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Embrace the arts this festive season

Monday 5th December 2016 at 11am 1656 Comments Youth Arts , Northern Ireland Music , Drama , Community Arts , Comedy , Circus & Carnival Arts

What the Donkey Saw featuring an all-star cast at the Lyric Theatre is just one of the theatrical highlights this December Image: What the Donkey Saw featuring an all-star cast at the Lyric Theatre is just one of the theatrical highlights this December

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for many of our leading arts organisations. We’ve prepared a short guide on some of the productions and performances taking place in venues across Northern Ireland this December.

Family Fun

Pinocchio at the MAC is an enchanting, magical show packed with live music by award-winning children’s theatre company, Cahoots NI. Directed by Paul Bosco McEneaney and starring Max Abraham in the titular role, the production follows the adventure of the much-loved puppet on his quest to become a real boy. With limited availability performances take place between 29th November and 1st January.

Produced by the Lyric Theatre, children of all ages will enjoy The Gingerbread Mix Up starring Kyron Bourke and Christina Nelson. The show tells the story of Primrose who has been cast out in the forest with only her Nintendo for company. Primrose meets Pardon – cool cat turned witch’s assistant, with a promising side-line in Big Bad Wolf impersonations.  Can Pardon save Primrose from the evil old witch’s cooking pot? Find out, when the production takes to the stage from Wednesday 7th December.

Suitable for children between 9 months and 8 years, Lilly’s Magical Christmas follows Lilly in her journey to discuss the magic of winter. The production created by HoodWink Productions is full of magical sounds, dance and sensory stimulation. Performances take place at Crescent Arts Centre between Friday 9th and Sunday 11th December.

Echo Echo Dance Studios will present 'Lost in Frost' an original dance theatre show inspired by the works of Dr. Seuss and Tove Jansson. This atmospheric and mysterious winter fairytale will surprise and delight audiences of all ages. Through movement, dance, storytelling and video projection the audience are taken on a journey of magic and adventure. Performances take place from 12th to 18th December.

Tumble Circus will present a festive extravaganza with their Christmas Circus pitching up at Belfast’s Writers Square from Thursday 8th to Sunday 18th December. The day-time performance, Snow is a 60 minute spectacle with acrobats, jugglers and aerial routines and comedy with some of the best local and international circus performers. Family rates are available.

Adults only…

Northern Ireland’s first publicly funded LGBTQ+ theatre company, TheatreofPlucK will present an alternative Christmas show at their space in the Barracks, Hill Street, Belfast. Written by Hilary McCollum, The Pirates of Portrush puts a hilarious spin on festive traditions taking the audience on an outrageous adventure which includes a very dramatic birth in a stable for good measure. The play previews on December 1st, and performances continue until Friday 23rd December.

Fast becoming a traditional feature on the festive calendar, Pony Panto returns to the MAC with an irreverent mix of comedy, live music and dance. Billed as featuring Belfast’s best-looking, worst dressed and most talented performers, the production is directed by Leonie McDonagh with music from Donal Scullion and Band. Pony Panto opens on Wednesday 14 December.

Featuring a star-studded cast, What the Donkey saw is a retelling of the Christmas story through the eyes of ‘the only truly reliable witness – the donkey’ and poses questions including ‘Why didn’t Joseph book a room in advance’ and ‘Just who were looking after the sheep while the shepherds were celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus.’ The Grimes and McKee comedy at the Lyric Theatre Belfast is sure to be a popular night out and performances are running until Saturday 14th January.

Musical Medleys

The Sing for Life Choir along with a number of special guests will host their annual Christmas concert at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church on Monday 19th December. The 100 strong choir was formed in 2012 by Crescent Arts Centre and Cancer Focus NI so that anyone affected by cancer could come along and enjoy singing & meeting new people. Tickets are available from the Crescent Arts Centre now.

Duke Special signs off his year-long artistic residency at the Lyric Theatre with three very special concerts featuring new and existing compositions and the first performances of songs from his new musical based on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Duke will be joined by different friends and musical collaborator each night, promising three very unique concerts for fans of the musician.

Supported by the Arts Council, award-winning early music ensemble, Sestina presents a truly authentic performance of Handel’s Messiah on Friday 23rd December. Sestina’s soloists are joined by the Sestina Baroque Chamber Orchestra and ‘Sing with Sestina; participants for a magical beginning to the Christmas weekend. The concert will take place at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church.

And not forgetting…

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a pantomime or two and families will be spoiled for choice this year as theatres across Northern Ireland are getting in on the act.

In Derry-Londonderry, Cinderella will be going to the ball this year at the Millennium Forum as a local cast, led by William Caulfield in the role of Buttons, bring the quintessential fairy tale to life with performances taking place from Friday 2nd to Saturday 31st December.

Join Robin Hood and his band of merry men for some madcap adventures at the Waterside Theatre this December. The show debuts on Friday 9th and continues until Tuesday 20th December.

C21 Theatre Company will take audiences on a trip to the Mystical World of the Far East with their production of Aladdin at the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena. The pantomime opens on Friday 9th December and will run for 8 performances before the curtain falls on Thursday 22nd December.

Cinderella will also make her way to the Market Place Theatre in Armagh this December. Tickets are selling quickly for all performances and the pantomime runs for 20 performances between Saturday 3rd and Saturday 24th December.

Aladdin and Widow Twankey are taking to the stage at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall from 25 November to 1st January. Get on board the magic carpet and fly away with a host of colourful characters and find out if the genie and his lamp can save Aladdin from the evil clutches of Abanazar.

The Queen of pantomime, May McFettridge is back at the Grand Opera House in Northern Ireland’s biggest pantomime from Saturday 3rd December to Sunday 15th January. Having sold over 66,000 tickets, May is the Fairy Godmother to Jayne Wisener’s Cinderella, while singer-songwriter and former Pop Idol finalist Gareth Gates joins the fun in the role of Prince Charming.

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