Balmoral Show – It’s Show Time!

Balmoral Park will open its doors for a second year to visitors of the 146th Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank.

Tens of thousands of people from all over Northern Ireland and beyond are set to converge on the 65 acre Balmoral Park for Ireland’s largest agri-food show, running from Wednesday 14 May until Friday 16 May 2014.

According to Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Chief Executive, Colin McDonald, this years’ show is set to build on the strong foundations laid in 2013, “We were extremely encouraged by the support we received in our inaugural year at Balmoral Park and we are determined to build upon that success.  At the core of the Show is healthy competition, good sportsmanship, family fun and community spirit. That’s what brings people back year on year, and we have sought to nurture these elements throughout our planning.”

“We have made some subtle layout changes to the showground, primarily to improve the flow and the overall experience for visitors.”

Ian Jordan, Director, Corporate Banking Division, Ulster Bank, says: “Ulster Bank is delighted to join with the RUAS to officially launch this year’s Balmoral Show. 2014 is our sixth year as principal sponsor and offers a fantastic opportunity to highlight Ulster Bank’s strong support for farmers and the wider agri-food and drink sector – including our specialist agriculture offerings and our dedicated £1billion for lending which is available for businesses this year. Last year saw the historic move to the new site at Balmoral Park and we very much look forward to the Show building on that success in 2014.”

The relocation of the Show to Balmoral Park allowed livestock entries to be increased.  This year sees the introduction of five new classes; four equine – Maxi Cob, Young Event Horse, Clydesdale Young Handler and Ridden Irish Draught – and Lleyn sheep classes.

The daily displays of pedigree and commercial cattle, sheep, poultry, pigs, goats, horses and ponies are supplemented with an array of static and mobile attractions. Firm favourites such as International Show Jumping, Pony Club Games, Riding for the Disabled, and the popular Children’s Farm are mixed with some interesting new features. Bull-erinas – is one such act, which is sure to amuse, or maybe bemuse patrons.  Patrons are also warned against feeding the dinosaurs, but are encouraged to walk with them – watch out for 8 foot Jurassics shuffling along Barbour Avenue or Nugent Way.

In another first, Balmoral Park will also welcome competitors for the six nation’s sheep shearing competition. Taking place on Friday 16 May, the Northern Irish team will compete against England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Wales and France to win the coveted title of six nations champion.

No Show would be complete without the energy and enthusiasm of the Young Farmer’s Clubs of Ulster. This year the YFCU will complement it’s ever popular Tug of War, sheep shearing and ladies five aside football with drama and the return of tractor handling demonstrations.

Back by popular demand are freestyle motocross stunt team Bold Dog Lings in the main arena, and the Mountain Bike stunt team, Savage Skills, who will entertain the young and the young at heart within the activity zone.

There is a treat in store for shoppers, with both the NI Food Pavilion and Shopping Village offering a variety of excellent local goods and produce.

Food is an integral component of every Balmoral Show, and this year will be no exception.

Looking forward to the event, Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive, Food NI said “The NI Food Pavilion is a unique food experience where people can enjoy demonstrations from our Taste of Ulster chefs, sampling and buying local produce from top quality local food and drink companies. The Pavilion provides a unrivalled Northern Ireland food and drink experience.  Following on from the success of the last years Balmoral Show we will welcome 80 companies (the biggest food Pavilion Balmoral has ever seen) and this includes many favourites and new companies including Kimegan Cider, Linen Hill Kitchen & Deli and Flossies Fudge. With 35 Taste of Ulster chefs cooking throughout the three days, and food talks on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tesco Theatre Kitchens, the NI Food Pavilion is a must visit this year. Don’t miss the regular cookery demonstrations with talented local chefs including Niall McKenna, Ian Orr and Joery Castel. Then pick up a Taste of Ulster Guide and NI Food Producers Guide to take home a piece of Northern Ireland’s food story.”

The Garden Village moves to a new location allowing it to grow and expand.  Visitors can wander through the exciting themed gardens; listen to the music from the band stand, get gardening tips and take in the atmosphere of the event in the WI Pavilion.

Acknowledging the contribution of sponsors, Colin said, “We are fortunate to have such strong support from the local business community. We retained 95% of our sponsors from previous years, despite the challenging economic climate, and have attracted thirteen new sponsors including Kubota, Bottle Green and Horse First.  We are grateful to all of them for their support. We are particularly indebted to our title sponsor Ulster Bank for their continued commitment to Northern Ireland’s farming and food sector through their support of the Show.”

Colin concluded by encouraging visitors to consider public transport options when planning their journey to the Show, “We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to the Show over the course of the three days. A traffic management plan for the event includes a provision for a new exhibitor and livestock entrance which will help with traffic flow, but we would strongly encourage visitors to consider public transport options when planning their journey to the Show.  Translink have introduced special train and coach services. The RUAS will once again provide a complimentary shuttle service operating between Lisburn Train Station and Balmoral Park.  Additional public transport information is available at”

“Motorists are reminded to adhere to all directions given by PSNI to keep road disruption and delays to a minimum.”

Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank takes place at Balmoral Park, Lisburn between Wednesday 14 and Friday 16 May 2014. Opening times are 9.30am – 8.30pm (Wednesday and Thursday) and 9.30am – 8.00pm (Friday). Admission charges range from £2 to £18 depending on circumstances (i.e. child, youth, adult, full and half day tickets, and group and concession rates).  Early bird rates are currently available. There is no charge for children under 5 years when accompanied by an adult.

Northern Ireland Food Pavilion Growing Every Year

Each year the Food NI Pavilion at the Balmoral Show goes from strength to strength and 2014 continues the trend. The Pavilion is one third bigger than 2013 due to its popularity with visitors and demand from local food companies.

Over 80 food exhibitors and 30 chefs will showcase the very best of Northern Ireland produce including artisan and organic products. Visitors will get the opportunity to taste and sample some of these exquisite foods including tasty Glenarm beef burgers, goat kebabs, chowder, hog roasts and homemade artisan pies.

Looking forward to the event, Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive, Food NI said “The Food NI Pavilion is a unique food experience where people can enjoy demonstrations from our Taste of Ulster chefs, sampling and buying local produce from top quality local food and drink companies. The Pavilion provides an unrivalled Northern Ireland food and drink experience.”

The Northern Ireland Signature Kitchen, supported by Northern Ireland Tourist Board, will provide an opportunity for local award winning chefs to showcase their talents. Using the best ingredients from the exhibiting producers, chefs such as Noel McMeel, Lough Erne Resort and Spa, Will Brown, The Old Schoolhouse Inn and Joery Castel, The Boathouse Bangor, will demonstrate their signature dishes. Popular local food celebrity and BBC broadcaster, Chef Paula McIntyre will be MCing during the demonstrations, bringing her expertise and witty enthusiasm to engage the audiences.

The Tesco Cookery Theatre provides a new element to the NI Food Pavilion. Top chefs will introduce local producers and then using their produce, cook up innovative recipes that will highlight the array of outstanding lamb, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk and vegetables available on our doorstep. Thursday at 2pm will see the popular Best Steak Competition in a cook off between eight finalists.

RUAS Chief Executive, Colin McDonald said, “The Food NI Pavilion has seen a growth year on year since it was established at the Balmoral Show in 2008. This growth demonstrates the increasing importance consumers are putting on having access to high quality locally grown produce. It also demonstrates the hard work and commitment that Michelle Shirlow and her team have given to increasing awareness and promoting local produce both locally and nationally and we are delighted to have Food NI on board. The Food NI Pavilion is one of the most important aspects of the Show and look forward to seeing what is in store for us this year.”

Look out for the chef timetables and other exciting local food news at . Follow Food NI on Twitter @Food_NI before and during the Show to keep up to date with everything as it happens! Also, remember to ‘Tweet while you Eat’ in the #NIFoodPavilion!

 Further information on the 2014 programme, exhibitors and attractions can be found at

Photo Caption: Lindsay Curran, Food NI and Dr. Ernest Logan, RUAS President with Sandy Cole, Broughgammon Farm, Ballycastle and Hannah Robinson, Irwins Bakery, exhibitors in the largest ever NI Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show.