All aboard the Theatre Express for a ‘rail’ treat

The magnificent Europa Hotel has retained all of its charm.
The magnificent Europa Hotel has retained all of its charm.
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There has been such a cultural feast on offer in Derry this year you could be forgiven for not straying out of the city.

We’ve been spoiled for choice by what’s on offer across all genres during UK City of Culture 2013, but sure as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest.

TAKE A LEAF OUT OF NITB'S BOOK THIS AUTUMN: The Grand Opera House in Belfast is just one of a number of attractions featuring in the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's (NITB) new �1 million autumn/winter marketing campaign to encourage residents of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to get out and about and explore what's on offer. ' The campaign will run across television, radio, press, online and outdoor media until mid December and aims to boost tourist numbers and visitor spend over the coming months by positioning Northern Ireland as a convenient, must-see, great value destination for short breaks and day trips. NITB's website discovernorthernireland.com contains information and details on a wide range of attractions and events with lots of special short-break offers at hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation around Northern Ireland with prices starting at �79.

TAKE A LEAF OUT OF NITB'S BOOK THIS AUTUMN: The Grand Opera House in Belfast is just one of a number of attractions featuring in the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's (NITB) new �1 million autumn/winter marketing campaign to encourage residents of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to get out and about and explore what's on offer. ' The campaign will run across television, radio, press, online and outdoor media until mid December and aims to boost tourist numbers and visitor spend over the coming months by positioning Northern Ireland as a convenient, must-see, great value destination for short breaks and day trips. NITB's website discovernorthernireland.com contains information and details on a wide range of attractions and events with lots of special short-break offers at hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation around Northern Ireland with prices starting at �79.

And when there’s an attractive transport, hotel and theatre package on offer door-to-door in Belfast,it would be a shame not to avail of it.

And, you don’t even have to take the car! It’s a case of waving goodbye to traffic and parking woes and having a ‘rail’ good time.

The Europa Hotel has joined forces with Translink NI Railways and the Grand Opera House to put together a show-stopping package - the Belfast Theatre Express - from only £80pps. per night.

Take the train to Belfast and stay in the world famous Europa Hotel right next door to the Grand Opera House and Great Victoria Street station for total convenience.

Whether you’re travelling from Dublin on-board the Enterprise rail service or from within Northern Ireland on Translink NI Railways services, you can relax in comfort, enjoy the scenery or make use of the free WiFi service.

We tried out this fantastic package recently, travelling on one of the new trains from Derry to Belfast, taking in what’s become known as one of the world’s great train journeys.

Admittedly there are quite a few stops along the way, but it was a case of sit back, chill out and enjoy the ride!

When you arrive at Great Victoria Street station it is quite literally a hop, skip and a jump next door to the Europa Hotel which is as fine as ever.

We checked into a superior room with breakfast for our overnight stay and theatre ticket to Evita, with West End star and multi-platinum selling artist Marti Pellow leading an all-star cast at the neighbouring Grand Opera House.

It was an absolutely stunning production which played to packed houses and standing ovations for the cast led by Marti Pellow (Che) and Madalena Alberto (Eva).

Unfortunately the show has ended its run here but the Theatre Express package now includes West End musical Cats (Tuesday, November 5-Saturday, November 16) and Christmas pantomime, Sleeping Beauty (Saturday November 30 - Sunday January 19, 2014) at the Grand Opera House.

May McFettridge, will lead the cast of this year’s panto in the role of Queen May, joined by TV star Lorraine Chase as Carabosse, the Wicked Fairy, making her Grand Opera House debut.

With the transport link, hotel and theatre all located so close by, the Theatre Express is a fantastic overnight package.

The Europa Hotel - owned by the Hastings Hotel Group - gives the VIP treatment to all its guests, whether you’re a president, celebrity or a visitor from the North West!

The elegant décor, contemporary bistro, bustling bar and relaxing piano bar lounge make it a superb city centre location with shops, restaurants, theatres and more – right at the front door.

When you’re going for the Europa’s famous breakfast, make sure to try out the fresh porridge with berries - and a generous drizzle of Bushmills whiskey on top.

It will set you up for the day before it’s time to set sail for Derry again. Now what time’s the last train?!

To book or for further information call 028 9024 2420 or go to www.translink.co.uk/theatreexpress