Belfast Lego show dead right – build it and they will come
Mini exhibits leave a great big impression on Philip Hedderman
THE Europa Hotel in the centre of Belfast is the perfect place to "build" your ideal weekend away.
Whether it's a spot of shopping, the amazing Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, theatre or, in our case, the Lego exhibit, this vibrant city has something for all the family.
Last year we were officially Titanoraks, but now the shelves of Titanic Belfast are stacked with characters called Emmet, Wyldstyle, Lord Business, Metalbeard, Vitruvius and, of course, Unikitty.
Anybody with their very own Mini Figs will know that this is Lego-speak, and when my 11-year-old got wind of the Brick City show he sang "Everything is Awesome" for almost a week.
Compiled by legendary Lego artist Warren Elsmore, his collection recreates scaled-down versions of iconic buildings and landmarks from across the globe, including London's Olympic Park and Westminster Abbey and smaller works from cities including San Francisco, Toyko and New York
There are 72 in all, but the piece de resistance has to be the gargantuan model of London's famous St Pancras Station, which measures 5ft tall by 12ft long and contains no less than 180,000 Lego bricks.
The exhibition even recreates Marilyn Monroe's famous Seven Year Itch scene that includes that dress!
Real fans, though, will relish the crowd scene at the station where hidden among the throng are a dozen or so famous mini figures from across the range including Zurg (from Toy Story) and C3PO from Star Wars.
Needless to say, we spotted them all - even the ghost.
Dotted around the walls are flat-screen TVs showing the detailed construction of the more complicated models, while there are building stations scattered around the exhibit should you feel the need to be creative.
There's even a signature board where little and big ones can inscribe their names with the little coloured bricks and have their photo taken.
You can browse as long as you like and stay and play for up to an hour, but now we're in the height of the school holidays it's best to book the tickets on-line.
The exhibition is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 7pm, with allocated hourly slots priced at £5 per adult, £4 per child and £15 per family.
If it's shop-until you-drop you're after, the four-star Europa is in the heart of the city and next door to Great Victoria Street rail and bus station. A 10-minute walk and you'll have the equivalent of Grafton Street and Dundrum Town Centre.
The Grand Opera House is only two minutes' walk from the Europa, and straight across the road is one of the best watering holes in the country, the beautifully-ornate Crown Bar.
You'll be spoilt for choice for food, but it really is hard to beat the magnificent Causerie bistro in the Europa with its extensive menu featuring local produce priced from around £10 for a main.
Later, relax in the piano bar and watch the world go by while sipping a cocktail, or opt for the Lobby Bar where live music features at the weekend.
l FOR information on a long weekend in Belfast or holidays in the North, call 1850 230 230 or see www.discovernorthernireland.com
l LEGO exhibit tickets, www.titanicbelfast.com l STAY at the Europa Hotel, call 04890 271066 or see www.hastings- hotels.com