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Magical shows are full of tricks and surprises for youngsters


 Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli in Nivelli's War

Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli in Nivelli's War

Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli in Nivelli's War

THERE'S a local flavour to kids' fun at Belfast Children's Festival tomorrow.

What's on offer? Here's a clue...

What big eyes you have, Grandma...

How many generations have grown up listening to the story of Little Red Riding Hood (below), her Grandma, and the Big Bad Wolf?

Now Banyan Theatre Company from Londonderry will be bringing the tale to life, with the help of some delightful little puppets.

Banyan likes to take everyday objects and transform them into something different. And that's what helps create the magic in this show which is suitable for children aged three and over.

Anyone who's seen skilled puppeteers at work knows that before long they seem to come alive – even their faces seem to show expression.

Children, of course, never doubt that those puppets are real – and that's part of the magic.

So get on down to the woods at the Grand Opera House with your teenies for a journey full of surprises... and when you've finished there, you can continue the fun at the Lyric Theatre, where Replay Theatre Company is demonstrating how much fun can be had with a cardboard box.

A Boy and His Box is a reminder that all children really need to have a good time is an empty box and a full imagination.

This show, aimed at children aged from 4-8, combines live drawing and projection along with some silly sound effects and quirky tunes to turn a box into a sleigh; a cave, a car, a boat – into anything you can come up with.

Just make sure you've a couple of boxes at home so small ones can make up their own adventures.

One of the undoubted highlights of this year's festival is Cahoots NI's enchanting production Nivelli's War.

It's the story of a little boy lost in the countryside in wartorn Germany, and the strange man who helps him find his way back to the city.

There are tricks a-plenty, as the man teaches Ernst some magic along the way in a tale of love and loyalty and red balloons.

It presents its audience with a lot of questions and plenty of answers, and it's suitable for children aged seven and over.

I couldn't recommend it highly enough.


A free drop-in space for families in CastleCourt

The Office of Important Art has been busy with children and adults during the festival.

It opens its doors in CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast each day, offering storytelling, play sessions and a whole range of taster workshops for children of all ages. No appointment necessary – this office is a free drop-in space for families. There are activities for pre-school children in the mornings, and after schoolers in the afternoons.

Belfast Telegraph