Two events in recent days have cemented the return to normal life in Northern Ireland amid a diminished coronavirus.
The rock star Ed Sheeran has been playing to crowds of tens of thousands of people in Boucher playing fields in Belfast. Sheeran is one of the best-selling musicians in pop history, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
Meanwhile, up to 100,000 people have been enjoying the Balmoral Show at the old Maze site, Co Down.
Both events have reflected a human yearning for normality and social gathering after long spells of lockdown.
The years can seem to roll by quickly, yet it seems quite a while since there was a traditional May Balmoral Show – in fact it is only three years since the May 2019 one.
It has been an eventful and often traumatic three years of anxiety caused by the pandemic. Balmoral was canceled altogether in 2020, then last year it was held in the autumn. While that show was a relative success, it had an unusual feel, just before winter rather than summer.
This week’s Balmoral has not only had the sense of late spring optimism and buzz that tends to accompany outdoor events at this point in the calendar, it has had the added frisson that comes with the let-up in restrictions.
Today is the last day of one of the biggest agrifood events on these islands. People of all ages have flocked to Balmoral Park to save it, as we show on this Weekend paper.
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