You can hardly live in Belfast and not have heard of the Belfast Children’s Festival...even if you don’t have children! I lived in Belfast for three years before Phil and I moved out of the city and started our family. However, I was always aware of when the festival was taking place as the centre of the city was abuzz with activity. This year marks the 20th celebration and it’s being marked with a big birthday bash! This year it will take place in from March 9 – 14, and there will be more than 110 events across 14 locations in the city.
This year the children and I were invited to attend the launch of the 2018 Belfast Children’s Festival with Young At Art recently at Belfast City Hall. It was a very foggy day and we couldn’t even see the fields as we zipped past the countryside on the train into the city. We arrived at City Hall to be greeted by a clown – I will refrain from any political jokes here as this was a ‘real’ clown. We were ushered upstairs where we were met with another clown and cheerful participants whose enthusiasm brightened the gloomy day.
Once inside, the children were invited to make some colourful orange pompoms in the Young At Art theme colour, as well as decorate fun party hats. My children love doing crafts, and I could see that the school children in attendance were also having fun.
Tristan and Kallista love art in all its forms and having a little taste of what is coming up with the Belfast Children’s Festival. It was the first time they saw a harp played in person with Cahoots NI performing pieces from The Assistant’s Revenge, and they were enthralled. They also saw video clips of some of the fun that will be happening during the Belfast Children’s Festival and they’re keenly looking forward to attending this year!
The top event that both Tristan and Kallista would like to attend is the Big Botanic Birthday Bash from 1-4pm on March 10 & 11. With art workshops, theatre, and music there will be much to see for all children. Most unique will be the Miracoco Luminarium that will be a sensory experience of sound, light, and colour for children to explore inside a big dome of winding paths; there is nothing like it around.
My children also love visiting the Ulster Museum, which is handily located in Botanic Gardens and will be home to Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men, an exhibition of drawings from PJ Lynch’s books.
Speaking of books, you can see How To Catch a Star, based on Oliver Jeffers’ book. This world-class puppetry show promises to delight with great atmosphere and a magical soundtrack to deliver you to fantasyland.
In addition to these, there will be events and exhibitions at the Crescent Arts Centre, Lyric Theatre, Central Station, MAC, and other Belfast locations. You can find the full program of events here. There are many free events, discounts for schools, and tickets for us adults will be the same price as for the children with the maximum ticket price being £10. Also of note is that there will be several relaxed performances suitable for families with children with autistic spectrum conditions.
You know we are a book-loving family, and it can be difficult to choose just the right book for children, especially if they have discerning tastes. If this sounds familiar to you, then you will want to drop by the Book Clinic (no appointment needed), and the doctor will write you a prescription for a recommended course of treatment to get your young readers excited about reading.
More Belfast Children’s Festival Events:
- Penguins by Cahoots NI, what happens when the try to hatch a rock?
- Acoustic Picnic (you may see us there), music, crafts, games and activities.
- Volume Control is for ages 13-19 and inspires youth enterprise in the music and events sector.
- What is Normal Anyway? discusses how family and gender are portrayed onstage.
- Dance Exposed has amazing moves and has been commissioned for this event.
- The Man With The Chocolate Beard is one-act opera.
- Long Way North will have young adventurers wondering what happened aboard the Davai and has a ship-making workshop following.
There are many more performances and each time I open up the program, I find something else that grabs my attention!
If you don’t want the hassle of driving into Belfast, Translink has a Friends and Family ticket for £22 that will take you anywhere in Northern Ireland for the day, and you can get a travel pack for the journey online or in the February NI4Kids. Metro has a family ticket available for £8 within the city limits.