WHEN it comes to Christmas Day traditions and the “discussions” of where we go for that all important turkey dinner our local celebs are more often than not in the same predicament as the rest of us.
From trying to avoid in-laws to racing around frantically wrapping presents and buying last minute gifts – being a star doesn’t make it any easier in the season of goodwill…
As the big day approaches we caught up with some of them to find out what they will be doing for the festive season this year.
Belfast born telly favourite EAMONN HOLMES says in his house there is no getting away from the Christmas madness.
He explained: “I’m married to Mrs Christmas. There’s loving it and being addicted to it and she’s OD’d on it.
“Ruth’s the person who makes Christmas happen.”
While Hollywood superstar LIAM NEESON reckons it’s a time to be reflective.
“The older we get, we can get very, very cynical…It’s just nice for this time of year to be reminded that there’s this little bit of magic in the air.” he said.
One singer who has plenty to celebrate this year is country music star NATHAN CARTER. This year he will be appearing on our screens for his first ever Christmas special TV show in the run up to the new year.
On top of that this Christmas will see the Wagon Wheel singer get his longest break over the festive season since his rise up the country music charts.
Nathan said: “I will be heading back to Liverpool this year to see the family. Christmas dinner for us will be 22 people at mum and dad’s house. This year I will have six days off before heading back to work on the 28th, it’s the longest time off at Christmas I’ve had since I started gigging.
“This year I will also be celebrating my first ever TV show which will be shown on RTE at 9.30pm on the 30th. We filmed with a small live audience in Dublin’s Mansion House with guests such as Mary Black, The Shires, Paddy Casey and the last remaining Dubliner John Sheahan.
“But the best part of Christmas day for me is definitely getting a pint out with the lads. It’s a bit of a tradition to head out to the pub with my dad, brother, grandad and cousins. It’s mostly to get us out of the way though.”
Also heading away this year is Belfast glamour model JADE ENTWISTLE who will be joining her family in England.
She said: “This year I’m going to Manchester with my little brother to spend the day with our English aunt and cousins.
“My favourite part is seeing the children all excited that’s definitely so rewarding.”
BBC presenter RALPH MCLEAN revealed Christmas is “all about family” for him and this year is just that little bit more special.
He said: “Kerry gave birth to Eve our third child on December 7 so we’re going to have a really special Christmas this year. Having a little baby around the house again is magical.
“My two other kids Tara (9) and Dan (7) are so excited. It’s the best Christmas present ever.
“I love the afternoon when most of the present opening madness is over and everyone is just lounging around watching something like Toy Story. I used to laugh at my Dad taking a nap after dinner but now that’s me.”
Also celebrating some new children in the family is Belfast model, TV presenter and entrepreneur KATIE LARMOUR.
She said: “I will be spending Christmas Day with my family – my mum, dad, sister Jane, her husband Pat, their kids Cole and Heidi and of course my grandma.
“A lot has changed for us at Christmas with the addition of my little niece and nephew and now we get pleasure out of seeing them enjoy it.
“My favourite part of the day has to be getting the custard that my dad makes to go along with the Christmas pudding, it is the best and he never makes it any other day during the year, so it’s a real treat.”
County Down funnyman PATRICK KIELTY will be joining wife CAT DEELEY’S family this Christmas and the comedian says he will attempting to be on his best behaviour.
“I’m thinking of my polite table manners when I go to Birmingham for Christmas. I’m thinking of the gap between how I behave under their roof and how I behave on stage.”
The Fall and former Hollyoaks actress KAREN HASSAN and Les Miserable star FRA FEE will both be taking time out of filming to return home to Northern Ireland for Christmas this year.
Belfast girl Karen, who has been back and forward from London to film in Belfast recently, said: “I always spend christmas with my family back in Belfast. I wouldn’t miss it.
“We’ve lots of little ones in our family so for us it’s all about making it exciting for them. It’s chaotic, but in a good way.”
Dungannon born Fra will be taking a 10 day break from performing in As You Like It at the National Theatre in London.
He said: “I’m delighted to be going home to spend the day with my parents and three sisters – two of whom have five girls between them so there will be a full house. I’ve many favourite bits of Christmas Day. Waking up early to sing some lovely carols with my sisters in church is a gorgeous start to the day, then bacon butties with prosecco after before the lounging begins as dinner is prepared with me usually providing musical accompaniment with carols on the piano.”
Q Radio host RYAN A is looking forward to a Christmas feast this year.
He said: “I will be spending Christmas Day in the best way – with my family and friends. Having everyone together and being off the diet makes for a very special day.”
Westend star and Greenisland born actor STEPHEN HAGAN says 2015 is the year for he and his family to take it easy.
“I will be spending Christmas day this year with my wife and children. Last year we had 25 familly and friends for dinner so this year we’re going away” he said, adding: “I’m looking forward to just after everyone has eaten their own body weight in food and we all sit down to watch some great christmas telly.”
UTV presenter RITA FITZGERALD loves Christmas so much she does it twice every year.
“We are very lucky in that every year we have Christmas lunch with John’s family and enjoy a sumptuous meal with all the trimmings followed by songs at the piano” she said.
“We then spend Boxing Day with my family where lunch caters for 35 people including sibling’s partners and children.
“Christmas is noisy, a little chaotic and lots of fun.
“When I was a child we used to line up outside the living room door – youngest to oldest and run in together to find our little pile of presents. That would happen any time from 6am so getting all the siblings up and lined up was always a giggle.
“Now – granted on a much smaller scale – we have the same tradition – there is nothing quite like the look on a little one’s face when Santa has been.”
Entrepreneur and Belfast’s first glamour model LAURA LACOLE said no matter where she is working in the world she always returns home for the festive season.
She added: “I’m spending Christmas day with my mum, dad and sister in Belfast. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.
“My favourite part of the day is definitely the Christmas dinner – it’s the bit that makes me most excited. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.”
This year country star LISA MCHUGH is looking forward to having her parents round to her house for dinner.
She said: “In my family, my brothers, sister and I all spend Christmas together at my mum and dads one year and the following year my brothers and sister spend it with their in-laws.
“This year it’s the in-laws year and as I’m the only one in my family that’s not married it means I get to spend Christmas with my parents every year which is so lovely.
“I decided to invite my mum and dad over here this year so that they can relax and I’ll try and cook a Christmas dinner for them. I emphasis on the word ‘try’.
“I love spending time with family and friends at Christmas especially as I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like with working away so much, I also love it because it’s the only day in the year that you can constantly have food in your hand, you can’t beat a Christmas Day feast.”
And for those switching on the TV this Christmas day they can look forward to seeing UTV legend JULIAN SIMMONS.
It’s almost a Christmas tradition to find the star on our screens each year and while he will be his usual bubbly, chirpy self – he will be remembering his dear mum Pearl.
He said: “Naturally I will be reflective on Christmas Eve, as my mother died on that day in the afternoon seven years ago. However although reflective, I won’t be sad as I have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for presenting on UTV. In any case my mother would not have wanted me to be in any way sad.
“My favourite part of Christmas day will be going to my friend Gabrielle Holmes’ for Christmas lunch, as the craic is always great with Gabrielle and her family Declan, Rebecca, and Niall.
“After lunch it’s into the bow tie and dinner suit, and into UTV to present the Christmas Night line-up.”
Celebs Favourite Christmas Movies
When it comes to the all-important Christmas movie debate it seems there are some out and out winners for our Norn Iron celebs.
Ranking top of the list are Elf, Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life.
Fra Fee: “Home Alone, every time.”
Stephen Hagan: “A Royal Christmas, because it stars this actor called Stephen Hagan. Or Home Alone!”
Julian Simmons: “Thank goodness ET is not on this year, for I always bawl my eyes out at the end of it. Not a good look when I’m in vision introducing the next programme. When it comes to Christmas movies I love a good film that makes me laugh.”
Rita Fitzgerald: “It’s A Wonderful Life is a family favourite but I think at Christmas Love Actually is extra special.”
Ryan A: “Without a doubt, Home Alone.”
Karen Hassan: “It has to be Elf, without a doubt.”
Nathan Carter: “Definitely Elf.”
Lisa McHugh: “I think for me it would have to be Miracle On 34th Street.”
Jade Entwistle: “My all time favourite Christmas movie is the Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past – the Disney version.”
Laura Lacole: “For me Edward Scissorhands may not be the most cheerful of films but it’s iconic and synonymous with Christmas for me.”
Katie Larmour: “The Snowman for sure as it brings back memories from my childhood. It’s done so beautifully and makes you feel calm and serene. Then after that Elf, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before it still cracks me up.”
Ralph McLean: “Moviewise I love It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s life affirming and never fails to get me a bit weepy. James Stewart is amazing. The kids love Elf and when they’ve gone to bed I ‘ll watch something like the first Die Hard – a proper Christmas movie.”
Are our local celebs last minute shoppers or organised planners?
Julian Simmons: “I buy when I see it, on my travels around the world all year. I like to get a little something ‘different’ for friends.”
Lisa McHugh: “Most of the time I leave it last minute but this year we’ve been SO busy that I decided to organise as much as I could as early as I could as I’m working right up until Christmas Eve.”
Jade Entwistle: “I had all the presents in, in advance I don’t like not being prepared for big seasons.”
Ralph McLean: “I used to be a last minute shopper but since the kids arrived I’m much more sorted. Online is the way to go. Avoid those frantic crowd scenes at all costs.”
LAST MINUTE SHOPPERS
Fra Fee: “I’d love to think of myself as an advance shopper but I’d simply be ling to myself.”
Stephen Hagan: “I make lists throughout the year and think I’m really ahead of the curve. This lulls me into a false sense of security and then it will be a week to christmas and i will have forgotten to actually go out and buy anything.”
Nathan Carter: “I’ve nothing bought yet at all. On the 23rd and 24th I will probably do a lot of last minute running around.”
Laura Lacole: “I buy the presents usually around a week before Christmas but this year I started two weeks before. That’s about as advanced as it gets for me for Christmas shopping. I haven’t even put my tree up yet.”
A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH
Rita Fitzgerald: “I’m a bit of both, I always get a fair bit done and out of the way but there is always a last minute flurry of activity. But ultimately I just love walking around town and taking in all the ambiance and before I know it I’m sharing a hot toddy with a friend.”
Ryan A: “I like to try and buy in advance, never goes to plan, then within ten days before Christmas it’s all or nothing.”
Karen Hassan: “Well all my sisters are super organised and started shopping at the end of summer. It’s crazy, but luckily I’ve benefitted as I’ve been able to share the cost. Normally it takes me ages to choose something, I take forever to decide.”
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