Belfast Telegraph

Video: Belfast City Hall hosts Mad Hatter's Tea Party

By Gary Grattan

Families were treated to a wonderland of sumptuous foods and other delights as the City Hall hosted a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to mark the close of Belfast Independent Retail Week.

The Banqueting Hall, Reception Hall and Council Chamber were transformed into a fantasy world paying homage to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland tale to celebrate the uniqueness and quality of the city’s independent retail sector.

Belfast Independent Retail Week was organised by the council with 160 local retailers taking part in the week-long initiative, which kicked off with a Celebrate Independent Fashion Showcase and ended with the Tea Party.

Among the highlights at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party were mouthwatering chocolate and cupcakes, fine tea, jewellery, flowers and giftware which showcased the rich produce on offer from retailers across Belfast.

A Kids Zone also kept children entertained with face painting, games and a special reading of extracts from Alice in Wonderland.

BIRW celebrated the range and quality of products and services on offer by local retailers and aimed to raise the sector’s profile by highlighting quality neighbourhood shopping across the city. Stores which signed up included hairdressers and beauty shops, confectionery businesses, caterers, gift manufacturers and craft stores.

The week was launched with a highly successful Celebrate Independent Fashion Showcase at City Hall where 300 people enjoyed a free catwalk show and exhibition promoting the city's independent fashion designers, retailers and jewellery makers.

Among the other BIRW highlights were a Crafts Day in Shankill Craft Centre; a Vintage Day in Stray Jewellery and a Refound Pop-Up Shop in the city centre; an I Love Saturdays event on the Lisburn Road as well as lots of free in-store promotions, competitions and events in shops across the city.

Alderman Christopher Stalford, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee, said: "This is a tough economic climate for everyone but the independent retailer sector in particular needs a boost because they don’t have the resources that larger chains can call on.

“Many are one person or family businesses which employ small numbers but small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are what differentiate one city from another and they are a vital service in local communities.

“It is important for families to support local retailers to help keep their neighbourhoods bustling with quality and choice. Many independent retailers take the time to get to know their customers and will often offer advice which can prove invaluable, from the best ways of cooking meat or fish, to what style really suits in terms of clothing."

For more information on Belfast Independent Retail Week and the council's support for local business, you can visit the council website at

Belfast Telegraph