Try something new in 2013

January 16, 2013

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There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to take on a new challenge or learn a new skill. Northern Ireland is filled with great learning experiences & breaks – whether your in to cooking, good with your hands, love photography or simply want to expand your mind – you’ll find lots of inspiration here. Our NI learning experiences are perfect for couples, groups, friends & for individuals – so take a leap in 2013 and master a new skill.

Painting Breaks with Dermot 

When it comes to picture perfect scenery we’re spoilt for choice in Northern Ireland! Escape to Tyrone this year on painting break with artist & tutor Dermot Cavanagh. During his hugely popular painting courses Dermot teaches all levels of artistic ability to paint, including absolute beginners. So why not let him help you develop your painting skills at a 1, 2 or 3 day course. You are guaranteed to take away a splendid watercolour painting. All the painting materials and equipment needed will be provided by Dermot for use at the painting sessions so there is no need to bring anything with you.

Dermot will pass on his techniques and teach you about drawing, perspective, colour mixing, washes and of course he will show you how to paint your own masterpiece which you will take home at the end of your course. Light refreshments and lunch will also be served on painting days and if required excellent accommodation can be organised on your request.


Ballydougan Pottery at Bloomvale House 

Get a real hands on creative experience at the picturesque Bloomvale House, home of the award winning Ballydougan Pottery, Gift shop, restaurant & coffee shop, Pottery workshop & courtyard cottages. Be inspired by the Ballydougan experience and make a pot yourself in our studio pottery. Group demonstrations available & classes to suit individual requirements: Birthday Parties, Hen Parties, Group workshops – choose from Paint-a-Pot, Hand-building with Clay or throwing on the Potter’s Wheel. For those who wish to stay a little longer, Ballydougan Pottery Courtyard Cottages offer comfort and quality while you share a romantic break with someone special, or as a homely base for visiting family and friends and exploring Armagh.


Belle Isle Cookery School

The ultimate destination for food lovers. Discover the delights of creating modern cuisine in a foodie’s paradise. Set on a working dairy farm on 470 acres of stunning lakeland, this ultra-smart school invites local producers as well as top international chefs to teach with its talented resident cook Corrie Cadden. Join Corrie for expert tuition, exciting new recipes in a relaxed environment and all in the beautiful surroundings of Belle Isle Castle & Estate. Belle Isle Cookery School offer classes in many different cuisines ranging from Italian, Thai, Chinese to traditional food using fresh local produce. Belle Isle’s courses range from a four-week diploma program to one-day classes and evening demonstrations. Belle Isle cookery School also runs seasonal & themed classes for those interested in dinner parties, summer food, winter warmers & much more. If you are looking to turn a great day out into a short break Belle Isle offers luxurious self-catering accommodation & fully accommodated rooms are   also available in the 17th Century Castle. This island retreat is a haven for those looking for those looking to get away from it all. Find out more about or Cookery schools here:


Learn a new language at the Crescent Arts Centre

Located in the heart of the Queen’s Quarter, Belfast, the Crescent Arts Centre offers wide range of language classes for beginners & the more advanced – classes offered include Italian, French, Japanese, Russian & more. The centre has a full programme of classes & workshops including everything from comedy workshops to interior design. So whatever new skill you are hoping to master in 2013 – you are sure to find a class here:


Photography Course at Belfast Exposed

Love photography? Why not brush up your technical & practical skills with a photography course at Belfast Exposed. Courses are open to people from all backgrounds and levels of expertise wishing to improve technical, artistic and professional skills in an informal, jargon free and enjoyable atmosphere. Choose from a range of courses including introductory skills, portrait photography, street photography & one to one tuition is also available.


Linen Hall Library Reading Group

Expand your mind in 2013 & join in the Linen Hall Library for the regular reading group to debate and discuss the chosen title for the month. January’s title is Have The Men Had Enough by Margaret Forster. Admission is free & The Group meets on the last Thursday of each month, and all are welcome to come along and discuss the book chosen for that month. The Linen Hall Library also has a wonderful series of lectures & exhibitions coming up in 2013 which are well worth a look.






Dress making for beginners - Island Arts Centre Lisburn

This course will give students confidence in sewing a range of garments from commercial patterns. Starting from scratch you will learn about the symbols and information on patterns, also how to make darts, insert zips, make collars and add lining to skirts. All the patterns will be supplied. Participants should bring along a sewing machine, basic sewing kit and some fabric. The course runs for 9 weeks & begins on Monday 21st January at 7pm



Dance Classes – The Echo Echo Dance Theatre Co.

If you want to get active in 2013 then why not try something a bit different! Are you aged 50+ and interested in dance and movement? Maybe you are creative in other ways and would like to extend your creativity into another area? If so, then this is the project for you. Led by Steve Batts Artistic Director of Echo Echo Dance Company,  Body Wisdom classes are tailored for 50+ and no previous dance experience is required. Forget about needing to be young and athletic. In this project the wisdom and experience written into the bones, muscles and sinews of older people is a positive advantage. The movement style that Steve Batts will use is very relaxed and exploratory. With his support and guidance each participant will follow their own imagination to create movement images related to specific memories of places and landscapes. This 8 week course starts on Friday 25th January & is sure to offer plenty of fun & fitness!

Thats just a small selection of what’s on offer in 2013 – for more inspiration on new learning experiences & creative breaks go to:


One night B&B and one evening meal at the 3 star Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim  from only £70 per person**

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