EastSide Arts Festival, 27 July – 6 August 2023, returns with a spectacular and exhilarating celebration of the arts this summer. Over 11 days, festival-goers will have the opportunity to enjoy unique events that showcase east Belfast’s vibrant cultural scene and creative talent.
With 60+ events spread across every corner of the east, audiences of all ages will be treated to an extraordinary array of music, comedy, dance, theatre, cabaret, talks, tours, film and family events sure to inspire and engage.
As ever, the festival provides a platform for local artists, entertainers, and performers to shine, whilst bringing people together to enjoy the best of the east. Residents and visitors will have the opportunity to experience thought-provoking theatre and literature, revel in unforgettable music and cabaret, and uncover the hidden gems and historical landmarks that make up east Belfast’s rich heritage.
Some of this year’s festival highlights include:
- Ciaran Bartlett’s Comedy Club with Micky Bartlett and Paddy McDonnell, Thursday 27 July, Banana Block
Two of NI’s comedy giants join forces for a one-off performance for EastSide Arts Festival, with Ciaran Bartlett as MC for the evening.
- The Orb LIVE, support by Explosion Sound Selectors, Friday 28 July, Banana Block
Electronic pioneers, The Orb, celebrate the release of their new album Prism, with the EastSide Arts Festival opening weekend their only NI appearance.
- Saturday 29 July, Templemore Baths
Malcolm Guite, Gaynor Kane, Rosemary Jenkinson, Mark Ward and Elizabeth McGeown will be in conversation on the theme of ‘Work, Place and Language’, led by Dr Connal Parr.
- EastSide Electronics, Saturday 29 July , C.S. Lewis Square
The Night Institute and God’s Waiting Room join forces for this 1,000-capacity open air show featuring David Holmes, Timmy Stewart and Jordan Nocturne – an annual highlight of the local electronic music scene.
- EastSide ParkFest, Sunday 30 July, (free) at C.S. Lewis Square & Orangefield Park
The annual Festival Fun Day joins forces with the EastSide Greenways team to deliver #ParkFest23! Animation will take place along the Connswater Community Greenway, linking the two main events at C.S. Lewis Square and Orangefield Park.
- Life’s a Bowl of Cherrie, Sunday 30 July, Titanic Hotel
Join award-winning entertainer, Miss Cherrie Ontop, in Drawing Office One, Titanic Hotel, for a very special evening of songs from Cherrie, accompanied on the grand piano by the wonderful Darren Day.
- In at the Deep End… A Night of Music with Anthony Toner and Friends, Tuesday 1 August, Templemore Baths
To celebrate the re-opening of the historic Templemore Baths, songwriters Matt McGinn, Ciara O’Neill, Anthony Toner and John McCullough get together in this unique space for an ‘in the round’ evening of celebration and a night of water-themed songs.
- After-Work Club, Friday 4 August , Boundary Brewery
A rare opportunity for the ‘not-so-grown-up’ and the ‘less-than-artistically-gifted’ to indulge in the type of intuitive, “messy” play we loved as children. This event is guaranteed to help kick-start your weekend.
- Joshua Burnside presents Folk in the East, Friday 4 August, Harland & Wolff Staff Club The East Belfast-based troubadour curates an evening of some of the finest slow-burning folk to ever caress your ears.
- ‘Eats-Side’ Food and Drink Tour, Saturday 5 August Looking to explore the food scene in East Belfast? Then join Experience & Explore NI on a food and history tour led by a fully qualified guide. As part of this intimate and personalised experience you’ll be introduced to some of the exciting new ventures that have sprung up in this part of the city.
The EastSide Arts Festival is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, funders Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, National Lottery Awards for All and Halifax Foundation of Northern Ireland, Principal Sponsor Translink and sponsors Connswater, Hewitt & Gilpin and Third Source.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy said:
“As funders of EastSide Arts, we’re delighted to see the festival continuing to grow and flourish, delivering a really eclectic mix of entertainment and fun for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy – from music and dance to comedy, theatre, talks, tours and film. I’m also really pleased to see our newly refurbished Templemore Baths taking its place in the spotlight – and C.S. Lewis Square playing host to more free family fun. EastSide Arts Festival is also playing an important role in showcasing local and up and coming artists – bringing the community together through shared and diverse cultural experiences – and welcoming visitors to the east of the city, which has so much to offer. I wish the artists, organisers and everyone involved the very best of luck and hope everyone attending this year’s EastSide Arts Festival is both entertained and inspired.”
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and principal funder, commented:
“EastSide Arts has lifted the entire profile of the arts in east Belfast and created an environment where artists can flourish. They have shown how a lively arts, culture and entertainment scene can play a leading role in bringing people and communities closer together through shared creative experiences. All of the tremendous work throughout the year is brought into sharp focus through the annual flagship EastSide Arts Festival. The Arts Council, as principal funder of EastSide Arts through our National Lottery funds, is proud to support the festival, as it reinforces the reputation of east Belfast as a place rejuvenated, full of character and creativity.”
John Thompson, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility from Translink and festival principal sponsor, said:
“EastSide Arts Festival is a fantastic example of how great events can bring communities together to celebrate diversity and inclusion through arts and culture. At Translink we’re committed to getting people Better Connected so we’re proud to support EastSide Arts which reflects this goal of connecting communities, whilst supporting local businesses and promoting sustainability. Our services will allow people to access the brilliant programme of events whether they’re travelling locally or from further afield and we would encourage people to utilise the range of transport options, from bus, Glider, and rail, to travel hassle free with great value ticket options.”
Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:
“We are thrilled to present this year’s EastSide Arts Festival, showcasing the extraordinary talent that resides within our community. The festival is a celebration of our diverse artistic landscape, where individuals of all backgrounds can come together and experience the transformative power of the arts, reinforcing east Belfast’s position as a thriving hub of creativity. We are continually grateful for the support we receive from our Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland through the National Lottery, and Principal Sponsor, Translink, as well as the commitment and support from sponsors, funders, participating venues, artists and the dedicated festival team and volunteers who work hard to ensure that everyone has the best time. We really hope you can join us this year – we would love to see you there!”