Celebrate the genteel and the ghastly at Armagh’s Georgian Festival

Fancy some time travel in Northern Ireland without a Tardis – then get yourself to Armagh next weekend for a celebration of all things Georgian!
Armagh's Georgian Festival runs from November 23 to 26.Armagh's Georgian Festival runs from November 23 to 26.
Armagh's Georgian Festival runs from November 23 to 26.

It’s like being immersed in a film set, with the iconic architecture and ethereal beauty of the celestial city as the backdrop. It’s literally packed with events for all the family and many of them are free. From characters in period costume wafting between the cathedrals, to horse drawn carriages clippity clopping down the Mall.

On Saturday, November 25, during Georgian Day itself, there will be plenty of sumptuous smells and tasty treats at stalls peppered throughout the city. Prepare for free hot chestnuts, music and performers and a military drill at on The Mall as well as children’s entertainment. With ‘Georgian Christmas Afternoon Tea’ events taking place at Armagh City Hotel and the Archbishop’s Palace, ‘Georgian Ladies Who Lunch’ at Armagh County Club, there are plenty of opportunities for foody treats.

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If you fancy rounding off Saturday evening with some music there’ll be Choral Evensong at the Church of Ireland Cathedral at 5pm.

There’s a special lightshow, ’A fairy-tale of Armagh’, which takes over the town’s main square on both evenings transforming the Stunning Georgian Market House into a canvas. This is a ticketed event so don’t forget to book.

Throughout the weekend there’s the chance to get behind the elegant façade of this era with walks around Armagh detailing the not so gorgeous side of Georgian. life It lifts the lid on some unsavoury habits, even staying beautiful was a grisly business. Fancy replacing your eyebrows with a little mouse hair? yes, real mouse hair!

There are also guided walking tours of the Archbishop’s Palace and Palace Demesne. ‘Guilty or not’ allows you to be part of the jury, Georgian style, so you can witness first-hand the harshness of how the period’s legal system dealt with criminals in Armagh Courthouse.

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The historic library, built in 1771, and No 5 Vicars’ Hill, the former Registry, will open their doors to visitors for free. Not only can you can see around what Northern Ireland’s oldest public library you can learn about wax sealing in the registry.

If you want a snapshot of your day the Georgian version of Instagram will be available at Armagh County Museum. A silhouette cutter will provide portraits from 12 noon – 4.30pm it’s free and you can also look around the museum.

Naomi Waite, director of Marketing at Tourism Northern Ireland, said: “These fun few days for all the family will showcase how much Armagh, has to offer visitors. I learnt a lot about the less savoury side of Georgian life on my last visit. There is so much to see and do in across the county not just during this wonderful festival period. It’s a place well worth a visit any time of year.”

Many roads will be closed off so park and ride services will be available from Navan Centre, Elim Church, Armagh (for Portadown side arrivals), Palace Demesne and from Portadown Train Station to armagh. Like much of what’s on offer over the weekend this service is free of charge.

This year’s event, which is celebrating 20 years, runs from November 23 to 26.