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Top 20 things to in Northern Ireland this summer

July is on record as being one of the dullest and wettest ever. With this in mind, Heather McGarrigle and Emily Maree have come up with 20 ways to cheer yourself up during the remainder of our so-called summer

1 The ‘eat goes on’ in Belfast with the annual Taste and Music Festival in Botanic Gardens between August 4 and 8. Delicious food and great music will shake off the summer blues. Tickets are available on the gate and include daily admission tickets (£5/£10), ‘flexi-day’ passes (£12.50) and the Five for Five lunchtime special (£5). Phone 028 9045 7700 or visit
www.belfasttasteandmusicfest.com

2 Get the whole family out and enjoying Northern Ireland together. The National Trust admits kids for free to selected properties throughout the summer provided they are accompanied by a paying adult. Phone the National Trust on 028 9751 2332 for details.

3 Sunflowerfest 2010 is running from August 20-22 at Tubbys Farm, Hillsborough, in aid of UNICEF disaster relief for Haiti. With live music, art and great food, there is no doubt that Sunflowerfest will leave you feeling content and camping is just £5, payable on arrival. There are also day and weekend tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk

4 The Festival of Fools team will perk you up every Sunday throughout August in Belfast with street theatre including aerial shows from Barren Carousel and cookery with a difference from the Half Naked Chef. Free shows are at 2pm and 4pm. Phone 028 9023 6007 or visit www.foolsfestival.com.

5 West Belfast’s Féile an Phobail continues until Sunday with drama, comedy and music. Sure to bring a smile to your face is Lenny Henry tomorrow at 8pm in Andersonstown Leisure Centre. For tickets and the programme, visit www.feilebelfast.com.

6 Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity will wow the Earhart Festival in Derry from August 8-15. The dance troupe headline on August 15 but before that enjoy live music, dance, face-painting and more. Visit www.facebook.com/TheEarhartFestival for more details. Visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk or www.joegallagherentertainments.com for tickets.

7 Cheer up one of your walls with an original painting. Every Saturday between 11am and 3pm throughout August and September, Lisburn artists will sell their work on the rails outside Castle Gardens. Phone the Island Arts Centre on 028 9250 9509.

8 Escape the grey weather as the Belfast City Blues Festival 2010 (August 27) hosts international musicians in the Cathedral Quarter. Call 028 9094 1342 or visit www.belfastcityblues.com.

9 Take part in t’ai chi sessions on the Mall in Armagh every Tuesday and Thursday until the end of August. As part of the city’s Planet Earth festival, everyone is welcome to take part in this graceful practice. Phone 028 3752 9600.

10 The Crescent in Portstewart is hosting its annual Junior Stars in Your Eyes competition at 2.30pm today with performances from mini versions of singing stars. Phone the Coleraine Borough events team on 028 7034 7234.

11 Lift your spirits with a day with man’s best friend. The Dog’s Trust and Ballymena Council have teamed up for ‘Bark in the Park’ at the Ballymena Ecos Centre this Saturday, 12-3pm. Entrance is free. Phone Ballymena Council on 08456 581 581.

12 Join the Great Belfast Art Hunt on August 28 to meet artists and curators, have a chance to win prizes and visit up to 10 art galleries in one day. Admission is £4-£6. Visit www.belfastarthunt.co.uk or call 079 2176 9270.

13 A bunch of flowers can make someone’s day, so imagine what a whole room can do. Carrickfergus Garden Society’s annual Flower Show returns on Saturday August 14 with flowers, fruit, vegetables, floral art and handicrafts. Phone Carrickfergus Council events team on 028 9336 6666.

14 Enjoy face-painting, fancy dress and family fun on Titanic Vintage Day 2010 on August 14 at the Titanic Dock and Pump House on Queen’s Island. Entrance is free and dressing up is encouraged. Visit www.titanicvintageday.co.uk for more details.

15 Sport, arts, drama, debates and music are in store at the Feile Chamlocha from August 11 to 16 in Camlough near Newry — perfect for an eventful day for children and adults. Admission to be confirmed or ring 028 3083 7056 for details

16 Bring your favourite teddies to Baby Elephant’s Big Adventure and take in poetry readings and storytelling for two to four-year-olds at The Island Arts Centre, Lisburn on August 20. Admission is £7. Ring 028 9250 9509.

17 Take in some fresh air on Wilderness Day at Lagan Valley Regional Park, August 21. Take part in the many activities planned to include the whole family. Check www.laganvalley.co.uk/events closer to the event for details.

18 Experience some culture at Irish Walled Towns Day at various venues around Derry City on August 22. Visit www.derry|city.gov.uk or call 028 7126 1916.

19 Running until September 5, the Wallace and Gromit Exhibition at W5 is for all ages, free after admission to W5 (£7.50 adult/£5.50 child). Visit www.w5online.co.uk to see more.

20 Enjoy the Newtownabbey Shoreline Festival, August 28-30, with fireworks and activities for everyone beside the sea. Visit www.newtownabbey.gov.uk or call 028 9024 6609.

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