As a life-long Belfast resident who, I’m now almost ashamed to say, never rubbed shoulders with my rural cousins at the old King’s Hall venue, the scale and variety of the Balmoral Show was a revelation.
As a first-timer I can’t comment on the atmosphere in previous years, but many visitors on the first day were nostalgic for the buzz created among the closely confined animal sheds at the previous site.
However, all agreed that the Maze was forging its own identity with a different, but favourable, character – much more family-friendly and easier to access.
I spent half a day strolling in the sunshine among thousands of smiling faces of all ages and didn’t manage to see half of what was on offer.
It was great to see so many toddlers in buggies, gazing in amazement at the huge beasts standing proud in the livestock rings.
Arriving around 9.30am I found the traffic moving reasonably well, with only a short tailback causing a 10-minute delay in gaining access to the vast arena.
There were a few grumbles from some visitors about the cost of some hot food and the £7 per car parking price but the cost of such an entertaining day out is comparable with just about anything similar.
Always worth a mention are the toilet facilities which were plentiful and more than sufficient, even for the tens of thousands moving around the site.