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North Belfast Lantern Festival 2017

North Belfast Lantern Festival

Up to 4,000 revellers - led by Star Wars fan-favourites Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker- are set to bring 'a new hope' to the city when one of Belfast's largest community festivals returns this week.

The two-day festival, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of 'Star Wars: A New Hope', runs from Sunday October 29 to Monday 30 at Alexandra Park and boasts a wide range of fun-packed, family activities.

The big parade on October 30 will see around 800 children and young people participating from schools and community groups across North Belfast with 501 events providing scores of characters from the sci-fi saga.

The North Belfast Lantern Festival is led by Ashton Community Trust and delivered by New Lodge Arts.

Paul Roberts, CEO of Ashton Community Trust, said: "The North Belfast Lantern Festival is in its eighth year having gone from strength-to-strength. It offers a fabulous opportunity for children, young people and families from right across North Belfast to come together and enjoy a spectacular programme of arts activities, outdoor cinema, performances, enchanted walks and fireworks.

"The festival is a great example of the North Belfast Community Spirit and Ashton Community Trust is delighted to be leading on it supported by a steering group of various North Belfast based youth and community organisations."

New Lodge Arts' Good Relations Arts Officer Cecilia Heron said: "This promises to be a fun-packed two-day festival which aims to enable communities to engage in a creative environment and to build good relations.

"It's really exciting to see the young people get behind the theme and create their own Jabba The Huts and BB8s for the event.

"In addition to the big fireworks finale, there will be an array of performers, music, food stalls and a UV disco. I would urge as many people as possible to come out and see a sci-fi parade that's out of this world!"

Here's a look at the events day by day:

Sunday, October 29 from 11.30am to 3.30pm

There will be circus performers, lantern making, music, visual arts, storytelling and other visual arts workshops. Then from 6pm to 8pm there will be an outdoor cinema showing The Empire Strikes Back. Attendees should come along with a chair, blanket and prepare for the weather with brolly and wellies.

Monday, October 30 from 11.30am to 3.30pm

There will again be circus performers, lantern making, music, visual arts, storytelling and other visual arts workshops.

For the main parade on Monday, parade participants should gather in the Girdwood Community Hub on Girdwood Avenue from 5.30pm.

The parade will leave at 6.30pm and move along Cliftonpark Avenue, down Cliftonville Road, move onto the Antrim Road, across Atlantic Avenue, down Limestone Road and then into Alexandra Park via the Mileriver Street entrance. Gates will be open from 6.30pm onwards. The event wraps up a firework display at 8.45pm.

People attending the event, and who are not actively participating, should purchase a wristband to gain entry to Alexandra Park. These cost £1 and are available from the Ashton Centre on 5 Churchill Street .

Stevan Dempsey, Youth and Community Development Worker, from the Westland Community Group said: "The Westland Community Group have participated in the Lantern parade since its inception and the feedback from participants and residents who have regularly attended is that it has been the highlight of the year in terms of community celebrations.

"We believe that from a Good Relations perspective the Lantern Parade is one of the most inclusive and representative events in the country providing a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere that enables participants to embrace the arts, community pride and consider the possibilities for the future of their area."

The North Belfast Lantern Festival is part of the North Belfast Community Pride Programme which is funded through The Executive Office's North Belfast Strategic Good Relations Programme and led by Ashton Community Trust.

The programme is delivered by New Lodge Arts and supported by a steering group of various North Belfast based youth and community organisations. Other funders for the project include Belfast City Council, Tudor Trust and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

For more information contact Cecilia Heron at New Lodge Arts on 02890 742255 / cecilia.heron@ashtoncentre.com .

Contact Details

New Lodge Arts Ashton Centre 5 Churchill Street Belfast, BT15 2BP 028 9074 2255 anne.delaney@ashtoncentre.com 

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