Belfast To Host Four Days Of Free Family Entertainment This Weekend

Belfast is set to host four days of free family entertainment this weekend, 16-19 May, as it becomes the latest stop on Little Amal's journey.

The striking 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee will arrive along the River Lagan on Thursday 16 May, shortly before 7pm, as part of Belfast City Council's Belfast 2024 programme.

Presented by The Walk Productions, in association with Handspring Puppet Company and local partner ArtsEkta, she will be greeted by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, before making her way to Custom House Square for a free outdoor performance based around the Seahorse and the Wolf – two ancient heraldic symbols of Belfast (7pm, doors at 6.30pm).

A cast of professional and community performers will take Little Amal on a time-travelling journey through the city's history, featuring colourful costumes and characters, as well as music from acclaimed composer Neil Martin and a special performance from Duke Special.

On Friday 17 May, Little Amal will spend the night at St Anne's Cathedral where, before her bedtime, community choirs, local musicians and performers who put on a special performance to help her feel at home during 'Amal's Dream' (8pm, doors 7.45pm).

Then, on Saturday 18 May, visitors to Belfast city centre can see Little Amal making her way from Writer's Square to City Hall, via Bridge Street, High Street and Donegall Place, as she leads a colourful May Queen procession, packed with flowers, wildlife and nature (starts 12.30pm).

At City Hall, she will again be greeted by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, before joining him for a special theatre performance, based on Gulliver's Travels, as part of his Lord Mayor's Day event.
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Families can enjoy free nature-inspired arts and crafts, face painting, traditional games, live music and dancing, as well as circus acts and walkabout performers on the lawns, from 12pm to 5pm.

Later that evening, Little Amal will travel to CS Lewis Square in east Belfast for 'Amal in Narnia', where she will step through the wardrobe with Lucy and Mr Tumnus at a free outdoor show (7pm, doors 6.30pm).

On Sunday 19 May, it's up to Colin Glen Forest Park for a morning with tree planting and poetry (11am, doors 10.30am), followed by a special finale event in the gardens at Belfast Castle (7pm, doors 6.30pm). Against the stunning backdrop of Cave Hill, Little Amal will be presented with gifts of earth, air, water and fire by the people of the godess Danu - Tuatha Dé Danann – to protect her as she travels onward to Newry, Mourne and Down and then finally to Dublin.

Free tickets for most Little Amal events have now been allocated, but her arrival on Thursday 16 May, along with the May Queen procession and Lord Mayor's fun day at City Hall on Saturday 18 May, do not require a ticket to attend.

Visitors travelling to see Little Amal are advised to plan their journey and leave extra time for travel. For the latest public transport information, visit translink.co.uk

Also taking place in Belfast this weekend to coincide with Little Amal's time in the city will be Seen - an outdoor art exhibition by award-winning author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers.

Taken during a visit with young asylum seekers last year, it features drawings by young people of their hopes and dreams, accompanied by Jeffers' own portraits of their creators.

The exhibition is free to visit and is located at Thanksgiving Square, next to the Beacon of Hope statue. Produced by the Nerve Centre for the Belfast 2024 programme, it will run from Thursday 16 to Wednesday 25 May.

For more details of the Belfast 2024 programme, including Little Amal's visit, go to belfast2024.co.uk

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