I spoke to festival director Ali FitzGibbon after the programme launch earlier this month.
She was enthusiastic about the need for the festival and its value, and picked out some of her highlights.
Open House is a free creative open space in the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus. You can drop in any time and listen to take part in the art workshops. And the bean bags and books are back: boxes and boxes of books, and storytelling every hour in English and Irish. Free! 3pm-6pm Friday 8 and 11am-6pm Saturday 9-Friday 15.
The New Rope String Band are described in the programme as maniac minstrels. “Elements of circus, slapstick and inspired silliness are spliced with beautiful acoustic music from world traditions: from Celtic, bluegrass and Cajun to old-timey, boogie-woogie, and Dixieland.” Sounds good. 7.30pm Saturday 9 at Crescent Arts Centre. Children £6, Adult £10.
The Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University is a magical place with truly surround sound (including above and below you). They’re running a day long Big Ears – Sonic Arts for Public Ears workshop for 7-13 year olds (booking required) on Sunday 10. During the day the children will learn about digital sound design and composition, before presenting their original pieces at a showcase even at 7pm. £10 to participate in the workshop; showcase tickets £3.
Hop! follows “father and son Daedalus and Icarus trapped on an island because they know the big secret about King Minos”. Desperate to return home, Daedalus has a plan to fly away. Theatre and dance by Belgium performers (in English). Suitable for 4 year olds and up. The MAC at 10.30am and 6pm Monday 11; 10.30am Tuesday 12. Tickets £6 each, or £20 family.
Pre-booking is required for thirty minute Introduction to Digital Arts sessions in the Digital Arts Studio on Hill Street for 8-14 year olds. 11.45am and 1.15pm, Wednesday 13.
A Swiss company perform Wolf Under the Bed is based on twelve stories written by school children for the Swiss theatre company. Three lonely Finns sit in a snowy forest one night telling stories. “Some are funny, others are exciting, but as the night wears on, they get scarier and weirder and more and more outrageous.” The Baby Grand, 10.30am and 8pm Thursday 14 and 10.30am Friday 15. Tickets £6 each, or £20 family.
And the Andy Warhol exhibition in The MAC is pretty child friendly. Free. 10am-7pm, 8-February-28 April.
And lots, lots more including the annual Baby Rave and Build Your Own Comic workshop. More details on the Belfast Children’s Festival website as well as updates on Facebook and Twitter.