Banish the winter blues in Craigavon
Why let the winter blues get you down when you can have so much fun in Craigavon, indoors and out, however chilly it gets. Prepare for a skiing holiday, get close up with rare breed animals, cycle around breathtaking scenery or learn pottery from the masters, there’s so many ways to have fun this winter in Craigavon.
Prepare for the pistes
Surely you can’t ski in Northern Ireland? In Craigavon you can! The 200ft slope at Craigavon Golf Ski Centre (T: 028 3832 6606) offers so much variety it’s not just the perfect way to prepare for that special ski trip, it’s a holiday in itself. Don’t worry if you’re just starting out, there’s a nursery slope just for you. You can also try snowboarding, snow tubing, snowblading and, if not all the family is into skiing, there’s a full golf course and pitch and putt course and driving range too. Not surprisingly the Centre is very popular, so book ahead.
Journey back in time
After all that energy , you need a change of pace. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Brownlow House Lurgan, a short drive away, one of Ireland’s most elegant stately homes. Built in the Elizabethan style in 1833, you can now enjoy tours to take in its many distinctive features, such as the beautiful vert-antique marble plaster in the octagon-shaped reception room. You will need to call 077 885 33774 in advance to book a tour.
A winter wonderland
Winter is an ideal time to wander the beautiful natural world of Oxford Island (T: 028 3831 1672) with its abundance of tranquil walks. On the shores of the UK’s largest freshwater lake, Lough Neagh, the island’s National Nature Reserve attracts many wintering birds to its sheltered bays. Look out for large numbers of wildfowl, including ducks such as pochard and goldeneye, who all find refuge here.
Warm up with a superb dinner at one of Craigavon’s many welcoming restaurants, like the Mediterranean-influenced Zio at Portadown’s fabulous Millennium Court in William Street (T: 028 3833 7696).
There’s a fantastic choice of accommodation in Craigavon and some great winter deals around too. Until Dec 17th the exquisite Newforge House (Magheralin, Craigavon, T: 028 9261 1255) has special mini-break deals with great rates for accommodation and their famous dinners. Right through December, the Derry Lodge B&B (7, Derry Lodge Manor, Lurgan, T: 0779947 1600) is offering a double room en suite with continental breakfast (cereal, toast, fruit, yogurt, cheese, bread, tea, coffee) for just £40 per night (£20 per person). Book for three nights and enjoy a further £20 discount. Or relax in the award-winning Bleu Apple B&B (12 Cannagola Road, Portadown, T: 028 3885 2188) and enjoy the best of home cooking, like delicious homemade apple tart.
Start the next day with an activity all the family can enjoy, learning to make hand thrown pottery with the experts at Ballydougan Pottery T: 028 3834 2201) in the 18th century Bloomvale House, in Gilford (booking essential). Nothing can ever compare with pottery you’ve made yourself. While you’re there, check out their stunning range of pottery in the 18th Century Gift Shop and enjoy a lunch of hearty Ulster cooking in the Linen Barn Coffee Shop.
Animals are always popular with the family anytime of year, especially unusual ones, so make your next stop the delightful C&J's Rare Breeds Farm in Portadown (30 Derryall Road, Tel: 028 3835 0315 Mobile 0751 3395 932). As well as lots of animals, like pygmy goats, wallabies, snowy owls, pigs, aviary birds, chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, you can also meet Santa every Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 4pm in December.
To work off lunch hire bikes from the Craigavon Watersports Centre (T: 028 3834 2669) and spend a glorious afternoon circling the beautiful lakes, looking out for wintering wildfowl and other wildlife. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, take on Northern Ireland’s only dedicated Mountain Bike Trail there, ten kilometres of pure fun for all.
We’re not quite finished. There’s still time for some quality retail therapy and, once again, the choice is yours. In the heart of Craigavon you’ll find the amazing Rushmere Shopping Centre (T: 028 3834 3350) with the best of boutique and high street shopping all in one location, special seasonal offers and plenty of cafes and eateries too. There’s lots of great shopping in Portadown with all kinds of fascinating shops around the town centre, wonderful crafts and jewellery as well as organic food at the traditional market at the Millennium Court on Friday and Saturday and two great shopping centres, the High Street Mall (T: 028 3836 2251) and the Meadows (T: 028 3836 3000). You’ll also find an enticing mix of quality shops offering the personal touch and all the leading names in the high street, including the best in fashion, in historic Lurgan. And there’s plenty of tempting gift shops to take home a reminder of your visit throughout Craigavon.