EastSide Arts Festival set to Inspire Belfast this August

EastSide Arts is getting ready to bring you the EastSide Arts Festival, 11 days of inspiring events from 10th – 21st August. This year the festival programme is packed with 100 events which will be taking place in more than 40 venues across east Belfast as well as in the city centre.  From music, comedy, movies, theatre, talks, workshops, visual art, exhibitions, poetry, events for the young and old, community events and heritage tours plus over 50 free events – there really is something to inspire everyone this year.

Among this year’s musical highlights are two headline concerts which will be staged in the stunning setting of St Patrick’s Church, Ballymacarrett. Be enchanted with the beautiful atmospheric vocals of Anúna or spend an evening in the company of musician and headmaster of rock, Nick Lowe.  Check out east Belfast’s award-winning musician Kaz Hawkins, who will bring her band and entertain with their unique take on the blues, or renowned saxophonist Keith Donald who is bringing his fantastic one-man drama to the Belvoir Players Studio, tracing his life in music. For younger audiences there’s the Ossia Music Rock School followed by a youth gig featuring East Belfast indie rock band, The Late Twos.  The fantastic Woodstock Rhythm & Blues Festival opens proceedings this year, bigger and better than ever, with 6 days of music in venues across the east and city centre, featuring the sounds of artists such as Amanda St John, Anthony Toner, Ken Haddock, Ronnie Greer and Rab McCullough - to name but a few.

The festival will host a wide range of readings, film screenings, poetry, heritage events and lectures.  Highlights include special tributes to iconic films at Strand Arts Centre from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Big Lebowski and in the spirit of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations, a 20th Anniversary screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.  For fans of written and spoken word, treats include a special Page to Stage event with Lucy Caldwell and Rosemary Jenkinson, in association with the Lyric Theatre, an event featuring the best emerging east Belfast poetry talent, a Literary Supper Club at The Lamppost Café and a bus tour of the east with resident poet, Alice McCullough.

EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to feature the 20th Anniversary celebrations of Creative Exchange Artists’ Studios. Using places and spaces across east Belfast such as the former Engine Room Gallery at Portview Trade Centre, this special occasion will be marked through exhibitions, debates, talks, a billboard project and a special wising tree community art workshop. Other festival visual art highlights include Poolside Watercolour at Templemore Swimming Baths, a sensory dining experience at Framewerk and a series of social arts events at St. Martin’s Church.

Be inspired by the fantastic range of theatrical experiences at this year’s festival. To mark the Somme anniversary internationally renowned local actors Sam and Joan McCready, along with a brass quintet from the Ulster Orchestra, present Letters From The Front. A selection of poems and letters giving accounts of this harrowing time will be shared with the audience.  Also featured this year is one act play – The Prodger - a story about a Catholic Irishman who fought at the Somme. Sam McCready will also feature in No Surrender by Robert Harbinson.  Veteran writer and actor Sam introduces the work of this gifted Ulster writer who was born in Dee Street, east Belfast.

Looking for some comedy? Then look no further than Neil Dougan’s Heretics’ and Head the Balls - a funny look back at 500 yrs of Protestant Culture, or 1916 Tim McGarry Goes Over The Top –a brand new stand-up show about the history of 1916 Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, with Tim’s usual take on things!

This year’s festival is also jam packed with workshops and community events. Following on from their hugely successful Belfast Tempest, intercultural theatre company Terra Nova Productions will deliver a Romeo and Juliet themed Shakespeare masterclass over two evenings. Spend a morning creating thread art with Redhead Thread’s craft workshop; seniors can try out some circus skills and young ones can go Claycrazy at Strand Arts Centre. Free community events range from Jazz On A Summers Day at Park Avenue Hotel (free to seniors) as well as a  fantastic array of activities for young and old at Victoria Park. A special touch for this year’s festival will see many of the festival performers provide intimate taster shows at folds, nursing and residential homes throughout east Belfast.

Want to know more about east Belfast?  Make sure you check out one of the amazing heritage tours from Van Morrison, The First World War, history and architecture of buildings including Strand Arts Centre to a Gaelic Tour of East Belfast. Also, get to know our rising stars. See them at NI Stars production of Wizard of Oz or at EastSide Emerging community showcase, featuring some of east Belfast’s most promising emerging musical talent.

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