Thousands are expected to attend this year’s Northern Ireland Countryside Festival which for the first time will be held at the Maze Complex this weekend from Saturday May 31 and Sunday June 1.
For more than a decade the festival, supported by Lisburn City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, had been held at Moira Demesne.
It promises to be one of the biggest family festivals with under 12’s going free with free car parking as well.
Festival Director, Derek Lutton said; “Whilst the venue may have moved four miles along the M1 towards Lisburn, the event will very much be the one that is loved by the many thousands of visitors it attracts annually.”
He added, “This event has grown so much over the last few years that accommodating it within the confines of Moira Demesne had become extremely difficult.
“We were very reluctant to move from Moira Demesne which has been our home venue for more than ten years.
“Over the last few years, however, it has been difficult to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of visitors and exhibitors in Moira Demesne.In addition, the land we used for car parking adjacent to Moira Demesne is no longer available and was in any case, frequently affected by inclement weather.
“Fortunately the new venue at the Maze will not be adversely affected by wet weather and its hard surface car parks will provide parking for several thousand vehicles each day.”
There will be a host of family activities including displays and demonstrations. Centre stage at Balmoral Park, a fantastic main arena, is where visitors can see Cyril the Squirrel and his racing terriers, strongmen lifting weights, ducks being herded by sheepdogs, the Scruff’s Children’s Dog Show, ponies and horses and gundog demonstrations.
There will be stands selling country gear, rural crafts and artisan foods and there will be a funfair with live music from local bands, including Hugo Duncan and his band, Country Harmony.
The Chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, Alderman Allan Ewart, said: “Lisburn City Council is pleased to support the NI Countryside Festival and look forward to seeing the changes in the new venue at the Maze.”
Director of Marketing for the NI Countryside Festival, Bill Beckett said: “Our regular stand holders are very pleased with this announcement. The Northern Ireland Countryside Festival is a huge success story and its popularity increasing year on year with additional visitor numbers.”