A plethora of music, dance and more to captivate young minds

All aboard the Young at Art Express ... an invitation to take imaginations on a creative journey to the Belfast Children's Festival (4-9 March 2016). Full event listings on: www.youngatart.co.uk'Pupils from Our Lady's Primary School with Paula O'Reilly (Young at Art)
All aboard the Young at Art Express ... an invitation to take imaginations on a creative journey to the Belfast Children's Festival (4-9 March 2016). Full event listings on: www.youngatart.co.uk'Pupils from Our Lady's Primary School with Paula O'Reilly (Young at Art)

Young at Art has announced the line-up for the 18th annual Belfast Children’s Festival, set to run March 4 until March 9, offering young ones and their families music, dance, theatre and visual art galore.

The Australian Terrapin Puppet Theatre Company will arrive in town to collaborate with the Ulster Model Railway Club presenting I Think I Can in Central Station - a large-scale public art installation that invites the audience to inhabit a delightful miniature town while a host of other international guests include Vorstadt Theater, Switzerland presenting Bambi, Norwegian Katja Lindeburg’s two charming clown shows If Only Rosa Could do Magic and If Only Blue Could be a Super Hero and festival regulars Branar presenting an adaptation of the popular Oliver Jeffers novel The Way Back Home. Festival favourites such as the Baby Rave, Pre-teenage Kicks disco and Mini Mid Week Magic will also feature.

A strong literature programme will allow families the opportunity to meet authors and illustrators such as Marie Louise Fitzpatrick, Sheena Wilkinson and Kitty Crowther, while Fighting Words Belfast will inspire local children and young people to get involved in creative writing with a number of interactive events.

Visual art includes the Ordinary Extraordinary exhibition by local artist David Turner in Young at Art’s relocated Office of Important Art on the first floor in CastleCourt Shopping Centre opposite Costa coffee shop. The artworks will represent autobiographical events that took place while the artist was growing up in Belfast in the 70s and 80s.

The Theatre for Young Audiences Northern Ireland showcase will feature Maiden Voyage Dance performing an imaginative piece for children aged between 4-8 years old, Pause & Effect, Replay Theatre Company offer Snoozle and the Lullabugs, a multi sensory performance aimed at children under five with learning difficulties, and Young at Art’s Everything That Isn’t Me will explore environmental issues.

This year familes are encouraged to take part in two Big Festival Days Out on March 5 and 6 by first taking a ‘creative journey’ to the festival with discounted tickets to Belfast via Translink, then downloading a special travel activity pack with suggested fun on the journey, plotting an itinerary and availing of an online early bird ticket offer via the festival website. Big Festival Days Out hubs will be located at the MAC, Strand Arts Centre, the Lyric Theatre and Duncairn Arts Centre.

Festival director Ali Fitz Gibbon said: “Young at Art produces this festival each year because it believes the arts are an intrinsic part of how our children and our society understand, grow, imagine and innovate. Experiencing something creative is about going on a journey as far as you can dream. Whether it’s reading a story, seeing an exemplary performance, looking at artwork, the arts offer children an inspirational roadmap through which they can navigate the universe, comprehend everything in it and imagine anything that could happen in the future.”

- Tickets are now on sale. For more information and to download a copy of the programme visit www.youngatart.co.uk or call 02890 243042.