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Unique experiences in NI to bring you out of hibernation

With the brighter nights rolling in, there’s no better time to take to the great outdoors to boost your mood as we welcome in the sunny (hopefully) spring season.

'A Giant's Eye View', North Coast Helicopter Tours with Cutting Edge Helicopters
'A Giant's Eye View', North Coast Helicopter Tours with Cutting Edge Helicopters

Breathe in the fresh air by taking yourself back to nature as you unwind and embrace the longer days.

Whether you need a break from the bustling city, a retreat from the office or a rush of adrenaline, NI’s mix of coastal areas, calm countryside lakes and beautiful forest trails have allowed for some of the most wholesome and relaxing outdoor activities.

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Discover NI has compiled a list of top outdoor experiences to visit; from the peaceful, to the thrilling, the unique and exciting and more:

'Hidden Huntley', a unique walking and gourmet food tour, Belfast

Feel the thrill in County Londonderry: Enjoy a thrill like no other as you fly into the sparkling spring sky in NI with Cutting Edge Helicopters. If you have ever dreamt of flying a helicopter yourself, now is your chance. You can take to the skies with one of Cutting Edge’s flight instructors and experience how it feels to pilot the ultimate flying machine. If you don’t fancy taking control, sit back and enjoy the amazing views of the Causeway Coastal Route, Inishowen and the city of Londonderry in one of the many sightseeing tours Cutting Edge Helicopters has to offer.

Connect with nature in Armagh: Come back down to earth and allow yourself to be guided through peaceful meditation in one of Xhale’s immersive experiences, embracing the beautiful landscapes around Slieve Gullion. Ann Ward, founder of Xhale is an Accredited Meditation Teacher and a Certified Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) Guide and Forest Therapy Practitioner. Personal empowerment is at the heart of her work where she offers transformative experiences and programmes. Submerge yourself into one of Ann’s meditation guides, mindfulness programmes or say goodbye to stress and awaken the senses by forest-bathing in NI.

Step into the wild in County Down: Get stuck into one of Finnebrogue Woods’ adventurous experiences in the beautiful woods on the outskirts of Downpatrick. Led by bushman expert Rob Hill, you can learn a wealth of outdoor skills through packages like Badger Watch, A Wild Night in the Woods, Build a den, Wood Carving and many more woodland experiences. Finnebrogue Woods also serves tasty dishes from the Fodder Farm shop and Café where you can enjoy locally sourced food before a relaxing stroll in one of the short trails around the woods.

Keep your eyes on the stars in County Tyrone: Boasting the darkest sky in the heart of NI, you can spend the evening and night at the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains, by the edge of Davagh Forest and the Beaghmore Stone Circles at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory. The truly unique Stars and Stones Experience invites you to step back in time and learn about these ancient stones. You’ll be joined by a local storyteller and guide as they deftly weave together archaeology and astronomy. This is followed by an interactive Solar Walk to the site’s hi-tech telescope, bringing you within reach of the stars themselves. If you fancy a peaceful night under the stars, Sperrin Glamping Village lies beside the Beaghmore Stone Circles allows you to lay your head in a cosy bed and sleep under the stars.

Ann Ward, Xhale at Slieve Gullion

Unwind and relax in County Fermanagh: The Element Forest Spa in Finn Lough is a journey for the senses. Enjoy a two-hour element spa trail with bespoke spaces dotted around the waters edge in Fermanagh. Each space offers a personal and private experience designed to rejuvenate weary bodies and minds. The trail begins with the salt room, where guests descend into a heated pool containing almost a ton of Epsom salts allowing you to float on the surface as the lights go out and the music fades for ultimate relaxation. The aromatherapy room uses plants from the forest and helps improve the respiratory system and is perfect for colds, then relax in the lakeside hot tub with as you admire the stunning views. End your journey in the relaxation room with a herbal tea by the wood fire enjoying the panoramic floor to ceiling window that overlooks the forest floor.

Make your mark in County Antrim: Enabling a sense of freedom, joy and achievement are key to the intuitive artistic experience at Frankie Ceith Art. Take a trip to Portrush and develop your artistic skills through artist Frankie’s guided workshop. You will be encouraged to engage with the stunning landscape overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Giant’s Causeway and Portrush’s Lifeboat House all while Frankie provides a brief history of the local landmarks. Truly step into nature in Northern Ireland and capture all around you through this perfect painting experience.

Walk it off in NI: Switch off your phone and give your mind a holiday with one of NI’s exclusive walking experiences. Put a spring into your step and enjoy an exclusive guided exploration on the Spring Wonderwalk where you can experience the stunning meadows and woodlands of Minnowburn in Belfast. Walk it Off NI hosts frequent tranquil walks such as Threads and Breads where you can walk up an appetite and hear about the connections to the earth and learn about the linen industry before enjoying a traditional picnic. You also have the choice to escape into the beautiful landscapes as part of the Hidden Huntley Experience, this small group walking and artisan food experience guides you on a trip through time, weaving story of food, forest and family.

Paddle away from stress in County Down: You can learn the basics of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), then coast across to a remote island for a chance to reconnect with yourself and the world around us at SUP and Island Yoga at Strangford Lough. SUP is a form of slow adventure; therefore, it is the perfect way to switch of from the everyday stresses of life. It also helps with balance, agility and overall fitness, when paired with yoga it becomes an experiential health and fitness package perfect for holiday makers and locals alike. All you need to bring is your yoga gear, swimwear for under the wetsuit, a towel, and something warm just in case. Your guide will provide the rest!

Dark Sky Park and Observatory

For more information, and to help you build your perfect outdoor inspired itinerary, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.

Finnebrogue Woods Bushcraft