Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison leads east Belfast's top arts figures back home for festival

By Amanda Ferguson

Van Morrison, Glenn Patterson and Marie Jones are just some of the famous names to emerge from east Belfast on the line-up at this year's EastSide Arts Festival.

Now in its third year, a mixture of visual art, lectures, walking tours, film and music will be keeping people entertained from August 21-25 at Orangefield High School, the Strand Arts Centre, Park Avenue Hotel, Orangefield Park and Shorts Recreation Club.

At the launch of the festival yesterday, organisers from the East Belfast Partnership said "growing, thriving and legacy buildings" were the key messages they hoped to deliver through the eclectic programme of events.

Singer Van Morrison is to bid a fond farewell to the east Belfast school he immortalised in song as it closes its doors this summer.

He is taking part in three gigs at his old school, Orangefield High, which famously featured on the Avalon Sunset album. Demand was so high for the first two gigs, a third date (August 24) has been announced for ex-pupils and staff only. Tickets are available this Saturday from 1-3pm.

Other ex-Orangefield pupils and staff will be taking part in the festival, including playwright Marie Jones, writer Brian Keenan, Thin Lizzy musician Eric Bell, poet Gerald Dawe and actor Sam McCready.

It will also celebrate the contribution of late playwright Stewart Parker, pioneering first headmaster of the school the late John Malone and the late PUP leader David Ervine.

The programme also features singer Kaz Hawkins, novelist Glenn Patterson and actor Dan Gordon.

Maurice Kinead, chief executive of the East Belfast Partnership, said: "We hope to welcome as many people from the east of the city and beyond during the festival and hope that they leave with a sense that the arts is growing and thriving here."

A range of free events including music, circus acts and a cross-community art installation will be hosted in Orangefield Park in association with Connswater Community Greenway.

The festival is supported by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Arts Council chief executive Roisin McDonough welcomed this year's varied programme of events, saying "there is something for everyone, from young to old and everyone in between".

The official charity for the festival is Barnardos.

For programme details visit

Top five highlights from the festival

  • Thursday, August 21 – Kaz Hawkins (Opening Concert) Tickets: £10 (£8 concession) Strand Arts Centre 8pm-10pm
  • Friday, August 22 – John Malone Memorial lecture by Prof Tony Gallagher FREE (booking required) Orangefield High School 1pm-2.15pm
  • Saturday, August 23 – Van Morrison public concert £85 (no concessions) Orangefield High School 8pm–10pm
  • Sunday, August 24 – How the East was Sung. Intro by Stuart Baillie FREE (booking required) Strand Arts Centre 1pm-2.15pm
  •  Monday, August 25 – Marie Jones interviewed by Dan Gordon Tickets: £8 (£6 concession) Orangefield High School 5pm–6.30pm

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