Circus a big hit in Belfast city centre as opening weekend attracts 5,000
THE opening weekend of a circus attraction in Belfast city centre has drawn more than twice the number of anticipated spectators, it’s been claimed.
Organisers of the Greatest Snowman, which has been set up in Hope Street, said it had drawn almost 5,000 spectators compared to an estimated 2,000.
And they’ve said there are around 180 people working onsite. It’s believed to be the first time a commercial event has been held in Hope Street.
Event organiser Douglas Taylor said: “It was better than we expected. We brought in around 5,000 people through the gates and we only expected a couple of thousand, so it was great to see.
“We had the ice-rink and it was a big hit, families loved it. It looks good for the rest of the season.
“We are hoping it will bring people to this area, using taxis, staying in the hotels and using the restaurants nearby.”
Permission for an entertainment licence was approved in October for Exchange Events to set up the 700-seater circus Big Top, in Hope Street, accompanied by an ice-rink and fairground rides.
The company also promotes events organised by Gandey World Class Productions. It stages the popular cabaret show the Lady Boys of Bangkok, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The name of the Greatest Snowman is a play on the title of movie The Greatest Showman. It features 30 performers including a singing ring mistress and other acts from across the world including entertainers from Switzerland and the Ukraine.
In addition to performing, the circus group will be raising money for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children by collecting money for the Helping Hands charity at the end of each show.
Belfast Chamber president Rajesh Rana has welcomed the circus and has said he hopes it will bring benefits to the city centre economy, which has suffered drastically in recent months in the aftermath of the Primark fire.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “There is now a real buzz around the town, and we expect a lot of people to be coming in to snap up a few bargains and enjoy the Christmas Market.
“The presence of the circus with its big wheel and indoor ice rink is also very exciting, and it’s increasing the chances of people coming to Belfast, not just for the day but overnight.”
Original ringmaster for Gandey Circus, Binky Beaumont said: “We are excited to be returning to Belfast and as always we never like to go anywhere without giving something back, so this year we will be collecting for the Helping Hands charity at the end of each show.
“I also want to urge local talent, school choirs, young musicians, anyone who wants to be a part of it, to get in touch with us.”
Belfast City Council has also introduced a number of other initiatives to attract people into the city centre, including a ‘snow slide’ in Donegall Place.
The Greatest Snowman show will run until January 6, with two showings every weekday and four on Saturday and Sundays.
The Greatest Snowman (left) and (right) Winter Wonderland in Belfast’s Hope Street