ONE of the most memorable highlights of a very different Christmas was certainly the pantomime staged at The Junction in Antrim!
It proved that the show must go on, even with the dark shadow of COVID hanging over the festive season.
To ensure social distancing, each of the performances were held in the open air, with the eager audiences watching from their cars - showing their approval by honking the horn.
And as well as raising smiles, it has raised thousands for an excellent cause.
The Junction and Cahoots NI will be presenting the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice with a cheque for £6,700.
‘Elves Got Talent’ was viewed by over 2,400 people, selling out each of its nine 40-minute performances that ran over a three-day period.
All proceeds from the £10 per car booking fee were donated to support specialist respite, symptom management and end of life palliative care to over 370 infants and young people living with life-limiting illnesses in Northern Ireland.
As well as raising much needed funds, the special event also provided a festive boost to the struggling arts sectors.
Indeed, the production featured some of Northern Ireland's best known acting talent including Philippa O’Hara and Sean Kearns and was financially supported by Arts and Business Northern Ireland and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Chris Flynn, centre director of The Junction, Antrim, saidthe event was the perfect antidote to the doom and gloom of 2020.
“We are incredibly happy with how successful our first ever drive-in Christmas spectacle went,” he said.
“The team at Cahoots NI developed an exceptionally high-standard production and feedback from all attendees has been immensely positive.
"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas 2020 was very different for everyone but we were determined to inject some festive spirit and give families something to look forward to, which we achieved through the creation of Elves Got Talent.
"Additionally, we recognised the detrimental impact the pandemic was having on charitable organisations, who have been unable to run many their planned fundraising incentives.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have supported the meaningful work that's carried out by Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and made the decision to donate the fees captured from the event weekend to support the charity's work in offering specialist care to infants and young people across Northern Ireland.”
Mary McCall, director of Northern Ireland Hospice, said it was a welcome boost in difficult days.
“The Junction has been extremely supportive of Northern Ireland Hospice during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping with our Emergency Appeal early last year and creating this wonderful Christmas event.
“This kind donation will help care for children with life limiting conditions and their families all over Northern Ireland.
“Lockdown is extremely hard for us all, but our families have complex caring needs and require our support. It is because of businesses like The Junction and generosity of the community that we continue to deliver our vital care despite COVID-19 and ensure we are there when we are needed.”