2021 Balmoral Show to require test or proof of vaccine for entry
It’s not just their tickets that showgoers will need to remember to bring to this year’s postponed Balmoral Show.
To be able to enter the grounds, visitors must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days ahead of the event or have tested negative through a lateral flow test taken no more than 48 hours beforehand.
Proof of natural Covid antibodies based on a positive PCR test within 180 days of the event will also be accepted.
As children are not yet able to get the vaccine except in special circumstances, those aged over 11 will have to test negative as a condition of entry.
Visitors from the Republic of Ireland can demonstrate their Covid-19 status using the EU Digital COVID certification.
This year’s tickets are day specific and must be purchased prior to the show. Full conditions of entry can be found on the Balmoral Show website.
How is NI’s vaccination roll-out going?
The latest Department of Health figures show that around 1.22 million people in Northern Ireland have now received their first vaccine dose, with a further 1.06 million having also had their second. Those figures compare with a population of more than 1.8 million.
However, there are fears progress is slowing, with just 29 people receiving their first vaccine on Monday (July 2) compared to 4,824 receiving their second dose the same day.
Official data shows 100% of the over 60s population has received at least one jab compared to just 61.8% of 18 to 29-year-olds.
What changes can be expected for the 2021 Balmoral Show?
Taking place from Wednesday to Saturday, September 22-25, there are now just seven weeks to go until things kick off at Balmoral Park.
It follows the success of the Great Yorkshire Show, which took place from July 13-16, welcoming a staggering 104,000 people across the four days.
The show ran with some adaptations; for example, ticket sales were capped at 26,000 for each day and an extra day was added to the schedule to help spread the crowd. However, while lateral flow testing was strongly encouraged, it was not a requirement for entry.
Aside from the vaccination changes, visitors to Balmoral Park this year will notice fewer indoor spaces and socially-distanced queuing systems. Cashless payments will also be encouraged and track and trace systems implemented throughout the grounds.
However, visitors can also look forward to the return of many family favourites; the Children’s Farm, Downtown Show Stage, Healthy Horticulture Area, many mobile family attractions and the Northern Ireland (NI) Food Pavilion will all return to the showgrounds.
The NI Food Pavilion has also been confirmed as a fixture for 2021.
The show will include some new additions for 2021, such as the RAF parachute team and a polo exhibition.
The 2021 National Show Jumping Schedule will also feature two new Championships – a Young Rider Championship and the National Grand Prix.
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) chief executive Alan Crowe said: “We are excited to welcome visitors back to Balmoral Park for the 2021 Balmoral Show and we have implemented a number of necessary changes to ensure a Covid-safe event and the safety and well-being of our visitors, exhibitors, stewards, officials and contractors remains the greatest importance.
“As always, the show promises a fun-filled day out, with so much to see and do – there really is something for everyone.”
‘An event of economic importance for NI farming’
Ulster Bank senior agriculture manager Cormac McKervey said he was looking forward to returning to Balmoral Park for the show.
“The cancellation of the 2020 Show reinforced for many just how big an event Balmoral is for the local farming sector, not only in terms of economic importance but also the social aspect of the show,” he said.
“I know our teams across Ulster Bank are looking forward to returning to Balmoral Park in September for what promises to be an excellent event for farmers and those connected with the sector, and of course for families and day-trippers in search of a great day out.
“We recognise that these are challenging times for many farmers and producers and we want to use our sponsorship of the Balmoral Show to reassure our agri-customers that we are here to guide them through this period.
We are looking forward to catching up with colleagues and friends across the four days of the show, and while some elements may look and feel different, we welcome the opportunity to meet, share experiences and offer support for the year ahead.”