The crowds were ready and waiting in Lisburn this morning as the curtain came up on this year’s Balmoral Show.
The comparatively good weather helped drive early footfall and on the roads there were some reports of congestion as the first of the thousands of expected visitors headed for the show site at Balmoral Park, Maze.
Run by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society and dating back 148 years, the Balmoral show celebrates all things agricultural with a three-day feast of of farming, food and family fun, hailed as the biggest and most important event of its kind in Northern Ireland.
With multitudes expected through the showgrounds during the three-day event - May 11-13 - organisers have been at pains to advise visitors to consider travel plans carefully.
In the run-up, RUAS Chief Executive, Colin McDonald said: “We want people to come and enjoy the Show and get here by the quickest and safest route possible. We have worked hard to improve the traffic management plan to improve the flow of traffic around the showgrounds but as with all large events people should be prepared for potential delays.
“Prepare your route beforehand, leave plenty of time for your journey and follow the directions of the PSNI.”
The show is open until 8.30pm tonight, from 9.30am – 8.30pm tomorrow and 9.30am – 8pm on Friday.
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “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 journey to the show plus admission for just £31 (adult) & £16 (child) . . . we are providing a free and frequent Translink shuttle bus service running between Lisburn Train Station and the showground from 8.30am–8pm (Wed & Thurs) / 7.30pm (Fri).
“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.
“We also have a range of discount travel tickets available including a third-off day return train tickets or selected Goldline coach services after 9.30am.”
The shuttle bus service will operate a 10-minute frequency through the day, departing Lisburn train station from 8.30am-8pm on Wednesday and Thursday and 8.30am-7.30pm on Friday. The return journey will operate a 10-minute frequency, departing Balmoral Park from 9am-8.30pm on Wednesday and Thursday and 9am-8pm on Friday, increasing to a five-minute frequency during peak times.
For further travel information including ticket purchase click www.translink.co.uk/balmoralshow2016/ or call 028 9066 6630.