It's most unlikely that you have ever travelled around Newry on a horse and carriage, but with “The Great Workhouse Escape” that's exactly what you will be able to do as part of the City of Merchants Festival which runs from Friday 2 - Sunday 4 November.

On Saturday 3 November, “The Great Workhouse Escape” will offer an interactive and fully immersive experience, which promises to be historical yet hysterical.

Be part of Marie and Daniel’s great escape from the Newry Workhouse as they attempt to flee the city, but by horse and carriage. You can hitch a 30-minute ride around the Merchant City, taking in the tales of the past, as you enjoy the sights from a whole new perspective.

This is a free ticketed event. Tickets can be booked online at

The pony and trap tours will run throughout the day, offering rides to the public, leaving from Newry Town Hall. Tours depart every fifteen minutes from 11am to 3.45pm on Saturday 3rd November. Your journey will encompass historical sights, including Sugar Island, Needham Bridge and Merchant’s Quay.

Deputy Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Oksana McMahon and Liz Kelly from L&M Carriage Driving getting ready for the Great Workhouse Escape at the City of Merchants.
Deputy Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Oksana McMahon and Liz Kelly from L&M Carriage Driving getting ready for the Great Workhouse Escape at the City of Merchants.

Liz and Mervyn, from L&M Carriage Driving will be providing their horses and carriages for the event. “We love our horses and it is an absolute pleasure to share them with the people of Newry and beyond for this special occasion.  In the 18th century, horse transport was the only transport. Families would come to town to do their shopping. When sugar, coal or other goods came in off the boats, Clydesdale horses would have been used to do heavy lifting.  This event gives the public a unique opportunity to experience a side of history they aren’t familiar with.”

Deputy Chairperson Oksana McMahon said, “This particular part of the City of Merchants Festival is fantastic. I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the tour and it is so imaginative, not to mention unforgettable. The beautiful horses and carriages will make this event memorable for all ages. The fun theatrical elements and the important historical messaging are the perfect combination to share the city’s heritage.”

The City of Merchants Festival will see a host of activities take place to celebrate the area’s maritime and trading heritage. Activities on Friday alongside the Walking Tour & Banquet at Bagenal’s Castle include a Twilight Market from 5pm to 10pm in Newry Variety Market Hill Street; free children’s art and craft workshops at the market; a sensational parade to the Fathom Line at 7.15pm; ending with a magnificent firework display from 8pm.

On Saturday you can enjoy the Tall Ships from 12noon to 4pm; a theatrical Merchant Quest through the streets of Newry created by theatre company Big Telly; a theatrical guided tour of Bagenal’s Castle; plus, a comical look at trade through the years taking place in both The Buttercrane and The Quays Shopping Centres.  This year will also see the inaugural Scenic Carlingford Ferry Loop Sportive in which hundreds of keen cyclists will take on a 62km route around the shores of Carlingford Lough. More details on this event can be found at

On Sunday in partnership with Kx and Newry Business Improvement District (BID), Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will be bringing one of its famous Formula 1 cars to Marcus Square in Newry. Set to take up its podium position outside the newly opened First Derivatives building, the car will be on display between 2pm and 4pm.

For more information on the overall City of Merchants Festival programme, which is supported by Tourism NI,  and for details on how to book tickets for other events please visit:

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