Best boutiques for a County Down wedding!

We love seeing wedding guests dressed their best for special days and nights of celebration spent at Dufferin  Hall.  Although high-street stores stock the most on-trend fashions, we prefer visiting some of the small independent boutiques located across County Down to browse their exclusive collections of occasion wear!

Skiffie Worlds to set sail in Killyleagh!

The Skiffie Worlds Festival 2016 is to set sail on Strangford Lough, Co. Down, later this month - just a stone’s throw away from Dufferin Coaching Inn! The festival, which will take place from 24th – 30th July, is a colourful celebration of coastal rowing and will bring with it the St Ayle’s World Championship races which will be held at the stunning Delamont Country Park over five days.

Chocolate & Fine Food Festival will offer something ‘sweet’ for all ages

Thousands of chocoholics and enthusiastic foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond are set to descend again this year on Killyleagh town centre to celebrate the 2016 Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, 23rd – 25th September.  Sponsored by artisan producer Finnebrogue, based in nearby Downpatrick and famous for their outstanding quality venison and sausages, among other favourites, this year’s festival will be the largest one yet, with over 15 chocolatiers and nearly 40 local artisan food producers scheduled to set up camp at the historic Killyleagh Castle for the weekend-long festival.

2016 Wedding Flower Trends: Dufferin Asks the Expert

Seen on centre pieces, in the bridal party’s hair, atop wedding cakes, and on the lapels of grooms and fathers of the bride, wedding flowers are an essential element to the big day. But what about the hands behind those fabulous floral arrangements? We caught up with leading County Down florist Gillian Mee from Flowers by Mee in Killyleagh to discover this season’s biggest floral trends, tips, and blossom inspirations.

County Down's BBQ Hot Spots

With so many stunning backdrops to dine outdoors near Dufferin Coaching Inn, we recommend grabbing a picnic hamper and hitting the Great Outdoors to enjoy some dining al fresco whilst visiting.  Here’s a round-up of our favourite local BBQ and picnic spots in Killyleagh and surrounding areas where you can relax and enjoy a taste of summer in Northern Ireland.

Where to say 'I do' - Quirky wedding venues in County Down

County Down is home to a selection of very special venues to host your wedding ceremony, whether you and your other half are looking to the more traditional side or want to take a modern approach to your wedding. Take a look at our list of the top wedding venues in County Down to tie the knot before spending your evening do with us at Dufferin Coaching Inn and Hall.

Meet Leontine Haines, Owner & Operator, Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall

Say hello to Leontine Haines, the lady who has been welcoming guests to the Dufferin Coaching Inn and Hall for over 10 years.  Over a cup of tea in her cosy front room, Leontine shared her stories, inspirations, and secrets to the perfect Ulster Fry. 

St Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland - What to see in Downpatrick

Dufferin Coaching Inn is located just a stone's throw away from Downpatrick, a town famous for its Monastic heritage. Known as Saint Patrick’s town, the quiet area comes alive during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

We caught up with an expert on the area’s historic inheritance, Dr Thérèse Cullen from Irish Monastic Tours who told us the must-see attractions in County Down during St. Patrick’s Day. 

Pennywise Wedding Planning

Once engaged, it’s very easy to get swept away with the romance and ignore all logic, including sensible spending, in pursuit of your perfect wedding.  At Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall we believe that you don’t need to splurge to achieve sparkle on your big day.

Here are a few tips on how organise a frugal fairy-tale:

Winter walks

It’s the start of 2016, and a lot of people have resolved to be healthier this year.    We believe one of the greatest ways to get in shape, both physically and spiritually is through walking - and with a stunning landscape in Northern Ireland, we're well positioned for some of the best walks in the world.

A taste of local Christmas

Christmas dinner is one of the most special meals of the year, but we spend most of the season rushing in a tizzy from supermarket to supermarket accumulating mass quantities of humdrum groceries to knock together the annual Christmas dinner.

Why we love Northern Ireland at Christmastime!

Christmas is the perfect time of year to get nostalgic about home, and we think Northern Ireland is the perfect place to come back to and spend a holiday with friends and loved ones.  Here are some of our favourite ‘Norn Iron’ Christmas traditions– all special to our wee country and all within driving distance of the Dufferin Coaching Inn, Killyleagh!

Warm up with a tipple at the Christmas Continental Market

The Continental Market comes to Belfast’s City Hall a few times a year but the Christmas one is always the best. You can bag yourself a real Christmas tree, munch on a Bratwurst or sip some gluhwein to keep warm. There is almighty craic in the beer tents – all you have to do is decided which one to go to!

The Continental Christmas Market is open now until Sunday, December 20 and admission is free.

 Donate to Black Santa

It can be easy to forget the less fortunate at this time of year when there is so much eating, drinking and partying to be done but a stark reminder is Belfast’s Black Santa. Each year the Dean of St Anne’s Cathedral sits-out on the cathedral steps wearing a black cloak and accepting donations for charitable causes.

The tradition was begun in 1976 and will be continued by the current Dean, the Very Reverend John Mann, from Wednesday, December 16 until Christmas Eve. The sit-out has raised millions of pounds and donations can be made all year round. Pop along to see him for a chat and donate to a good cause.

Visit St Anne's Cathedral website for more info

Catch up with old mates at the local

Of course you can enjoy a night out at any time of year but the Christmas season is when all of your loved ones return from the far-flung places they now live for the holidays. In Northern Ireland heading to the pub with your old school friends or the cousins you only see once a year is a time-honoured tradition. Christmas Eve and Boxing Night are two of the favourite dates!

The Dufferin Arms is the perfect place for a seasonal get together, particularly if you bag yourself a seat beside the roaring fire. You might even get lucky and catch a session while you catch up with old friends.

Visit Dame May on stage for the panto

Going to the panto at Christmas isn’t a specifically Northern Irish thing to do, but we have our own contribution to the world of pantomime – the gap-toothed, straight-talking, hilarious May McFettridge!

A Northern Ireland institution for 26 years, it’s not Christmas until you’ve laughed along with May on-stage in the annual Christmas pantomime.  This year, catch her as May the Cook in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Grand Opera House, Belfast – complete with song, dance, boos, hisses, and some surprise special effects!  To top it off, May will co-star alongside X Factor star Chico for a bit of added star power.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs until 10th January. Tickets ca be purchased from the Grand Opera House

Clear out the cobwebs on Boxing Day

After a Christmas Day full of food and drink, there's no better way to rejuvenate with the family than by taking a lovely winter walk on one of our wee country's many famed walking trails.

Whether you're a skilled hill walker or fancy a leisurely stroll with the family, popular local trails on Boxing Day include the Mournes, Cave Hill, Shaw's Bridge or Crawfordsburn Country Park.  There's nothing better than clearing out the cobwebs and getting a dose of crisp winter air while spending quality time with your family - and walking off that Christmas dinner!

Tourism Northern Ireland has released a list of favourite winter walks just in time for Christmas. To explore the full list, visit their website.

Wedding planning gets curiouser and curiouser

This season the Curious Wedding Fair will return to the SS Nomadic – a venue almost as iconic as the Dufferin Hall itself – on Sunday, 21st February 2016. This is the perfect one-stop-shop for couples looking for something special for their big day. On the day the first 100 entrants will receive a complimentary goodie bag and entry on the day is free for everyone!

Raising a chocolately mug to one of Killyleagh's most famous sons!

The perfect way to top off a long walk through the stunning autumn countryside around Killyleagh is by curling up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. The Old Post Office Tea Rooms at Lisbane or Killyleagh’s own Picnic Delicatessen are two of the best places close by to sample a frothy cup of liquid deliciousness complete with whipped cream and marshmallows – but did you know just how closely connected Killyleagh is with hot chocolate? One of the nation’s favourite winter beverages was brought to the world by one of Killyleagh’s most famous sons!

The Best of Northern Ireland’s Autumn Attractions

Some are sad to say goodbye to summer, but in County Down the area really comes to life in autumn.  Over the years, the local area has harvested a pile of unmissable annual events that highlight fall’s quintessential charm.

Here are Dufferin Coaching Inn’s top five must-see and-do autumn activities for you to pencil into your diaries: