At Christmas Belfast is a magical place to visit with sparkling decorations, bustling shops and yuletide happenings galore. Since it’s just a trip up the motorway or a short flight from the UK, it’s worth trying out a pre-Christmas break in the North’s capital. To entice you even more, here are our top five Belfast Christmas events for 2008.
From illuminating the city streets with a festive flavour to browsing enchanting traditional markets, Belfast has Christmas 2008 all wrapped up – check out our guide to the top events:
(1) Christmas Lights Switch-on 2008
Viewed by many as the signal that the Christmas season has officially kicked off, the Belfast Christmas Lights Switch-on will bring throngs of shoppers and families to Belfast City Hall on Tuesday 18th November at 7.30pm.
Various celebrities and world figures have flicked the switch on the Christmas lights over the years including former US President Bill Clinton in 1995 while recent years have seen members of the pop music industry perform the ever important task.
As yet, we haven’t found out who will be taking to the podium for 2008 but the night promises to be jam packed with amusement and music to keep the large crowds entertained at City Hall while a special preview of the Christmas Continental Market can be enjoyed from 8.30pm until 10pm.
(2) Belfast Christmas Continental Market
The grounds of Belfast City Hall remain at the centre of the city’s Christmas celebrations as the Christmas Continental Market opens for business on Wednesday 19th November until Saturday 20th December 2008. Opening times of the market are Monday to Wednesday from 10am to 8pm, Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 10 pm while Sunday’s hours are from 1pm to 6pm.
Actually, if you go along to the Christmas Lights Switch-on (see above) on Tuesday 18th November you can get a sneak preview of what’s on offer so you can suss out a few market stalls in advance!
Each year the Christmas Continental Market attracts a vast array of stalls that sell everything from traditionally produced crafts, decorations and of course some mouth watering foods and warming beverages. This is a great a place to spot out a unique Christmas gift and even if you’re not shopping, we recommend you spend just a few hours wandering around the market to soak up that festive feeling.
(3) St. George’s Christmas Craft Fair
Another Christmas market that you should check out is St. George’s Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday 6th December and Sunday 7th December 2008. Opening hours on the Saturday are from 9am to 5pm while Sunday is from 10am to 5pm.
St. George’s Market is located on Lower May Street and is a bustling fruit, vegetable, meat and fish market (along with loads of other local produce) during the year but on these dates a whole host of Christmas craft stalls will peddle their wares to festive gift-seekers who can enjoy the live entertainment that is being laid on.
(4) Christmas Pantomimes
If you fancy catching a bit of Christmas entertainment in Belfast this year you will be spoilt for choice. Popular local favourite May McFettridge brings her unique comedy style to the Grand Opera House pantomime production of “Mother Goose” from Saturday 29th November 2008 to Saturday 17th January 2009.
And just across town at the Waterfront Hall, the much-loved panto figure Dan Gordon leads the cast of “Robin Hood” in a rousing pantomime that runs from Saturday 29th November 2009 until Saturday 10th January 2009. Come along and join in the fun and help Robin Hood, Maid Marion and the Girlz from the Wood stop the evil Sheriff Of Snottingham.
(5) Christmas Music Performances
The Waterfront Hall also stages what promises to be a magical performance of the music from the animated film “The Snowman”. There will be two shows on Saturday 6th December 2008, one at 2.30pm and one at 5pm – the conductor will be Christopher Bell.
Inspired by the children’s book by Raymond Briggs, young and old are sure to enjoy this classical feast of music and in particular the Christmas favourite “Walking In The Air”. So settle down as you join The Boy and The Snowman as they embark on their journey through that eventful Christmas Eve night bumping into a few familiar faces along the way!
And why not round off a day of fun and learning at the interactive W5 by attending “The Nutcracker And The King Of Mice” which runs from Friday 5th December 2008 until Sunday 4th January 2009. Here the classic tale is retold with an enchanting version so be sure to come along and enjoy the strains of the “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” as Clara and The Nutcracker travel to far off lands of magic.
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