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Balmoral Show coverage Day 1: Video and pictures as farm spectacular opens gates to 100,000 visitors

Weather set fair as Maze site opens for annual extravaganza of agricultural delights

By Linda Stewart

Close to 100,000 people are expected to flock to the Balmoral Show this week.

The roar of bulls, bleating of sheep and the jangling fairground music will echo round the former Maze site from today as the long awaited show arrives on the back of the warm spring weather.

Forecasters are painting a positive picture for the next three days, with rain this morning clearing westward to give warm, bright and sunny spells in the afternoon.

Tomorrow will be mostly dry but gradually turning cooler as the winds turn to a northerly direction, with the odd shower, but also some sunny spells.

It will be breezy on Friday, according to the Met Office.

The organisers of Ireland's biggest agricultural show are promising a bigger event than ever, with more livestock competition, more stands and displays and more activities.

Urging visitors to plan their journeys in advance and take advantage of special travel deals, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society chief executive Colin McDonald said: "We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Balmoral Park over the course of the three days.

"With so much to see at the show, it's important to get there in good time and relaxed.

"We have teamed up with Translink to provide coach day tours from a range of regional towns. This offer represents a convenient and economical way to visit the show.

"Our complimentary shuttle bus service from Lisburn train station to the show will be in operation again. This service has operated very successfully, with shuttle bus passengers enjoying quick access to the Showground.

"Bus passengers who purchase early bird tickets on the Balmoral Show website will also be able to enjoy priority entrance to the show."

A packed timetable will see thousands of visitors enjoying everything from circus workshops to the amazing Bruce Airhead and the captivating Bolddog Lings freestyle motocross team performing at the Main Arena.

There are plenty of animals to see, from prize-winning stock to the cute and cuddly inhabitants in the Children's Farm and the Rare Breed Survival Trust stand.

The Balmoral Show is hosting the Six Nations Wool Handling, followed by a test between Germany and Northern Ireland.

The Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster will also make a return as they encapsulate the energy of the show in their various activities from tug-of-war to tractor handling.

Balmoral Show is joining in the celebration of Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink, supporting local producers with the popular NI Food Pavilion.

The Downtown Radio Show Stage provides a platform for emerging and established local acts to take to the microphone and provide musical entertainment, while the garden village next door will provide a haven for green-fingered enthusiasts.

Show-goers can download the Balmoral Show 2016 app, which features an interactive day planner and a find-your-car option.

Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway has promised special bus, coach and train services for a relaxing journey to Balmoral Park, saying: "After a successful and hugely popular public transport operation last year, we are working closely with RUAS to provide hassle-free bus and train travel for the show and would encourage visitors to plan their journey using our dedicated website section www.translink.co.uk/balmoralshow2016/.

"Special coach day tours are available to purchase online offering return journeys to the show plus admission for just £31 (adult) & £16 (child).

"These services will depart from Derry/Londonderry, Limavady, Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Antrim, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine, with other locations also served along these main routes.

"The show starts at 9.30am each day and we are providing a free and frequent Translink shuttle bus service running between Lisburn train station and the Showground from 8.30am-8.00pm (Wednesday & Thursday) and to 7.30pm (Friday). Exhibitors are advised to use the shuttle bus between 8.30am-9am, with show visitors travelling from 9am onwards.

"The estimated outward journey time is around 20-30 minutes and we are advising passengers to allow 30-45 minutes transfer time to return from the show back to Lisburn for onward train connections - especially anyone using cross-border or North West services.

"Anyone using either the free shuttle bus or special coach package deal can also enjoy priority show entry.

"For additional convenience, selected morning train services coming from the North will run through to Lisburn so passengers will not need to change trains in Belfast and selected Enterprise services between Dublin and Belfast will be stopping at Lisburn on each day of the show."

For Balmoral Show information click www.balmoralshow.co.uk.

For further travel information including ticket purchase, click www.translink.co.uk/balmoralshow2016/ or call 028 9066 6630. For the latest travel updates follow Twitter@Translink_NI.

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