Belfast Telegraph

New Folktown farmers' market opens in Belfast city centre

By Gary Grattan

A new outdoor market recapturing the excitement and the hustle and bustle of old Belfast has opened in the city's Bank Square today.

Folktown Market, the first independent weekly outdoor market to be granted a licence in 400 years, began with more than 30 stalls selling hot dishes, artisan crafts and locally sourced food including freshly baked bread and handmade cheeses.

Lively music from local folk musicians and buskers added to the atmosphere in the newly renovated square, one of Belfast’s most historic districts.

Folktown CIC Director Joby Fox said the Folktown opening was the culmination of many months of planning to breathe new life and vibrancy into an area that had been forgotten for many years.

Mr Fox, who was bass player with the Belfast band Energy Orchard, has put his creative abilities into developing the market.

“It is so great to see our dreams finally realised. We are delighted by the number and quality of stalls who are supporting the market and are confident that the public will make the Thursday outdoor market one of their must-see events.

“As a musician myself, it is great to see Bank Square coming alive with so many talented players. This is just the start for this space as a creative showcase for this part of the city," he said.

The Department of Social Development spent £3 million renovating Bank Square – an area dating back to the 1600s which is comprised of Bank Street, Berry Street and Chapel Lane. 

Improvements included the installation of natural stone paving, landscaping, improved lighting, free WI-FI, street furniture and art work.

The journey to bring this market to Bank Square involved lengthy negotiations to obtain a licence as under the original charter granted by King James I, the historic rights to operate markets in the city, including those held on private property or indoors, belong to the city council.

“A market is an ideal way to invigorate the economy and to create a buzz. Research shows that for every £1 spent in a market, the local traders get £1.75. This market should bring a great benefit to the small local shops, the historic pubs and the great restaurants in this area,” Folktown Director Sophie Rasmussen said.

The project has been realised with support from DSD, the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme and The Ireland Funds.

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