Marie Louise McConville: Let the Christmas magic begin

The Enchanted Winter Garden event at Antrim Castle Gardens got us in the mood for the 2021 festive season
Marie Louise McConville

Ho, ho, ho, December is finally here and I'm ready to get my festive jingle on.

With the tree up, the presents wrapped and the cards posted, I'm already totally consumed by Christmas 2021.

The McConville diary for December is always packed to bursting with festive events and this year is no different, from the Polar Express and a trip to the Christmas Market to an Elf Magic Show, festive Afternoon Tea and numerous hot chocolate dates - we are booked, booked, booked (subject to Covid restrictions, of course).

However, I have to say our 2021 festive season has gotten off to probably the best start ever as last weekend we visited the Enchanted Winter Garden event in Antrim for the first time.

Having been invited by the lovely people at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, we were promised a mesmerising outdoor experience for all the family - and we weren't disappointed.

Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Antrim Castle Gardens at night, the grounds were brought to life with sparkling lights, flickering flames and festive sounds.

The eye-catching 35-metre-high ferris wheel lit up the Antrim skyline and on arrival, the kids and Darren (I wasn't brave enough) grabbed a place in the queue and before long, were high up, taking in the breath-taking panoramic views of the fantastic illuminated event.

After this, we did something I haven't done since my time in the guides - we gathered around the fire pit and toasted marshmallows on a stick and they were just divine.

As we then walked towards the Enchanted Way, we were greeted by numerous festive characters including fairies, street artist performers, fire jugglers and Golly the Elf.

Abbie and James had a ball posing with the Gingerbread and Candy Cane characters, all while taking in the dazzling, illuminated light displays.

The kids had a great time on the carousel, swings and the helter-skelter and walking through the tunnel of lights.

On finding the food village, James clung to us when The Grinch made an hilarious appearance though Abbie was delighted to pose for a photo with him.

And as the hot chocolate, ice cream and food flowed, I took a seat among the sea of lights and just listened as the Christmas music played.

I was particularly delighted when a beautiful rendition of O Holy Night came on followed by Carol of the Bells (which I always associate with Home Alone).

I just felt so Christmassy and so blessed to be amidst this wonderful event with my family.

As we continued on our travels we came across Father Christmas who took the time to enjoy a socially-distanced visit with the kids.

I have to say a massive well done to everyone involved in this event.

It was indeed spectacular and it gave us some wonderful, lasting Christmas memories - what a great start to the 2021 festive season.

**Further information about The Enchanted Winter Garden event, which runs until Tuesday, December 21, is available at


Could life get any better for Adele?

Not only has she just released a new album and looks amazing, she is now to embark on a Las Vegas residency.

The 33-year-old singer is to take on `Weekends With Adele' at Caesars Palace Colosseum.

The concerts will begin in January and run every Friday and Saturday until April, with a brief intermission on the weekend of February 18 and 19, when Van Morrison is booked to play the venue that weekend.

The news comes just days after Adele's latest album `30' broke several records, including becoming the top-selling album in the US after three days.



Who fancies getting cosy with an "absolutely stunning book"?

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang has been described as "emotionally raw" but "satisfying in every way".

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself overwhelmed trying to live up to it.

And when her boyfriend of five years announces that he wants an open relationship, a hurt and angry Anna decides to embark on a string of one-night stands - and the more unacceptable the men, the better.

Enter tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep.

Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second and their third - because being with Quan is about more than sex.

But when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she takes on a role that threatens to destroy her.

Now, Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love.

I have five copies of The Heart Principle to give away.

If you would like the chance to copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

(Q) Who wrote The Heart Principle?

Normal Irish News rules apply.


The winners of the Movie House competition are Luke Hinfey, from Magherafelt and Lucia Donaghy, from Omagh

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access