EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday

As Belfast’s EastSide Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this summer, Jenny Lee picks 10 key events not to be missed this August

Irish rock and soul group Hothouse Flowers will play this year's EastSide Arts Festival
Irish rock and soul group Hothouse Flowers will play this year's EastSide Arts Festival

THE summer festivals just keep on coming and Belfast's EastSide Arts Festival, running from August 4 to 14 is packed with a host of events for all ages.

Festival-goers can enjoy music, theatre, film, literature, walks, talks, tours, visual art, comedy and cabaret across 80 events in a range of venues.

1. Soda Popz Lunchtime Bop, August 4, Strand Church. An afternoon of foot-tapping tunes that will transport you to the Golden Age of Dance Halls, with pit stops in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Refreshments are available in this dementia-friendly event.

2. Hothouse Flowers, August 4, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. This year marks 30 years since Hothouse Flowers' debut album, People, was released.

3. Optimo, August 5, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. One of the most important names in contemporary club culture, they will be joined by The Night Institute DJs for their first gig in east Belfast.

4. Park Fest, August 6, CS Lewis Square and Orangefield Park. A day of family-friendly creative fun and animation along the Connswater Community Greenway linking the two main locations.

5. Otter Debauchery presents Peninsula, August 5, The Vault. Dan Leith/Otter Debauchery presents 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.

6. Gaelic East Belfast Bus Tour, August 7, CS Lewis Square. Find out where Irish has been on public display on the Newtownards Road for more than a century. Discover the meaning of Lisnasharragh, the identity of Owen O'Cork, and savour the verses of the Bard of Ballymacarrett.

7. Headdress, August 6, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre Put your glad rags on and bring all your mates along to have a couple of drinks while you re-discover your inner queen. With assistance from your hosts Elaine Taylor and Kerrie Hanna, you will be provided with the cheapest, tackiest, strangest materials to construct your very own wearable headdress, then show it off on our runway in front of our fabulous judging panel.

8. Twenty Remarkable Women Walking Tour, August 13, Roselawn Cemetery. This 90-minute guided walking tour will call at the final resting places of 20 remarkable women including Helen Lewis, sportswomen Cis Blanchflower (nee Ellison) and Ena McKeown, two Titanic widows who died one day apart, Lillian Spence, Dame Ingrid Allen, and even a former nanny of Bette Davis.

9. Young at Art's Baby Rave, August 7, Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre. A family-friendly highlight for children under four and their grown-ups. With classic dance tunes and pumpin' beats, you and your mini-ravers can get lost in music together, with a playlist specially curated by Young At Art's resident DJ.

10. Songwriters in the Round: Ken Haddock, Ciara O'Neill and Wilfie Gilbert, August 5, Willowfield Church. Lining up across the stage is three of Northern Ireland's best voices – singer songwriter Ken Haddock, Wilfie Gilbert and the emotive voice of Ciara O'Neill.

:: For the full festival programme and ticket information visit eastsidearts.net.