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Balmoral 2022: How to get there, where to stay and top attractions

Balmoral Show 2022

In this article, Liam de Paor previews the upcoming Balmoral Show 2022. He highlights some of the show’s main attractions, where you should stay and how to travel there.

Balmoral Show 2022 (Wednesday, May 11th to Saturday, May 14th) takes place at Balmoral Park near Lisburn in Co. Antrim.

It is the largest agri-food, farm machinery and livestock event held during the summer. The major sponsor is Ulster Bank, and the platinum sponsors are ABP Group, Marks & Spencer’s, SPAR and TESCO.

Around 120,000 farmers, agribusiness personnel and urban consumers from Northern Ireland, the west of Scotland, the six border counties and further south usually visit the show-  now back to business as usual after the Covid pandemic. Visitors are promised a fun-filled day out for all the family.

Balmoral Park has over 4,000 car parking spaces available, including designated parking for blue badge holders on a first-come, first-served basis. Car parking is £10 per car-cash only.

Location 

The show is located just 4 miles from Lisburn Train Station, which is regularly serviced from Belfast and Dublin. Trains run every two hours, and journey time takes around two hours.

There are hourly bus services from Dublin to/from Belfast city centre with Aircoach, Bus Eireann, Dublin Coach and Ulsterbus/Translink.

The journey takes around two hours and 15 minutes. From there, one can get a frequent rail service to Lisburn station. This journey takes 20 to 30 minutes on the more direct route. There is a free and frequent bus service from Lisburn railway station to/from the show.

If you are aged 60 or over or have a disability, you can access free travel on bus and railways within N. Ireland. For information about the scheme and how to apply, click this link.

Unlike other events in the agricultural calendar, the weather is usually good, and you can arrive dressed to impress.

The competition to find the most appropriately dressed country lady and gent is sponsored by Dubarry and Ireland’s Blue Book. This takes place on Saturday, May 14th and will be judged by Cool FM’s Katharine Walker.

Purchase tickets

All show tickets must be purchased online and will not be available at the gate. You can purchase tickets online on any show days, even from the car park.

Early bird tickets are available until Tuesday, May 10th. These cost £22.50 for adults and £17 for seniors. Tickets on the day cost £24.00 for adults and £18 for seniors. Children under five & RUAS members are free. You can find more information via this link.

Attractions

There really is something for everyone to enjoy. Come along and sample fantastic local food, browse trade stands (almost 500 to be seen), visit the funfair and be entertained by top names on the Downtown Show Stage.

Show-jumping and the latest advances in agriculture are on display. There is so much to be enjoyed, and the show prides itself on offering something for everyone.

Bargains galore to be had for the ladies and lots of special offers on many trade stands.

Farmers can get lots of useful education and technical advice on the CAFRE, DAERA and the SRUC stands.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is a research institution focused on higher education, consulting and research in agriculture and life sciences.

On other trade stands, visitors can get updates on animal nutrition/health, farm buildings, cattle/milk prices, dairy equipment, environment, feed storage, genetics, and renewable energy.

There are over 25 trade exhibitors from the Republic.

These include:

  • Aurivo Coop;
  • Abbey Machinery;
  • Agrigear;
  • Alltech;
  • Calor Gas;
  • Condon Engineering;
  • Cookstown Dairy Services/Dairymaster;
  • Connolly’s Red Mills;
  • Easyfix;
  • Flogas;
  • Glanbia;
  • JFC Agri;
  • Kingspan Energy & Water;
  • Kverneland Group;
  • Lakeland Dairies;
  • McHale Plant Sales;
McAree Engineering.

If you visit Connolly’s Red Mills stand, you will probably meet rugby legend, Rory Best, one of their customers who has a pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd at Poyntzpass, in Co. Armagh with his brother, Simon and father, John.

They could run 140 to 150 head of cattle at any one time. The home farm is mainly arable – with wheat, oats, oilseed rape and beans in rotation.

The Six Nations Machine Shearing Championship will take place on Saturday, May 14th.

The audience can expect fierce competition between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and France, all competing for this coveted title.

Cattle classes

Livestock farmers and pedigree breeders are well catered for with trade stands featuring various breeds of cattle and sheep.

There are competitions for Ayrshire, Jersey, Dairy Shorthorn, Holstein breeds, and one can expect many of the best southern pedigree breeders to participate.

Holstein classes are sponsored by Fane Valley, and Ayrshire sponsored by Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd. Meanwhile, Shorthorn sponsored by Linergy and Jersey Cattle, sponsored by Flogas.

Most interest will be in the Interbreed Dairy Pairs, Groups Championships, Champion of Champions, and the Dairy Young Handler.

Dairy Interbreed Cattle Pairs are sponsored by Flogas, Groups Championships followed by Dairy Champion of Champions are sponsored by the well-known feed millers John Thompson & Sons Ltd.

The cattle breed competitions attract interest and are well supported by sponsors.

The Beef Shorthorns are sponsored by Abbey Autoline; Aberdeen Angus sponsored by M &S; Hereford sponsored by Fane Valley and Irish Moiled and Dexters are sponsored by FP McCann.

The British Blonde and Charolais are sponsored by ABP, Simmental sponsored by Countryside Services; Salers are sponsored by Joseph Walls Ltd and British Blue sponsored by Tesco. Dunbia sponsors the Interbreed Stock Judging.

Sheep classes

There will be over 20 breeds of sheep participating in Balmoral Show competitions.

Swaledale, Zwartbles and Texel sheep breeds are sponsored by ABP. Hampshire Down is sponsored by Fane Valley, and Beltex are sponsored by ABP & Lleyn.

Sheep Interbreed Pairs Championship are sponsored by LMC (Livestock and Meat Commission), and Sheep Young Handlers are also sponsored by LMC.

Food and entertainment

Visit the NI Food Pavilion to sample the best local produce, be wowed by the spectacular entertainment, enjoy fantastic shopping, music and even a funfair.

The show offers the ultimate day out for the entire family, with something to entertain and amaze all.

For younger visitors, Balmoral promises an exciting and fun-filled day out! Exhilarating main arena attractions enthral.

The SPAR Arena is an area dedicated to family fun with entertainers and even circus workshops.

The Children’s Farm is a must for younger visitors to hold, stroke and even feed farm animals.

How to get there

There are also daily but infrequent bus services from Cavan and Monaghan to/from Belfast, but these do not connect with Lisburn.

People in south Donegal, Cavan, North Leitrim and Sligo can use Bus Eireann to connect with Enniskillen from where there are frequent services to Belfast, but which unfortunately do not connect with Lisburn.

In North Donegal, people can take a bus to Derry and get an hourly rail connection to Belfast.

There is so much to see at Balmoral Show that one should take two days to enjoy this great event.

There will be Ulster Bus /Translink direct buses from Derry, Enniskillen  & Omagh/Strabane to Balmoral show on each date.

Where to stay?

We recommend taking a mid-week break or staying the weekend in Belfast, where accommodation is less expensive than Dublin. Taxis are cheap, and there are many good restaurants to dine in.

You can check out Trip Advisor for the best value hotels. From Belfast, you can take the short train journey to Lisburn and use the free shuttle bus to access the show.

A good place to stay in Belfast is the Queen’s University area – lots of nice hotels and good restaurants are there. Queens is beside the Botanical Gardens and close to the city centre.

It is also only a five-minute walk from Botanic train Station, which connects to Lisburn and the Dublin Belfast railway line.

Major attractions in Belfast include the Titanic centre at the former Harland & Wolff shipyard. One could also visit the NI Parliament buildings at Stormont.

Read articles on ag shows.

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