The 152nd Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) Show, in partnership with the Ulster Bank, takes place from Wednesday 22 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 at Balmoral Park, outside Lisburn.

Coming after the event was cancelled in 2020, show organisers had hoped to return in May of this year, but took the decision to push back to the autumn in the hope of a further ease in Government COVID-19 restrictions, and to allow further rollout of the vaccine programme.

Next year’s event is scheduled for 11 to 14 May 2022.

However, while Balmoral Show is back, it will have a different feel this year.

With major agri-food processing companies under pressure with labour, and thoughts turning to supply in the runup to the busy Christmas period, a number of companies are either giving the event a miss, or having a very limited presence at the 2021 event.

Virtual presence

Writing to members in the latest edition of the Dale Farm newsletter, CEO Nick Whelan explained that co-op staff will not be in attendance, with the company instead having a virtual presence at the site showcasing various Dale Farm products.

“Protecting our staff is my number one priority and, secondly, we must keep factories operational which requires adequate staffing levels,” he writes.

While there will be less hospitality on offer from companies to customers and suppliers, there is still a good turnout of cattle, pigs, goats and horses expected to compete in the various prestigious competitions.

Sheep shearing and wool handling competitions will also take place over the four days.

Liam McCarthy from ABP, Bronagh Luke from Spar, Norma Gray from M&S and Michael Crealey from Tesco at the Balmoral Show launch. This year, the Balmoral Show has the support of its four main platinum sponsors, ABP, M&S, Spar and Tesco.

However, the September date does mean there will be no pedigree sheep classes, although there will be a display of breeds normally seen at the show.

COVID-19 also means there will be no international show jumping or schools team competition, but to compensate, there is an enhanced national show jumping schedule.

Outside of the various competitions, there is the usual wide array of outdoor trade stands, including many leading machinery and equipment manufacturers.

The Eikon shopping village will again offer a wide selection of goods and services, while the NI Food Pavilion provides an opportunity to sample and buy from top local food producers. There is also a children’s farm and a funfair.

It might not be quite the return to normal that we would all like to see, but we are not living in normal times, and the safety of everyone must come first.

Providing the weather is kind, it will still be a good day out.

Anyone who intends going to the 2021 Balmoral Show should take note of a number of COVID-19 safety measures that have been introduced.

Perhaps most notable is that the RUAS will be monitoring the number of visitors each day.

The 152nd Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank was launched at Balmoral Park by Cormac McKervey, senior agriculture manager, Ulster Bank (left) and Dr Alan Crowe, chief executive, RUAS.

Day-specific tickets must be bought online ( in advance, so it will not be possible to simply turn up at the gate and pay in.

All ticket and wristband holders (including children over 11) will need to demonstrate their COVID-19 status on entry by providing one of the following:

  • Proof of full vaccination, with the second dose received at least 14 days prior to arrival at the show.
  • Proof of a negative National Health Service (NHS) lateral flow test no more than 48 hours prior to arrival at the show.
  • Proof of natural COVID-19 antibodies based upon a positive NHS PCR test within 180 days of the event (you must have self-isolated for 10 days following the result).
  • For people from Northern Ireland (NI) you can demonstrate proof of full vaccination by showing your COVID-19 vaccination card.

    If you haven’t been vaccinated and are relying on a negative lateral flow test, the results must be reported online, so it is your NHS email or text notification of your result that you use to gain entry.

    Republic of Ireland

    Visitors who come from the Republic of Ireland can demonstrate their COVID-19 status using the EU digital COVID-19 certification.

    Social distancing

    To facilitate social distancing when at the event, aisles and roadways have been widened, while hand-sanitising stations will be available throughout the showgrounds.

    A one-way system will be encouraged where possible, and face coverings must be worn in all indoor areas, and should also be worn outside where it is not possible to maintain 2m social distancing.

    Adult tickets cost £20

    To gain entry to the 2021 Balmoral Show, visitors must purchase day-specific tickets online, and either print them out or download to a smartphone.

    Tickets cost £20 for adults, £16 for seniors (over 65), £13 for young people aged 12 to 18, and £3 for children aged between five and 11. Those under five can go free.

    While those prices are the same as “on-the-door” prices from the last time the show was held in 2019, back then the RUAS offered concessions for those who purchased a pre-show ticket online. In 2019, the cost of this online ticket for an adult was £17.

    Car parking

    There is ample car parking space available at Balmoral Park.

    If coming by car, use postcode BT27 5RL in your satnav and follow the signs when approaching the site.

    The cost of parking is £9 per car.

    Opening and closing times

    Unlike previous years when the event stayed open until 7pm or 8pm in the evening, earlier closure times are being implemented this year.

    On Wednesday to Saturday, the show will open at 9.30am and close at 6pm. On Saturday, the event runs from 9.30am to 5pm.

    Irish Farmers Journal at the show

    The Irish Farmers Journal stand is located at B28, which is beside the cattle lawn.

    Unfortunately, we are unable to offer any hospitality or sell merchandise at the event this year, and will have a limited staff presence over the four days of the show.

    However, as always, we appreciate feedback from readers who call by our stand.

    Read more

    RUAS planning for ‘near to normal’ Balmoral Show

    RUAS losses approach £1m