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27 February 2018

Countdown begins to Young at Art bumper 20th Belfast Children’s Festival programme

With less than two weeks to go, the excitement is building ahead of this year’s Belfast Children’s Festival. Celebrating its 20th birthday, the event is set to welcome over 30,000 visitors!

From Friday 9 to Wednesday 14 March, more than 110 events will take place in 14 locations across the city. Belfast Children’s Festival has become one of the largest children’s arts festivals on the island of Ireland and the UK.

Eibhlín de Barra, Director Young at Art, commenting on the festival build up, said;
‘The 2018 Belfast Children's Festival celebrates our 20th birthday in style, with a wide and wonderful mix of theatre, dance, comedy, music, visual arts and literature for all the family. From the exquisite Horses from world-renowned kabinet k, to the madcap exploits of Egg-tion Hero, from the heart-warming tale of Penguins, to the welcome return to Belfast of Architects of Air's magnificent Luminarium, there really is something for everyone. And we're throwing a giant birthday party all weekend, so come along and join in!"
Tickets for several UK and Irish Premieres, including Horses, Getting Dressed, Penguins, Pink & Blue, Egg-tion Hero and Sensescapes are selling fast.

Officially opening the festival on Friday 9 March at 7pm is the UK and Irish Premiere of Horses (8+), by world-renowned kabinet k and hetpaleis (Belgium). This gem of a dance performance has a cast of 5 children and 5 adults who playfully explore how we want to be a grown-up and yet remain a child. It will resonate with tweens, teens and adults, reaffirming the value of our relationships, even if these boundaries are tested.

Other key highlights include;
Second Hand Dance (UK) make their Irish Premiere with the quirky Getting Dressed (4-7 yrs) inviting audiences to dive into a world of colour, texture & movement.

Belfast’s own children’s theatre company Cahoots NI bring to the festival the Irish premiere of Penguins (3+), a co-production between Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Cahoots NI and Prime Theatre. This delightful new theatre production for young audiences (3+) is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins who lived at New York's Central Park Zoo; together they hatched an abandoned egg and raised a chick. Featuring live music, dance and animation, this warm and engaging story explores friendship, acceptance and the ever-changing definition of what makes a family.

The Assistant’s Revenge is a second production from Cahoots NI. Aimed at ages 8 plus, it’s a spellbinding murder mystery packed with music, glamour, magic, death-defying escapology and more twists and turns than a ten-inch corkscrew.

Belfast based Amadan Ensemble present the world premiere of Pink & Blue (4+), a show that explores if we can all be who we want to be and accept others as who they are too.

And that’s not all! From 1pm-4pm on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 March the Big Botanic Birthday Bash will be jam-packed with fun family activities including free children’s art workshops, theatre & music performances including Egg-tion Hero from Maas Theater en Dans (Netherlands), Dance Exposed from Maiden Voyage Dance in the Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland Opera's Little Lullabies, drumming workshops, ArtCaRT, and Sow & Grow workshops.
The Miracoco Luminarium (Architects of Air) returns to Botanic Gardens too - this monumental walk-in sculpture invites visitors of all ages to explore the dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes. Inspired by natural forms, geometric solids, Islamic and Gothic architecture the Miracoco Luminarium promises an unforgettable sensory experience of light, sound and colour. It is open 12pm-6pm from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 March and is set to be the most photographed structure in Belfast that weekend.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is principal funder of Young at Art. Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive Arts Council of Northern Ireland, comments;

“For many children and their families, the Belfast Children’s Festival presents the first real opportunity to experience live, professional arts, by world-class artists and performers. We are proud to have supported Young at Art over the past 20 years, as champions of the rights of all children and young people to have access to excellent creative experiences as an indispensable part of their learning and development.”

The festival has two special events for early years; Baby Rave (sold out) and Sensescapes, which beautifully merges art installation, performance and interactive discovery for 3-18 months and their carers.

The festival will also present several relaxed performances, which are designed for children and their families who may be living with additional sensory and communication needs including learning difficulties and autistic spectrum conditions.

Young at Art has embarked on a new Visual Arts and Families Project, in association with Ulster University and Moving Up Moving On (MUMO). I Think I Will Tell You About My Dream is an exciting artistic collaboration between families from MUMO and illustrator Duncan Ross, who together used drawing and dialogue to explore their relationship with place. Their work will be on display in the Ulster University Belfast campus during the festival.
Belfast born illustrator PJ Lynch has chosen the theme “The Big Picture” to be his legacy project during his tenure as Laureate na nÓg (Ireland’s Children’s Literature Laureate). On display in the Crescent Arts Centre will be the work of pupils from five primary schools, who have responded to The Big Picture, exploring the themes of “Family” and “Home” using visual storytelling. The public are invited to add to a sixth panel. Taking a short walk up the road to the Ulster Museum, the public can enjoy Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men, an exhibition of stunning drawings from PJ Lynch’s award winning books.

Festival favourites Mini Mid-Week Magic, Pigeon and Plum’s Vaudeville Cabaret, Acoustic Picnic at Oh Yeah Music Centre and Children’s Books Ireland’s Book Clinic, return by popular demand.

Young at Art continues to build on a strong partnership with Translink, and is encouraging families to travel with Translink into Belfast city centre. Special discounted family travel tickets, a travel activity pack for the journey, (available online and in the February edition of Ni4kids), and the guarantee of lots of amazing free fun at the Big Botanic Birthday Bash makes for an easy decision for a big family day out. On Saturday 10 March, passengers at Europa Bus Centre will also be treated to amazing moves and fast paced action in Dance Exposed, a new work for public space commissioned by Maiden Voyage Dance from acclaimed Scottish choreographer Jack Webb.

Translink’s Ursula Henderson said: “Young at Art has organised an amazing line-up of fun family entertainment so we want to bring more people into Belfast to enjoy all the action by providing discount travel including our popular Family & Friends tickets along with comfortable bus, coach and train journey choices. We’re especially excited about the Big Botanic Birthday Bash and are encouraging party-goers to enjoy travelling by train to the nearby Botanic Train Station or using Metro Route 8 for extra convenience. With such a tempting creative programme in store, we’re looking forward to joining the Belfast Children’s Festival celebrations and would like to wish this fantastic event a very Happy 20th Birthday!”

Tickets are on sale at This year adults will pay the same price as children, maximum ticket price £10, and many events are free.

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