Thousands bask in the sunshine on the opening day of the Balmoral Show
THOUSANDS of visitors descended on the Balmoral Show in Lisburn yesterday for the opening of the biggest event in the north's agricultural calendar.
The show, at Balmoral Park outside Lisburn, is in its 149th year and crowds who flocked to the annual extravaganza basked in the sunshine on the opening day.
The event is in its fifth year at the former Maze site, having moved from the King's Hall in Belfast in 2013.
It began at 9.30am, with the starting time delayed by organisers to avoid the morning rush hour.
There were activities for young and old alike, with trade stands, showjumping and livestock competitions and a farm and donkey displays for children.
Away from the competitive side of the show, stuntman Matt Coulter, also known as the Kangaroo Kid, kept the crowds entertained with his motorcycle display.
The Garden Village area, with herb and wildlife gardens, offered respite from the noise of the main show.
Churches and political parties also took advantage of the occasion to spread their message.
Former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt was among those who made an appearance, after declining to give further details about photographs which showed him lying face down on the floor of a Belfast hotel.
There were, however, a few hitches along the way on the opening day.
Broughgammon Farm was left frustrated after its stand in the food pavilion was hit by an electricity cut. There were complaints about wifi coverage, while a mother criticised the length of time it took to enter the show following a fault with the payment system.
She tweeted: "Standing in line for 15 minutes with young kids waiting to pay into #balmoralshow system down. Ridiculous Sort it out #BalmoralShow2017"
The event will run for an extra fourth day this year for the first time, finishing at 6pm on Saturday evening.
The Young Farmers' Club day is set to take place today, with machinery handling, ladies football and a tug of war competition, and extended opening until 8pm.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the show, with in excess of 700 trade stands on display for visitors, and around 100 companies offering food and drink in the food pavilion.
Given the anticipated crowds, organisers are encouraging those attending to use public transport, with shuttle buses operating between Lisburn train station and the venue between 9am and 6.20pm, and free car parking available at the King's Hall in Belfast.