illustrated talk both fascinating and humorous!

Tickets must be pre-purchased through Ticket Source

Christmas across Ards and North Down & Ards Peninsula

Full details from Visitor Information Centres in Newtownards and Bangor.
Tel: 028 9182 6486 or 028 9127 0069

Saturday 23rd November, Bangor Christmas Switch On and Fireworks

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November, Christmas Market, North Down Museum in Bangor Town Hall

Saturday 30 November, Newtownards Christmas Switch On

Thursday 28 November, Comber Christmas Fair in the Square

Friday 29 November, Donaghadee Christmas Celebrations

Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November, Creative Peninsula Christmas Fayre

Saturday 30 November, Holywood Christmas Lights Switch On

Saturday 30 November, Heart of Winter by Lyngo Theatre

Sunday 1 December – Tuesday 24 December, Christmas Time Special, Ark Open Farm

Sunday 1 December, Donaghadee Christmas Celebrations: Community Carol Service

6 December – Friday 20 December (Various dates), Spirit of Christmas at Ballycultra at Ulster Folk Museum

Friday 6 December, On your Doorstep Christmas Concert with the Ulster Orchestra

Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December, The Carol Ship on Strangford Lough

Saturday 7 December, Merry Opera present Handel’s Messiah

Starting from Saturday 7 December, Christmas at WWT Castle Espie, Comber

Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December, Christmas Movie Weekend, Project 24

Sunday 8 December, Donaghadee Christmas Celebrations: Santa Fun Run

New Year’s Day Historic Ards Walk

New Year’s Day Walk, Mount Stewart

Mini train rides, Drumawhey Junction Railway | New Year’s train


Tour and tasting at Echlinville
Saturdays – times vary – check website for details 
Echlinville Distillery, Echlinville House, 62 Gransha Rd, Newtownards, BT22 1AJ
£: £15 per person – booking essential
T: 028 4273 8597
W: Echlinville
Echlinville Tours offer a real insight into the workings of Northern Ireland’s first licenced distillery in over 125 years. Guests will be personally welcomed and guided through the process, from the barley arriving from the fields, through to the maturation warehouse where the Angels are certainly enjoying their share.  

Traditional Irish Bread Making
See website for dates and times
£: £50
T: 07711 484850
W: Traceys Farmhouse Kitchen
52a Ballymorran Road, Killinchy, BT23 6UD
Learn how to make traditional Irish breads in Tracey’s thatched cottage on the shore of Strangford Lough, then savour the fruits of your labours, served with tea/coffee, award-winning local butter and homemade jams from the local hedgerows.  Take away a bag of tasty treats along with the recipes so you can recreate your masterpieces at home.

Walking tours with Ards Peninsula Tours
Each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
£: From £10
T: 07763 898074
W: Ards Peninsula Tours
Discover the hidden gems of the beautiful Ards Peninsula on a walking tour with local guide, Brigid Watson. Booking essential. Coach tours and private tours available by arrangement. Online booking facility available on Facebook and website. 

Boat trips from Donaghadee aboard the MV Mermaid
Various dates and prices 
T: 07746 633365
W: Island Boat Charters Donaghadee
Fishing and wildlife trips aboard the MV Mermaid. Check Facebook page for times and dates. Booking essential.  All trips are weather dependent.  

Birdwatch Morning at Castle Espie Wetland Centre
Last Wednesday of the month/10.30-11.30am 
included in admission
T: 028 9187 4146
W: Castle Espie
Join the wardens at Castle Espie to see what is new on the reserve and on the Lough as the seasons change. Bring binoculars if you have them, stout footwear is recommended.


For full details of all events taking place in the local area please contact :

Newtownards Visitor Information Centre
31 Regent Street, Newtownards, BT23 4AD
T: +44 (0) 28 9182 6846
E: ardsvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk
W: visitardsandnorthdown.com

Current Opening Hours:
Mon‐Fri: 09.15 ‐ 17.00
Sat: 09.30 ‐ 17.00
Sun: Closed


Portaferry Visitor Information Centre
The Stables, Castle Street, Portaferry, BT22 1NZ
T: +44 (0) 28 4272 9882
E: portaferryvic@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk
W: visitardsandnorthdown.com

Open Good Friday  – end of September
Mon-Sat: 10.00 – 17.00
Sunday: 13.00 – 17.00

Downpatrick Visitor Information Centre
The Saint Patrick Centre, 53a Market Street, Downpatrick,Co Down. BT30 6LZ
Web: www.visitstrangfordlough.co.uk
Email: downpatrick.vic@nmandd.org
Tel: (028) 4461 2233

For information on events within Strangford / Downpatrick / Ardglass / Newcastle

Newcastle Visitor Information Centre
10-14 Central Promenade, Newcastle, County Down. BT33 0AA
T: (028) 4372 2222
E: newcastle.vic@nmandd.org