At the beginning of September, regions across Northern Ireland are starting to welcome new students arriving for their first term of study at Queens University Belfast and Ulster University.
With campuses located in Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee, new students will be starting to settle in and get to know their surroundings before the academic term begins.
This is where freshers week comes in!
What is freshers week?
Freshers week usually takes place before term begins and allows new students a chance to socialise and attend events with their peers.
This is a time for them to meet new friends, learn about their new home town and explore what societies and opportunities their university offers.
Usually attended by new students, freshers week this year is being embraced by many, including those who missed out on the face to face festivities last year due to the pandemic. With much of last year's teaching being remote, it's the ideal opportunity to meet up with fellow classmates, and make up for lost time.
Freshers week isn't just one big party, it's a vital settling in period, helping young students find their feet in what is the first time for many of them, living outside of their family home.
Are there any Covid restrictions for freshers week?
Yes. In Northern Ireland, there are still Covid restrictions.
Each region in the UK has it's own devolved government, who set regional restrictions. In Northern Ireland, this means that unlike the rest of the UK, nightclubs remain closed and dancing in bars is still not permitted.
There has not yet been a clear opening date for nightclubs and the return of dancing in venues in Northern Ireland, which means that freshers week is still not back to functioning as it did before the pandemic.
Social distancing indoors is still required, with current guidelines for shops and restaurants at 1m (3ft). Live music is now allowed indoors in bars, restaurants and social clubs, with many of Belfast's well known spots now offering live music events.
However you will have to remain seated and face coverings must be worn if you leave your table to pay your bill, use toilet facilities, or play a game of pool.
Not being able to attend nightclubs or go out dancing, doesn't mean that there aren't still plenty of activities to enjoy this Freshers week, both in person and virtually.
You can find more about Covid Restrictions in Northern Ireland here.
Queens University start date and freshers events
When is Freshers Week: Monday, September 20th - Wednesday, October 6
Events start this Monday and include a vast range of both in person and digital activities including acoustic sessions at the Student's Union, online fitness classes, city walking tours, virtual escape games, movie nights, quizzes and zine making workshops.
Queens University is hosting both an in person and digital Freshers Fair with the in person one spanning two days.
Virtual Freshers Fair: Monday, September 27, 10:00 - 16:00
In Person Freshers’ Fair – Day One: Tuesday, September 28, Whitla Hall & Lanyon Lawn, 10:00 - 17:00
In Person Freshers’ Fair – Day Two: Wednesday, September 29, Whitla Hall & Lanyon Lawn, 10:00 - 17:00
You can find a timetable of events for Queens University Freshers Week here.
Ulster University start date and freshers events
When is Freshers Week: Monday, September 13 - Friday, September 24
Events started at each campus on Monday and include a range of digital and in person activities including daily campus tours, online speed friending, yoga classes, games night, live music and sunrise beach walks.
For anyone unable to do events in person, Ulster University have plenty of digital options including Zoom quizzes, Netflix movie nights and online crafts.
One of the most anticipated events is the puppy petting room on Thursday September 23, hosted by Cavaliers in Need, students can get up close and personal with some four legged friends.
The Freshers Fair is taking place at each campus, with separate fairs for both businesses and clubs and societies.
Business Freshers Fayre: Monday, September 20, Main Foyer, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Clubs and Societies Fayre: Tuesday, September 21, Main Foyer, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Volunteering and Universities Department Fayre: Wednesday, September 22nd, Main Foyer, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Clubs and Societies Fayre: Monday, September 20, Diamond Hall, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Business, Volunteering & Uni Department Freshers Fayre: Wednesday, September 22, Diamond Hall, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Business, Volunteering & Uni Department Freshers Fayre: Tuesday, September 21, Assembly Hall, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Clubs & Societies Freshers Fayre: Wednesday, September 22, Assembly Hall, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Business, Volunteering & Uni Department Freshers Fayre: Monday, September 20, Sports Hall, 9:30am - 3:30pm
Clubs & Societies Freshers Fayre: Tuesday, September 21, Sports Hall & Teaching Block Foyer, 9:30am - 3:30pm
You can find the timetable for events across Ulster University Freshers Week here.