Belfast Telegraph

Belfast' s St Anne's Cathedral hosts market to raise Black Santa charity funds

Caroline McHugh with her son Milo
Caroline McHugh with her son Milo
Caroline is to open a stall market in St Anne‘s Cathedral for the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde’s Black Santa Appeal
Caroline is to open a stall market in St Anne‘s Cathedral for the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde’s Black Santa Appeal
Caroline Baker
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

It's one of the most cautionary tales in the Bible... when an irate Jesus expelled merchants and money changers from God's house.

But, 2,000 years on, things have clearly changed since the dramatic Cleansing of the Temple, as a popular place of worship plays host to a special Christmas market.

Indeed, a novel 'Black Santa Bazaar' is being staged at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast city centre for the first time on Thursday, December 20, in the hope of raising much-needed funds for charity.

The businesswoman behind the creation of a marketplace inside the main church hall is Caroline McHugh, Little Fox Events owner, who accepted the "innovative proposal" from St Anne's itself.

And it means that more than 60 local traders, artists and craftspeople will share their wares at the festive fundraiser which will showcase an array of products including art, jewellery, candles, clothes, plants and cards.

Ms McHugh said she was delighted when she was asked "to style such a special fundraising event", which will incorporate a unique trading floor as well as live music and refreshments.

"It's Black Santa week and we're hoping the bazaar will help to raise money for that," she said.

"We're also hoping that all the local businesses will donate raffle prizes and we can try and raise as much as we possibly can for the Black Santa charity on the night.

"It'll be a good chance for people to get their hands on fantastic locally-produced art, craft, vintage items and original gifts, and of course it's a great opportunity to take care of any last minute shopping."

Ms McHugh added: "There will be so much craft on offer, including handmade scarves and other woollen clothes, and so much more."

Popular city centre pub The Sunflower is providing a bar and Christmas carols will be ringing out, firstly during a performance by the children's choir at 5.30pm followed by the St Anne's Cathedral choir throughout the evening.

Among the talented local artists displaying their wares will be street artist Kev Largy, painter Leo Boyd, artist Kat St Angelo, the comedian and artist Paul Currie, and craft from Red Earth Designs.

The impressive line-up also includes live portraits by Jamie Mason Harper, jewellery designer Rachel McCarthy, painter Catherine Swan and Connor Kerr and Rebecca Bellamy from social enterprise Another World Belfast.

Ms McHugh, who makes dungarees for adults and children, said there will be plenty on offer on the night for children and animals as well.

"The Sunflower will be providing refreshments and donating to the Black Santa charity and The Cathedral Quarter BID and Cathedral Quarter Trust are helping us too," she added.

Also up for grabs for those who pop in on the night will be Suki tea, Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts, and there will also be a pizza oven and hot dogs, as well as live music to be announced at a later date.

The event kicks off at 5.30pm and runs until 10pm.

Ms McHugh, who has run flea markets for the past four years, said she's looking forward to her Christmas challenge.

"This is my company's first big event and we are really looking forward to it," Ms McHugh added.

Very Rev Stephen Forde, Dean of Belfast, said that, in this, his first year as Black Santa, he's "looking forward to being part of the Black Santa Bazaar which will raise funds for the annual sit-out".

"We also hope this event will contribute to the drive to bring people into the city centre during this difficult time for Belfast and its traders," he said.

"I'll be on the steps throughout the evening, and will be joined for a time by our junior girls' choir, whose singing will enchant anyone passing by or heading to the bazaar.

"This event is a great opportunity to showcase the cathedral and our choirs, who will be singing during the evening, and is a real boost to the Black Santa Appeal.

"I look forward to meeting people on the steps of St Anne's, both on the night of the bazaar and during the sit-out, which runs from December 17 until Christmas Eve."

Belfast Telegraph


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