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Balmoral Show 2024: Travel details and what to expect at Eikon Centre as show gets under way

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Entrants excited as poultry section returns with bird flu restrictions lifted this year

High levels of bird flu across the UK meant that the poultry section at Northern Ireland’s biggest agricultural show was not able to operate fully over the past few years — but now it is back in full force.

Poultry farmers like Mark Cairns are excited as they look forward to watching their chickens in competition throughout the week.

He said: “Because of bird flu in the past, we have only been allowed one person, just for disease and contamination. But because bird flu [levels] are all right this year then everyone is allowed to take their own birds and poultry with them.”

Birds and poultry return for the first full show in four years at Balmoral Show. Pic: Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph

Mark is attending the show with his fiancee and their Silver Laced Wyandotte chickens, and hopes the birds will perform well in their category.

He said: “I’ve had chickens for three years now with my fiancee, Judith. I’ve always wanted to get into showing and I really enjoy having birds.

“The judge will be looking for points where the black is around the edge of their feathers, how clean they are and the colour of their legs.” Mark said poultry farmers from across the island of Ireland have come to the show this year.

He added: “There are a lot of new people that have come, there’s people that have even come from Letterkenny, so it is great for everyone to get back to it this year.”

The Balmoral Show is open to the public from today until Saturday, May 18.

Watch: Balmoral show returns for 2024

This year marks the 155th annual show, and organiser Rhonda Geary said she is excited to welcome the crowds to the four-day-long event.

“Everything is getting set up and we will be ready for an early morning start tomorrow,” she said.

Rhonda said the farming community across Northern Ireland is excited for the show: “It is a very important agricultural event — it is the largest agri-food event in the Northern Ireland calendar. It is very important for the producers, the exhibitors and the businesses that are here – we also have more than 600 food stands hoping to do business here this week.”

Rhonda Geary, group operations director at the Balmoral Show. Pic: Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph

Rhonda is expecting to see plenty of visitors in the Eikon Centre this year and promises the show has something for everyone to enjoy.

She said: “We have a bigger show than ever this year with more than 4,000 entries in the livestock sections and trade stands, a lot of new attractions, our sustainability village, the new children’s section with the Glenarm off-road driver and a climbing wall.”

Rhonda said that due to the high volume of livestock entered in competitions this year they have even created new categories: “We have new classes in the equine section and the cattle and the sheep.”

Rhonda said there is also more food and drink for visitors to enjoy at this year’s food pavilion.

“There are more than 100 trade stands in there, where you can sample the food and drink and watch the cookery demonstrations — so there is really just something for everyone at the Balmoral Show.”

How to get to Balmoral Show 2024

Visitors are requested to leave plenty of time for their journey and as with any major event be prepared for potential delays. Those wishing to attend, should consider using public transport if possible.

Also try to avoid arriving or leaving the show during the morning or evening rush hour when traffic generally is at its peak elsewhere.

Routes to The Show

· Visitors travelling from the west should take the M1 motorway and leave at junction 8 (Blaris) where they will be directed to travel via the A101 and A1 Hillsborough Road, Sprucefield Roundabout, and Blaris Road

· Traffic from the north west should travel down the A26, Moira Roundabout, then along the A3 Moira Road towards Lisburn, accessing the show via Halftown Road

· Lisburn Traffic should take the Moira Road out of Lisburn and access the show via the Halftown Road

· Those travelling from Belfast and the North East should travel south on the M1 motorway, leaving the motorway at junction 7 (Sprucefield), and follow the direction signage for A1 Lisburn, accessing the show via Blaris Road.

· Traffic from the south should use the A1 dual carriageway and access the show via Harrys Road which is the first left turn after the Hillsborough Roundabout

Extensive signing will be in place close to the show entrances. Please follow these and the directions of the PSNI.

Public transport options

Free shuttle bus: A free shuttle bus service will operate from Lisburn Train Station to the Eikon Exhibition Centre and the estimated journey time is approximately 20 – 30 minutes.

Rail: Great Victoria Street Station is closed so visitors leaving from Belfast should use alternative stations such as Lanyon Place, Botanic, City Hospital or York Street. Selected Enterprise services will also make an additional stop at Lisburn Train Station.

Weather forecast

The weather surrounding the show is expected to be largely dry with some sunny spells and high temperatures of 18C. There could be the odd scattered shower on Thursday and Friday but, on the whole, the outlook is promising.

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