‘May the North Be with You’ – North Belfast Lantern Festival Returns with Blockbuster Star Wars-Themed Event

Thousands set to attend 8th annual North Belfast Lantern Festival on October 29 & 30

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 later this month.

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 30th 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. And thanks to 501st Events, scores of characters from the seminal sci-fi saga will be out in force too.

Holy Family PS pupils Eabhe Gordon and Saul Thompson with Currie PS pupils Jessica Stevenson and Jordan Cooper.

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 grown 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!”

Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager with Belfast Harbour who are sponsoring the event, said:

 “We are very pleased to be able to support the important work carried out by New Lodge Lodge Arts in promoting good relations across the city. The pupils are really getting behind the Star Wars theme and have produced some excellent lanterns for the parade. I’m sure this year will prove to be another great community event with plenty of fun activities for Stars Wars fans of all ages.”

From 11.30am to 3.30pm on Sunday October 29th, 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 one of the Stars Wars movies. Attendees should come along with a chair, blanket and prepare for the weather with brolly and wellies. 

From 11.30am to 3.30pm on Monday October 30th, there will again be circus performers, lantern making, music, visual arts, storytelling and other visual arts workshops.

For the main parade on Monday October 30, parade participants should gather in the Girdwood Community Hub on Girdwood Avenue from 6pm. The parade will then 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. This is due to the diverse range of activities available and the support provided during preparation for the event.

“We believe that from a Good Relations perspective the Lantern Parade is on 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 Parade is part of the North Belfast Community Pride Programme which is funded through OFMDFM’s 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 or log on to www.newlodgearts.com, Facebook at www.facebook.com/nlarts or Twitter @NewLodgeArts.