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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Antrim & Newtownabbey councillors consider £20,000 funding offer for two-day Gin Fest

Funding of £20,000 has been made available to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to host a two-day “Gin Fest” event.

The offer will be considered by the council’s Community Planning Committee when it meets on Monday evening.

A report to councillors says that a funding offer has been made by Tourism Northern Ireland for the delivery of two events in the borough in partnership with the Belfast Artisan Gin School in Newtownabbey.

It is proposed to deliver the events in the White House, a 400-year-old historical site, at Whitehouse Park, Newtownabbey and Antrim Castle Gardens this spring.

The Belfast Artisan Gin School is planning to make “two unique gins for each event associated with the local area using local botanicals”, the report says.

The Belfast Artisan Gin School was officially launched in November 2021 by then Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor Councillor Billy Webb MBE. 

It is based at Antrim Road, Mallusk and offers visitors the opportunity to make and distil their own gin.

Speaking at the launch, Cllr Webb said:

“The Gin School is a great addition to our tourism economy.

“Supporting local businesses in development and innovation is a key priorityfor the council. Offering new visitor experiences in our area is very much on our agenda as we focus on welcoming more visitors to the borough to help the tourism economy recover.”

Fiona McAlinden, co-founder of Belfast Artisan Gin School, said at the time:

“One of our objectives is not only to enhance Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough for local people, but also to encourage and attract tourists from the UK, Ireland and further afield.”

The attraction has already welcomed visitors from Jersey, Glasgow, London, Dublin and Liverpool and from across Northern Ireland.

Jo Davison, co-founder of Belfast Artisan Gin School, said at the launch:

“Belfast Artisan Gin School offers the opportunity to create your own personal Belfast gin. The school is set in a traditional, family-owned local pub, The Crown and Shamrock Inn, which has been in the same family for over 90 years.”


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