Northern Ireland is rightly known for being a vibrant contemporary society, but it’s also home to a thriving community promoting the very best of traditional culture and music
Northern Ireland has its own unique Ulster-Scots culture, which is prevalent throughout the six counties and is often expressed through exhilarating music and dance. Instruments include the Lambeg Drum, fiddle, fife and flute, and the melodies produced in pubs and sessions across Northern Ireland accompany Highland Dancing, Scottish Country Dancing, Ulster-Scots Square and Country Dancing. With Ulster-Scots cultural events to be found pretty much everywhere, you can watch from the sidelines or give it a go yourself – either way, you’re guaranteed to have a ball!
Traditional Irish music is also enjoyed in Northern Ireland, both in urban areas and more isolated, rural settings. A traditional pub session is the perfect way to spend an evening, accompanied by the buzz of a live band playing jigs, reels and hornpipes. But for tradition on a much larger scale, you could head to the small town of Rostrevor for the Fiddler's Green Folk Festival, which hosts the biggest crossroads céilí in the world! As well as traditional music and dance you can also be enthralled by the tales of storytellers or thrilled by the scary Mummers who act out magical folk plays.
Character and charm
You'll find the warmest of welcomes in Northern Ireland, a place rightly feted for the openess and generosity of the people. Whether you're staying in a guest house or looking after yourself in self-catering, you can rely on the locals to help you make the most of the wonderul amenities. Take a stroll on the stunning beaches of counties Antrim, Londonderry and Down, wander the glens and pastures of Tyrone and Armagh, or take a boat down the dreamy rivers of Fermanagh. Whatever route you choose, you'll be lost in the beauty and the charm.
Northern Ireland is proud of its heritage and hosts a wealth of festivals and events to celebrate that rich sense of history. You can learn all about Ireland's sacred past and its patron saint at the St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick; the pain of emigration and the achievements of the Irish community in America are examined at the Ulster American Folk Park in County Tyrone. There are festivals of jazz, blues and opera held throughout the year, or if culinary delights are more to your liking, check out the Hillsborough Oyster Festival, which hosts the World Oyster Eating Championships.