Belfast Telegraph

Summer festival draws big crowd

by Natalie Irvine

Superb summer weather together with six months of intense preparation saw a five-fold increase in the numbers attending the second annual Ravenlink Festival.

Over 600 people of all nationalities and backgrounds living in south and east Belfast took part in this year’s event at Ormeau Park last Saturday, June 26.

The entertainment included musicians from Zimbabwe, India, China, Poland and Portugal; a Chinese lion dance; an open drum circle with Lagan Village drumming school; art workshops; Irish dancing;|bouncy castles and kids’ activities; and food and craft stalls.

Ravenlink Residents Group, previously known as Ravenlink Women’s Group, piloted the festival last summer in a residential area on lower Ravenhill Road, but this time had the opportunity to team up with Beyond Skin, an organisation which uses arts and music to address sectarianism and the rise in racism.

Jill Rankin, chair of Ravenlink Residents Group, said: “This is the second festival we have run, and we were extremely pleased that so many different nationalities took part in the event. There was a range of age groups too, from babies in prams to the elderly. Any comments we had have all been really positive, and we have received nothing but admiration from the local community for putting this on.

“There wasn’t one cross word from anyone on the day: it was a real success. It was great to work with Beyond Skin, who we became primary partners with in January this year.

“We have lots of people and organisations to thank, particularly Belfast City Council and the Housing Executive who were brilliant. They printed flyers off for us, which really helped us in our advertising. Every schoolchild in Nettlefield had one in their school bag to take home. Ali’s Spar on the Ravenhill Road kindly donated biscuits for our tea tent and Ravenhill Fruit Store made sandwiches for everybody.”

Jill added: “We also wanted to raise awareness that our office has located to the caretaker’s house at Nettlefield School.”

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