IN PICTURES: Bumper crowds on first day of Balmoral Show

Three years on from its move to the former Maze prison site, the Balmoral Show has recaptured the hearts and minds of the regular attenders as well as attracting many first time visitors.

For anyone who has never been, the scale and variety of the show is a revelation.

Farmers parade their prized beef in the cattle judging.

Farmers parade their prized beef in the cattle judging.

Even more so following its move away from the confines of the old south Belfast site which served the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society well for 144 years.

“Something for all the family” is a cliché best avoided but it’s probably the one turn of phrase that sums up the vast array of demonstrations, livestock, displays, food stalls, machinery and all things rural.

The livestock show ring was the centre of attention, but if you linger too long it could be a struggle to see everything on offer in one day.

First time visitor Declan Davis had travelled from Galway mainly to see the best of Northern Ireland’s Belgian Blue cattle.

He said the show’s location was the best he had ever attended.

“I have to say the site is absolutely first class. I’ve been to quite a few shows like this but I’ve never come across one so good under foot – the pathways are great and there’s great seating areas too. Very impressed,” he said.

Sandra Burns from Banbridge, who has been going to the Balmoral Show every year since she was a child, was also enjoying her day out with grandchildren Jack, 3, and Thomas, 2.

“I had my doubts about the move away from the King’s Hall at first but there’s so much more room here for buggies if you have children with you.

“We love the livestock but we’re going round everything, including all the food sampling. The much bigger car park means there was no traffic chaos getting in and there seems to be so more to see this year,” she said.

Some of the show highlights include a demonstration of robotic milking as Lely and Draynes Farm team up with the RUAS to bring 40 cows who will line up, at a time of their own choosing to be milked by a Lely Astronaut A4 robotic milking system.

In the main arena, the Jason Smyth Stunt Show will perform daredevil moves at various times throughout the three days.

Balmoral Show, in partnership with Ulster Bank, takes place at Balmoral Park, Lisburn, today until Friday. Opening times are 9.30am – 8.30pm Wednesday and Thursday, and 9.30am – 8.00pm on Friday.