Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Missed out on the Queen? Then get along to the Land of Giants

David Cameron and Jimmy Carr aren't the only ones doing some number crunching these days. I'm struck by the fact that 10,000 tickets to see the Queen at Stormont this Wednesday were taken in six minutes.

Some of the freebies were then reported to be selling online for hundreds, even thousands of pounds. All for the chance to stand in a park and get a glimpse of a woman in a hat.

Seems she's not even going to do a walkabout, so it will literally be a scoot up the avenue in her car, out onto the steps, wave at the masses and into the building to meet those who didn't have to bother with the indignity of scrabbling for freebies.

In contrast, Land of Giants, the largest ever outdoor spectacular arts event in Ireland is happening on June 30 at the Titanic slipways in the docks in Belfast. It's got a cast of 500 and tickets for something like 20,000 people.

Tickets for the Giant event were a tenner, but now they're free. So you get a spectacular light show with daredevil acrobatics, and other such stuff that makes you go "Ooooh" and "Ahhhh" and it's all for nothing. But have people been biting the Land of Giant's hand off for tickets? Until a few days ago, they weren't.

Perhaps the controversy over McGuinness and the handshake has given the Queen's visit extra profile, but still. Are we really more keen to stand around at Stormont in the hope of a quick juke at Her Majesty, than to be entertained by one of the most outstandingly exciting displays ever seen here?

Are we so conditioned to need recognisable names attached to an event, to consider it worth going to see? If Land of Giants was "headlined" by someone off the X Factor would that make it more exciting? I hope, now that tickets are free, people will flock to the late night show which, I imagine, will probably generate some of the gut thumping excitement of the docks when they were in full swing. The Titanic Centre is grand, but unless you're subjected to the shock and awe of sounds and smells and lights and noise, I doubt the real scale of a working shipyard can be conveyed at a gut level.

We complain when there's nothing good to do. When people work for over a year to put on an amazing show, we complain that we didn't know about it, it was too dear, it was elitist, it wasn't what we wanted, we didnt' know how to get tickets, nobody from Government personally came to our door to invite us and give us a goody bag each and a lift to the gig in a stretch HumVee painted pink.

This is a chance to join in, be entertained, be involved, be thrilled, to say you were there and to marvel at a spectacle the likes of which we haven't seen before in this country and all for nothing.

So park the cynicism, the gurnin', the whataboutery and the inverted snobbery about anything labelled "arts" and get yourself down to the Land of Giants and just enjoy it, for once in your life.

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