The east of the City is getting ready for the hottest summer yet as the annual EastSide Arts Festival, delivered by East Belfast Partnership, serves up a sizzling, 12-day feast of events, from 19th – 31st August. Locations across the EastSide, and beyond, will help to unpack a festival picnic featuring 78 events including 33 FREE events across music, comedy, movies, theatre, talks, workshops, exhibitions, poetry, events for the young and old, community events and heritage tours.
Among the musical highlights are concerts by Van Morrison, who will deliver two sold out performances on Cyprus Avenue. Coming to the EastSide Arts festival straight from their Glastonbury performances are rising star Soak and east Belfast’s own Duke Special, in concert with special guests Malojian. Also lined up are acclaimed American jazz singer Dana Masters and Irish music legends Altan, with special guest Kat Turner – and much more.
The festival will host a wide range of readings, film screenings, poetry, heritage events and lectures. Highlights include Glenn Patterson, who will read from his new book ‘Here’s me here’ and author Lucy Caldwell, who will read from her forthcoming debut short stories ‘Multitudes.’ Gerald Dawe appears with the singer Eleanor Shanley in a special reading/concert, as one of many writers showcasing their work at the festival. The award winning poet Alice McCullough will perform a series of special outdoor recitals at ‘The Hollow’ throughout the festival, while the fantastic Sam McCready will perform his one-man show ‘Percy French Melodies of Unforgotten Years’. Film screenings include the work of acclaimed New York-based artist Marcus Robinson and the work of the late Stewart Parker. Also, Brian Keenan will deliver the David Ervine Memorial Lecture in memory of one of east Belfast’s most revered and visionary politicians.
The Festival also features partnerships with two city centre shows which have strong east Belfast connections, from Marie Jones’ comedy, ‘Fly me to the Moon’ at the Lyric to the smash hit musical based on the George Best story ‘Dancing Shoes’, at The Grand Opera House. East meets West with two special events in partnership with Féile An Phobail. Songwriters from the EastSide will be performing interpretations of the Van Morrison songbook, along by some performances by artists in Irish, at An Cultúrlann in West Belfast and the critically acclaimed play ‘The Holy Holy Bus’ will be staged at The Stormont Hotel.
Something for young and old is guaranteed. From The Baby Rave at Belvoir Players Theatre to NI Stars’ youth production of the fantastic ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at the Strand Arts Centre. Budding Spielbergs can check out the film production school with Strandtown Studios.. Beer connoisseurs will enjoy the Boundary Brewing tour – or for those in search of heritage, why not check out the many heritage tours, including Templemore Avenue Baths – swimming suits not required.
Watch out for an incredible range of free events, including Ciara O’Malley’s mobile space project featuring her interactive caravan of art located at Connswater Pocket Park. Discover the industries of old east Belfast at the Public Records Office or take a trip down memory lane and sing along with John Trotter. For the future story writers take the kids to story workshops, in Skanios Centre, storytelling at Short Strand Community Centre or for budding actors check out acting workshops at Holywood Arches Library. Not forgetting the fantastic family-friendly Orangefield Park Celebrations on August 29, organised by Connswater Community Greenway, featuring workshops, music and street theatre.
Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“I am pleased to support the EastSide Arts Festival, an exciting event which continues to grow in stature and confidence each year. East Belfast is an area with strong cultural foundations, and this festival highlights that rich heritage. It also reflects the growing diversity and cosmopolitan nature of this part of the city with a busy and eclectic programme. The festival has also joined forces with Féile An Phobail, its counterpart in the west, to cross the city with special shows. These are an illustration of the power of the arts to bring people of different backgrounds and traditions together.”
This year the festival has a new principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Roisin McDonough, Arts Council Chief Executive, commented:
“EastSide Arts is opening up the arts to people of east Belfast, and beyond. In four short years, EastSide Arts has created something special. Its flagship event, the EastSide Arts Festival – together with the Woodstock R&B festival and the CS Lewis festival – are giving people an unprecedented opportunity to engage in the arts, culture and the life of this community. We have the opportunity now to celebrate some of the greatest attributes of this place, namely, the creativity and energy of its people and the Arts Council is proud to lend its support to this important venture.
Cllr Deirdre Hargey, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration committee, said:
“Belfast Council is delighted to support this festival and looks forward to seeing a lot of people enjoying themselves at the various events. It is exciting to see the festival extend its reach outside the east of the city and its collaboration with Féile an Phobail. There is a lot of wonderful talent on show so congratulations to everyone involved.”
Anthony Toner, EastSide Arts Manager, commented:
“ It’s been a whirlwind few months preparing the programme for this year’s festival but I believe we have a programme that showcases and deepens the vision laid out in our Arts Strategy for East Belfast. Over the 12 days there is no doubt that people will have fun, be inspired and importantly see the East of the City as a community that is full of creativity, colour and, above all, one that is on a journey of renewal. I want to take this opportunity to thank our key funders, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure for their support as well as our main sponsors as without them this festival would not have been possible.”
For full festival programme including tickets visit www.eastsidearts.net or Facebook/EastSideArts and twitter @EastSideArtsBel #ESAFest15