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How to have a different kind of ball over the next four weeks

Dreading a constant stream of football on TV for the next month? Here’s 40 ways to give soccer the boot, compiled by Jamie McDowell and Kerry McKittrick

Your world cup survival guide.

Enjoy the sheer class of the West Wing, Crom Castle, Co Fermanagh. Take seven friends for a weekend costing £1,900, there’s a boat thrown in and the whole thing might as well be scripted by Richard Curtis. Tel: 6773 8004.

Go classical. The members of the Belfast String Quartet will be making beautiful music on June 19 in Glenarm Castle’s Walled Garden. Bring friends, picnic and rug. £15. Tel:2858 3396.

If the summer solstice sounds better than penalty shoot-outs —and it does — then join the Iron Age characters at Armagh’s Navan Centre for sacred fires, stories and iron age cuisine on June 19 and 21.Tel: 3752 9644.

Talking of penalty shoot-outs, and stressful topics generally, you could go for total chillout . The Potala Buddhist Centre (Tel: 9023 8090) runs affordable classes on meditation technique.

Have a footie-free night out. The Apartment, The Northern Whig, Horatio Todd's, Madison's, The Spaniard, Muriel's, The John Hewitt and Filthy McNasty's, all in Belfast, are guaranteed football-free pubs during the World Cup.

Pure escapism. Shut yourself away from football-mania and be pampered and preened within an inch of your life. We can guarantee no-one will mention football at the Spa at the Culloden Hotel, which has launched its World Cup Widows package for £65, or you can simply make use of the facilities for the day for £30. Tel: 9042 1066 or

Visit the Belfast Cycling Grand Prix on Friday, June 18. This fast and furious race will see five teams from Great Britain and Ireland do battle around a 1Km course in the city centre. The race starts at Belfast City Hall and takes in May Street and Chichester Street.

The Lagan Boat Tour. Scheduled tours of Belfast via the River Lagan cost £10 per adult. Group, private and Titanic tours are also available. Tel: 9033 0844 or .

Try an alternative sport. A half-hour golf lesson with a professional at Ormeau Golf club will cost £18 and includes full use of the facilities afterwards. For more information, tel: 028 90640 700.

Carnival! Belfast City Carnival will be taking place on Saturday, June 19. It will start with a parade through the city centre and conclude with a Puppet Picnic in the grounds of the City Hall. www.gotobelfast. com

Tourtastic. Belfast City Bus Tours are a hop-on, hop-off service and tickets are valid for 24 hours.

Sex And The City 2. Why not book a VIP screening for you and 43 of your closest friends at Storm Cinemas at the Odyssey.

Bowled over. Partake of some 10-pin bowling or go for some air hockey or American style pool at the Odyssey Bowl in Belfast. Tel: 9046 7030 or

Shop. Victoria Square is open until 9pm from Wednesday to Friday. The Square also features a craft fair on Sunday afternoons.

Put on your dancing shoes. Salsa Belfast run classes all over the city for all levels. For more information:

Class Act. The newly refurbished Crescent Arts Centre has a full programme which continues throughout the summer. Classes range from yoga and drama to languages and jewellery making. Tel: 9024 2338 or

Hit the beach. If we're lucky enough to get the weather then why not spend a day at the seaside — and away from the TV.

Go for a walk. Strap on the iPod and hit the park to see some nature up close. .

A good old fashioned garden party. Break out the BBQ, stir up the Pimms and pump out the tunes. While the football fans are glued to the telly make the most of the summer. Go green with a fairtrade barbecue, just £8 for a pack of three. www.tradecraftshop.

Start a book club. Honestly, this is more than just an excuse to drink wine. Start with something light like The Brightest Star In The Sky by Marian Keyes available from

Get fit as a footballer. Take advantage of match times to hit the gym while everyone else is in front of the telly. Fitness First has branches around Northern Ireland and you can take up a 30-day contract for £36.95 a month.

Make a break for it. Theatre travel company Show And Stay have come up with some nifty excursions to London to avoid the mania around key matches. Check out

Take A Bath. Break out the bubbly and relax. Try Rituals Wu Wei Calming Creme Bath for £10.50.

Wait For Wimbledon. It starts on June 24 and runs until July 11 and rolling coverage will be available on BBC One and Two (when the football’s not on).

Chick flicks. Digital and satellite TV channel FilmFour will be scheduling a wave of girly movies. Expect to see Sense and Sensibility and Howards End for female fare.

Big Brother. The very last series has just begun. Catch up nightly on Channel 4 at 10pm.

Learn to knit. Homemade crafts are making a come-back. There is a knitting meeting in Starbucks in Castle Court every Wednesday. Contact

Earn some extra cash. Become a dog walker for footie fans. While the matches are on take advantage of the clear streets and take their poor pooches for a stroll.

Go camping. Investigate all that the Mountains of Mourne have to offer. Contact Castlewellan Forest Park for good family site on 028 4377 8664

Manhunt. During the World Cup is the perfect time to meet a man with better taste as the football fans will be stuck to their screens. Try for local speed-dating.

Be A Tourist. Never been to the Folk And Transport Museum? Is the Giant’s Causeway an unknown? Visit all the local spots you never quite got round to.

Make A baby. Also required is a man who isn’t a football fan.

Hold your own tournament. Board games, swing ball, darts or bingo. Something everyone can enjoy. Try for everything from Monopoly to Twister.

On foot. Take a walking tour of Belfast for a more intimate reflection of the city's history. offers to take you on a relaxed walk.

Surf. It's a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time. Based in Portrush, Tksurfschool. com offers everything from stag/hen parties to family lessons and summer camps for kids. Call 07894854791.

Get wet. Try some wet and wild action at Newferry Watersports Centre on the shores of the Lower Bann. Activities include, canoeing, jet skiing and power boating. For more information, contact Ballymena Tourist Information Centre on 028 2563 8494.

Ladies Night Out. Cocktails and canapes at Guiseppe’s Sour Dough on the Lisburn Road in Belfast on Thursday, July 8 for ladies only. Ticket available at £10 and get two free cocktails. To book or buy, tel: 9066 8334

Garden. Grow your own veg or bring your flowers into bloom. B&Q has branches province-wide.

Gamble. You might not watch it, but you can bet on it. You never know, you might make a penny or two.

Need an excuse to ogle lots of men? Try The Girls Night Out at the Grand Opera House, Belfast from June 14 to 19. This laugh fest will have you laughing and dancing in the aisles. For tickets tel: 9026 4483 or go to

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