Sunday, 5 February 2012

Advanced Look: Belfast Children's Festival

After a years absence in which their (lack of) presence was well and truly felt, Young at Art's Belfast Children's Festival is back next month with a week long program of events designed to suit a range of ages. From 9th to 16th March (a little earlier than previous years, perhaps due to last years reduced activities) the festival will include the usual mix of educational and creative shows, projects and exhibitions, many of which promote the same sort of values I try to include on EcoLifeNI.

The program dropped through my letter box earlier this week, so I just thought I'd do a quick look ahead to some of the things that will be on my radar. Including my own, nearly three year old offspring, and the niece (five) and the nephew (one), this festival should be an interesting one in terms what events are suitable for which children. The Bethster is now a little too old for the Baby Rave, but we'll be taking the boys down to that, held in the Waterfront Hall on the 10th and 11th and with this years theme being Ska (one of my sister's most hated of musical genres) it should make for an interesting session of music, dance and activity.

I'll also be hoping to catch a few more plays and performance based events; the wee man has finally gotten to the age where we can attend these sort of things without worrying about him wandering off or loosing interest. So, that said, I'm currently looking at Wobble (An Cultúrlann, Wednesday 14th) a theatre experience designed specifically for under 4s and Dot (The Baby Grand, Thursday 15th), a visual performance based around shapes and colours. For the older Ms, there's Once Upon a Time (Assembly Rooms, Thursday 15th) a interactive theatre events based around fining a missing story and A Giant is coming (also in the Assembly Rooms at various times from Friday 9th to Wednesday 14th), which features installations and live performances about what it means to be a 'giant'. This event is held as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad event 'Land of Giants'.

As with previous years, the performances have a small charge normally ranging between £3-£5 and more details can be found on via the Young at Art website at the end of the article. However, despite tough funding times for the arts community, the festival is still managing to include a few free events on their program. Linking up with World Book Day there are a fair few literature based events that are free of charge, from the Tea and Tales/Sos Agus Scealta running throughout the week at the The Assembly Rooms, and a big favourite of ours from two years past, The Cardboard Cities (see video) will be making a welcome return.

Cardboard cities - a tour from caragh on Vimeo.

The Children's Festival really is a gem in the crown of  Belfast's yearly cultural program and it is so great to see it back this year. You can find more information on times and tickets, as well as advice for people involved in child development and care, by visiting

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