Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison's night of nostalgia in Orangefield

By Claire Williamson

Van Morrison took to the stage of his old high school at Orangefield last night – the area immortalised in a song of the same name on his album, Avalon Sunset.

The music star was headlining three special gigs in the school's assembly hall last night, tonight and tomorrow night as part of the EastSide Arts Festival.

The shows are something of a bittersweet homecoming, for the world-famous star will be bidding his alma mater a fond farewell as it prepares to close its doors for the last time at the end of this summer.

In January the Department of Education announced the school was to close, and that its 80 remaining pupils would have to be accommodated at other nearby schools.

The current Orangefield High School was formed in 1990 after the former separate girls' and boys' schools were amalgamated.

Last night the music legend returned to play a concert especially for former pupils and staff.

And just hours before he took to the stage he also became Belfast's newest tourist attraction. A map was launched to help fans find the places he sings about in his home town, such as Cyprus Avenue, The Hollow on the Beersbridge Road, and Hyndford Street, where he grew up.

The self-guided trail, called Mystic Of The East, was developed as part of the £35m Connswater Community Greenway project and leads fans to many of the places referred to in his famous lyrics.

The accompanying map lets visitors listen to 12 song extracts at various key places, using a QR reader, which can be downloaded free from an app store to a phone or tablet, to allow the visitor to play the segments of the songs at the relevant place.

This is one of the first projects approved by Morrison to share his past with his fans, who travel from far and near to see his shows in Northern Ireland.

Tourism chiefs believe the Morrison trail will be a huge draw for tourists and music fans.

Belfast Telegraph

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