MY optician's assistant told me recently that Christmas is the time of the year that he and his wife go out for a Christmas show. There was never any spare cash for me and all my sisters to go to a professional production, so the nativity play had to fill that gap.
Until one year, that is, when the mum of my best friend at primary school invited me to go with their family to the pantomime at the Grand Opera House. My ten-year-old self can still remember the glamour and lights, not totally understanding why kids were not being told off for shouting 'Oh, no she didn't!' and 'Oh, yes, she did!' at the stage.
Now as an adult I still love to go to a Christmas show, but I edge towards the non-traditional offering, and there are many to choose from. Locally, Tony Devlin is directing Cinderella with Brassneck Theatre Company at the Devenish. In a season when the incessant music and flashing lights can be too much even for the Christmas lovers among us, it's good to know that The Mac is offering a number of relaxed performances for those with additional needs and a younger audience with its production of The Night Before Christmas.
Caroline Curran – familar to some of our readers as Maggie Muff or from her run at the Roddy's in My Corona and The Holy Holy Bus – sees herself as an honorary Westie, having gone to St Dominic's. She's written a comedy based on talking to people working in hospitality. Her first show as producer – Are Yule Being Served? – is also at The Mac. The guidance says 18-plus but the tickets say 16- to 24-year-olds get a £5 ticket, so go figure.
invites you to the Wind Yer Neck Inn. Booked up with feuding families, festive functions, and frisky punters. Chaos is on the menu this year. With split-shifts and splitting headaches, will the staff make it through the busy season without being tipped over the edge? It promises laughs and perhaps a little more empathy for everyone working in hospitality over the festive season.
AS the artists, crafters and makers of the city gear up for the present-buying season, the Belfast Potters' Market is back at 2 Royal Avenue on Friday, December 1 from 6am to 9pm and Saturday, December 2 from 10am to 5pm. This quality market gives you a good opportunity to connect with obsessives in this art form from all over Ireland.
The Vault artists have an eclectic offering this year, taking over the Carlisle Memorial Church at Carlisle Circus on December 2 and 3, noon to 5pm both days. There'll be over 70 stalls – think jewellery, paintings, ceramics, books, ezines, t-shirts, textiles, vintage, macramé, prints and candles. But not necessarily in that order. Food and drink will also be available.
Those of you who have been following my journey of trying to highlight the need for assisted studios in the city might be interested to know that after spending the summer in the Belfast School of Art studios we found a welcoming space at 2 Royal Avenue, where every Thursday our artists meet to develop their work. We are aiming towards a large exhibition next year, but more immediately on Thursday, December 7 from 10.30am to 2pm we are having a mini art sale onsite.
We have enjoyed being in 2 Royal Avenue and the supportive staff and the atmosphere make it a truly shared space in the city centre. Come down and say hello – it would be great to see you.