What's on: Gina's Santa Cottage – magic for children and support for the hospice

Jacqueline McGonigle shares her pick of family friendly events taking place across Northern Ireland this week

Santa being asked for presents – Gina's Santa Cottage in Newry supports the Southern Area Hospice
Jacqueline McGonigle


Gina’s Santa Cottage is Santa’s very own home in Newry, Co Down, run in aid of the Southern Area Hospice. Owned by the Boyd Family, the cottage was renovated in memory of Gina Boyd who lost her life to cancer in September 2010. Nestled in the sleepy hills of Sheeptown Road, the cottage is run by volunteers and welcomes over 2,000 people each Christmas to meet Santa and his helpers. Over the years of operation the cottage has raised over £60,000 for the hospice. Book your visit to meet Santa and have an experience which your family will never forget. Open from December 7 to 23.


The Christmas Tree Festival at the First Presbyterian Church Armagh will tell the story of the life of Christ through Christmas trees. Proceeds will be divided between Church Organ Restoration Fund and Newry Hospice. Thursday December 6 at 1pm-7pm; Friday 7 12 noon-7pm; Saturday 8, 10am-7pm; Sunday 9, 1pm-7pm.


Cancer Connect Enniskillen runs until December 9. Families will begin their experience at the railway station at Hollyhill. Once checked in at the ticket booth, you will be greeted by Mrs Claus and her elves who will treat everyone to complimentary mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and cookies. Following some games and fun entertainment you will be invited to board the new Polar Express and travel through Enniskillen, ending at Santa's Grotto at the Buttermarket.


Take the family back in time to experience the magic of a traditional Christmas at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh. Enjoy readings from The Night before Christmas, sing along with the Christmas Mummers, taste seasonal treats and meet Santa and Mrs Claus in his workshop. Day and evening tours available December 8-16.


The Staff of Specialist Joinery Group Maghera invite you to Project Santa 2018 on December 8 and 9. All proceeds raised will go directly to the charity legacy initiative’s 10 charities.


The Enchanted Winter Garden returns to Antrim Castle Gardens, December 7-17 with an evening of Inclusive Enchantment on Tuesday 18 for children and adults with specific needs. To book tickets visit


As part of Homelessness Awareness Week events, Shelter NI in partnership with Belfast Film Festival will be hosting a three-day film festival. You are invited to help combat homelessness and poor housing conditions by supporting Shelter NI on the December 6, 7 and 8 at the Bean Bag Cinema, Exchange Place. Doors at 7pm.

:: For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.

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