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20 Years Young! Young at Art celebrates turning 20 with a bumper 20th Belfast Children’s Festival programme

10 Jan 2018
A monumental walk-in sculpture, the world’s smallest action hero, penguins, a four-legged clothes monster, a man with a chocolate beard, and a boy on a quest to make friends with a star are a small snapshot of some of the delights that will appear at this year’s 20th annual Belfast Children’s Festival where the theme is FAMILY.

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, attracting just under 30,000 people last year.

Eibhlín de Barra, Director Young at Art, unveiled the packed programme at Belfast City Hall: "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 Branar's beautiful adaptation of Oliver Jeffers How to Catch a Star, to the heart-warming tale of Penguins, and the welcome return to Belfast of Architects of Air's magnificent Luminarium, there really is something for everyone. And on top of it all we're throwing a giant birthday party across the festival weekend, so come on down and join in!"

Young at Art are delighted to be presenting several UK and Irish Premieres, including Horses, Getting Dressed, Penguins, Egg-tion Hero and Sensescapes. Horses, by world-renowned kabinet k and hetpaleis (Belgium) is a dance performance with a cast of five children and five adults. It playfully explores how we want to be a grown-up and yet remain a child. It reminds us that we can all be vulnerable; nevertheless we learn to trust and count on each other.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, who hosted the launch said: “I’d like to offer my warmest congratulations to Young at Art on turning 20 - and in such style with this amazing programme for children and young people.

Young at Art continues to play a fundamental role in animating Belfast and inspiring creativity, joy and curiosity in our children and young people. Indeed, Belfast Children’s Festival has become a true highlight of the family cultural calendar, bringing magical, memorable experiences to residents and visitors to the city. I’m very much looking forward to introducing our young son Finn to the festival this Spring at the Big Botanic Birthday Bash in the beautiful surroundings of our very own Botanic Gardens.”

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, and Northern Ireland Opera's Little Lullabies, drumming workshops, Sow & Grow workshops and much much more.

You may be forgiven for thinking that an alien spacecraft has landed at Botanic Gardens. The Miracoco Luminarium (Architects of Air) is a monumental walk-in sculpture that 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.

Based on the beloved book by award-winning Belfast author Oliver Jeffers, Branar Téatar do Pháistí (Ireland) present How To Catch a Star. Audiences are in for a real treat, as this production combines world-class puppetry, a magical soundtrack, atmospheric lighting and beautiful staging to transport you into the world of the storybook.

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.

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.

Tickets for these shows and many more are on sale at year adults will pay the same price as children, maximum ticket price £10, and many events are free. Many festival events sell out so you are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.
Young at Art 2018 launch Lord Mayor speaking at Young at Art launch