TRAVEL: TRAVEL SHOP; the Birmingham Post and British Airways Travel Shop Have Joined Forces to Bring You Regular Travel Advice and Tips. This Week We're Looking at the Attractions of Northern Ireland as a Shortbreak Destination
Northern Ireland has established itself as a serious draw for lovers of art and culture, with several festivals taking place throughout the year.
Probably the best known is October's Belfast Festival at Queens, the second biggest arts festival in the UK, after Edinburgh.
For a city break with some shopping thrown in, Belfast City has the usual high street shops intermingled with exclusive boutiques, and around the edges of the city you'll also find traditional craft shops, selling everything from Irish bread, or linen, to exclusive furniture and nik-naks. Well-heeled locals can be found purchasing designer clothing and accessories along the Lisburn Road.
City Hall in Belfast is a fabulous turn of the 20th century building, and guided tours tell the history of Belfast and the role the City Hall has played.
The Odyssey, Northern Ireland's millennium project in Belfast, has a 10,000-seat arena, with an ice hockey pitch, and a concert hall that hosts all the major touring artists and bands. The venue's pubs and clubs brim with nightlife especially at weekends. There is also a science museum-cum-interactive discovery centre on site, ideal for children.
For golfers, the Royal Port Rush Course, and the Royal County Down, are considered two of the best courses in the world.
In the Fermanagh Lakelands, you'll find myriad watersports, everything from fishing to jetskiing. The nearby world-famous Belleek Pottery factory is worth a tour and offers savings on shop prices.
Derry City in the northwest is one of the few remaining, and one of the best preserved, walled cities left in Europe. At Halloween, grown-ups and children alike join in ghostly festivities.
In Antrim, below the stunning Glenns, stand two magnificent cathedrals - both called St Patrick, one is Roman Catholic, the other, Church of Ireland. If you fancy a drop of the pure stuff afterwards, visit the Old Bushmills Distillery, for a tour and a wee sup.
To the north stands the mythological Giant's Causeway, the first World Heritage site in Northern Ireland; an iconic landmark, as instantly recognisable as, Stone Henge
Flights from Birmingham to Belfast are available from pounds 55 return and three-star hotels from pounds 94 per room, inclusive of breakfast. …