With only a couple of weeks left before the big man arrives, you’ve still got time to plan a festive family day out in Belfast – because there’s nothing quite like Belfast at Christmas. So why not escape from the daily routine while you can and make some time for family this year. Get your skates on with our Top 10 guide to making it a Belfast Christmas this year.
Roll up for the Winter Circus
Writer’s Square off Donegall Street is the outstanding venue for this year’s Tumble Circus – a high skill, all-human and all-thrill circus featuring death defying aerialists, hardcore acrobats, eye-popping jugglers and hilarious comedy acts. This is Belfast’s non-traditional festive tradition and perfect for all the family. Jaw-dropping feats of dexterity, irreverent laughs and a healthy helping of mighty Belfast craic await you in our heated big top tent in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Winter Circus runs for three weeks from 15 December and will include a relaxed performance, specifically designed to welcome people of all ages with Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Condition or sensory and communication disorders. For booking, visit www.tumblecircus.com/winter-circus-show/.
Holiday magic on ice at SSE Arena
Festive holiday magic is back at the SSE Arena over selected dates in December and January. Skate your way around the home of the Belfast Giants with friends and family or book yourself into this year’s kick-off twilight session on Friday 22 December. Tickets are priced at £9.50 per person for standard skate sessions. Including skate hire, tickets are £30 for a family of four or £36 for a family of five. There are even two inclusive sessions with reduced capacity and no flashing lights or music to make sessions more comfortable for children and adults with disabilities, autism, or sensory needs. Find out more at www.ssearenabelfast.com.
Panto time at the Grand Opera House
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, don’t miss the fairest pantomime of them all! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Grand Opera House has been spectacularly brought to life with an abundance of comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes and stunning scenery. Throw in a magical mirror, seven friendly dwarfs and plenty of audience participation and you have the perfect recipe to outwit the Wicked Queen and let love prevail in this glittering festive treat for all ages. Belfast’s much-loved pantomime dame, May McFettridge, as May of the Mirror celebrates her record-breaking 33rd Grand Opera House panto season this year too! Check out visitbelfast.com/event/snow-white/ for ticket options.
Night Before Christmas at the MAC
Belfast’s famous art venue, the MAC is showing a firm family favourite, The Night Before Christmas until 7 January. Audiences will meet Noelle, a storyteller who loses her words, forgetting some of her favourite fables. Fortunately, she meets some well-known literary characters who help her piece together her memories (with the help of a little magic, naturally!) and recount their stories in time to deliver the gift of a special book to the Queen. There are also relaxed performances scheduled, which are designed specifically for younger audiences and those with additional needs so that their visit to the theatre is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Visit www.themaclive.com.
A magical Santa experience at Titanic Belfast
Watch the excitement unfold as Father Christmas and his Elves count down to their favourite night of the year in the Magical Christmas Experience at this world class tourist attraction. Journey through the Enchanted Forest to make a wish by the Magical Wishing Tree, before joining Father Christmas and his Elves in their workshop at Titanic Belfast. Enjoy festive arts and crafts, hear Mrs Claus read a classic Christmas tale and have your name checked off the ‘Naughty or Nice’ list. For more information, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.
Rapunzel at The Waterfront
Running until January 6, prepare to be let your hair down at GBL Production’s Rapunzel at The Watefront this year. This Christmas treat tells the tale of the lonely princess with the golden hair trapped in a tower, longing for a life of adventure on the outside world. With the help of some friends and Prince Ryder, will they be able to help Rapunzel escape the tower she has been locked in since birth by the evil witch and be reunited with her family? Visit www.waterfront.co.uk for more information and tickets.
Family movies at Ulster Museum
Well, that’s different! The Ulster Museum are showing all your favourite festive films in their Lecture Theatre each weekend. Something for the entire family to enjoy, you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of this time of year and watch all the best festive family movies from The Santa Clause, Jingle all the way, Home Alone to Frozen. Tickets are just £4.40 for adults and £3.30 for children with early booking recommended. And you can bring your own snacks! Visit www.ulstermuseum.org for more.
Snowball fight at W5
Ever wonder what it’s like to have a snowball fight indoors? Well, now you can! Join the team at W5 on level 3 over the holidays and enjoy a snowball fight with your friends and family – and no coats needed. It may look like real snow but don’t worry – there is no chance of getting frozen fingers. It’s warm, dry and soft snow is really cool – but not in a cold way! Free with admission to W5 and open until 31 December. You could also join in with its Christmas-themed paper craft activity so plenty to keep the kids happy this year. Visit www.w5online.co.uk for more information.
Dander around the markets
It wouldn’t be Christmas in the city without its award-winning Belfast Christmas Market, so if you haven’t been yet, you’ve still got time before it’s packed away for another whole year on 22 December. Basking in the glow of a lit-up City Hall, this atmospheric festive-filled market is open every day, so no excuses for a dander. And if you haven’t been St George’s Market in ages, well Christmas is the time to go. Soak up the festive eclectic ambiance and live music in the stunning historic Victorian enclosure packed with food, drinks, antiques, crafts, books, clothes and sweet and savoury food. One of Belfast’s oldest attractions – and the best in the UK and Ireland – you cannot let Christmas slip by without a trip inside.
Winter’s Den at 2 Royal Avenue
Step into Winter’s Den for a season of fabulously festive, free events this Christmas, or simply pop in to soak up the cosy atmosphere at 2 Royal Avenue. Chill out in the sensory igloo, write a letter with the elves at Santa’s Post Office or indulge in one of Yallaa Café’s hot chocolates! Get your toes twinkling at a tea dance or silent disco or impress friends and family with your sustainable street cred by getting crafty at the free workshops. Make your own reusable crackers, advent calendars, upcycled Christmas jumpers and more! They’ll also be unwrapping a stack of musical treats both inside and outside the venue.
For more great ideas and information, visit visitbelfast.com/christmas-in-belfast/.