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Christmas TO

4 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019



— 06 —

We’re makin’ a list – plan now for a smooth Christmas

— 32-39 —

— 08 —

Our gift guide will help you find the perfect present for men, women, teens and kids

Embrace the party season

— 09 —

— 40 —

Office to party outfits

— 10 —

Andrea McKernon’s on a mission to spread the Christmas cheer


Accessories to adore

— 42-43 —

— 12-13 —

5 reasons to ‘go for it’ with a winter break

Skincare for him & her; beauty sets with a festive twist

— 44-45 —

— 14-15 —

Coast, city or country for a festive escape – the choice is yours

Look tip-top from head to toe

— 16 —


— 48 —

Rock that party frock!

The gift of giving: How to support charities while present buying

— 18 —

Drive out drab with rich winter wardrobe pickings

— 19 —

Christmas jumpers – not just novelty knits

— 24 —

— 50-54 —

Baby it’s cold outside: Stylish ways to bring cosiness home

Christmas light switch ons, pantos, shows and gigs – your guide to the best entertainment this season

— 20-21 —

Wrap up with our coat and boot edit

Lewis Capaldi is playing the Ulster Hall

— 22 —

Good looks for guys

— 26 —

Branch out with a faux fir

— 28-29 —

Trends: Make your Christmas decorations work for you

— 30 —

Tips for throwing a cracker of a party


PUBLISHED BY Belfast Telegraph, Belfast Telegraph House, Clarendon Dock, 33 Clarendon Road, Belfast, BT1 38G

CONTRIBUTORS Ruaidhri McCarney, Rebecca Petticrew, Andrea McKernon, Maureen Coleman, Maeve Richardson, Davina Gordon

ADVERTISING Jackie Reid – Senior Advertising Manager Tel: 028 9055 4685

DESIGN Susan McClean & Helen Wright, INM Design Studio, Belfast

EDITOR Fiona Rutherford Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd


Getting ready for Christmas: Robyn May at the launch of the Younique Aesthetics Clinic in Belfast, image Bill Smyth

Counting down 32 sleeps until Christmas...

The festive season is here and we are all set to help you get yours off to the best start. The first thing to do is to let the reality sink in – there’s only a month to go until the big day. If you want to enjoy a sparkling season and avoid a festive flop, it’s time to start planning. Check out our tips on pages 6 and 8. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for getting together with friends, colleagues and family members. We’ve got tips to help you with planning a party night out, or a social evening at home. With so much going on, sometimes there isn’t enough time to go home and get changed before heading out. We’ve hacks for style that will take you from the office to the party as well as the latest products to keep your hair, skin and body weatherproof. We’re also covering the key winter looks with a focus on this year’s essential coat – with everything from parkas to faux fur, there’s plenty of choice. Even the novelty jumper is coming in from the cold this Yuletide with some presentable options that you won’t be wearing just for laughs. It’s time to start thinking about getting our homes looking their best too. Some people are busy ordering new suites or having new kitchens or bathrooms fitted. Most are happy to refresh the decor with some warm layers and festive colours. Don’t forget to clear out the clutter before you get busy with the tree and Christmas

decorations. Florist Lynn McBennett is in demand when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas decoration finishing touches and she’s all over the latest trend for brighter and bolder colours. As the Claus household can testify, a key element of coasting through Christmas is making those lists and checking them twice if you want to avoid a last minute scramble for gifts. We’ve compiled dozens of suggestions with something for everyone along with gift ideas that will benefit people in need. A priceless gift at any time of year is quality time. Escaping the routine and having a few days away is a surefire way to create magical Christmas memories. Make it a shopping blitz or hide away in the luxury hotel equivalent of a cocoon, take the family away for Christmas Day or have a weekend with a bunch of pals and let your hair down. As they say, What happens in Donegal, stays in Donegal. If all this talk of being sociable makes you want to lie down in a darkened room, you’d better lock the door. Otherwise Belfast writer Andrea McKernon might requisition you. You see Andrea has a dream – a dream of Christmas Future when everyone has buddies, of the two or four legged variety, to hang out with. What’s more she has the dogged determination to see it through. Happy Christmas!

6 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

We’re makin’ that list...

Coast through the festive season by sitting down to do some planning before December dawns in all its glittery glory. Assemble the team, even if it’s only your own wits you’re gathering, break out the mulled wine and mince pies (for medicinal purposes), get some old fashioned paper and a pen and start listing what needs to happen for this to be your best Christmas ever. It can be as wishful and wistful as you like, so long as you get around to the practicalities somewhere in there. Here’s our guide to help you along.

idea how much you can afford for all those other things you want to do, such as family outings, social nights out, new clothes and items for the house. If you manage your money well you’ll have more to splash at the January sales.

Get yourself in order

Everyone wants to look their best for Christmas so work out when you’re likely to need appointments with the hairdresser/nail bar/ beauticians and book early. Give your wardrobe a good once-over and if you need to go shopping, do it sooner rather than later so that you don’t end up panic buying a party dress for far more than you wanted to spend.

It’s not about the money

Jesse J has the right philosophy for the spirit of Christmas but ignore money and you’ll be nursing a hangover come the new year that no amount of meds will help. It’s essential to budget for this most expensive of seasons, especially if you tend not to have much left over at the end of the month. Include how much you need for gifts and Christmas dinner, and you’ll have a better

Keep some funds for the January sales

Home sweet home?

Christmas decorations look their best if they’re not competing with clutter. Before

you unpack a single box, have a thorough clear out and clean session. Sparkling mirrors and windows and fairy lights are a match made in heaven. Don’t forget the exterior of your home and make sure your driveway and the area around the front door are looking their best before you decorate them.

Table where?

Having friends or family over for dinner over the festive season? If you’re entertaining, and especially if you’re doing Christmas dinner, do an inventory ahead of time and make sure you have everything you need. Crockery, tableware, glasses, cutlery and serving dishes can go missing or get broken during the year and you don’t want anything to get in the way of a stunning table.

Stock up

Spread the cost of the food bill by getting bits and pieces for Christmas along with your weekly shop now. Plum puddings, Christmas cake, biscuits and drinks are among the many things that you can stash away until you need them.

Plan for fun

Possibly the most important item on the planning list is fun time. The holiday season can fly past before you know it. Set aside dates for days out – going to Santa’s grotto, a Christmas market, an overnight in the city, a panto, carol service, whatever makes you happy. It’s a surefire way of tapping into the Christmas spirit. Without needing to set aside particular dates, be mindful of the need for relaxing evenings in as well. Hunker down by the fireside for a round of games, take a candlelit soak in the bath, anything that will stop you becoming stressed.

Spread the cheer

The word Christmas can instil dread in people who are struggling with mental illness, ill-health, grief or loneliness. This is a good time to be a friend. If you don’t know anyone in need, why not support a charity appeal that will help a stranger. It’s easy to do and there’s nothing quite like it for capturing the true spirit of Christmas.

5 hacks ✷

for saving ing cash

If you struggle to save, cutting back on spending in some areas will make your money go farther this Christmas. Here are a few tips to help you.


. On the cards: Posting dozens of cards to the same people every year can be costly. Consider whether you need to send to every person on your list and whether some can be hand delivered. You may like to support a charity by buying their cards and there are some people you want to get

a special card for but it may be that a budget pack is fine for the bulk of your cards. Post early – a first class stamp is now 70p and a second class is 61p. Vow to get next year’s cards in January when they’re at knockdown prices.


. Best secret: Secret Santa is a gift, as it allows you to set limits on spending – vital if your funds are limited or you have a large family.


. Early bird: There’s no need to splash out on the most expensive wrapping paper or crackers – the earlier you shop, the better your chances of finding good value for money as the most expensive ones tend to be all that’s left close to Christmas.


. Bargain hunt: Drinks and chocolates tend to be discounted around now and can make good gifts, especially for a party

host. Keep your eyes open for bargains. Also, try supermarket own brand food items – they’re almost always as good as the big brand names.


. Money saver: Use Martin Lewis’s mantra if you’re tempted to splash out: “Do I need it? Can I afford it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere?” Avoid using credit cards unless you know how to make them work for you.

8 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Hit, miss, maybe... Embrace the

Two things to be avoided at the festive season are headaches and heartaches. Keep your wits about you and let the festive fun times begin... ✸ HIT




Partying with a pack. Arrange to meet at someone’s house or a restaurant while the night is still young. Wandering about the streets on your own, trying to find your friends.


Have something substantial to eat at least an hour before you have a drink.


Drinking too much, too quickly. Drinkaware says 50% of Irish people and 64% of under 24s say they drink to help themselves feel better. As alcohol is a depressant, it makes you feel worse.

Cooking and freezing meals so that you can eat healthily if you don’t feel like cooking.

party season

Catch up with friends

Binging on junk food, fizzy drinks and sugar give a short-term energy boost, followed by low mood, guilt and anxiety.


It may be cold, dark and wet but getting out and exercising is excellent for your physical and mental health.


Hibernating – it only reinforces any negative feelings you already had.


Avoiding confrontations on a night out.


Telling your boss/ex what you think of them.


If you wind up scoring mostly misses this year, don’t beat yourself up but do learn from your mistakes.

The doors have opened on this year’s festive season – a whirl of parties and get togethers, gigs, shows, pantos and plays. From now until the new year we’re up for laughs, entertainment, great food and a spin on the dancefloor. If there’s a gaping hole in your social diary, why not organise a night out yourself? It’s a chance to hang out with friends or people you’ve met through a club or class. There’s no time to waste though – especially if you have a large group and want to hold your party on a weekend night. Here are our tips to help you get started...

Work ‘do’

Planning a work party is straightforward if you are firm about a deadline for people opting in or out – you don’t need a precise tally but a ballpark figure for the size of the group is essential before you settle on a venue. Select a few preferences and phone around to check availability and find out what’s on offer in terms of the meal and entertainment – a band and disco, or just one of those. You may prefer to have a room to yourselves or, depending on the size and age profile of your party, the best nights out can happen when you’re thrown together with other groups. If your numbers go up or down significantly get back to the venue as soon as possible as it is likely to affect their table plans.

celebrating in a hotel, why not see if there are any takers for a couple of rooms for the night?

Party pals

Nights out with friends are turbo charged at this time of year and the chances are you’ll bump into people you haven’t seen for years. Don’t miss out on what could be some memorable nights for all the right reasons. Meet early and get a meal together, then on to a pub for cocktails or take in a gig and end the night on the dancefloor. Many hotels offer excellent discounts to people staying over after a Christmas party – including money off a spa treatment to get you through the morning after the night before.


Don’t leave it until the night of the party to think about getting home. Taxis are expensive and frequently unavailable over the Christmas season. Try to agree on a few designated drivers or book a minibus if you have the numbers. Check the last bus and train times and if that seems the most viable or desirable option for a lot of people, book your meal at a time to facilitate them making the station on time. People are more likely to relax and enjoy themselves if they aren’t worried about getting home. After all, relaxation and enjoyment are right up there when it comes to celebrating the festive season.

Family reunion

There comes a point in life when you never seem to see family except at weddings and funerals. Christmas is the best season for calling the clan together and a lunch or a dinner out means plenty of time for catching up without hours of clearing up afterwards. Lunch is a good option if there are young children or elderly relatives joining you. Choose a venue that’s conducive to being able to hear each other and where you feel as if you’ve room to move. If you are

End the night on the dancefloor

Office Chic to Party Glam BY DAVINA GORDON

Top and Skirt


Night Out Black One Shoulder Top, £10, F&F

White with Gold Spot Cropped Blouse, £26, Glamorous





Sequin Skirt, £55, M&S

Night Out


Gold Sequin Camisole Top, £30, Wallis

Velvet Wide Leg Trouser, £32, M&Co

2 3


Gold Sequin Camisole Top, £30, Wallis


Top and Trousers


It’s the season for party-hopping straight from work, but there is no need to bring a second outfit. Here is our super chic guide to looking smart at the office and glam on a night out. You are welcome!

Velvet Wide Leg Trouser, £32, M&Co

Sequin Skirt, £55, M&S Black Cut Out Stiletto, £59, Office Black Point High Heel Court Shoe, £49, Wallis

4 Black Heart Clutch, £35, Oasis


4 Black Heart Clutch, £35, Oasis

Pointed Shoe Boots, £22, Matalan

3 4

Ack Croc Box Clutch with Tortoiseshell Clasp, £24, JDWilliams

3 Animal Print Clutch, £33,


Rose Gold Sandals, 375, Dune

10 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Black Leather Gloves, £18, Dorothy Perkins

Gold Beaded Clutch Bag, £10, Primark Knot Headband, £8, Lipsy

Faux Fur Gloves, £45, Dune

I just want to be

adorned Per Una Jumper £39.50, Earring £12.50, M&S

Fedora Hat, £25, M&S

Embellished Clutch Bag, £12, TK Maxx Cream Gold Bobble Hat, £10, Dorothy Perkins

Embellished Court, £70, Dune

Black Rouched Over the Knee Boot, £69, Wallis

Olivia Burton 18ki Rose Gold Plated Vintage Bow Stud Earrings, £39, Very

Inra Stone and Chain Triangle Drop Earrings, £18, Oliver Bonas

No matter how thought out your outfit is, it’s just not complete without accessories. They maketh the outfit. We’ve scoured the high street for the snazziest accessories to help you stand out from the crowd. From covetable clutches to beautiful boots, gorgeous gloves to elegant earrings, we’ve got you covered.

Satin Embellished Headband, £20, V by Very

12 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019


Eight Hour Daily Defense Moisturizer, £36, Elizabeth Arden

5 1

NCEF Reverse Eyes, £55, Laboratoires Filorga

Magnificent Magnifi cent Seven

As the temperature dips, it’s time to shake up your skincare routine. If you’ve been winging it all summer with a light moisturiser and skipping on eye cream and serum, now’s the time to invest in some good quality treats your skin will love. If you want to boost your skin from within, Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules from Elizabeth Arden are a steal. Serum is so important and absorbs into the skin much quicker than cream so if you

only buy one product make e it a super serum. We love AA Barrier Serum erum from Algenist. It’s It’ sensible to use a face mask every very week to t keep your skin in tip-top condition. We recommend Emma Hardie’s Exfoliating Brightening Tonic for an instant pick me up. A great buy is Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Daily Defense Moisturiser, it’s a great all rounder which should be a bathroom staple. Give your skin some love!

Excellence Code Cream, £142 Yon Ka


Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules, £42 for 30 capsules, Elizabeth Arden


Excellence Code Masque, £65, Yon Ka



AA Barrier Serum, £80, Algenist

Exfoliating Brightening Tonic, £28, Emma Hardie

Men, don’t let winter get under your skin

While there’s lots to love about winter, the cold weather can take its toll on you — especially on your skin. So be prepared for the chill and pick up a few products to help you avoid the cracked lips, dried out skin and all the rest. Look for a more hydrating face wash rather than your year-round staple to help

retain its moisture. Though sunscreen is a summer essential, the UV rays that age and damage your skin are present, irrespective of the weather. Go for a light feeling SPF 30 moisturiser to keep wrinkles at bay. Lips get chapped almost immediately in the cold winter air, so a good lip balm with SPF is essential.

Baxter Of California Daily Face Wash 300ml, £18, various stores

Anthony Day Cream Spf 30, £27.95,

Aesop Protective Lip Balm SPF 30, £13,

men-ü Healthy Facial Wash 100ml, £9.95,

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, £7.25, Boots

Countdown to Christmas | 13

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph 25 Days of Beauty Advent Calendar, £165, Elemis

Beauty just got bigger... It’s the most wonderful time of the year – when our favourite beauty and skincare brands release their luxurious advent calendars. Maeve Richardson selects her top picks for this year. With some brands releasing a limited number, act fast if you have your heart set on one of these beauties.

12 Days of Christmas, £80, Lush The perfect gift for bath lovers, this box of treats has everything you need from bubbles, to fizz, loads of lathers, super scrubs and magical moisturiser. This selection includes Golden Pear soap, Cinnamon Orange bath oil tablet and Santa’s Grotto bath bomb, perfect for putting you in the festive mood.


Starring You

25 Days of Beauty Advent Calendar, £165, Elemis Discover something new every day, with 25 products from award-winners and bestselling heroes, to the most coveted new arrivals and skincare staples, culminating in a full-size jar of the iconic Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. Worth more than £344, Elemis’ calendar also includes a ProCollagen Hydra-Gel Eye Mask, a Cleansing Cloth, Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsules and Balancing Lavender Toner.

✷£130, ESPA

Precious Moments Advent Calendar,

A limited-edition collection of treasures for the skin, body and mind. Containing 25 stunning treats including Fitness Body Oil, Pink Hair and Scalp Mud, Hydrating Floral Spafresh Spritzer and Overnight Hydration Therapy.

✷Charlotte Tilbury

Beauty Advent Calendar, £150,

Charlotte’s Beauty Universe is inspired by the bestselling, most-loved collections that came before it. Filled with iconic beauty essentials such as Matte Revolution in Pillow Talk, Wonderglow and Legendary Lashes, the collection is worth more than £195 and includes both full sized and mini products. The best part is that it is housed in a stunning tower of glittering beauty that can be used as a jewellery case after you work my way through the incredible selection of goodies, so no guilt about excess packaging.

✷for Women, £60, Clarins

12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar

12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar for Men, £60, Clarins Women are not the only ones in need of a bit of pampering as Christmas approaches and Clarins has released an indulgent calendar of skin treats for men. Packed full of everything you’ll need to make this the most festive holiday season yet, including two full size products and 10 travel-size treats, from skin care to make-up must haves for him and her. The women’s calendar includes Beauty Flash Balm, Wonder Perfect 4D Mascara and Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil 01 Honey, and the men’s includes Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil, Active Face Wash and Hydra-Essential Lip Balm.

✷Jo Malone London

Advent Calendar, £320,

This coveted collection is the ultimate indulgence and includes 24 magical miniatures from captivating colognes to home fragrances and bath and body treats. Offerings include old favourites iBlackberry & Bay Cologne, and English Pear & Freesia Body Creme alongside new additions to the line-up such as Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense.

Calendar, MAC, £129 This treasure trove of treats features everything you need for the festive season and beyond. From skin priming favourites to statement lips and smokey eyes, this collection will have you looking and feeling your best. Includes Lady Danger Lipstick and Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara.

14 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Look tip-top from head to toe BY MAEVE RICHARDSON

As the weather grows colder and we all bundle up in extra layers to keep warm, it’s easy to forget that our bodies need a little extra nourishment, even if they’re not on display. Constantly going from heated interiors to facing the elements head on can leave skin feeling dry and itchy and in need of a little extra tlc. With that in mind, here are some standout products to keep you looking your best from head to toe.


Epoch IceDancer, £24.80, Nu Skin


No Frizz Instant Defrizzer, £25, Living Proof

This dry conditioning spray tames frizz on dry hair by adding softness, smoothness and shine keeping it looking smooth and sleek, no matter the weather.


Confidence in a Neck Cream, £42, IT Cosmetics


Superbalm Scalp Treatment, £15, Lush

Packed with oils, waxes and soothing essential oils to soothe scalps in distress. Because you only need to massage a small amount onto targeted areas of your scalp (rather than your whole head or hair) a little goes a long way.


Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, £18, Living Proof

Quickly becoming a cult product among the beauty brigade, this hard working dry shampoo actually cleans your hair by absorbing and repelling dirt and oil, keeping it cleaner for longer. It also has a time-released fragrance that gives off a light and fresh scent throughout the day.


Confidence in a Neck Cream, £42, IT Cosmetics

Treat your neck and décolletage to skinloving ingredients including fucoidan seaweed extract, shea butter, elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid, helping to improve firmness, smoothness and elasticity.

Ideal for those who spend a lot of time on their feet, this non-sticky, quick-absorbed gel cools and soothes tired achy legs. It features an enticing combination of horse chestnut, peppermint oil and wild mint to help you feel rejuvenated and refreshed.

Oil serum base, £18, Emulsion

This super serum is suitable for all skin and hair types – a fabulous multi-use item. Filled with natural oils that sink deep into skin and hair weightlessly, it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin or who prefer their products unfragranced.


Topialyse Intensive Balm, £19, SVR

This balm is specially designed for those with sensitive skin. Fragrance-free but with the delicate scent of coconut oil, it also contains cotton oil and helps reduce itching and tightness, leaving you with soothed and nourished skin.


Genius Collagen Hand Cream, £36, Algenist

This advanced, luxurious hand cream quickly absorbs into the skin to help provide nourishment and relief for dry hands. Featuring Algenist’s patented Alguronic Acid from algae, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, it brightens, protects and moisturises hands for healthier looking, hydrated skin.


Peony Blossom Sugar Crystal Body Scrub, £23, MOR

A beautiful bouquet of peony, orange and cherry blossoms is blended with vanilla, strawberry and pineapple in this luxurious body scrub that promises to gently polish dull skin to unveil a smooth, silky-soft finish.


Epoch Baobab Body Butter, £32.40, Nu Skin

Nourish your skin with moisturising shea butter and the fruit of the African baobab tree. These time-tested ethnobotanicals promote smooth, supple skin that stays touchably soft all day while enhancing skin resiliency for even softer skin tomorrow.


Sunright Insta Glow Tinted Self-Tanning Gel, £30.60, Nu Skin

Determined to keep a subtle beautiful golden glow all year round? No matter the season, you can give your skin a sun-kissed finish with Sunright Insta Glow. This self-tanning gel will help you achieve a luxurious bronze finish while providing moisturising benefits. Formulated for face and body, this lotion builds gradually into a natural looking tan.


Liquid Body Lufra, £15.50, Nu Skin


Body Sculpting Gradual Tan, £18.50, He-Shi

Liquid Body Lufra contains finely ground walnut shells that buff out rough spots and revitalises the skin by gently working away surface impurities, leaving you with a healthy and luminous glow.

Epoch Baobab Body Butter, £32.40, Nu Skin

If you’re really not into the ice queen look then He-Shi’s gradual tan is another fabulous option to keep you looking like a golden goddess. This innovative solution not only gives all over luminosity, but also helps the skin’s condition as caffeine increases microcirculation, while Irish moss ensures deep hydration.

Countdown to Christmas | 15

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

We wish you a Beauty-full Christmas


There are 12 Days of Christmas so we’ve chosen 12 covetable make-up must-haves for your dressing table. Of course, it’s all about your drop-dead gorgeous Christmas party look so we’ve included staples that will get you through the busy festive season. Always start with a primer and we love the foundation primer set from Paul & Joe. A bottle of Moisturising Foundation Primer is sold

Luxury Lipstick in Chocolat, £125

Primer Trio, £32, Paul & Joe

every two minutes worldwide! A very important staple is black mascara at any time of year but especially at Christmas. We’re a big fan of Damn Girl by Too Faced, the creamy mousse formula delivers extreme volume without a heavy feel. It also boasts smudge-and-flake-resistant curl so it will take you from the office to the party without a need to touch up. ‘Tis the season for the perfect palette and we adore Blue Realm Velvet Eye Shadow Palette from Stila. The six shades are perfect for party-hopping and the diamond pressed pattern is glam and allows for the ultimate pigment pick-up with finger application. If a statement lipstick is your thing then you are going to fall in love with La Bouche Rouge Paris, a revolutionary lipstick that is refillable, sustainable and pure. Start dropping hints to your other half. We’re so excited about the Star-Dipped Face Compact by MAC available in Medium Deep and Light. It’s the perfect way to add a healthy glow and it looks so pretty too! We hope you Hand Mirror, have a gorgeous, glowing £14, Paul & Christmas. Joe

Damn Girl Mascara, £22, Too Faced

Blue Realm Velvet Eye Shadow Palette, £30, Stila IT Girl Volume 2, £42, IT Cosmetics Starring You Powerpoint Eye Pencil, £15, MAC

Luminizing Drops in Champagne, £30, Algenist

Star-Dipped Face Compact/Starring You, £39, MAC

Christmas Beautiful Colour Red Door Red, £22, Elizabeth Arden Lolita Por Vida Eye Shadow Palette, £45, Kat Von D

16 | Countdown to Christmas


Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019 Silver Sequin Belted Fit and Flare Dress, £48, Dorothy Perkins

WOW Velvet Sequin Dress, £30, F&F


Black Jumpsuit, £50, Roman Originals


Dress to impress this Christmas in shimmering satin, sparkling sequins and luscious velvet. Gorgeous, glamorous fabrics which look OTT at any other time of the year, literally shine during the party season. Go elegant or go glam in colours ranging from red to blue, purple and green as well as the festively fab black, gold and silver. Here are some of the top picks from the High Street to get you glitterball ready...

Teal Roman Wrap Dress, £40, Roman Originals Black Zebra Velvet Wrap Dress, £44, Next

Red Lace Tassel Sleeveless Shift Dress, £60, Roman Originals Plum Satin Pleated Midi Dress, £27.99, New Look

Black Chevron Camisole Midi Dress, £110, Miss Selfridge

One Shoulder Neutral Sequin Dress, £35, F&F

Tie Waist Metallic Dress, £65, River Island

Purple Sequin Dress, £40, Dorothy Perkins

Backless metallic drape dress, £65, M&Co Black Sequin Mini Dress, £110, Miss Selfridge Nude, High-neck Midi Dress, £120, Miss Selfridge Purple ombre Sequin Dress, £75, Roman Originals

Black Sequin Strappy Skater Dress, £25.99, New Look

Silver Tuxedo Dress, £30, F&F

Berry Lace Mini Dress, £32, Dorothy Perkins

18 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Model wears coat, £69, dress, £69, boots, £45, Marks and Spencer

Blue fur faux coat, £92, Littlewoods

Puff sleeve organza shirt, £32, Punky plaid: red tartan pleated mini skirt, £35, River Island FLOWER POWER: Model wears skirt, £38, blouse, £36, Oasis

Model wears yellow knit, £38, ochre velvet skirt, £35, Oasis

Drive out drab with rich pickings this season BY MAUREEN COLEMAN

From florals to feathers, punky tartan to puffy sleeves, now is the time to update your winter wardrobe with some of the high street’s key trends. If there’s one staple item to invest in this season, it’s a coat and there are numerous styles to choose from. Teddy coats, puffer jackets and parkas are bang on trend but you can never go wrong with faux fur. Neutral shades are easy to coordinate with but if you’re feeling brave, opt for bolder hues of midnight blue, forest green or pastel pink. Animal and floral prints carry over Cream high from last season but with a winter leg boots, twist. The pretty shades of summer are £69, Wallis replaced with richer, jewel coloured tones or nature-inspired hues. Pair floaty frocks SPARKLE AND SHINE: with knee high boots in tan or cream to Ombre satin sequinned jumpsuit, complete the winter look. £89, Miss Selfridge Chunky knits in bright stripes look

fresh, teamed with corduroy or suede minis while plain coloured sweaters are perfectly matched with cute tartan kilts. Tis the season to glam up and be gorgeous and sequins show no sign of disappearing. If you can’t wear them at Christmas, then when can you? Look out for sequinned dresses, skirts, blazers and even trousers. Dare to wear them head to toe for some fun festive fashion. For a touch of elegance and opulence, velvet is ideal. Add lace, ruffles or this season’s favourite, organza, for Gothic glamour. To get your cold weather colour fix, cosy up in shades of ivory or white or splash out on something spicier like mustard or cinnamon. Red remains a Christmas style stalwart while burgundy is back from last winter. Go green if you really want to be seen in this season’s must-have hue. Add an oversized bag, a leopard print scarf or Baker boy cap, and you’re winter ready.

Green animal print dress, £58, Wallis

Dark green faux fur shopper bag, £30, Next

Red Penguin jumper, £24, M&Co.

Countdown to Christmas | 19

Navy Pompom Hat Christmas jumper, £28, Dorothy Perkins

Grey Fabyuleous jumper, £26, Next

Grey Christmas jumper, £28, Dorothy Perkins

Red Reindeer Boucle jumper, £30, River Island

Navy Bauble jumper, £26, Dorothy Perkins M&S Collection jumper, £35, Marks & Spencer

Sequin reindeer pyramid Christmas jumper, £24, M&Co.

Novelty KNITS Fairisle jumper, £40, Lipsy

It’s Christmas Jumper Day on December 13, when people everywhere ditch their dress sense and don silly jumpers to raise funds for Save the Children.

As well as the usual novelty jumpers, there are sweaters galore that are bordering on stylish with Fair Isle jumpers leading the way. Here are some of our top picks…

Men’s Greatest Snowman jumper, £22, M&Co.

20 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

FLYING HIGH: Off white shearling aviator jacket, £85, Oasis

WINTER BLUES: Model wears blue coat, £89, top, £29.50, jeans, £29.50, bag, £35, Marks and Spencer

Don’t get left out in the cold

✸ PRETTY IN PINK: Dusty pink faux fur Teddy coat, £58, JD Williams

CHECK MATE: Check print coat, £65, Miss Selfridge

If you’re planning to invest in one key item of clothing this Christmas, make sure it’s a coat. Choose a style wisely and it could prove a perennial buy – a timeless classic to see you through many winters to come. Fortunately, for fashion lovers, there are numerous styles on the high street right now, to suit all shapes, sizes and budgets. Cuddle up in a cosy Teddy coat or take a walk on the wild side in omnipresent animal print. Faux fur is everywhere and is the perfect accompaniment to a festive party dress. From checks to crombie coats, puffer jackets to parkas, there’s no excuse to be left out in the cold this Christmas.

Yellow puffa coat, £45, Matalan

Dress, £48, jacket, £68, Wallis

IT’S A WRAP: Long coat, £150, Monsoon

WILD THING: Leopard print faux fur coat, £55, Dorothy Perkins

Red cropped faux fur coat, £69, Top Shop

MOD SQUAD: Green parka, £35, Primark

Countdown to Christmas | 21

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

Step out

Pink court shoes, £32, Oasis,

in style

Put your best feet forward this season in the most beautiful boots and the sassiest shoes on the high street. Stiletto heels make way for pretty kitten or platform heels while the sneakers of summer are given a chunkier look.

Blouse, £35, trousers, £30, mules, £45, Wallis, www. Jewelled velvet shoes, £45, Joe Browns, www.

Model wears blazer, £79, dress, £45, boots, £49.50, Marks and Spencer collection, www. marksandspencer. com

GO GOTHIC: Lace up boots, £50, Faith, range of stockists

Whatever your preference of boot style, you’ll be spoiled for choice – knee high, high leg, ankle, biker or Western, take your pick. Snake and crocodile prints are still on trend while the colour palette has extended beyond tan, grey and black. White and cream boots are perfect for winter, giving a nod to a retro Sixties vibe. Look out for buckles and bows to jazz up Mary Janes or court shows and opt for a pop of neon pink or cobalt blue to brighten up a dark outfit. As it’s Christmas, don’t be afraid to step out in sequinned and sparkly shoes to ensure you dazzle on the dance floor.

Croc print knee boots, £190, Dune, range of stockists

Rose gold chunky trainer, £35, Dorothy Perkins,

Glittery platform sandals, £32,

SADDLE UP: White cowboy boots, £125, Office, range of stockists

Grey over the knee boots, £49, Miss Selfridge, www.

Party in style

22 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Turn heads at your Christmas parties this year, whether it’s a black tie event, the office party or a few drinks with friends. HUGO Malte wool overcoat, £319, various stores

Charles Tyrwhitt silk barathea bow tie, £34.95,

Black Tie Event

An easy mistake to make since not everyone knows, but the ‘tie’ in a black tie event stands for a bow tie. Go for a self-tie bow tie — even though it may be intimidating. Thankfully, a quick search on YouTube and you’ll find a stepby-step tutorial that you can’t go wrong with. A well-fitting dinner jacket is a must. Add a touch of flair with a pocket square or a lapel pin. Finish the look off with a pair of black Oxfords so well polished they can double as a mirror.

Office Party

Depending on where you work, the office party is usually a smart/casual affair — leaning more on the smart side — so you don’t have to change too much from your usual Monday-Friday uniform. Shake things up a bit by pairing a rollneck jumper instead of a shirt and tie under your suit. You could even ditch your day-to-day office shoes for a pair of Chelsea boots, some brogue boots or a smart pair of loafers — if your ankles can bear the cold.

Barbour Belford brogue boots, £145, various stores

Meermin Oxford shoes, £160, Jamieson’s of Shetland roll neck jumper, £105,

Havana tuxedo, £499, Suitsupply, Silk pocket square, £10, Next,

Christmas party wear from SD Kells,

Eoll neck jumper, £45.99, Zara, Mixed check shirt, £28, Burton, various stores

The Get-Together

The 5-a-side Christmas party, the annual meet up with friends back from abroad or just the excuse to go out for a meal and get merry with your mates. This one is all about looking good and staying warm for whenever you’re making the journey from the restaurant to the bar/club and the ill-advised late night trek to the kebab shop. Throw on your favourite winter coat, a flannel shirt (with the option of a tee underneath for extra warmth), your thickest roll neck jumper, jeans that aren’t full of holes and a pair of boots — just make sure they will get you past the bouncer.

Burton winter look

24 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019 Votive lights and candles from Next’s Christmas collection

Cast a glow with tasteful lighting. This luxury, handmade lamp has an amber glass body on a brass base with mustard silk drum shade. Windsor cordless table lamp, £2,334, Alexander Joseph,

This pendant features hand crafted leaves in hand-applied gold leaf, Atticus 5 light pendant, £696, Dar Lighting,

Baby it’s cold outside...

✸ Indulge in retro glamour with this Chevron velvet cushion in pine green, £35, Cult Furniture,

The Florian sheepskin rug can go on the floor, on a chair or bed, available in a range of sizes and colours, from £79, Cult Furniture, www.

Add warmth and a welcoming atmosphere at home with rich textures and lush fabrics this season. There are rugs, throws and cushions to suit every style, from the Retro midcentury focus to New Nordic or the more opulent glamourous trend. Adding texture with chunky knits or soft and enveloping wool or fleece blankets brings interest to a neutral scheme. It’s also an instant and cost effective way to introduce new colours and patterns into a room.

Fishbone seafoam green throw, £35, National Sink into a cocoon with Velvet is wonderfully luxurious and Trust, www. the Habitat Sheppy cream is covering everything from suites to nationaltrust. short wool sheepskin lampshades now. Beautiful brass and gold beanbag, £695, Habitat, come into their own on a cold, dark day, adding their own glow. Forget a bright ceiling light unless it’s part of a stylish chandelier or set of pendant lights. Table and floor lamps and wall lights with dimmer switches are perfect for creating a festive atmosphere while twinkling fairy lights add sparkle to your mantlepiece and shelves – especially when enhanced by a mirror.

Store your logs in style, Scoop open end log basket, set of two, £65, A by Amara,

Teal throw with on trend fringing, £80, Abigal Ahern at Debenhams,

Don’t forget to add layers in the bedroom. Cosy faux mohair check throw, £35, Joe Browns,

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

For a real statement, Sheepskin Polar Bear chair, £2,499,, Baa Stool,

Throw some contrast into your space with this large black and white houndstooth print velvet cushion, £30, Cult Furniture,

A range of pink, grey and brown rugs and throws from Next’s Christmas collection

Not too kitschy, Stag Christmas throw, £15.99, These giant sheepskin letters can be hung or propped against a wall, £95, Baa Stool,

Distressed gold circle decorative mirror, £119.90, The Farthing,

SPONSORED Le Creuset cookware

Find something special atWardens

The landmark store of Wardens of array of gorgeous decorations to choose Newtownards is the perfect from. place for Christmas A gift of Le Creuset will inspiration this year. delight any foodie and you With leading brands will find up to 20% off Le including Katie Loxton, Creuset in the cookware Waterford, Tipperary department. Crystal and Newbridge, The highly collectable you will find something Wedgwood Snow Globe special for everyone on has become a real The Wedgwood Snow your list. Christmas classic and is Globe has become And if your home needs a wonderful lasting gift. a real Christmas a little bit of Christmas Create beautiful homes this classic magic, there is a wonderful Christmas.

26 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

THE EASY OPTION: 6ft Mixed Tip Snowy Pre-Lit Christmas Tree, £99, Argos Home, Dusted with snow and decorated with pine cones and berries this pre-lit 6ft spruce comes with everything you need to create a stunning Christmas centrepiece. All you have to do is slot the pieces together, pull down the hinged branches and plug it in.

THE TRADITIONAL OPTION: Balmoral Christmas Tree, 6ft and 7ft, from £149, Dobbies, For a full, traditional-style, emerald green tree, look no further than Dobbies Balmoral Tree, available in 6ft and 7ft options. With its irregular branches, it creates a natural looking, soft outline and its longer branches provide the perfect place for decorations to nestle.


Faux Firs Whether you’re trying to improve your environmental credentials or simply can’t face the thought of spending weeks picking up needles, there’s no shame in going fake. With a tree to match every budget, specification and style, you’ll be spoilt for choice with this year’s artificial Christmas trees.

THE ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT REAL’ OPTION: Falera Artificial Tree, 6ft, £70, B&Q, The upswept branches of the Falera give a natural silhouette and look particularly realistic thanks to its mix of green PE and PVC tipped branches. Quick and easy to assemble, the branches fall into place and simply require fluffing. A great looking tree for the price.

THE MODERN OPTION: Midnight Forest Christmas Tree, 7ft, £250, Cox & Cox, If you fancy a change from a traditional tree, this black boughed beauty provides a perfect backdrop for gold accented decorations. Maximise this tree’s unique look by choosing unusual baubles such as leopards and elephants, also available at Cox & Cox.

28 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Faux fur stocking, £14, Next,

A foliage garland, hurricane lanterns and baubles transform a staircase into a festive tableau, Next,

Trend Pre-Lit LED Snow Flocked Spruce Garland, £33.99, The Seasonal Aisle, There’s a choice of two scenes in these charming Nativity in Dome Christmas Decorations, £14, The Christmas Home,

A wreath isn’t just for Christmas when it comes to bespoke creations from locally handmade Jasmine & Lily Floral Wreaths,

Festive and fresh A red and white scheme, from £4.50 each, Paper Dreams,

These reusable crackers don’t ‘pop’ but will last year after year. Fill the plastic inner tube with a special gift, money, tickets or vouchers, and use as a place maker at the Christmas dinner table. Available in ivory cotton or natural linen, Scandi inspired reusable Christmas crackers, from £12.50, Kate Sproston Design, Personalised bauble with dancing duck, £10, Laura Lee Designs, www.

Set of four Star trinket dishes, £18, Next,

Set of 3 Outdoor Micro Light Stars outside a midnight blue cabin, £134.99, Lights4fun, Spare everyone the corny jokes with a set of Ridleys Festive Quiz Christmas crackers, each containing six trivia cards, from £28, Selfridges,

Christmas Bauble Fairy Lights add a glam look to a festive Christmas decor. Ten glass effect frosted white baubles with LED lights, £10, Melody Maison, www.

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

BlueChristmas Antique Purple with Gold Leaves Bauble - 80mm, £3.49, The Contemporary Home,

Matt Purple Ribbed/ Fuchsia Glitter Stripe Bauble, £3.49, The Contemporary Home,

Bright’s all right!


Mini Purple Bead and Sequin Bauble, 79p each, Dobbies Garden Centres,

Lynne McBennett, of Lily Rose Floral Designs, shares her Christmas decoration tips and reveals what’s on-trend this year with dark tones making a sultry seasonal statement.

✸ 2m Moroccan blue tinsel, £1.25, B&Q, Gabriel set of 3 8cm glitter star baubles, Habitat,

Purple Glitter Cylinder Candle, £4.99, The Contemporary Home,

Blue will undoubtedly feature in the form of dark tones for Christmas 2019. Deep midnight blues, aquamarine, deep sky blue and cyan will bring a dark, rich quality to the holiday season. While red, green and gold have been traditional festive favourites, people have become more adventurous using bottle green, black and rich purple trees and decorations to adorn their homes. A mix of shimmering, dull or vintage-style metallics makes for a truly glamorous look with pink shades and rose golds growing in popularity. Another trend taking this 2019 season by storm is colourful modern decorations. Oversized baubles are a big hit again this year - be it on a Christmas tree, grouped together on a ribbon hanging in your hallway or simply singular on a mantlepiece or fireplace.

Keys to success Multi-coloured Pom Pom Tree Topper complements a pre-lit Blue Mountain Spruce Christmas Tree, £10.50, Cox & Cox,

Multi-coloured Pom Poms, £4.50 each, Paper Dreams, Gin Martini Glasses (set of 4) 300ml Clear £18, Shatterproof Assorted Baubles (tub of 100) Pink/Violet £25, Balloon Dog Bauble Pink £5, LSA International Serve Cake Stand and Dome Dia.26.5cm £80, Holographic Sequin Bauble Silver £5, Swirl Icicle Bauble Blue £8, Sequin Bauble Pink £5, Holographic Shard Bauble Purple £6, all John Lewis & Partners,

Set of 4 velvet baubles in on-trend jewel colours, £18.95, Lime Lace, www.

You can have a glamorous look without breaking the bank so focus on the main key pieces. The tree – on-trend colours that work in with your home decor The garland – shop bought plain green that can be accessorised to match your tree and room. The mantlepiece – foraged greenery from your garden, some fairy lights or maybe just your stockings for Santa to fill with treats.

Don’t forget about outside – almost as important now with doors adorned with bows and wreaths

The stairs – fairy lights for a simple look. For something more luxurious add garlands, lights and decorations complementing your theme for the year. The centrepiece – a charger plate with some greenery, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and candles.

Add magic

You can give every room a little bit of Christmas magic by adding lights, a mini tree or even a glass vase filled with baubles. Red or gold towels in the bathroom, a bowl of pine cones mixed with baubles on the kitchen table. Forage from the garden for twigs/ branches, pine cones or from your local florist grab a few stems of eucalyptus or spruce to bring the smell of Christmas inside. Your florist can offer advice on what will last through the season and make you bespoke arrangements for the big day be that a stunning mantle display or a simple table candle arrangement. Battery operated lights or tea lights offer endless possibilities whilst safely lighting up tables, stairs or hallways.

Look out

Don’t forget about outside – almost as important now with doors adorned with bows and wreaths. Again use what you have in terms of trees or bushes and adorn them with simple lights and a few carefully chosen and tasteful baubles. If you have steps leading up to your door use empty glass jars for tea lights so Santa can find his way. Warm golden lights are growing in popularity this year with a definite decline in cool white lights which had been popular over the past five years. The emergence of coloured fairy lights from many years ago is again seeing a growth in popularity. Be creative, be bold, be sensible on budget and add those small elements that give your castle a shine, your eyes a sparkle and your heart a warm glow. Lynne @Lily Rose Floral Design

30 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019 The tunes make all the difference when it comes to creating an atmosphere


Christmas party season is upon us and you’ve decided to host a get together at your home. What seemed like a brilliant idea back in August, is leaving you panicking as the date creeps closer. But whether you’re hosting an intimate soirée or a big blowout, these top tips will help make sure your celebration is a cracker...

How to throw a cracker of a party Music: Music brings any party to life and

with easy access to just about every artist and song now available through online streaming services, you’re spoilt for choice when compiling your playlist. Think about the demographics of your guests: will they be most comfortable with Christmas classics crooning in the background or will they fancy getting their groove on to more contemporary tracks?

Budget: This should be your first and

most important consideration as it will determine all the other elements of your party, from the size of the gathering to the type of hospitality you’ll provide – make sure to leave a little extra in the pot for some festive decorations to set the mood.

Guest list: Planning a guest list is a

numbers game; you need to work out how many people you can comfortably entertain based on the size of your space and your food and drink budget. Try to choose people who you think will get on but don’t feel limited to people who already know each other; parties are the perfect opportunity for people to socialise outside their usual circle.

Invitations: The level of formality of your

event will dictate the most appropriate way to invite your guests, but the majority of invitations tend to be sent by text message or email, rather than by post. Give people

You needn’t spend a fortune on partyware. Goodies from George Home plenty of time to respond as calendars get busy at this time of year, and make sure to let your guests know if there’s a dress code.

Food: There are so many options for party food from a fully catered five course meal, down to simple, throw in the oven canapés. One way to keep things casual and budget friendly is with a potluck dinner; just make sure you co-ordinate the dishes your guests are bringing – you don’t want to end up with five pots of chilli con carne and no pudding! Decor: Whether you want to go all out and transform your home into a winter wonderland or prefer a low-key approach to party decor, it’s worth putting a little thought into your party space. Soft lighting from lamps, candles and, if you have one, a fire creates the perfect ambiance for a cozy, intimate gathering. For full on party mode, grab anything that glitters, buy or hire some lights and create a disco dance floor. Create an inviting table: If your guests

Throw a big party or have a few friends over

are sitting down to a more formal meal, make sure your table looks its best. Candles or foliage arrangements make an elegant winter table centrepiece and making sure your crockery and glassware matches gives an elegant finish. You can hire plates and glasses relatively cheaply from party rental services, which comes with the added bonus of being able to return the items unwashed, making the after-party clean up operation a much more civilised affair.

Tuck in to smoked salmon, avoid cheese if you’re trying to lose weight

Party without piling on the pounds You or some of your party guests may be trying to get through the festive season without going up a dress size. If you find it hard to resist demolishing a bowl of crisps or nuts, try to keep your hands full – your phone in one hand, glass in the other is good. It’s a good idea to avoid drinking on an empty stomach so do help yourself to a small plate of food. If you station yourself somewhere that you can’t see the spread, you’ll be less tempted to go back for seconds and thirds. Avoid anything with batter but go big on salads, prawns, vegetable crudites and fruit. If someone is moving about serving canapes, try only accepting every third pass. It pays to know which buffet snacks are a hit and which to give a miss. You may find you can tuck in more than you thought.


Snacks with a high calorie count include: Cheese – (per 30g portion or three teaspoons) Camembert 85kcal, Brie 105kcal, Stilton 125kcal Salted peanuts – 1 tablespoon, 90kcal 10 crisps – 100kcal Taramasalata – 1 tablespoon, 80kcal Quiche – small slice, 190kcal Mince pie – 230kcal


For guilt free snacking: Mini Chicken skewer – (bitesize strip) 35kcal Smoked salmon bite – 25kcal Cocktail sausage – 25kcal Tzatziki – 1 tablespoon, 20kcal 10 olives – 40kcal 10 Twiglets – 60kcal

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph


Stock up this Christmas with Mash Direct’s seasonal sides

Mash Direct makes Christmas dinner and festive entertaining easy this Yuletide

The award winning brand Mash Direct presents a selection of great tasting and nutritious seasonal side dishes, perfect to ring in the yuletide season this winter. Ideal at any Christmas get together, Mash Direct has a range of over 50 farm fresh products that are packed full of nutrients and flavours without the hassle of peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing. Christmas can be a challenging time for any cook, but serving the Mash Direct range can save hours in the kitchen prepping vegetables. The Honey Glazed Parsnips, Roasted Root Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Roast Potatoes and Stuffing Bites can be cooked to perfection in the oven in under 30 minutes whilst their signature Mashed Potato, Red Cabbage & Beetroot and heritage Carrot & Parsnip can be cooked in the microwave in less than five minutes. A family business through six generations, Mash Direct uses high-quality

natural ingredients to make cooking at Christmas easier, allowing more time to appreciate the festivities with loved ones. The vegetables are gently steam cooked immediately after harvesting, guaranteeing an unrivalled freshness of flavour with no compromise on either the nutritional benefits or natural texture of the vegetable. Their impressive farm fresh range is 100% gluten free and provides the inspiration, choice and variety for home cooked meals and family celebrations this Christmas. Bursting with festive flavour, Mash Direct’s range of Christmas Bites make perfect canapés or can be served as part of a party buffet making Christmas entertaining that bit easier. With a focus on traditional tastes with a dash of festive flare, the Shredded Duck and Ham and Cheese Bites are lightly seasoned and coated in a gluten free crumb and can be cooked to perfection in just 15 minutes. These bites can be perfectly paired with a

Honey Glazed Parsnips

Shredded Duck Bites glass of Buck’s Fizz and served to guests at your next festive gathering. Sales Director of Mash Direct, Lance Hamilton said; “It is important to maintain

the wonderful Christmas traditions of spending time with family and friends as well as sparking our festive taste buds. Our whole range offers the convenience of little preparation, quick cooking times, nutritional value and maximum flavours to bring our customers the best of the season.” Available in multiple retailers, the Mash Direct’s seasonal range can be found at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Spar, Eurospar, Supervalu and independents from December. This Christmas, you can also pre-order Mash Direct’s new Christmas Box by visiting shop. Receive all your Christmas Dinner vegetable accompaniments, direct to your door, in time for Christmas Day.

32 | Countdown to Christmas

Reusable Coffee Mug Gift Set, £12, Next,

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

It’s the season for giving. Not sure where to start? We’ve had a look at what’s out there this year and put together our gift guide to give you some inspo... Branksome Hammered Metal Vase in Two Tone Antique Copper Finish, large, £87, Artisanti,

Belleek Living Centrepiece Pillar Candle, £30, and range of stockists Crumble Dish Gift Set, £18, Next,

For a main present, a new iPad or tablet is a guaranteed hit. 10.5-inch iPad Air Wi-Fi 256GB in gold, rrp £479, range of stockists

Abstract face plant pot, £26, Rose & Grey,

Femme focus

Personalised iPhone Snap Cover with a blue watercolour design and initial in a script font, £14.99, Getting Personal,

Large Premium Pouch, Chiswick Rose, £24.99, Cath Kidston at and range of stockists

For the women in your life...

Sure to be a popular stocking filler from the Big Yin, Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connelly, £9.99 (hardback), range of stockists

Belleek Pottery’s Aynsley Fairisle Footed Cake Plate, £35, www. and range of stockists Lemon & Bergamot Monogram Candle, £5, Next, www.

Scarves, snoods and pashminas are reliable favourites. Crochet snood in green, £29.50, FatFace,

Original art makes a wonderful gift. Call into your local gallery for some surprisingly affordable work such as Lagan Vibes by Portrush artist Adrian Margey

Olivia Ring Lock Cross Body Bag, £22, Accessorize,

Stay warm and stay in touch with touchscreen gloves in sandstone or black, from £22.46, Mujjo,

Countdown to Christmas | 33

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

For journalling or taking notes, Ted Baker Magnolia A5 notebook, £16.95, Annabel James, www.

Get them a personalised water bottle by cool brand Chilly’s. There’s a range of size, colour, pattern and finish options, including a range by Emma Bridgewater. Reusable bottle, from £20, Chillys Bottles, www.

If she has a favourite magazine or newspaper, an annual subscription is a money-saver for her and she’ll think of you every time the publication drops through the door

Bose SoundLink AE2 Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Built-In Microphone, White/ Grey, £169, range of stockists

Tommy Hilfigger ladies’ Pippa Watch, £79.20, range of stockists

What do chefs cook for dinner? That’s what award-winning chef and writer Trevis L Gleason has found out for his new book, Burren Dinners, From the Chefs and Artisan Food Producers of North Clare. Recipes include everything from Doolin Bog Pie to Folk Festival Jambalaya with a foreword by Neven Magure, £24.99, published by O’Brien Press and available at bookshops

Bathe in comfort and joy with a Lush Christmas gift sets from £15, Lush,

Perfume is a risky choice unless you know whether they prefer floral, fresh etc. However, if you get it right it makes a wonderful gift. ‘J’adore’ Eau De Parfum 30ml by Dior, rrp £50, range of stockiests

The Gin School at Hughes Craft Distillery

Handmade organic candles from Tulip Moon, from £8,

A fraction of the price but with an uncannily similar fragrance is Rose by Zara, a heady £9.99 for 90ml,

For instantly capturing those Christmas moments, £69.99, Instax Mini 9 Camera,

FatFace Touchscreen Gloves and Hand Recovery Set, £16, FatFace,

Back to school

They say schooldays are the best days of your life, however for many of us that’s not strictly true. Give them the chance to go back and enjoy classes as they never were with a gift of lessons at a cookery, baking or chocolate making school. Future distillers might enjoy lessons

at Moira’s own Gin School. It’s run by the Hughes Craft Distillery whose gongs include ‘Best Spiced Liqueur in the World’ for RubyBlue Chilli Pepper. Whether you choose food or drink classes, the recipient is assured of an entertaining day filled with recipes, skills and taste experiences for keeps.

34 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

A throwback console to revisit old friends Mario and Link on, £69.99, Nintendo Super NES Classic,

To keep his new fragrances from making a mess in the bathroom, £42.00, John Lewis Leather Wash Bag,

Feed his nostalgia with Sony’s first console, £49.99, PlayStation Classic, www.

His favourite things

Give that Christmas playlist a bit of oomph with a bluetooth speaker, £129.99, Ultimate Ears,

Make sure he has the tools to look his best for Christmas, £20, Scott & Lawson Grooming Kit,

Spice up his winter with a chilli sauce gift set, £14.99, Edinburgh Preserves,

From tech and gaming to grooming, there are lots of lovelies to wrap for the men in your life this Christmas.

For a music experience with no strings attached, get him bluetooth headphones, £69.95, AKG Y50BT, www.

Make sure he follows Wu Tang’s sage advice to “protect ya neck”, £55, Polo Ralph Lauren Wool Scarf, For a touch of class to his Christmas party outfits, £34.95, T. M. Lewin Knitted Silk Tie, To keep his winter beard from looking like Santa’s, £49.99, BaByliss for Men 12-in-1 Trimmer,

Because sometimes you just can’t beat a good pair of socks, £14, Universal Works Socks,

Keep his digits warm when he’s out and about, £35, Dents Cashmere-Lined Leather Gloves,

An extra layer to keep him warm and cosy when it’s cold, £42.95, Nike Club Fleece Hoodie, various stores

The perfect footwear for lounging in front of the fireplace, £49, John Lewis Sheepskin Mule Slippers,

Have him smelling like a Boss, £62, Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss, various stores

Show off your nose for a great Christmas present, £70, Versace Eros, various stores

Countdown to Christmas | 35

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

For any weekend getaways over Christmas, £85, Herschel Supply Novel Duffle Bag,

Any good whiskey deserves a glass to match, £13.95, Glencairn Official Whiskey Glass Twin Pack,

A beautiful pen that feels great guiding across paper, £35, Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen,

An essential tool for every home, £13.99, Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife, A stylish timepiece that he can wear everyday for years to come, £310, Tissot Everytime Swissmatic,


Creative Peninsula Christmas Fayre for that special gift

The annual Creative Peninsula Christmas Fayre is taking place in Ards Arts Centre, Conway Square, Newtownards, on Friday and Saturday, November 29 - 30. An array of local craft makers and artists will once again provide an opportunity to purchase a range of unique, local, handcrafted products. The festive Fayre, now in its seventh year, is organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council and will feature 28 craft makers and artists in the galleries of the Arts Centre. Come along and enjoy complimentary refreshments and browse the stalls for that inspirational gift. Free gift wrapping will be available. Admission is free. There will also be festive live music by pianists Lisa Dawson on Friday and Ruth McCavery on Saturday from 12-2pm on both days. Emily Crawford, Arts and Heritage Manager with Ards and North Down Borough Council, said: “Ards Arts Centre is delighted to once again host the annual Creative Peninsula Art and Craft Fayre. The event brings together some of the finest artist and makers in our Borough, with beautifully curated stalls to meet all your festive shopping needs. “You’ll find quirky handmade prints, an array of beautiful ceramics, jewellery in silver and ceramic, fabulous and

Products by Wee Yarn Design, Image Make or Break Media affordable fine art and intricate papercraft to name just a few. With complimentary refreshments, gift wrapping and festive music, don’t miss this atmospheric opportunity to support your local artists and makers with a handmade treat for you or a loved one!” Visitors to Saturday’s Fayre can also enjoy the Festive Market and Newtownards Christmas Lights Switch on taking place on High Street and Conway Square from 10am - 6pm.

For further information, please visit:

For tasty toasts and to raise Christmas spirits, £44.95, Redbreast 12 Year Old,

A head-turning lighter that will last a lifetime, £25.65, Zippo High Polish Solid Brass,

36 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Because no one wants their Christmas tunes interrupted by ads, £99 Spotify Premium 12 Month £99, Gift Card, gifts/brands/spotify-uk-99

The latest version of the popular iPad will set you back but they’ll love it, Apple iPad 2019, £349,

Give your reds an extra kick of flavour with an aerator, £21.99, Vinturi Wine Aerator,

Not only nice to look at, a decanter can make your wine taste even better, £29.95, Le Chateau Wine Decanter,

Fun & funky...

For the PC gamer in your life and just in time for the Steam Winter Sale, £50, Steam Gift Card, various stores

Just in case Santa doesn’t get them the Xbox One game they asked for, £50, Xbox Live Gift Card, various stores Perfect for any PS4 owner, £50, PlayStation Gift Card, various stores

Because nobody does handheld gaming like Nintendo, £199.99, Nintendo Switch Lite, various stores

Netflix’s list of Christmas films aren’t going to watch themselves, £50, Netflix Gift Card, various stores

Pairs perfectly with HDR 4K TVs and supports Dolby Atmos to boot, £179, Apple TV 4K,

The console for on the go and at home, £279.99, Nintendo Switch, various stores

Bring the sound of the cinema to living rooms with a quality soundbar, £169, Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase,

A handy little gadget that handles 4K streaming with ease, £49.99, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K,

Because you can’t have Christmas without a fight over a board game, £24, Trivial Pursuit Family Edition, various stores

Add a new twist to her winter hairdo, £21, Babyliss Curling Wand Pro, various stores

To make her feel like she’s looking her best for Christmas, £19.99, DeWEISN YRichen Tri-Fold Lighted Vanity Mirror,

38 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Teenage DREAMS

Christmas shopping for teenagers can seem daunting, nobody wants to be the bearer of an ‘uncool’ gift. No need to worry, tuned-in 14 year olds Rory Petticrew and Grace Rutherford will ensure your festive offerings will get the thumbs up from even the most difficult to please recipient. And as most of these items are available from a range of stockists and online, you should have no trouble finding them.

Gift Cards: From £5 upwards, widely available including from supermarkets.

Don’t bother trying to buy console games, music or tickets to an event unless you’ve been specifically told to as tastes can change like the wind. While it may not seem like the most interesting gift, a giftcard will be greatly appreciated – iTunes and Amazon are safe bets.

Velvet scrunchies, pack of 3, £2, Primark Sega Smartphone Controller, £30

Nike Air Max 270 React Trainers, £139.95

There’s nothing cooler than retro and the Sega Smartphone controller gives wannabe throwbacks the chance to play an old-school style Sega Saturn controller D-pad. The device connects to a smartphone via bluetooth and gives access to 19 free games including Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 and the seminal Streets of Rage.

Polaroid OneStep+ Instant Camera, £139.99

Vans Classic Slip On, £57

Gone are the days when toys topped the present list. It’s all about the fashion credentials now. Be a step ahead of the game and pop a pair of Nike’s newly released Air Max 270 React under the tree. For girls, it’s a toss up between Converse All Stars, Vans and Nikes. Your teen will be jumping for joy.

This newly upgraded Polaroid instant camera adds a further six creative tools to its already impressive arsenal. From experimenting with double exposure and light painting, to taking up close and personal portraits, your teen can unleash their inner artist – either that or take some really impressive selfies!

Taboo, £14.99

Teenagers aren’t known for their conversational skills but this laugh-out-loud board game will get everyone talking. Try to get your teammates to guess the secret word without mentioning any of the obvious clues in this fast-paced, race against the clock. Suitable for four or more players aged 13 and up.

“You can never have too many.”

Shane Dawson X Jeffree Star Conspiracy Theory make up palette, £48

This new make up from Jeffree Star in collaboration with Shane Dawson has broken the internet and sold out within days of being released. If you find it, buy it, your James Charles daughter Palette, £39, will keep her room tidy for a year in gratitude. Alternatively, you could go for the James Charles Palette, £39, Help them stay hydrated with the trendiest water bottle in school.

Hydro Flask wide mouth 32oz, £37.95 Apple Airpods with charging case, £159

As Apple has removed the headphone port from newer phones, these bluetooth earpods are almost as in demand as a new phone to use them with. Teenage girls never get enough of embellishing their notebooks.

Metallic DoubleEnded Colored Brush Pens, £10.49, Eason and other

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

Top toys

If you’re in the market for top toys this Christmas, there’s everything from twerking lamas to the usual Lego selection, with prices ranging from excellent to eyewatering. Here are some of 2019’s top picks available from a range of stockists...

FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, £89.99

Set to be one of the most popular toys this year, this 43cm interactive bear babbles back to you, does a little dance and makes eating sounds when you feed him. He has a ‘sleepy’ mode, when he yawns and stretches and plays lullaby music. Comes with bottle and comb. Requires 4 C batteries (not included).

L.O.L Surprise 2 in 1 Glamper Playset, £99.99

Another popular toy, this 91cm x 61cm toy camper van that converts to a playhouse has 10 different play areas with lights and sounds, a water slide and light-up pool, and a DJ booth. Comes with over 55 surprises to unlock and an exclusive L.O.L doll.

NERF Fortnite AR-E Motorised Blaster, £7.99

Boppi the Booty Shakin’ Llama, £25

Boppi, the latest addition to the interactive Pet Alive range, tosses her head, shakes her booty and spins round in a circle to 3 different songs. Requires 4 x AA batteries (included).

THIS Nerf MicroShots Fortnite Micro AR-L blaster is inspired by the blaster used in the popular Fortnite Battle Royale video game.

and sounds, into a mobile command centre for the PAW Patrol Pups.

LEGO 75957 Harry Potter The Knight Bus, £27.99

Juno, My Baby Elephant, £89.99

Shy Juno hides behind her ears but after you start stroking and playing with her, Juno uses her trunk to make adorable trumpet noises, eat her peanut, play games, interact with her toy mouse and give you a kiss. Comes with her pet mouse, a peanut accessory and an instruction booklet. Requires 4AA batteries (not included).

Blume dolls, £10 each

Just add water and like magic, this little flowerpot friend will Blume before your eyes! Each Blume doll features over-thetop fashion hairstyles and outfits that you can mix and match. Discover 10+ surprises including a mini friend, sticker sheet, and fashion accessories.

Owleez, £50

Teach interactive Owleez to fly, feed it and play with it. With eyes that change colour depending on mood and over 100 sounds and moves, there’s endless fun with this featherless friend. It’s USB rechargeable too.

PAW Patrol Super PAWs Mighty Jet Command Centre, £49.99

A high-tech 2-in-1 deluxe team vehicle that transforms from a jet, complete with lights

WITH a hinged side panel for easy access to the interior, and a removable roof to reveal the upper deck, this magical toy bus playset is bursting with play potential. Kids will love how the bed slides back and forth and the chandelier swings from the ceiling. Includes three new minifigures of Harry Potter, Stan Shunpike and Ernie Prang.

Disney Frozen 2 Arendelle Castle, £159.99

This magical castle playset has four floors and seven rooms including a lookout tower. It comes with a moving balcony, lights and 14 accessories to furnish the rooms. Perfect for young Frozen fans.

60 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

How to have a ‘sociable’ Christmas

Journalist Andrea McKernon runs Belfast Dynamos walking group and is bringing pet owners together at a new dog park in Newtownabbey. She has found the answer to being more sociable at Christmas is reaching out to others and helping animals. She shares her ghosts of Christmas past, her tale of Christmas present and her aspirations to alleviate loneliness in her city in Christmases yet to come.

Growing up, ours was always a family Christmas. You got up in the morning, delighted in your presents, got breakfast, went to church, came home and had homemade vegetable soup made with beef shin, a big turkey feast, pudding and lots of chocolate. The Little Matchstick Girl broke my heart and the Christmas window of Anderson and McAuley was enchanting, despite the bombs and shootings going on during the Troubles. I fell deeply in love aged seven with Johnny Mathis singing When A Child Is Born. There was no big drinking sessions or grown-up parties. It was years later I learned the familyfocussed Christmas – slightly antisocial and no big parties – had a heartbreaking reason. Until my father married and had his five children, his own home at Christmas was a day of mourning. Some years before he was born, his sister Helen had been carried out of the house on Christmas Day. The child was dead from diphtheria, aged seven.


I grew up and went to work. The work Christmas parties beckoned. Socialising was the apex of the season. Meeting friends, enjoying pubs and clubs, the intolerable taxi wait on a freezing cold Belfast street, the craic, buying that delicious party dress, makeup, hair, shoes, boots - all for going out, out, out. But like most people in life, loneliness would eventually visit and overstay its welcome. I began to stay in more, to be less sociable. I travelled and spent some Christmas Days abroad. Nobody used to admit to being lonely. Now there’s a loneliness minister for the UK. We all know the issue is more acute at Christmas. My ghost of Christmas past could no

Standing on McArt’s Fort with the Belfast Dynamos on Christmas Day

Adrea with her rescue English springer spaniel Bosco who inspired her to create a dog-friendly walking group

longer be filled by parties, boyfriends, friends or family.

Christmas present

On December 1, 2007, I got a rescue dog. I came home with Bosco - a springer spaniel. I’d given him a home at Christmas. I started to walk, explore Northern Ireland with devoted Bosco in tow. I got to know lots of walking routes. I started an online walking group - primarily designed for women, like me, who would be nervous about going to an area they didn’t know. Places like Divis and Black Mountain, Carnmoney Hill, I already knew Cave Hill, growing up near the zoo. I began to organise tea, coffee and scones after the walks. There were people from all walks of life, professionals, widows, divorcees. They were all people with a story to tell, a suicide in the family, a death, a breakup. Many were active retired and many were just people who wanted to go walking but their friends didn’t. I realised loneliness was a bottomless ocean – and it was not just the poor and disadvantaged who felt it. I reached out to the out-of-work, people recovering from depression. They kept coming to the walks. People in Belfast, from all over the world, studying, living and working in Northern Ireland. We went to Giant’s Causeway, the Mournes, breaks in Donegal, Drogheda, Fermanagh. Then I realised many, like me, had no one to go on holiday with. So I organised walking holidays to Portugal, to

Tenerife, to Lake Como in Italy. I organised walks on Christmas morning or Boxing Day and around the New Year. We walked Divis on New Year’s Eve with our torches in the dark one year. We had beaten loneliness over the holidays. We’ll sing Christmas songs on McArt’s Fort, Napolean’s Nose again this year. I had found my outlet for being sociable at Christmas.

Doggy Dynamos

I was walking with Bosco after work in the winter. Up and down the Antrim Road in the dark, nervous, alone. I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of provision for female owners. The parks were closed at dusk. The open ones were not places I’d go alone. I started up Doggy Dynamos. I have four other women involved. I envisage a

New Year’s walk on Lagan Towpath where the Belfast Dynamos can often take over the whole coffee shop Picture Belfast Walking Dynamos

dog centre with outside land. A building protecting from the winter chill with a posh hots drinks vending area, jobs for people wanting a career working with dogs. A grooming and dog wash, a place for volunteers to enjoy the happy place dogs create. It could have a main area where children with autism and Aspergers can get pet therapy and their parents can meet. A place where children can learn to teach their dogs tricks, sessions for kids to read stories to their dogs. A place where guide and assistance dogs can be normal dogs for an hour or so. A place where dog owners can give their pets off-leash exercise. The possibilities are endless. Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has recently opened two dog parks – one near Antrim Castle Gardens and one in Valley Park just off O’Neill Road. Doggy Dynamos hope to be able to use these locations in the future for meet ups. Best of all, the parks are free so give them a try out.Pets are a wonderful gift that can alleviate loneliness. Bring that a step further and we have the development of a community of dog owners who with their dogs can reach out and make friends and have the love of a pet in common. I put Bosco to sleep last month after a brief illness he was not going to recover from. I will face this Christmas without him. He was 15. But his legacy and the new life he gave me lives on. I still have a younger dog Honey. Bosco and what his beautiful presence brought to my life will live on. He is still walking with me and his inspiration lives on. He is the enduring magic and the ghost of Christmas yet to come. Belfast Dynamos walking group and Doggy Dynamos are on and Facebook. Christmas morning walk meets at Belfast Castle at 11am.

42 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

5 reasons to go for it with a winter break

There are all sorts of seasons in life when it’s good to switch the pace. Whether you’re busy all the time or bouncing about, looking for things to do, a short break could be exactly what you need...

…To inject fun into Christmas shopping.

Rather than fit it in during lunch or after work, make a shopping blitz the heart of a short break. Part of the stress of Christmas shopping is getting stuck in traffic or taking ages to park. Take the train

or bus to the city or a decent shopping town and make a day of it. Track down somewhere special for coffee or lunch to treat yourself. Dump your shopping in the hotel and go out for dinner or some city style entertainment. Before you know it, a job to be ticked off the to-do list has been a pleasure to complete.

... To lift your spirits if you’ve had a hard year. Stress, pain and loss are part of life’s

tapestry so if you’ve been feeling low, a winter break is a wonderful pick-me-up

Make it magical for the children with a trip to a special event like Cork Glow


Christmas at Castle Leslie

Castle Leslie Estate in County Monaghan is nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodland and glittering lakes. It is one of the last great Irish castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. The estate is home to some of the most unique and enchanting accommodation on one of Ireland’s most breathtaking estates. Unlike most hotels, Castle Leslie Estate boasts a variety of accommodation to suit all tastes and holidaying needs. Indulge your loved ones this Christmas with a very special gift from Castle Leslie Estate. There’s something for everyone from ‘The Ultimate Indulgent Day’ at the Victorian Treatment Rooms, Castle

Leslie Estate books, horse riding at the Equestrian Centre, to Uncle Jack’s Afternoon Tea for Two, fishing on Glaslough Lake, dinner for two in Snaffles Restaurant and a host of fabulous breaks on the Estate. Winter Overnight Escape packages start from £94 per person sharing which includes one night’s accommodation, a full hearty Irish breakfast and a fabulous dinner in the 2 AA Rosette award winning Snaffles Restaurant.

For a full list of offers or to purchase a gift voucher, please visit Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan T: 00353 4788 100 E:

Countdown to Christmas | 43

22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph and can help draw a line in the sand and mark the end of that phase. Make sure that wherever you go, you can do whatever it is that makes you feel good, whether that’s dancing the night away, surrounding yourself with uplifting music, soaking up spectacular scenery, hurtling down a hillside on a mountain bike, playing 18 holes on a links course...

…To create memories for the children.

Choose somewhere that goes to town with creating Christmas magic and watch their faces as they throw themselves into the activities and get ready to meet Santa. Some attractions have live animals, some have a train ride, all have everything required to make this a special occasion. A family tea afterwards and a panto or show,

Slow the pace with old friends or family then a swim in the pool in the morning if the hotel has one and they’ll remember this Christmas for years to come.

…To break with tradition. If you’ve always

Inject fun into Christmas shopping

done Christmas one way and it never quite pans out the way you’d hoped, why not try something different this year? Book into somewhere fabulous for the Christmas holiday and see how it feels to put your feet up and relax while a team

of professionals takes care of your every need. If you have a young family, look for somewhere that offers children’s activities to keep them happy and maximise your free time. Imagine Christmas Day with no cooking, no dishes, no squabbling over the TV remote…

…To have quality time. The year can

seem to rush by and you never get to properly connect with people – it could be

your other half, your siblings, parents or particular friends. Extend the life of those relationships by booking a few rooms or self-catering lodges and heading off en masse. Lazy mornings, communal lunches and long walks before dinner make for perfect days. Evenings by a fireside, chatting and playing games into the night. There’s nothing like it for strengthening those bonds that mean most to you. And that, surely, is what Christmas should be about.

44 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Coast, city, country? Plan a great escape

The festive season brings an extra helping of entertainments to venues and hotels all over the country. It’s a fine time to head away with friends, colleagues or family. The draw may be dinner and dancing or some elegant fine dining. You may want to luxuriate in the welcoming embrace of a spa resort or go somewhere where there are added attractions, like a Christmas market. Choose a destination hotel like the

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Lough Erne Resort or Castle Leslie if you don’t want to put your freshly pedicured toes outside or opt for a hotel in a fantastic spot where the charms of the destination are paramount. With everywhere on the island within reach in half a day, you’ll be spoilt for choice with short break options. Here are our top picks.

Donegal and Sligo

The north-west tip of Ireland is famous

Have a romantic break

The beatiful Fermanagh Lakelands

all over the world for its stunning strands – and in winter, you have them almost to yourself! Everything that makes Donegal so unique is shown in even sharper relief at this time of year. The rich heather blanket highlighting the mountainous lie of the land, the wild Atlantic surf crashing ashore, the star studded skies, unpolluted by light. It’s the stuff of romance and poetry. And of course, indoors there’s a warm welcome, a roaring fire, hot food, plenty to drink and more often than not, a few tunes to tap your toe to as your skin tingles from the change in temperature. Must sees include: Donegal – The Slieve League Cliffs, Oakfield Park and Malin

Head for that edge of the world feeling Sligo – Strandhill beach, Carrowmore Megalithic Tombs (one of many ancient sites in the county) and Ellen’s Pub, Maugherow, a thatched pub with original features and a good spot to catch some trad music. Apart from local musicians, there are big and upcoming names touring the north west over the festive season, from Phil Coulter to Hermitage Green, The High Kings and The Celtic Tenors as well as Christmas shows and pantos.

Fermanagh and Monaghan

The hottest topic in politics, the Irish

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph

Murder Hole, Co Donegal, in winter Christmas Market, Belfast City hall border remains seamless, frictionless and invisible for now. It’s easy to move in and out of these gorgeous, rural counties as you travel through tranquil countryside. Ditch Google maps and go where the road takes you for utterly unspoilt and stunning scenery with unexpected views of lakes, mountains and forests adding to the wow factor. Even better, take to the water and explore this gorgeous lakeland region by boat or kayak to experience complete peace and quiet. Reconnect with humanity in the lively towns. Enniskillen and Monaghan are each well equipped with hotels, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to keep everyone happy while the smaller, outlying towns are also worth exploring. Stock up on Christmas gifts from local artists and writers and treat your ears to the local musicians.

Must sees include: Fermanagh – Topped Mountain for a short, easy walk with 360° views worthy of much higher peaks, The Buttermarket in Enniskillen with its artists and craftmakers, Enniskillen Castle Museum and the Boatyard Distillery. Monaghan - Start at The Diamond for the Christmas market and places to eat and drink – An Poc Fada is a good spot for music nightly and the Batch Loaf upstairs is a popular eating spot. Lough Mucknoo Forest Park for walks and it goes without saying, beautiful Castle Leslie for elegant surroundings.

Belfast and Dublin

Both of the big two are worthy of a visit over the festive season for a glittering day and night out. Do the shops and restaurants, soak up the festive atmosphere and stay overnight so you can

Two Santas paddling up the River Liffey in Dublin do it all again the next day. For a place to stop and grab a breath, both cities’ docklands areas have been transformed in recent years. Take a stroll

along the Maritime Mile in Belfast for a Titanic time, or hop on a Viking Splashtour and see Dublin from land and water. Take the kids to W5 or Titanic Belfast and the whole family can enjoy a browse around the Christmas Market at City Hall, or St George’s Market, which is extra special at this time of year. See details of events on pages 50-54 or for updates, see www. In Dublin, there’s a live animal crib outside the Mansion House and pantos include Cinderella at The Olympia, The Three Musketeers at the Helix and Aladdin at The Gaiety. For a post Christmas treat, don’t miss the Elf Spectacular at the 3Arena on December 28-29. See dublin. ie for the full listings for the city’s festive season.

46 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

‘Do’ Dublin from the Iveagh Garden Hotel

Taking a Christmas shopping trip to Dublin or a winter break? Make it a special trip by booking into one of the city’s newest hotels, the 4 star Iveagh Garden. Located in elegant Harcourt Street, it’s a minute’s walk from lovely St Stephen’s Green and right next to Grafton Street, the epicentre of the capital’s premium shopping quarter. With a Luas stop almost at the door, you don’t even need to worry about parking or carrying all those shopping bags. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you know you’re somewhere different. It’s an opulent tribute to Art Deco with a thoroughly modern twist, with gorgeous velvet upholstered chairs, gilt edged furnishings, striking black and white tiled floors and chandeliers that dazzle. However, while first impressions are that the Iveagh Garden Hotel is all about the ‘luxe’, its green credentials have set it apart and drawn interest across the globe. Designed with the goal of creating Europe’s first fully sustainable green hotel, it’s full of innovative solutions. Developed by the McGill family, who also own the Harcourt and Harrington Hotels, the Iveagh Garden uses a renewable hydro source metres below the hotel as an energy reserve for cooling and heating the building without burning fuel. Cutting edge green technology provides all the heat and power to the 145 luxury bedrooms and as you’d expect, there’s no cutting corners when it comes to putting tech to use in making guests feel at home with smart LED TVs, USB charging and low energy LED lighting. As well as the anticipated range of bedrooms, The Iveagh Garden has taken a leaf out of the Japanese traveller’s book with an annex of city pods – luxury compact en suite rooms which make a funky alternative to the more traditional spaces.

The presidential suite

Afternoon tea

Cocktails are a house speciality

Designed with the goal of creating Europe’s first fully sustainable green hotel, it’s full of innovative solutions.

The stunning lobby

The attention to detail throughout the hotel is remarkable and that attentiveness extends to guests’ enjoyment with a 24 hour concierge service, with advice and access to Dublin’s finest restaurants, attractions and events.

There’s much to keep you entertained without venturing far from the building. The famous Iveagh Gardens are to the rear and perfect for an enjoyable stroll or a short-cut to the National Concert Hall. Elle’s bar serves a traditional bistro menu with seasonal Irish produce. Go for breakfast and you can scoop your own honey from the honeycomb! The library is a cosy space, perfect for a quick bite or a drink – choose from fine wines, craft beers and classic cocktails using premium spirits, fresh juices and syrups made by in-house mixologists. With Christmas party nights going on throughout the festive season, there’s dancing and entertainment to enjoy whether you’re going with a group of friends, family or a romantic twosome. There are countless options for dining out and being entertained in the vicinity too, with the fabulous 1900 Restaurant a couple of doors along the Georgian Terrace and some of Dublin’s most popular nightspots on your doorstep. For further information visit

Elle’s Bistro

48 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019 Provide a woman in need with two pigs and five chickens that can be bred for food and income, £30,

The gift of giving

Christmas is a time for giving, thoughtfulness and going out of your way for others. You can spread joy not only to your loved ones this season but to those in need too by buying them a gift from a charity organisation and supporting a cause you care about. There are thousands of ways to give a gift that will support a cause so get out there and find the charity and present pairing that feels perfect to you. Browse your favourite charity’s website for ideas, make a point of

popping into their shop when you’re in town or head for a Christmas Craft Fair with a charity beneficiary. If you are buying charity cards from a High Street retailer, check what percentage of the proceeds actually goes to the charity before you buy. A charity gift need not be the poor relation compared to what everyone else is giving either — there’s a fine selection of quality, desirable goodies to peruse, as well as basics such as cards, decorations and gift wrap. This fun, fluffy rug has been handmade using excess material from the fashion industry and is perfect for adding some colour and texture to bedrooms or bathrooms, £19.99, This gift can help protect vulnerable young children from malaria in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mosquito nets, thin as they are, can make a life-or-death difference, £15,

With this gift, you can help ensure a family affected by disaster is still able to access clean water every day, £30,

This striking rice basket is woven with a zig zag effect and is perfect for storage or can even be used to hide a plant pot. Each seagrass basket is carefully handmade by artisans in Vietnam, making them beautifully unique, £19.99,

Donating just £10 to Trocaire will buy a family in Sierra Leone that is struggling to put food on the table all the seeds and tools they need to plant, tend and grow healthy, nutritious, fresh fruit and vegetables. The recipient you have donated on behalf of will receive a beautiful card that details of the gift that is sourced in the country and given to a family in need,

A luxury rich roast coffee and mint dark chocolate gift box set from Traidcraft, £7.99,

Gift a family in need a goat this Christmas with Christian Aid. Livestock ownership empowers local women and their households, while goats also provide milk and meat and are resilient to the harsh environment and drought, £22,

Traidcraft’s cosy natural cotton dressing gown handcrafted from 100% unbleached organic cotton from a fair trade cotton farm in India, £69,

This cute penguin door stopper is a lovely addition to any home, £11.99, Send a greeting that counts this festive season with a beautiful Christmas card. Each pack contains 10 cards, £4,

Keep your feet warm and cosy with these sequin hairy slippers by totes, £9.99,

50 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019

Beauty and the Beast, Grand Opera House

Curtains — A Musical Whodunnit, Grand Opera House


NOT TO MISS Let the festive fun begin! There’s a feast of entertainment for all ages over the next six weeks. Here are some of the events you won’t want to miss... A Christmas Carol, The MAC

The Frozen Princess Pantomime, Waterfront Hall

Curtains – A Musical Whodunnit

Tuesday, November 19 - Saturday, November 23 Grand Opera House, Belfast £21.75 - £46

This hilarious whodunnit is packed full of catchy songs, unforgettable characters and plot twists galore. From creators of Cabaret and Chicago, this Tony award-winning backstage murder mystery musical will have audiences laughing and guessing right to the final curtain. With a star-studded cast including Jason Manford, Jessica Cranshaw, Carley Stenson, Samuel Holmes and more, this killer show will have the whole family in stitches.

The Frozen Princess Pantomime

Sunday, November 24 – Tuesday, December 31 Waterfront Hall, Belfast £16.50 - £66

Don’t miss the icy children’s tale of adventure The Frozen Princess Pantomime at the Waterfront Hall this Christmas. A story of adventure, friendship and bravery, with enchanting characters, original music and filled with breathtaking costumes and set, The Frozen Princess is a traditional Christmas adventure for all the family.

A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, November 27 - Sunday, January 5 The MAC £16 - £25

This Christmas, be sure to catch The MAC’s fun-filled family version of the classic festive fable, A Christmas Carol. Visit Christmases past, conjure up Christmas yet to come and see if our friend Scrooge can learn from previous mistakes. Expect toe-tapping tunes, laughout-loud capers and of course the special, memorable experience you’ve come to expect from the MAC Christmas shows.

The Baltic Princess Pantomime

Saturday, November 30 – Sunday, December 29 Waterfront Hall, Belfast £20

For the first time ever at the Waterfront Hall, the team behind the annual outing for many families are turning panto on its head, bringing Belfast a late-night - and adult-only - Panto experience like no other. Expect filth, inappropriate innuendos and adult content in this re-telling of the tale of The Frozen Princess and the story of the two sisters. The Baltic Princess

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22 November 2019 | Belfast Telegraph



the merriest and brightest Major exhibition of Discover borough to celebrate the festive season Irish art in Newry ✸

Portrush based artist Adrian Margey is staging a major solo exhibition and sale of his work at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry next weekend, from Friday, November 29 - Sunday, December 1. Although Margey has exhibited widely, this will be his first showing in Newry. Well-known for his inventive approach to capturing the familiar, this collection will not disappoint. More than 40 portrayals of local landscapes and landmarks will be on show. Depictions of the Ring of Gullion, the Mournes, Newry Town Hall, Flagstaff, Carlingford Lough, Balymacdermot Court Tomb, Killeavey Castle, Warrenpoint and Rostrevor will feature strongly. Portrayals of the North Coast will also be on show together with several impressive Belfast and Dublin cityscapes. Margey’s distinctive representations of Irish traditional music sessions and dancers will add further variety to this eclectic exhibition. Margey uses expressive brushwork together with palette knife and finger painting techniques to create his original pieces. From large-scale canvases to smaller works, visitors will enjoy a vast range of the artist’s cityscapes, landscapes, traditional music scenes and depictions of iconic landmarks. Opening Times: Friday (29th) 6pm -

‘Newry Town Hall Nights’ by Adrian Margey 9pm; Saturday (30th) 11am - 8pm, Sunday (1st) 11am - 6pm. Admission is free – everyone welcome. When not exhibiting Margey and his work can be found at his Portrush Studio where a wide selection of his original works and limited edition prints are available.

Visit or telephone 078 4159 3762 for more information.

Discover your Christmas in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough – the greatest place with the grandest festive programme to celebrate the season in all its splendour. From glittering Christmas light switch-ons, twilight markets and fairs to music, theatre, dance and crafts, this year’s ‘Discover Your Christmas’ festive programme of exhilarating events and magical experiences brings big sparkle to the borough’s seasonal celebrations. Starting in early November and running right through until January 4, there’s lots lined up to make sure every audience – from the young to the old and everyone in between – finds enough festive cheer to see them through to the rest of the year. This year’s programme includes the highly-anticipated Armagh Georgian Festival, which returns from November 27 and features the outstanding Georgian Day Light Show ‘A Christmas Cracker’ on Saturday, November 30, as part of one of the borough’s biggest days out. Other key highlights beyond the twilight markets and light switch-ons guaranteed to attract large numbers include the panto spectacular ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in The Market Place Theatre, ‘Christmas Crafts’ at FE McWilliam Gallery, ‘Snow tubing with Santa’ at Craigavon Golf Ski Centre, ‘The Alien Who Stole Christmas’ – Dome Theatre Show at Armagh Planetarium and ‘Yuletide: Ritual Reflection and Renewal’

at Navan Centre and Fort. In addition, there’s a host of free events for families including a fun day at Armagh County Museum, a live nativity scene at Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm and much more. Early booking is recommended for the more popular events.

Visit for full details on this year’s boroughwide festive programme. Share your pictures and videos using the hashtag #DiscoverYourChristmas

Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell enlists a not so little helper to join her in launching the borough’s festive programme

52 | Countdown to Christmas features glittering sets, sparkling costumes and audience participation with plenty of laughter along the way.

Beauty and the Beast

Saturday, November 30 – Sunday, January 12 Grand Opera House, Belfast £21.75 - £36.25

Christmas would not be Christmas without panto, so secure your family their seats for this beauty of a family show. May McFettridge celebrates her 30th season as the Queen of Belfast Pantomime and is joined by star of stage and screen Ben Richards (Footballers Wives, Holby City, Hollyoaks, The Bodyguard in London’s West-End) as well as Comedy magician and Britain’s Got Talent favourite

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019 Mandy Muden. Don’t miss this magical adventure packed full of comedy, colour and amazing song and dance routines.


Tuesday, December 17 – Sunday, December 22 Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast £17 – £19

Irish singing legend Rose Marie will lead a stellar cast in The Crescent first ever panto. Joining the internationally acclaimed singer and actress will be award winning TV and Radio host Robin Elliott and Downtown’s stalwart Kevin McAllister. Presented by Apollo Arts, the producer Pauline Elliott will be holding open auditions for a budding actress to play the

Aladdin at The Crescent

Bangor Christmas lights switch on and fireworks display is at 5.30pm on Saturday, November 23

Derry Christmas Light Switch On Sunday, November 24, 2pm-6pm Guildhall Square, Derry Visit the enchantment at the Peace Garden and meet Santa’s reindeers. Get your face painted in preparation for the big ‘switch on’ and see all the wonderful Christmas themed characters. There’ll be live music from Sensation & Superstition as well as characters from the Millennium Forum and Waterside Theatre’s pantomimes and, of course, Santa will make an appearance. Strabane Christmas Light Switch On Saturday, November 23, 1pm-4pm Strabane Square See Santa in his grotto with his reindeers and then see the Christmas lights turned on in Strabane, where the man himself will be joined by a whole host of special guests. Entertainment will be provided as well as lots for the little ones including arts

Light up your Christmas and crafts, elf workshops and Santa’s reindeers. Bangor Christmas Lights Switch On and Fireworks Display Saturday, November 23, 5.30pm McKee Clock, Bangor Join in on Bangor’s annual night of Christmas celebrations and watch The Snowman and The Snowdog help Santa light up the town this festive season. There will be plenty of festive fun on offer at Bangor seafront, Project 24 and North Down Museum throughout the day. Get your skates on for a roller disco, listen to Christmas carols performed by local school choirs bring the little ones along to meet Santa. Expect family fun, food and craft market and seasonal entertainment all leading to the lights switch on at McKee Clock arena with extra special guests The Snowman and The Snowdog followed by a fireworks finale.

The Ulster Orchestra’s Snowman concert at the Ulster Hall principal role princess Jasmine. Tickets are available from The Crescent on 028 9024 2338 or

Advent Carol Service

Sunday, December 1, 6.30pm Belfast Cathedral

Enjoy a carol service celebrating the start of the Advent season in the beautiful setting of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. Featuring carols sung by the cathedral choir and readings, this service is a reflective start to Advent before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Love Actually in Concert

Thursday, December 5 Waterfront Hall, Belfast £45 - £55

Kicking off the holiday season and getting many into the spirit, Love Actually Live in Concert visits the Waterfront Hall this December. The seasonal rom-com has become a Christmas staple since its release and now is the chance to see it like never before, with a full orchestra performing its soundtrack live to picture, in what is becoming an annual highlight of the holiday calendar for many.

The Snowman Family Concert

Saturday, 7 December Ulster Hall, Belfast £11.50 - £49

The Ulster Orchestra present The Snowman Family Concert in a truly magical performance at the Ulster Hall this December. This wonderful animated film is now a

festive family tradition, creating special memories for young and old. Join the Ulster Orchestra and young guest soloists for magic and adventure in this big-screen, classic tale of a boy whose snowman comes to life.

Deck the Falls

Tuesday, December 10 - Saturday, December 21 The MAC, Belfast £16 - £20

This Christmas, comic duo Ciaran Nolan and Gerard Jordan are back with plans, scams and skulduggery to Deck the Falls at the MAC. Two doormen have a cunning plan, two doggy men have a dilemma, two auld dolls have an epiphany and two greyhounds go on the run - and that’s just in act 1! Don’t miss this hilarious festive comedy by Vincent Higgins.

Christmas at Belfast Cathedral December 20 & 21, 7.30pm-10.15pm Belfast Cathedral £24.84 – £31.31

Get into the festive mood in the atmospheric surroundings of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast with singers Peter Corry, Barbara Dickson, Strictly Come Dancing’s Patrick Smyth and the BSPA Voices. The shows promise to be an enchanting seasonal celebration in the most stunning of settings. With Blood Brothers, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Elton John and the Greatest Showman in their combined repertoires, plus some seasonal favourites, Christmas at the Cathedral is a must see.

54 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 22 November 2019


Friday, November 22 Lewis Capaldi, Grace Carter, The Snuts – Ulster Hall, Belfast Electric Six – Limelight 2, Belfast Snow Patrol, November 28 & 29, Waterfront Hall

Saturday, November 23 Foy Vance, Beoga – Waterfront Hall, Belfast Liam Gallagher, Miles Kane – 3Arena, Dublin Sunday, November 24 Duke Special – Empire Music Hall, Belfast Foy Vance – Waterfront Hall, Belfast Liam Gallagher, Miles Kane – 3Arena, Dublin

Rod Stewart, December 2, SSE Arena

Tuesday, November 26 The Darkness, REWS – Limelight 1, Belfast Snow Patrol – Olympia, Dublin Thursday, November 28 Steve Mason – Empire Music Hall, Belfast Snow Patrol – Waterfront Hall, Belfast Friday, November 29 Snow Patrol – Waterfront Hall, Belfast Saturday, November 30 Versatile – 3Arena, Dublin Musicians Against Homelessness Festival: The Barbiturates + Family, No Collusion, Gas Hands, Invaderband, Urban Conflict, Fast Thursday, Zabebius, People That Listen to the Sky, Paul PJ McCartney, Oisín Ó Scolaí & The Virginia Slims, Black Abba, Miss Mary Jane, Conor Hutcheon, Daithí Dohe – Nerve Centre, Derry Sunday, December 1 Sacred Reich – Limelight 2, Belfast Dido – 3Arena, Dublin

Brian for Ballygally

Monday, December 2 Rod Stewart – SSE Arena, Belfast Melanie Martinez – Olympia, Dublin Midland – Ulster Hall, Belfast Wednesday, December 4 Happy Mondays – Limelight 1, Belfast

Denzel Curry, December 5, The Helix, Dublin Thursday, December 5 We Were Promised Jetpacks – The Workman’s Club, Dublin Denzel Curry – The Helix, Dublin Life – McHugh’s, Belfast Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Enforcer, Skeletal Remains – Limelight 2, Belfast Friday, December 6 The Skids, Big Country – Limelight 1, Belfast Saturday, December 7 Devin Townsend – Limelight 1, Belfast Wild Youth – Voodoo, Belfast Hot Snakes – Black Box, Belfast Monday, December 9 Clairo – The Academy, Dublin

Brian Kennedy will be coming back to Larne for the second time this year to play two Christmas dates at The Ballygally Castle. Brian will play two consecutive nights on 19 and 20 December. He says: “I love playing in Larne and the Antrim Coast is so stunningly beautiful. I headlined the Friends’ Goodwill Music Festival in Larne in May and I’m so looking forward to returning in December to play all my hits, songs from my new EP Recovery and of course there will be lots of Christmas songs too, to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. The acoustics in this beautiful 17th century castle are amazing and venue really intimate, it’s going to be one of my Christmas highlights this year.”

Lewis Capaldi, November 22, Ulster Hall

Tuesday, December 10 Primal Scream – Ulster Hall, Belfast Clairo – The Academy, Dublin Hozier, Freya Ridings – 3Arena, Dublin The Low Anthem – Ulster Sports Club, Belfast Snow Patrol – Limelight, Belfast Primal Scream, December 10, Ulster Hall

Wednesday, December 11 Gruff Rhys – Empire Music Hall, Belfast Hozier, Freya Ridings – 3Arena, Dublin

Thursday, December 12 Fontaines DC – Ulster Hall, Belfast Walking on Cars – Millennium Forum, Derry Saturday, December 14 Hannah Williams and the Affirmations – Limelight 2, Belfast IDLES vs ASIWYFA DJ sets – Voodoo, Belfast Monday, December 16 Scouting For Girls – Limelight, Belfast Tuesday, December 17 Sam Fender – Ulster Hall, Belfast Wednesday, December 18 Mark Lanegan – Empire Music Hall, Belfast Thursday, December 19 Beoga – Ulster Hall, Belfast More Than Conquerors – Limelight 1, Belfast Friday, December 20 Hermitage Green – Limelight 2, Belfast Saturday, December 21 Hermitage Green – Skylite Room, Warrenpoint Waylander – Voodoo, Belfast Friday, December 27 Conor Scott – The Sunflower, Belfast Saturday, December 28 Joshua Burnside, Jarlath Henderson – Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast Daithi – Voodoo, Belfast Tuesday, December 31 The Bonnevilles – Errigle Inn, Belfast Shine NYE 2019: Mella Dee pres. Warehouse Music – The Telegraph Building, Belfast And So I Watch You From Afar – Whelan’s, Dublin

Tickets available for both nights from and from Ballygally Castle reception priced £22.00. Contact the hotel direct on 028 2858 1066 to reserve your tickets. Happy Mondays, December 4, Limelight

And So I Watch You From Afar, December 31, Whelan’s, Dublin

Friday, January 3 DJ Yoda: Tarantino AV Show – Black Box, Belfast

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