Fun on the Advent Panto Trail in Ballymena!

Monday December 6th 2021

All set for panto action. From left: Ross Jonas from Play it by Ear; Karen Webb, Connect Base; Victoria Jackson, Connor Children's Development Officer; and Chris Neilands, Play it By Ear.

All set for panto action. From left: Ross Jonas from Play it By Ear; Karen Webb, Connect Base; Victoria Jackson, Connor Children’s Development Officer; and Chris Neilands, Play it By Ear.

The faces (check out our gallery below) say it all! The children – and adults – who came along to St Patrick’s, Ballymena, for the first Connor Christmas Panto Trail on Saturday afternoon had an awesome time!

The colourful seasonal event was put together by Connor Children’s Council and Church Army with the help of Play it By Ear drama company, and the trail in Ballymena was the first of a series of six being rolled out across the diocese this month.

The creative talents of Victoria Jackson, Diocesan Children’s Ministry Development Officer, and Church Army Evangelist Karen Webb, brought the story of the first Christmas to life, with really engaging dramas from Chris and Ross from Play it By Ear.

The Christmas Panto Trail began with a performance of the Nativity Story from Play it By Ear, and in true panto fashion, featured a panto dame and young Buttons, along with a host of other panto and nativity characters.

The children, parents and grandparents, in small groups in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines, followed the performance through different stations in the church hall, before sitting down for arts, crafts and refreshments (including hot chocolate!)

Families then enjoyed a Christingle Service, led by puppets, and had the opportunity to make their own Christingle to take home.

Victoria extended a big thank you to the volunteers at Ballymena Parish for their help in making the Nativity Panto Trail possible and to all of the families who came along and joined in the fun!

She added: “A special thank you to Alan and Lucy for their hard work in the run up to the day and in helping us to set up. It was a great afternoon all around and a brilliant way to kick off the festive season, remembering the reason that we celebrate Christmas!

“We can’t wait for the rest of the events, there are still places available for those who would like to attend, book in by contacting your local parish!”

The event is free, and has proved very popular to date.  Families are required to book in for a specific performance slot, with performances running every 30 minutes. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, spaces are limited, so if you would like to book in for an event please contact the host church to check availability.

The remaining Advent Panto Trails will take place as follows:

  • St Patrick’s, Whitehead – Saturday December 11, 2-4pm
  • Drumaul Parish Church, Randalstown – Sunday December 12, 10:30am-12:30pm
  • All Saints’, Antrim – Sunday December 12, 2-4pm
  • Derryvolgie Parish – Friday December 17, 6:30-8:30pm
  • Lisburn Cathedral – Saturday December 18, 11am-2pm

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