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5 February 2020

A guide to living in Ballymena


From shopping until you drop at Fairhill Shopping Centre to relaxing at the Galgorm Resort & Spa, there are plenty of things to see and do in Ballymena. have created a guide to living in this Co. Antrim area which highlights the local attractions, eateries and more!

Living in Ballymena

Known as the ‘city of the seven towers’, Ballymena resides at the heart of County Antrim. Providing a gateway to explore the beauty of the Glens, residents are afforded the ideal balance of town and country life, which is rarely seen today.

Highly regarded as a prime shopping location, the appeal of the perfect mixture of world-renowned high street names and independent retailers, ensures the shopper will never be disappointed. Simply browse the main street, or head for the iconic Fairhill Shopping Centre and easily while the day away.

And while much of the town is centred around shopping, it’s easy to seek solace in any of the surrounding villages of the borough. In particular, Portglenone and Cullybackey draw visitors, where life moves at a slower pace. Given its key location in the North, Ballymena is the perfect point for a host of events. St Patrick’s Day at Slemish Mountain sees over 3,000 visitors at the peak, following their ascent, while several big name golf championships attract enthusiasts from far and wide.

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Who is Ballymena ideal for?

With the advantage of a close-knit community, Ballymena is perfect for families who crave the bustle of a busy town, with close proximity to rural areas.

A wide variety of housing developments are welcome with residents, while a rise in apartment-style living suits young professionals who work in the surrounding areas.

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Where to eat in Ballymena?

  • Gillies Bar & Grill: Set within the picturesque grounds of the award-winning Galgorm Resort & Spa, the ever-popular Gillies caters for a wide range of tastes with brasserie dishes, a grill selection and Asian-inspired creations accompanied by a satisfying wine list.
  • The Grouse: Located in the centre of Ballymena, the ethos at The Grouse is very much on providing first class customer service and food in relaxed surroundings, which is welcomed by visitors of all ages.
  • The Countryman: Combining the relaxed ambience of a traditional pub with classic customer-favourite dishes, The Countryman has established the perfect winning recipe.
  • Fratellis: Fratellis is effortlessly meeting the needs of diners who crave the comfort of hearty Italian dishes. Expect to discover authentic Italian Cicchetti, wood-fired oven baked pizza and mouth-watering pasta dishes.
  • The Khayber: For the ultimate authentic Indian cooking experience, the popular Khayber effortlessly ticks all the right boxes. With a string of accolades to its name – not to mention other restaurants in its portfolio – The Khayber presents the perfect fusion of flavours for a meal like no other.
  • The Creamery Can: The perfect place for a catch-up with friends, enjoy mouth-watering traybakes, comforting cake and sensational scones over a perfect cuppa at the always-inviting Creamery Can.
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What to do in Ballymena

  • Cushendun Village: Located just outside the town of Ballymena, Cushendun is one of the jewels of the Glens of Antrim. A conservation village, it has been protected by The National Trust since 1954, meaning its picturesque coastal setting remains unspoilt.
  • Galgorm Resort & Spa: The award-winning five-star hotel and spa sees visitors from all over Ireland retreat to it. With a famous spa, multiple restaurants and idyllic backdrop, it remains high on the list of hot-spots in the country.
  • The People’s Park: The 45-acre urban park is loved by locals and visitors alike. With prestigious green flag award status, the area is home to an abundance of beautiful floral displays, bowling greens and play park facilities.
  • The Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail: Keep the magic alive by taking a trip to one of the newest and most popular attractions in the area. The enchanting outdoor fairy trail effortlessly ignites the imagination of those who walk it.
  • Fairhill Shopping Centre: The expansive shopping centre is renowned for its array of clothing and technology stores, while the food hall offers an extensive selection of eateries, with something for every palette.
  • The Braid: Ballymena’s town hall, museum and arts centre weaves together history, arts and culture alongside contemporary conference, tourism and civic facilities on a site that has long been the centre of local civic life.
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Schools in Ballymena

  • St Louis Grammar School: St Louis Grammar School provides a friendly, caring and competitive learning environment to approximately 1,030 pupils from 11-19 years of age. The school has a wide ranging collection of extracurricular activities, including orchestra, debating, sports and arts.
  • Cambridge House Grammar School: Founded in 1910, Cambridge House Grammar School is a controlled co-educational Grammar School that is made up of pupils between 11-19 years of age. The amalgamated school is rich in tradition and history and offers an extensive curriculum and an array of extracurricular activities.
  • Ballymena Academy: Building upon traditions created over almost two centuries, Ballymena Academy is committed to the pursuit of excellence in an environment which is caring and inspiring. They offer a wide ranging curriculum and their extracurricular activities include an array of music groups, sporting societies and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
  • Dunclug College: Dunclug College is a non-selective school and caters for all abilities through a mix of general, applied and practical vocational courses. The school endeavours to “provide a high quality child-centred education in a caring environment, built upon good personal relationships and honest partnership.”
  • Slemish College: Slemish College opened in response to a demand for an integrated college in the Ballymena area. Opened in 1996, this school continues to welcome pupils of all traditions, cultures and beliefs and allows pupils to fulfil their potential in a happy and safe environment.
  • St Patrick’s College: St Patrick’s College nurturing environment and hard work of the staff is emphasised through the academic success that this school has achieved. Both academic and vocational courses are catered for and pupils can broaden their skills and interests through the range of extracurricular activities on offer.
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