Northern Ireland prepares to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee over long bank holiday weekend

Northern Ireland is gearing up to celebrate the 70-year-reign of Queen Elizabeth II, over an extra long bank holiday weekend beginning this Thursday.

By Philip Bradfield
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 6:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 6:48 pm

The UK has seen major societal, political and technological changes in the past 70 years of her reign, however she has remained a stabilising constant for many through it all.

The Queen has worked with 14 Prime Ministers in that time, and even when members of her family have made painful headlines, she has retained the enduring respect and admiration of many - even among the harshest critics of monarchy.

In 2011, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, she made a state visit to the Republic of Ireland at the invitation of then President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, earning the respect of many through the grace and empathy she displayed. This was followed by several groundbreaking meetings with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, who later declared: “I like her”.

The UK is celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years as monarch.

Admirers of the Queen in Belfast alone are organising 105 council backed events to mark her momentous achievement, with other events across the Province.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, is one of many first citizens across the Province whose borough is recognising the landmark date.

“Mid and East Antrim will join in a UK-wide long weekend of celebrations to honour the dedication of Her Majesty The Queen’s 70-year monarchy,” he said yesterday.

“I am delighted and honoured that our Borough will play such an important role in recognising the outstanding reign of Her Majesty.

A new mural unveiled in Rathcoole in Bangor, Co Down to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“The excitement levels are really building ahead of what promises to be a brilliant long weekend of festivities and events for all our residents.

“It has been superb to hear of so many within our community planning their own parties, alongside the events arranged by Council, and the next week looks set to be one that lives long in the memory.

“I hope everybody has a great time, stays safe and that the weather is kind to us as we mark this incredible occasion.”

On Thursday Belfast City Council will oversee the lighting of the Platinum Jubilee Beacon at Titanic Belfast at 9.45pm while on Friday seniors’ tea dances will be hosted at City Hall, 12-2pm and 3-5pm, although all tickets have now been allocated. Saturday will see a special ‘Platinum Jubilee: Through the Decades’ event at the venue of 2 Royal Avenue from 12-5pm. And on Sunday 5 June, City Hall will be illuminated in purple.

A 20-year-old Princess Elizabeth enjoying a visit to South Africa in 1947 from the forthcoming BBC documentary, 'Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen'.

In Mid and East Antrim on Thursday at 2pm, town criers will proclaim the Platinum Jubilee events at Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne. That evening, beacons will be lit in the three towns. Entertainment will lead up to the beacon lightings, which are expected to be at 9.45pm. On Saturday parties will be held in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena, featuring the cream of local musical and entertainment talent. On Sunday St Patrick’s Church in Ballymena will be the location for an afternoon civic service to reflect on the outstanding service of The Queen to the nation.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will be lighting beacons in Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Limavady, joining thousands of others across the UK and the Commonwealth as part of the official programme. A ‘Community and Crown’ Platinum Jubilee exhibition is also open at Coleraine Town Hall until Saturday.

In Ards and North Down beacon Lighting will take place on Thursday at Bangor Town Hall, Conway Square in Ards and Burr Point at Ballyhalbert. The Soda Popz ‘50s Duo will provide entertainment from 8.30pm in Conway Square and ceremonies at all three locations will start at 9.30pm.

The North Down Museum’s ‘Platinum Jubilee – Queen Elizabeth II and her Reign’ continues until the end of July. The Jubilee Beacon Story Trails is an interactive family activity that is taking place in Bangor, Comber, Donaghadee, Holywood and Newtownards until 12 June.

In Antrim and Newtownabbey beacons will be lit across all districts on Thursday from 9:30pm. On Saturday there will be Platinum Parties in the Park at Antrim Castle Gardens and Jordanstown Loughshore Park from 6pm - 10.30pm featuring comedians and musical acts. On Sunday they Big Jubilee Lunch takes place at parks and open spaces across all seven districts from 1pm-3pm.

Mid Ulster Council is holding a free family fun day at The Hill of The O’Neill in Dungannon from 1pm – 5pm.

In Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon, there will be a Service of Thanksgiving in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh on Thursday -open to all members of the community - followed by the Lighting of the Beacons.

At 9.30pm ceremonial beacons will be lit at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Banbridge Civic Centre and South Lake Leisure Centre Craigavon, accompanied by a lone piper. On Saturday there is the Seven Decades Pageant at Brownlow House in Lurgan from 4pm-6.30pm.

• Check your council website for further details of events near you.