Promising a welcome relief from election day politics the gates opened today (Friday 8th May) for Northern Ireland’s premier gardening event – 2015 Allianz Garden Show Ireland at Antrim Castle Gardens. Now in it’s 11th year this three day “Festival of Flowers, Food and Fun” is set to welcome a bumper crowd to the stunning Antrim setting throughout the weekend and, regardless of the weather, there is plenty on offer for everyone.

Visitors can learn from the best with talks and workshops delivered by a range of experts throughout the three days. Show regulars Reg Maxwell, Geoff Stebbings and Claire Woods will also be joined by special guest Monty Don on Saturday 9th May. In addition, experts from the Garden and Landscape Designers Association and the Horticultural Trades Association’s “Love the Plot You’ve Got” team will demonstrate how to transform any space into a desirable garden. The Flower Arranging Pavilion will feature Chelsea Medalists Richard Haslam and Therese Quinn, whilst BBC Gardeners’ Question Time will broadcast a special programme from the Show on Friday 8th May at 11:00am.

For inspiration visitors can view the Show Gardens and enjoy the Enkalon Team Challenge gardens which were created in one day by a variety of teams from all over Northern Ireland. New ideas can become reality with literally thousands of plants on offer from some of the UK’s finest growers and a free ‘Plant Creche’ is available to leave purchases for collection at the end of the day. If more knowledge is needed the Garden Books Swap is available for swapping old Gardening Books for new ones.

Family Fun is a huge focus this year with plenty of activities to keep all ages entertained. From archery and crazy golf to honey making, planting and basket weaving – kids can pick up lots of new skills. A children’s ‘Bean Bag Cinema’ provides a welcome rest point for weary little legs and `Allianz Scarecrow Avenue’ – created by children from Integrated Schools throughout Northern Ireland – is always a talking point for the young ones! Plus, stilt walkers, garden theatre and – for the grown ups – live music, artisan food and drink stalls, cream teas and more.

It’s not just about green fingers – for the taste buds this also promises to be no ordinary experience with delicious steak sandwiches from Armagh based Forthill Farm; seasonal wild game, Cabrito (kid goat meat) and hand harvested seaweeds from Broughgammon Farm in County Antrim and lobster burgers from Snack Shack Street Food. In addition, visitors can indulge in traditional breed pork with homemade apple sauce from the Fabulous Food Factory followed by handmade ice cream from the Vintage Ice Cream Bicycle.

Supported by Tourism Northern Ireland this years’ event has a strong focus on local food in recognition that local produce is an increasing attraction for tourists. Throughout the weekend, local chef Paula McIntyre will be demonstrating how to bring the variety of local produce and flavours together to create an unusual menu in the Food Pavilion which this year is supported by Food NI – the voice for Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry.

Damien O’Neill Group Head of Marketing Allianz commented, “Allianz is delighted to be title sponsor for the 2015 event and to support what is set to be the biggest event in the Show’s history. It is an event that brings communities together in a variety of ways and showcases the very best in the world of gardening to thousands of people each year. We are very much looking forward to all that this year’s Allianz Garden Show Ireland has to offer.”

The 2015 Allianz Garden Show Ireland runs from 8th – 10th May at Antrim Castle Gardens and is open daily from 10am-6pm with parking adjacent. Adults are £10 (concession £8) and the event is FREE for children under 16. There is a reduced rate for online booking and for more information visit www.gardenshowireland.com.

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