The alternative St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Holyland area of South Belfast are more ambitious than ever this year with a week-long festival from March 17-24.
The Spring Gathering, co-ordinated by the South Belfast Partnership Board and funded by Belfast City Council’s Community Festival Fund and the Department for Communities, brings together residents and visitors to enjoy a safe, family friendly festival.
The main event is on St Patrick’s Day itself with a host of fun activities taking place in the grounds of Union Theological College in Botanic Avenue from 12-4pm.
Highlights include a Street Ceili, a Drumming Circle, a café serving multi-ethnic food and Heritage Tours by local historian and academic Eamonn Phoenix of the college, including the room where the first Northern Ireland Parliament met and also the historic Friar’s Bush Cemetery.
Brid Ruddy, Holyland resident and Community Director of South Belfast Partnership, said this annual festival has continued to go from strength to strength, developing new partnerships and bringing more communities together.
“We have developed a new partnership with Union Theological College and its students, raising the profile of the festival and highlighting the rich cultural and historical nature of the area. We are expecting more visitors from all over Belfast, who may have been apprehensive coming into the Holyland area. This should be beneficial to the traders in Botanic Avenue.
“This festival had small beginnings but is continuing to grow to include all faiths and ethnic communities coming together in celebration. We are a highly diverse range of communities working collaboratively in the area to deliver such a great event. South Belfast Partnership Board is coordinating and managing the delivery with us as a regeneration vehicle whose mission is to empower communities in partnership to bring about positive change”
This year, the organisers have also joined up with Donegall Pass Community Forum and Accidental Theatre in Shaftesbury Square to extend the range of activities on offer.
This will include a Community Street Market in Donegall Pass on March 22 from 1-7pm with artisan food, craft and community stalls, children’s play area, music and storytelling.
On March 17, Accidental Theatre will feature a Repair Café in association with Tools for Solidarity, a lunchtime documentary and the Orpheus Ball bringing together Irish and Northern Irish musicians for an alternative St Patrick’s Day extravaganza.
From March 18-24 the theatre also features children’s performances, a comedy improv night, acting workshops and a clowning skills workshop and theatre performances. Full details are on the www.accidentaltheatre.co.uk website.
Queen’s University Belfast is another valuable partner and on March 22 from 12.30-2pm staff and student volunteers will join residents for a litter pick-up in the Holyland area followed by lunch.
This event has been organised by Queen’s Environmental Team, Students’ Union and Community Engagement with the support of Belfast City Council. To find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 24 from 12-4pm there is the launch of a community green trail map at ‘Horsey Hill’ pop-up village green at Collingwood Avenue in the Holyland, including a multi-sensory play area, seed planting and food and entertainment.
To check the Spring Gathering programme go to www.southbelfast.org