Willy Wonka-led parade, music and dance to celebrate Roald Dahl

Willy Wonka and co launch the North Belfast Lantern Festival
Willy Wonka and co launch the North Belfast Lantern Festival

North Belfast Lantern Festival promises to be a ‘BFG’ or ‘big friendly giant’ event with thousands set to attend on October 26 and 27 for an outdoor extravaganza celebrating the work of children’s author Roald Dahl whose centenary is being celebrated this year.

The attractions on offer should draw around 4,000 revellers to enjoy a fabulous parade and collection of novel outdoor activities that will feature the inimitable Willy Wonka and his trusty Oompa Loompas at Belfast’s Alexandra Park.

Marking the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the popular children’s author, this year’s event will feature many of his best-loved creations.

The main festival parade takes place on Thursday October 27 and sets off from Girdwood Community Hub at 6.30pm before arriving at Alexandra Park via the Mileriver Street entrance. The family fun-packed festival features street theatre, interactive performers, live music and dance acts. The event wraps up with a magnificent firework finale at 8.45pm.

Hundreds of children from more than 20 schools and community groups right across north Belfast have been working hard in recent weeks conceiving and creating their own eye-catching Roald Dahl inspired artworks which will be festooned around Alexandra Park.

A fun video, starring Willy Wonka and highlighting various activities taking place across the both days, is available to view online.

New Lodge arts good relations arts officer Cecilia Heron said: “The work of Roald Dahl has delighted and inspired millions of young people over the decades. This was so true for the children participating in our workshops who let their imaginations run riot creating lanterns based on Roald’s colourful characters.

“We’re extremely excited about this year’s parade and of the opportunity for communities to engage in a creative environment and to build good relations. Once again we’ve created an interactive, fun-packed programme that will appeal to little kids and big kids too.”

Ahead of the main parade, a range of activities will be held at the park on Wednesday October 26. From 11.30am to 3.30pm there will be circus performers, lantern making, music, visual arts, storytelling and other visual arts workshops.

Then from 6pm to 8pm there will be an outdoor cinema showing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Attendees should come along with a chair, blanket and prepare for the weather with brolly and wellies.

For the main parade on Thursday October 27, attendees should gather in the Girdwood Community Hub on Girdwood Avenue from 6pm. The parade will then move along Cliftonpark Avenue, down Cliftonville Road, move onto the Antrim Road, down Limestone Road and then proceed into Alexandra Park via the Mileriver Street entrance. Gates will be open from 6.30pm onwards.

People attending the event, and who are not actively participating, should purchase a wristband to gain entry to Alexandra Park. These cost £1 and are available from the Ashton Centre on 5 Churchill Street.

The North Belfast Lantern Parade is part of the North Belfast Community Pride Programme which is funded through OFMDFM’s Good Relations Programme and led by Ashton Community Trust. The programme is delivered by New Lodge Arts and supported by a various North Belfast based youth and community organisations.

For more information contact Cecilia Heron at New Lodge Arts on 02890 742255 or visit www.newlodgearts.com.