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EastSide Arts Festival 2019

Celebrating creativity and diversity


From the 1st-11th August places and spaces across east Belfast will transform into hubs of creativity and diversity for the annual EastSide Arts Festival. Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, this year’s  exciting programme is filled with glorious new experiences, amazing and inspiring activities which are open for everyone to enjoy.

With so much to do across music, comedy, film, theatre, talks, workshops, exhibitions, literature, events for the young and old, community events and heritage tours over the 11 days, here’s 11 ideas to capture your imagination:

1. The Big Top at C.S. Lewis Square is back. There’s cool stuff for families with The Irish Video Game Orchestra, Bollywood Baba and Pink and Blue. Music from Kitt Phillipa and Beauty Sleep, a day celebrating 50 years since The Pound opened in Belfast, culminating with a performance by Henry Cluney and Jim Reilly’s X-Stiff Little Fingers; circus cabaret with Tumble Circus and to finish the festival in style, a Dragtastic Wrap Party.
2. Visual Arts: Enjoy late night art events with ArtisAnn Gallery, The Vault and Creative Exchange or call into the fantastic new QSS Studios in the Wyse Byse building for their members’ exhibition.
3. Film: Classic films at  Strand Arts Centre include the 60th anniversary screening of Some Like It Hot and Sunday brunch and screening of When Harry Met Sally.
4. Tower Street Faculty Takeover: For one day only join Seedhead Arts as they take over the old Tower Street Campus and go back to school, but not as you know it – this school curriculum includes beginners’ axe throwing, ballroom dancing and a cocktail masterclass.

5. Workshops: If you are into all things dance check out Project Dance’s weekend of dance featuring leading names from the dance industry, or if creative writing takes your fancy, discover the history of the area and join east Belfast author Heather Richardson for her workshop, ’Stories of the Streets.’

6. Talks & Tours: From Van Morrison to George Best,  Yardmen to Gaelic Tours, Titanic Belfast to Belfast During the Blitz, Gourmet Greenway Foraging  to discovering the stories of people from the past in Dundonald Cemetery, there are dozens of tours to choose from.

7. Children and Families: Travel to Narnia with Mr Tumnus and Translink, listen to three beardy men play music just for babies in ‘Baby Daddy’, meet books and bears at Connswater Shopping Centre, join in all things creative at the FunKademy or check out Drag Queen Story Time at Holywood Arches Library.

6. Special Events include a tea dance at Knocknagoney Community Centre, a literary knittery with Emily DeDakis and Yoga in the Park with East Belfast Yoga and Vault Artist Studios.

9. Theatre and Comedy:  Enjoy A night in November, the award-winning play by east Belfast’s Marie Jones at Strand Arts Centre, a new play by Daniel Kelly about living with Dementia, A Thought for Your Pennies, back by popular demand the cult classic Murder She Got Wrote Off or take a sneak preview of a brand new play, Living the Dream, based on a true story featuring the ‘spirit’ of George Best and John Lennon.

10. Music and Words: Take you pick from an 80’s Prom with live band at The Vault, live music by The Ronnie Greer Almost Big Band with special guests Alice McCullough and Ken Haddock, Hex Hue at St. Martin’s Church, Boxcar Blues Brothers, Matt McGinn, poetry with Colin Dardis, storytelling with Tenx9 and ‘Reporting the Troubles’ with Deric Henderson and Ivan Little.

11. EastSide Festival Fayre and Parkfest: Enjoy A World of Rhythms with ArtsEkta, street dancing with JamzNI and an event showcasing new DJs with More Volume. Two days and two parks -  enjoy free family fun at C.S Lewis Square and Orangefield Park as part of EastSide Parkfest and look out for the live sessions stage featuring young talent from the annual Forestside singer/ songwriter competition at Orangefield Park.

Roisin McDonough, Chief  Executive of Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“It’s always a pleasure to welcome the annual EastSide Arts Festival with its packed programme of inspiring and entertaining arts and cultural  events for everyone to enjoy. The Arts Council, as a principal funder, is delighted to be able to support the EastSide Arts in their continued success as they go about delivering their vision for the creative transformation of east Belfast.”

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy:

“This year’s festival programme reflects and celebrates the growing diversity and creative that is making its presence felt in this part of the city.  It is with huge thanks to the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland as well as all our funders and sponsors that we can continue to deliver our annual festival. The people and places of east Belfast provided the inspiration for our amazing 11 days of events. We warmly welcome everyone to come and join us and enjoy this year’s unique and exciting programme.”

For the full festival programme visit and follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest19.