Northern Ireland

Balmoral Show 2019: All you need to know

Woman with goat Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption There is always time for a nibble at the Balmoral Show

Cows, ploughs and plenty of wows - that's what this year's Balmoral Show is promising.

It's one of the biggest events on the Northern Ireland calendar, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend - townies and country folk alike.

This year will be the second time the event will run across four days, rather than its traditional three.

Here is our spectator's guide, giving you everything you need to know for a big day out.

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Media captionBalmoral Show set for good weather

When and where

The show begins on Wednesday morning and continues through until Saturday evening, with gates opening at 09:30 BST each day and closing at 18:00 on Wednesday, 20:00 on Thursday, 19:00 on Friday and 18:00 on Saturday.

The Balmoral Park, on the Halftown Road in Lisburn County Antrim, has been the venue for Northern Ireland's largest agricultural event since its move from the King's Hall complex in Belfast in 2013.

Watching the weather

Ah, yes, the all-important question - will there be sunshine, showers or will we need the welly boots?

Thankfully, the weather's set fair for the four days.

Dry and sunny on Wednesday, with a top temperature of 18°C. Turning a little cooler and cloudier through the week, with a slightly increased risk of seeing a shower by Saturday.

Getting there

You can park at the Balmoral Show site - at the cost of £8 for a car.

The organisers say they have invested heavily in car parking facilities to keep delays to a minimum.

It follows problems in the past when visitors complained about hours-long delays getting out of car parks and organisers are encouraging people to use public transport, with full details available via the Translink website.

Image caption The Baxter family from Newtownstewart walked away with some top prizes in 2018

The police are also warning visitors to park responsibly and only in the designated car parks.

Shuttle buses will operate between Lisburn train station and the showgrounds between 09:00 and 18:20 each day (20:20 on Thursday).

Translink says people should plan ahead and leave extra time for their journeys.

Getting in

If you book ahead, you'll get a discount.

Pre-show tickets cost £17 for adults; £10 for 12 to 18-year-olds; £12.50 for over-65s; £2 for children aged between 5 and 11; under-five's get in for free.

You will get in if you turn up without a ticket, but on-the-door prices will be £3 more than the pre-show bookings, or £1 more for children aged between five and 11.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption You can't keep this young fella and his coveted calf apart

What to do

Once you're in, you have the freedom to roam virtually the entire grounds.

All of the demonstrations, exhibitions, grandstand seating and entertainment are open and there for you to take in at your leisure.

Livestock judging, sheep shearing and big shiny tractors may be the main attraction for some but the show truly has something for everyone.

There are 650 trade stands, with 3,500 livestock competing over the four days.

If you're feeling peckish, you'll want to make your way to the food pavilion, where more than 90 food and drinks companies will offer tasters of their finest produce.

On Thursday members of the young farmers members club will be showing off their machinery handling and tug-of-war skills, along with endless other activities, agricultural and otherwise.

For the youngsters, the children's farm is a must-see, and the fun-fair and the donkey displays are sure to keep them happy, as well as daredevil stunt riders on quad bikes for a bit of a thrill.

Keen gardeners will make a 'bee line' to the healthy horticulture area where they can learn about herb and wildlife gardening, and... beekeeping.

And one more thing...

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Four-legged friends can be found more in the equine than canine variety

Leave the dog at home.

The show operates a strict no pooches policy, for the safety of both you and your four-legged friend.

Instead, make sure to pick up a meaty treat when you're browsing the taster stands to take home for Fifi or Fido!

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