Get your diary out: Our round-up of family shows and activities for 2018

From Bing and Peppa Pig to moving dinosaurs and indoor sky diving, there's plenty of family-friendly fun to get excited about in 2018. Jenny Jenny Lee finds out more

Young fans can join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando from the popular CBeebies show in Derry and Belfast this summer

BLOW away the January blues and start planning some family adventures for the year ahead. From new attractions to festivals and theatre shows, there's plenty to look forward to. We've picked out some highlights for kids of all ages in 2018.

George's Marvellous Medicine, Grand Opera House, Belfast, February 13-17

Most grandmothers are lovely, kind, helpful old ladies. Not George’s Grandmother. She likes to gobble up slugs and bugs, and is always telling George what to do. Roald Dahl’s treasured tale is brought to phizz-whizzing life in this stage adaptation, bursting with growing grannies, feathery farm animals and bags of frothbuggling family fun.

Toddlers Take Over The Museum, North Down Museum, Bangor, February 16

As part of the Playful Museums Month, North Down Museum will become a fun and exciting place for children aged three to five, with a host of crafts, storytelling and puppet events.

Northern Ireland Science Festival 2018, February 15-25

With over 180 events across over 50 venues, the NI Science Festival offers a stimulating and wide range of events focusing on the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. From astronauts and drones to the science behind Harry Potter and toys, the festival offers a range of workshops, talks and interactive activities for all ages.

Belfast Children's Festival 2018, March 9 -14

A monumental walk-in sculpture, the world’s smallest action hero, penguins, a four-legged clothes monster, a man with a chocolate beard, and a boy on a quest to make friends with a star are a small snapshot of some of the delights that will appear at this year’s 20th annual Belfast Children’s Festival where the theme is family.

Rain Falling Up, Ulster Hall, March 16

Rain Falling Up is a captivating modern oratorio featuring a live shadow puppet animation and the Ulster Orchestra. It tells the story of a little boy Jake, who is fascinated by all things scientific. One day after being blamed for breaking his mum’s vase he comes to the conclusion that gravity is not his friend anymore. So he builds himself a gravity switch so he can turn gravity off. An inspiring concert for the whole family.

Otter Mayhem at Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry, May 28

Combining the spring bank holiday and World Otter Day, Exploris are hosting a special day of animal talks, feeding demonstrations and otter-madness themed crafts and entertainment.

Sing-a-Long-a Beauty and the Beast, Grand Opera House, Belfast, March 29

This is your chance to sing your heart out with Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson in this special screening of Disney’s brand new adaptation of the iconic fairy tale, with on-screen lyrics. The Singalonga host will show you how to use the famous Singalonga props bag during the film and when to Boo the arrogant Gaston and of judge the fancy dress competition.

Peppa Pig's Adventure, Grand Opera House, Belfast, April 20-22

Join Peppa as she gets ready to go on an exciting camping trip to the woods with George and her school friends, including Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. This live show is full of games, laughter and music.

Dinosaur World Live, Waterfront Hall, Belfast, April 28-29; Millennium Forum, Derry, April 26 - 27

Grab your compass and join the intrepid explorer across unchartered territories to discover a pre-historic world of these remarkably life-like dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child's favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus.

Bubble Show with Mini Milkshake, The MAC, Belfast April 28-29

Dr Bubble and Milkshake present a new bubble story about sharing. Filled with beautiful bubble sculptures leading up to the spectacular million bubble finale. Featuring giant bubbles, square bubble, caterpillars, bubble haircuts, spirals, tornados and smoke bubbles galore.

Fast and Furious Live, SSE Arena, May 4-6

Car fans will enjoy this adrenaline-fuelled, two-hour show. Using key scenes from the film series – created via state-of-the-art 3D projection mapping – fans will be transported straight into this immersive extension of the Fast & Furious movies.

Bing Live, Millennium Forum, Derry, July 4-5; Waterfront Hall, Belfast, July 7-8

Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando from the popular CBeebies show as they find out how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don’t always go according to plan.

Walking With Dinosaurs, SSE Arena, Belfast, August 31 - September 2

Walking with Dinosaurs - The Arena Spectacular is based on the award-winning BBC Television Series. Starring television presenter Michaela Strachan as Huxley the paleontologist, the show brings these creatures to life, showing how carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs, and how the herbivores fended off their more agile predators.

Shrek the Musical' Grand Opera House, Belfast, October 9-21

Based on the story and characters from the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, this spectacular production turns the world of fairytales upside down in an all-singing, all-dancing, musical comedy. Stunning sets, costumes, music and laughter is sure to delight audience age five plus.

Cirque Du Soleli OVO, SSE Arena, Belfast, October 17-21

The world's largest theatrical producer brings it's OVO show to Belfast. The cast of OVO is comprised of 50 performing artists from 14 countries specialising in acrobatic acts. The new show, the title of which means egg in Portuguese, is a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement.

Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, Millennium Forum, Derry, November 6 - 10

This musical adventure, based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, features Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Quality Time

This Banbridge educational play centre opened its door this month. The centre was founded by stay-at-home- mum Natasha after she struggled to find a variety of activities for her two youngest children. Aimed at three to seven year olds, there are also bookable workshops in the areas of STEM, art, storytime, sensory time and fine motor skills. The purpose built play area will have a new theme each month, including new graphics, costumes and wooden toys.

Lost City Adventure Golf

Northern Ireland’s first indoor adventure golf course has opened at Cityside Retail and Leisure Park in Belfast. With two indoor 18-hole courses to choose from – Sunken Skull Ridge and Explorer Falls – the rainforest themed venue offers an entirely different entertainment option, uniquely designed to suit all ages and abilities from three years up.

The Vertigo Indoor Skydive Centre

Opening in February will be Ireland's first indoor skydive centre. The Vertigo Indoor Skydive Centre will be based in Belfast's Titanic Quarter and will use the world’s leading Aerodium tunnel technology, as used by the movie industry to film stunts for award-winning movies including the final fight scene in Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac. Indoor skydiving is suitable for those aged four and upwards and family packages will be available.

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