EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this summer, 4th–14th August and everyone is invited!
Packed full of unique, exciting events, festival goers will enjoy music, theatre, film, literature, walks, talks & tours, comedy & cabaret, family focused and community events for all ages.
The celebrations will feature over 100 artists across more than 80 events taking place in a range of venues in east Belfast including: Strand Arts Centre, Vault Artist Studios, The Ballyhackamore Social Club, Banana Block (Portview Trade Centre), C.S. Lewis Square and many more.
The EastSide Arts Festival is supported by Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, funders Belfast City Council, National Lottery Awards for All and Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland, Principal Sponsor Translink, sponsors Connswater and Hewitt & Gilpin.
With the 10th birthday celebrations in mind, here’s 10 of the key events not to be missed at this year’s festival:
Hot House Flowers Thursday 4th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. Having headlined the festival in 2018, EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to have this brilliant live band back to open the festival in their 10th birthday year.
OPTIMO Friday 5th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. Optimo are regarded as one of the most important names in contemporary club culture, partly thanks to their seminal Sunday night party at Sub Club in Glasgow. Optimo will be joined by The Night Institute DJs for their first gig in east Belfast.
Park Fest, Saturday 6th August, C.S. Lewis Square & Orangefield Park. Get your birthday hats and party blowers at the ready for a day of family-friendly creative fun for all ages. Park Fest, delivered alongside EastSide Greenways, will include two family events at C.S. Lewis Square and Orangefield Park and animation along the Connswater Community Greenway linking the two main locations.
Otter Debauchery presents Peninsula, Friday 5th August, Vault Artist Studios. This is a highlight of this year’s programme of events at Vault Artist Studios. Dan Leith/Otter Debauchery will present a new live musical comedy special filled with sardonic wit, honest anecdotes, crude humour, and catchy tunes. Tackling issues such as love, life, saving the planet and being from Belfast.
Hairspray  Thursday 4th August, Strand Arts Centre. This special screening will celebrate the 15th birthday of this hilarious comedy, with a special live performance from resident dance and drama school, Ni Stars! Teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after winning a spot on a local TV dance show.
David Hull Promotions Presents Cash Returns – The Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute Show, Thursday 11th August, C.S. Lewis Square. Cash Returns will kick off the series of ‘Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ events in style. JP Mac (Johnny Cash) and Karen Martin (June Carter) have been hailed as the most exciting Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute in the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is an event not to be missed by Man In Black fans.
Dig with It magazine presents… New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama Friday 12th August, C.S. Lewis Square. New Pagans, Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama represent some of the most inspiring, alternative voices from the local music scene. They are brought together for this special ’Live @ C.S. Lewis Square’ event by Dig With It, a quarterly magazine from Belfast that champions music, arts and counter-culture.
Billy Boy by Rosemary Jenkinson, Thursday 4th August, Vault Artist Studios and Friday 5th August Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. A new play about bonfire culture by east Belfast writer Rosemary Jenkinson. Written in 2021 and inspired by interviews with young bonfire builders, performed by the amazing actor John Travers.
Young at Art’s Baby Rave, Sunday 7th August, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. A family-friendly highlight of the 2015 festival, EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to bring back Baby Rave. With classic dance tunes and pumpin’ beats, you and your mini-ravers can get lost in music together.
Maurice Jay’s Pleasuredome, Sunday 14th August, C.S. Lewis Square. The Ultimate 80’s Party night – pure 80’s musical heaven closes the festival. This is a party you will not want to miss!
William Leatham, Vice Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:
“Thanks to the National Lottery, the Arts Council, as principal funder, is proud to support EastSide Arts and this wonderful flagship festival. EastSide Arts continue to deliver their vision for the creative transformation of the east of the city, based on the power of great art to inspire people and bring us all closer together. Eleven amazing festival days – supported by 365 days of concentrated work behind the scenes, engaging local communities in the arts and building strategic partnerships with cultural organisations across the city. Happy 10th birthday! Enjoy the celebrations, everyone.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black said:
“It is wonderful to see our support for EastSide Arts Festival helping them to grow and thrive on their 10th birthday. Belfast is so proud of our cultural festivals as they bring so much vitality to the city – and encourage people to celebrate, share space and enjoy new experiences together. I’m particularly pleased to see events like Young at Art’s Baby Rave and Hothouse Flowers coming to Banana Block at Portview Trade Centre, which is proving to be a really fantastic, welcoming new venue for east Belfast. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish the organisers and participating artists the very best of luck.”
Director of the EastSide Arts Festival, Rachel Kennedy added:
“We are delighted to invite everyone to join us as at this year’s EastSide Arts Festival as we celebrate our 10th birthday. As always, we are bringing festival goers a jam-packed programme of events that celebrate the people and places of east Belfast and encourage connection and celebration. The festival provides us with the opportunity to showcase the very best of east Belfast as a place of creativity, a place that is vibrant and a place that is welcoming. A huge thanks to our Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Principal Sponsor, Translink for their invaluable support, and the vital support of all of the festival funders and sponsors who have helped the festival reach this incredible landmark.”