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EastSide Arts Festival 2020


From the 6th - 16th August join EastSide Arts Festival as they present an 11-day programme of inspiring and creative events featuring music, theatre, literature, story-telling, visual art, talks and tours under the theme, Moments of Joy. This year’s events can be enjoyed online from the comfort of your own home, outdoors in person, or in a small number of east Belfast locations as part of a live, socially distanced audience.

With the challenges presented by Covid-19, this year’s festival, supported by principal funder Arts Council of Northern Ireland and funders Belfast City Council and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, has adapted to ensure that it continues to bring unique, exciting, joyful events to east Belfast this summer whilst making safety and accessibility the main priority.


EastSide Arts Festival 2020 presents a range of new and interesting experiences for everyone to enjoy. Whether you plan to participate online, outdoors or as part of a socially distanced audience, here’s some festival highlights to help you create your Moments of Joy this August:

  1. Theatre moments: Kabosh Theatre Company presents to a live, socially distanced audience at Connswater Shopping Centre, The King of East Belfast, a story of ‘Old Godfather Clark’ aka well-known and popular east Belfast bookie, Clark Groves. Join Amadan Theatre Company online for The Old Curiosity Show, designed specifically for an online audience it will be theatre as you’ve never seen it before! Or perhaps join The Travelling Cycle Circus on their outdoor adventures along the Connswater Community Greenway.
  2. Heritage moments: The iconic Strand Arts Centre will provide socially distanced cinematic treats in their beautiful art deco building including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Green Book (2018). Join well known east Belfast man Sammy Douglas for the much anticipated online launch of the EastSide Lives Heritage Trail with a film preview and Q&A, or take a virtual C.S. Lewis or Yardmen Tour in which you can experience all the sights and sounds of the east without leaving your home!
  3. Music & Audio moments: EastSide Sessions at Portview will premiere new recordings by musicians Gareth Dunlop, Edelle McMahon, Dani Larkin and Arborist, in the stunning surroundings of Portview Trade Centre, including short interviews with each artist by Anthony Toner. Also at Portview, and fully live-streamed, will be EastSide Electronics. Presented by The Night Institute, this event will feature a selection of the city's most forward-thinking artists for a night of exciting electronic music. Also online, join Stuart Bailie as he celebrates Van Morrison’s 75th birthday, which occurs in August, with two special events featuring Stuart’s reviews of his 75 favourite Van songs. Join the festival for an online special performance at The Ballyhackamore Working Men’s Club by renowned musician Joshua Burnside.
  4. Online Storytelling moments: Listen to Drag Queens reading from their favourite children’s books, artists reading from books for children highlighting specific issues such as race or gender or attend the online launch of author Jan Carson’s Postcard Stories 2.
  5. Art moments: Join us on Zoom for a workshop with Alice McCullough about painting, poetry and a discussion about the relationship between these art forms. Or come to one of our socially distanced Street Art Walking Tours with Seedhead Arts and discover the new artwork that adorns walls across east Belfast.
  6. More moments: There’s a whole host of outdoor and online events including green yoga with music, Greenway photography, The Vault Artists’ Market at C.S. Lewis Square, a Dragtastic Wrap Party, exhibitions and artists’ talks, and Samba in the Park with BEATnDRUM.

Noirin McKinney, Director, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council, as a principal funder, is delighted to be able to support the EastSide Arts Festival as an important community-based event. They have produced a great programme for 2020 in response to the circumstances imposed by Covid-19; from online, live-streamed music from EastSide Electronics, to virtual tours of C.S. Lewis or the Yardmen, to live events such as the much-anticipated play by Kabosh, The King of East Belfast, which will be a welcome return for audiences to live, socially distanced theatre. We wish Rachel and the EastSide Arts team continued success as they go about delivering this amazing mix of virtual, online, outdoors and live events all the while contributing to the creative transformation of east Belfast.”

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy commented:
This is a year like no other and like all our friends and partners we will be putting the health and safety of our audiences above everything else. For this reason, most of our festival events this year will be productions that you can enjoy online. There will be the usual assortment of events that celebrate the people, places and spaces of east Belfast for everyone to participate in, but this year we have adapted many of these so that audiences can choose to enjoy many of these safely at home or outdoors. With the theme, ‘Moments of Joy’, the programme continues to reflect and celebrate the growing diversity and creativity that is making its presence felt in this part of the city. A huge thanks to the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland as well as all our funders and sponsors who have helped us deliver a festival during these challenging times. We warmly invite you to enjoy this year’s unique and exciting programme and we thank you for supporting not only EastSide Arts, but the many artists we have had the pleasure of working with to make it happen.”

For the full festival programme and ticket information visit Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest20.