From world-class shopping centres to stylish boutiques, world famous potters to charming gift shops, shopping in Craigavon is a joy. People come from far and wide to enjoy the wonderful shopping here, not least from the Republic of Ireland, but there's so much to do and see while you're here, why not make it a shopping stayover! Here are a just a few ideas to create a shopping trip to remember!
Home of retail
Famous throughout Northern Ireland, Rushmere Shopping Centre, in the heart of Craigavon, boasts the biggest names in retail. At this state-of-the-art centre you'll find 60 top names, including Debenhams, H&M, Topshop, Sainsbury's, River Island and Next, lots of great places to eat and loads of free car parking space. There's a stack of special events through the year and they're open seven days a week.
While you're in Craigavon why not set the pulse racing with kayaking, banana boating, water-skiing, windsurfing, canoeing or sailing at the fantastic Craigavon Watersports Centre. Hire a bike for Northern Ireland's first mountain biking trail or just take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful lakes, followed by a cappuccino and pastry in the café.
Just off the M1, Portadown attracts legions of shoppers from all around. You can recreate the traditional atmosphere of the old 'Fair Day' at Portadown Market at the Millennium Court, where you'll find everything from hand crafted jewellery and organic foods to the freshest seafood and wood-turned crafts. There's a Variety Market every Friday from 7am to 6pm and a Farm and Country Market every Saturday between 10am and 3pm.
High street shopping
You should also check Portadown's two main shopping centres, High Street Mall, which boasts a huge Dunnes Stores and 33 other outlets from Mothercare to Argos and the fantastic new Meadows Shopping Centre, with a large Tesco, Next Clearance and many other great stores.
While you're there why not try the gourmet food at the Yellow Door Deli (weekdays) and art lovers won't want to miss the Millennium Court Arts Centre (MCAC) on William Street, just off High Street. It showcases the finest art from Northern Ireland and elsewhere at its two purpose-built galleries and also holds workshops and classes.
Another great place for food in Portadown is the atmospheric Zio Restaurant in William Street (tel: 028 3833 7696), which serves delicious Mediterranean food and a great range of pizza, pasta and fish.
Shopping with the personal touch
Historic Lurgan offers a tempting combination of stores offering quality shopping with the personal touch and all the leading names on the High Street in every field from beauty and fashion to health, while throughout the area you'll find tempting gift shops to take home a reminder of your visit.
Heritage trail and Elizabethan style
Try and fit in a tour of the recently renovated Brownlow House (and a stroll around beautiful adjoining Lurgan Park) while you're in town. Built in 1836 in an Elizabethan style, it's considered one of the finest grand houses of Ireland. Call 07788 533774 for tours.
While you're walking around Lurgan's historic streets, don't just explore the shops! Founded in the 17th century and a major centre of Ireland's linen industry boom of the 18th and 19th century, the centre of Lurgan contains some architectural gems. Enjoy them and learn the fascinating history of the town and its people from the town's new heritage trail.
World class pottery
There are so many other ways to make your shopping trip more fun. Why not head for historic thatched Bloomvale House, just three miles from Lurgan, home to the award-winning Ballydougan Pottery. Watch skilled potters hand throw and decorate a superb range of kitchenware and giftware items, enjoy the finest traditional Ulster cooking in the Ballydougan Restaurant and explore the unique 18th century gift shop, where you can buy Ballydougan Pottery and lots of other wonderful items. You can even stay the night at their delightful Courtyard Cottages (two to six people).
Sport and shopping
Try skiing, snowboarding, snow blading or even snow tubing at the Craigavon Golf Ski Centre, near Lurgan, Northern Ireland's only outdoor artificial ski slope, all 300 feet of it! There's a nursery slope for beginners and floodlighting for night skiing too. They also offer an 18-hole Championship Golf Course, 9-hole course, pitch and putt and a floodlit driving range. And if you're fond of golf, there are other acclaimed courses in the area, such as Lurgan Golf Club, Portadown Golf Club, and Edenmore Golf and Country Club.
On board the Master McGra
Or maybe after those hectic hours shopping you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery. In which case why not head for Kinnego Marina on Oxford Island, a few minutes drive from Lurgan, and get on board the fully enclosed Master McGra to enjoy the islands and shoreline of the largest inland waterway in the British Isles, Lough Neagh. Trips are available Saturday and Sunday afternoons from April to October. You can also book on weekdays if you call 028 3832 7573.
Guesthouse of the year
Why not make your overnight stay really special at Northern Ireland's Guesthouse of the Year 2009, the beautifully restored Georgian Newforge house, not far from Lurgan. With its period features and antiques seamlessly blending with contemporary luxuries and facilities, it offers six individually designed double bedrooms, a cosy drawing room with open log fire, and truly outstanding food. Breakfasts are to die for and you can enjoy a superb three-course seasonal dinner with coffee or tea and homemade chocolates for a very reasonable price.