The first morning of Balmoral Show 2024 will see Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) president, John Henning, welcome Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister – Andrew Muir MLA – to the event.

The Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), also had a preview of the showgrounds last evening.

Speaking after his visit, the minister said: “I have visited the Balmoral Show previously as a member of the public, but this is my first time as Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister.

“It is a privilege to help highlight the very best that Northern Ireland has to offer in agri-food, protecting the environment and supporting our rural communities and way of life.

“It’s a chance to showcase our world-class food and produce to the 110,000 visitors who will no doubt have a wonderful time sampling the delicious treats on offer.

“There are over 550 stands and 100 food stalls as well as my department’s exciting and educational stand which is part of the Government Department’s Exhibition and well worth a visit.”

RUAS group perations director, Rhonda Geary commented: “We were delighted to be able to welcome our new Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister for a preview of the 155th Balmoral Show.

“The four-day event is renowned for showcasing the finest local food and award-winning livestock from across Northern Ireland.

With our new Sustainability Village, children’s area and exciting entertainment in the Main Arena, there truly is something for everyone at this year’s show.”

Later this morning, John Henning will unveil the 50,000th Lely robotic milking plant to be manufactured up to this point. The machine has been purchased by a dairy farmer in Northern Ireland.

Later in the week Henning will welcome Northern Ireland’s first and deputy first minister to Balmoral.

“We are in the education business,” he told Agriland.

“The show has been developed to educate farmers and consumers in equal measure. But the focus at all times will be on the need to entertain the many thousands of people coming to this year’s event.”

Anniversary for Balmoral Show

This year marks the 155th Balmoral Show and the 170th anniversary of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

“Every aspect of Northern Ireland’s farming and food sectors will be represented over the next four days at this year’s event,” Henning continued.

“Agriculture in Northern Ireland has a great story to tell; the RUAS plays a key role in making this happen.”

The need to boost society membership will be a key theme addressed by John Henning over the next four days.

“Like all organisations, we need new blood to come in and help develop our future,” he explained.

“The RUAS is no different in this regard. And with this in mind, we will be specifically targeting young farmers and people of all ages with a keen interest in farming and food affairs to join our ranks.”

John Henning assumed the presidency of the RUAS three months ago. The Co. Armagh native will retain the position for the next two years.

He is a leading breeder of pedigree Aberdeen-Angus cattle.


Meanwhile, speculation grows concerning the intention of the RUAS is to expand the footprint of its Balmoral Park facility on the outskirts of Lisburn in Co. Antrim.

The showgrounds currently comprise 55ac.

Recent years have seen the RUAS develop a number of bespoke exhibition venues at Balmoral Park. There are also plans to construct a link road from the nearby M1 motorway directly to the showgrounds.

The current road infrastructure in the vicinity of Balmoral has long been recognised as not being fit for purpose.

The RUAS views any plans put in place to expand Balmoral Park as part of the ongoing development associated with the Maze Long Kesh site, within which the society’s facilities are located.