Arts & crafts and country pursuits such as boating, fishing, golf and walking are among the area’s main activities. Newferry and the new Portglenone marina is the starting point for boat trips to Lough Neagh and the River Bann where historic sites can be viewed from the water. Slemish Mountain dominates the skyline nine miles north-east of Ballymena. Legend has it that, while a young slave, St. Patrick tended sheep on its slopes. St. Patrick’s Day pilgrims climb its 437m summit and enjoy panoramic views of the area. Nearby Broughshane is famed as the Garden Village of Ulster, having won many national and international floral accolades. Broughshane House (t.028 2586 2777) opens Thu-Sat 2-4pm or by appointment and has a village museum and scenic walking trails. The equally quaint village of Gracehill was founded by the Moravians in the 18th century and remains the only settlement of its kind in Ireland. Arthur Cottage in Cullybackey is the ancestral home of 21st US President Chester Alan Arthur. Check with The Braid VIC for opening times or to arrange a group visit.

Ballymena Visitor Information Centre, The Braid,
Ballymena Town Hall, Museum & Arts Centre, 1-29 Bridge St, Ballymena BT43 5EJ,
t. 028 25635900,