Cir­cus a big hit in Belfast city cen­tre as open­ing week­end at­tracts 5,000

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY CHRIS­TINE CAR­RI­GAN

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

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