For the big smoke Belfastians - and pretty much anyone who lives beyond Moira and Ballynahinch - there remains the perception that Lisburn is but a small town.
It’s very popular of course, young professionals are moving there to live in their droves. And it’s been a shopping mecca for decades.
But what hidden treasures lie beyond the boundaries of the big shopping centres? Plenty, as our treasure hunt found. We suggest you add them to your must-do list for your next visit:
Although Lisburn has a long tradition of housing some of the best known high street brands along its shop fronts, it is in the quirky and locally-owned boutiques springing up around the city that you can find something truly unique.
Rose & Poetry is just one example. Lisburn owners Leanne McCandless and Nadine McCallum took their love of fashion from an Instagram account in 2015 (@you.pretty.little.thing) and turned it into a fashion business with an impressive online following that includes 12,000+ Facebook fans. With customers as far flung as Australia, you’d be mad to miss this local outlet.
Of course we can’t forget Lisburn Square’s very own bespoke interiors retailer, Emma Johnston Interiors. With a passion for art and design, founder of the business, Emma Johnston honed her trade in London with renowned designers Jane Churchill and Percy Bass Ltd.
If you’re in need of some interiors inspiration - you’ve come to the right place. The showroom is a treasure trove of beautiful home furnishings, including bedding, lighting, tableware, furniture and decorative gifts.
From traditional homes, modern homes, civic buildings, to apartment blocks and golf clubs, Emma has designed a variety of interior spaces. And with customers such as Sheikhs, aristocracy and Hollywood ‘royalty’ on her books, Emma’s extensive experience with high-profile clients, has enabled her to develop a well-rounded offering for her customers.
So, whether you need advice on colour schemes, or you’re looking to fill your house with beautiful soft-furnishings, this dynamic interior designer will help you discover your own unique style.
While we’re on the subject of unique retailers, you’d be hard pressed to find a generic brand store with as much design and pizzazz as The Hat Shop in Lisburn, who have been bringing designer fascinators, hatinators and bridal wear to the masses for over 30 years.
This is the go-to destination when you need a more unusual formal accessory. They provide a fitting service (because few of us know the circumference measurement of our heads!) They can also speciality dye hats to perfectly match outfit materials. And they have a hire service too, incase you don’t think you’ll have cause for more than one day at the races.
Day at the Races
On the subject of races, it’s an oft-overlooked fact that Lisburn is home to the famous Down Royal Racecourse who have been hosting the “Sport of Kings” in Ulster since the 17th Century.
From the festival of racing to Ladies Day and every kind of fundraiser and corporate box event in between, Down Royal is a staple of Northern Ireland sporting culture. If you’re new to the sport, they provide a “Punters Pack” to help you get started with everything you need to know to enjoy a good day/night out.
For those of a “get involved in the action” sporting nature, Advanced Non Surgical Solutions is the place to head to for all your recovery needs.
Apparently, Cryospa is not just for injuries and sports people either, it's also really effective pain relief for people with brittle bone disease, Osteoporosis or arthritis. In addition, Cryotherapy has beauty and anti-ageing benefits, and can aid weight loss.
If an ice bath is good enough for the multi-medal winning athletes who attend regularly then it’s good enough for us.
Bubbles and Bouncing
However if you’re more of a hot bath than ice bath kind of person, then renting a hot tub could be your ticket to a good time.
Fun Lisburn-based company Lisburn Hot Tub and Bounce specialise in cool inflatables and hot tubs for hire at parties and events. You could boogie on down in a 20 foot inflatable Disco Dome, slide down a 23 foot high shelter skelter or hire a hot tub and live like a celebrity in your very own back garden.
Beats and Skills
If relaxing isn’t your thing and you prefer to spend your time doing something new then you could learn a new skill, like playing the drums, at Lisburn’s very own Beats Drums Studio.
Founder Andrew Lavery brings 27 years professional experience as a freelance musician (playing the drums since he was 11) to offer 1-1 lessons that will take you from air playing in your lounge to playing for real in a purpose-built, fully-equipped drum studio.
Back To Nature
If, after all that partying, you need to retreat for some detox and reconnect with nature, then the stunning Larchfield Estate is right on the Lisburn doorstep.
A member of the Historic Houses Association, the private estate is owned by Gavin and Sarah Mackie and is a popular wedding venue. Complete with landscaped grounds and orangery (where they grow oranges, obviously), a relaxing stay in the 5-star cottages or Glamping Truck (a 1952 Swiss Army truck!) could be just what the doctor ordered.
Back In Time
If it’s some more historical action you’re after, then the story of Irish Linen is a key part of the country’s journey and a natural product that is still popular worldwide.
Lisburn Museum is now the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, where you can explore the national heritage, trace the history of linen in Ulster and see live spinning and waving demonstrations. Then visit the linen-stocked museum shop and head home with your very own piece of living history.
For something that little bit more special - i.e. sparkling - you need to visit Lisburn-based Shannon’s Jewellers. Three generations of the family have been bringing design and diamond expertise to the city since 1925 and William Shannon’s humble beginnings as a watchmaker.
Now the place to find designer time pieces from Gucci to Tag Heuer, the Market Square North store is worth a visit for it’s grand art deco interior alone, complete with sweeping staircase and huge chandelier!
Of course ecommerce has revolutionised how we shop and enabled many independent designers to sell their creations to the masses before they are in a position to open a real-life store.
One such talented designer is based not far from Lisburn - Ali Marriott - a contemporary greetings card designer and stationary connoisseur. A popular choice for weddings and greeting cards, you could also support local by purchasing unique gifts from Ali such as journals or colouring books.