As plans are underway for the 18th Belfast Christmas Market, Market Place Europe (operators of the market) are excited to be working closely with the Lord Mayor of Belfast’s chosen charity, Kids Together Belfast, in order to raise awareness and support them in the work they do for children with moderate to severe disabilities.
This year the Belfast Christmas Market will be taking place from the 18th of November to the 22nd of December in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. It is expected to attract over 1 million visitors, many of whom are families that travel to meet the big man in red, Santa Claus. Each year, Market Place Europe donate Santa’s magical grotto to one of the Lord Mayor’s chosen charities, supporting them in building awareness for their important work.
Allan Hartwell, Managing Director of Market Place Europe Ltd said: ‘‘We are very pleased to donate Santa’s Grotto to Kids Together Belfast, providing them with the opportunity to raise vital funds. As Belfast’s leading festive event, the Christmas Market provides a great platform for charities to raise awareness and gather support. We wish Kids Together Belfast, the very best of luck during the festive period as part of the Belfast Christmas Market family.’’
Working closely with the community, Kids Together focuses on providing support services, particularly in after-school and play provision, to meet the needs of children with moderate to severe disabilities. Their tailored services for families with children and young people with complex needs, aim to create a sense of belonging, stability, acceptance, and equality, fostering friendships and reducing isolation.
Kids Together Belfast will be partnering up with local charity, Friends of St Gerards to operate Santa’s Grotto. Friends of St Gerards, promotes the health and education of children through assisting in the provision of equipment, facilities and recreational services and are looking forward to working alongside Kids Together Belfast to provide an inclusive and vibrant space that is welcoming to all.
Mairead McCrea, Director of Kids Together Belfast said: ”We are delighted to have been chosen to operate Santa‘s Grotto this year. This opportunity not only fills our hearts with joy but also holds the potential to bring warmth and happiness to the children we work so tirelessly on behalf of. As we embark on this magical journey, we are determined to make Santa’s Grotto a place of wonder and inclusion, where children of all abilities and their families can create cherished memories. This venture aligns perfectly with our mission to support and empower children with disabilities, and the possibility to raise significant funds.”
In addition to operating Santa’s Grotto, Kids Together Belfast are working with Belfast Christmas Market organisers to help create an inclusive, safe environment for those with autism. A Quiet Room within the market will provide a relaxing sensory space that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety.
The theme of this year’s grotto, which will be decorated by professional merchandisers, Retail Magic NI, is inclusivity – with the aim of making everyone feel welcomed, valued and respected.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “Kids Together Belfast provide such a vital support service to children and young people with disabilities, so I’m delighted that they will benefit from this amazing opportunity to showcase their important work to visitors at this year’s Belfast Christmas Market, as well as providing a safe and inclusive space for the families they support so they too can enjoy what the market has to offer.’’
Santa will be resident in his grotto each day, making his lists and checking them twice. Visitors can meet the big man in red during the following hours:
Mon to Wed: 4pm-7pm
Thurs & Fri: 12noon-7pm
The cost is £10 per child and £15 for two children, which includes meeting and receiving a gift from Santa and taking your own photo. Professional photographs can be purchased at a cost of £5. All money raised will go directly to the charity.
To find out more, or to support Kids Together Belfast and Friends of St Gerards,
Belfast Christmas Market will be at the City Hall from 12noon on Saturday 18
November until 6pm on 22 December.
Opening hours are:
Monday – Wednesday 10am – 8pm
Thursday – Saturday 10am – 10pm
Sunday 12noon – 6pm