It’s Christmas at the Lyric – Bah, Humbug!

Well-known Northern Ireland double act and writers Conor Grimes and Alan McKee aka Grimes and McKee return to the Lyric Theatre this Christmas (17 Nov 2018 – 05 Jan 2019) with Bah, Humbug!, a modern day Belfast take on the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol.

Meet Ebeneezer Scrooge (Michael Condron). He is the richest property developer in Belfast and the most tight-fisted. Scrooge has an unsettling visit from his former ‘dead’ business partner Jacob Marley (Alan McKee) who along with three ‘scary biscuit’ spirits (Sophie Harkness and Roisin Gallagher) show him the error of this ways. But why should Scrooge change his way just because of Christmas? Even poor Bob Cratchitt (Conor Grimes) is only getting one day’s leave (unpaid).

Directed by Frankie McCafferty, Bah, Humbug! is a not-to-be-missed Belfast take on this classic festive tale featuring a few scary songs and a really really scary dance. Will Scrooge change and repent of his greed? Will he help the poor and destitute and become a better man? Or will he remain the same old capitalist pig that he always has been?

Looking forward to the start of the show, Director of Bah, Humbug! Frankie McCafferty said: Bah, Humbug! is a brilliantly written play with music by the very talented duo Grimes and McKee. Not only have they written a modern day Belfast version of the Dickens classic Christmas tale, but audiences will also be treated to two fantastic performances from them.  I am delighted to be back at the Lyric directing this show as part of the Lyric50 programme. With a fantastic cast and production team this cracker of a show is one not to be missed.”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer of Lyric Theatre Belfast, added: Bah, Humbug! is a brilliant addition to our 2018 Christmas programme and we are delighted to  feature it as part of our ongoing Lyric50 celebrations. Audiences are in for a festive treat with this Belfast version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol written by the fantastic Grimes and McKee, with a star cast and an all-singing, all-dancing feel-good show. On behalf of all the team at Lyric Theatre we wish all our supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Bah, Humbug!”

Bah, Humbug! runs at Lyric Theatre Belfast from 17 Nov 2018 – 05 Jan 20198pm (17 & 18 Nov: £15). Tickets: £22.50, Concessions (Students, Unemployed & Under 20’s): £15, over 65’s any matinee: £15.For further information and bookings visit:

Cast members Sophie Harkness, Alan McKee and Conor Grimes.

Ian McKellen to make his debut at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 8oth birthday next year by raising funds for theatres, with a new solo show which will play on 80 stages across the UK, including two days at the Lyric Theatre on 25 and 26 July 2019.

His intimate show, Ian McKellen On Stage, is a mixture of anecdote and acting, including Tolkien, Shakespeare, others…and you the audience.

The UK tour begins in January 2019 and continues right across the year, when he will visit theatres large and small with which he has personal connections, including amateur groups he knew as a child and notable playhouses he has played in as a professional actor over the last half-century.

Ian McKellen was very keen to bring his new solo show to the land of his ancestors and to discover his roots during this unique tour.  James McKellen left Ballymena in 1840, since when his family has been settled in England but McKellen will be making his début at the Lyric and at a number of other local theatres including Waterside Theatre in Derry/Londonderry, the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena and Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey in order to help support the work of these theatres in his ancestral home.

Ian McKellen says: “I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney.

“Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself, with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions. Sean Mathias, the director and I have worked together for stage and screen, many happy times.

“I’ve presented previous solo shows in Belfast, but this will be my début at the Lyric. I wanted to include Northern Ireland in the tour celebrating my 80th birthday as my ancestors lived close by 200 years ago. Profits will go towards a technical apprenticeship, the New Playwright mentor programme and a trainee director scheme.”

The Lyric Theatre’s Executive Producer Jimmy Fay says: “We are privileged to be one of the UK regional venues to host Ian McKellen On Stage and to have this opportunity to raise vital funds to support and develop artists and practitioners across all areas of the Lyric theatre, both on and off stage.  All of us in this sector are united by a passion for the arts and love of what we do, and this special show is a rare and excellent opportunity to celebrate one of its greatest actors and to raise vital funds to keep the lifeblood of theatre flowing. Thank You, Sir Ian!”

Ian McKellen On Stage runs at Lyric Theatre Belfast on 25 and 26 July 2019 7.45pm. Tickets: £50. For further information and bookings visit:

To make a donation please visit:

For further information and tour map, please see the website for more details:


CastleCourt has today announced its much-loved Christmas parade will return to the streets of Belfast city centre on Saturday, 17th November, officially marking the shopping centre’s month-long calendar of festive activity.

Ready to spread holiday cheer, the annual procession which has entertained thousands of families over two decades, is set to be bigger and better than ever before.

Setting off from Writer’s Square at 12noon, Santa will again lead this year’s exciting line-up in his brand-new train and sleigh, joined for the first time by Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Reindeer. The trio will lead the magical parade past St. Anne’s Cathedral along Donegal Street, arriving at Royal Avenue at 12.30pm.

Families are invited to follow the parade, alongside an amazing line up of giant characters and riveting performers, including glistening snowmen, sparkling Christmas trees and the cast of Belfast Operatic’s Elf The Musical, which will give spectators an exclusive preview performance of their new Christmas production.

A second red train will complete the spectacle of wonder, with a 12-seater carriage which will choo-choo its way through the city centre, transporting elves and children, while two giant, white inflatable horses and an inflatable toy soldier is sure to delight spectators nationwide.

These will be complimented by a dazzling array of stilt-walking characters and his towering friends, including a juggling elf, ice-queen, grinch and Mrs. Christmas which will entertain kids at the entrance to CastleCourt whilst they herald Santa’s arrival at 12.30pm.

The procession will culminate at CastleCourt, where Santa will take up residence in this year’s fabulous grotto at 1.00pm, and delight thousands of visiting children and their families until 24th December.

Paul McMahon, Centre Manager at CastleCourt said: 

“For more than 25 years, CastleCourt has signalled the official start of the Christmas season for thousands of families. Christmas is – and has always been – our biggest annual highlight and one which has been warmly adopted by the entire city of Belfast.

“At this special time, we are thrilled to once again kick off this year’s festive celebrations with an even bigger and better annual Christmas procession, led of course by the big man himself. At CastleCourt, we’re passionate about Belfast, our customers and our community, and we’re deeply proud to play such an important role to spread some festive cheer.

“We are incredibly excited about this year’s amazing line-up of entertainment, which promises to bring the city alive from 12noon right through to early evening.”

The Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra will complete the day’s exciting programme of activity by performing contemporary renditions of Christmas classics on Royal Avenue’s stage from 2.00pm.

For more information, please visit

Follow @CastleCourt on various social networks and join the conversation using #CastleCourtSantaParade

Thousands in Free Shopping Up for Grabs as Lidl Launches Christmas Trolley Dash Tickets on Sale from Monday 12th November – All Proceeds in Aid of NSPCC Northern Ireland

Lidl Northern Ireland is giving away up to £10,000 worth of free shopping this December as part of a major festive fundraiser for its charity partner, NSPCC Northern Ireland.

The Lidl Christmas Trolley Dash gives customers the chance to win their entire ‘big Christmas shop’ – for the price of a £1 ticket.  Shoppers can purchase tickets in-store from Monday November 12th to Sunday December 2nd to be in with a chance to win one of 38 ‘free trollies’ – one for each Lidl store in Northern Ireland.

Winners will have two minutes to dash through their local Lidl aisles stocking up on as many Christmas goodies as possible, including items from the supermarket’s premium Deluxe and Favorina ranges.  With last year’s winners bagging an average £250 worth of free products, participants have the potential to sizeably reduce their overall Christmas spend.

Shoppers aren’t the only winners as 100% of all ticket sales will go directly to NSPCC Northern Ireland to fund key initiatives to help keep children safe.  Last year, the Lidl Christmas Trolley Dash raised nearly £78,000 to support the charity’s Speak Out, Stay Safe schools’ programme, run in partnership with Lidl.

“Shoppers always save money at Lidl, but our Christmas Trolley Dash is a chance for 38 lucky customers to fill their trolley completely free of charge.  Even better, every penny in proceeds goes to support the important work carried out by NSPCC,” said Angela Connan, Lidl Northern Ireland’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.  “We really want everyone to get involved as this is a great chance to cut the cost of Christmas whilst supporting a terrific local cause.”

Joanne McMaster, NSPCC fundraiser, said:

“We are incredibly proud to have Lidl Northern Ireland as our official charity partner.  Over the course of our two-year partnership, Lidl has pledged to raise £250,000 to support our work with local children and young people.  This year, the Lidl trolley dash will be raising vital funds for the NSPCC Helpline and our Light for Every Childhood Christmas appeal.

“In 2017, nearly a third of all calls to the NSPCC Helpline related to neglect, a figure that’s even higher at Christmas time. This Christmas help us shine a light on more children so together we can get help to children who need it, right now.  If you think a child or young person needs your help talk it over with NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.”

The Lidl Christmas Trolley Dash will take place in all 38 stores on Saturday 15th of December at 7.50am, before opening time to allow winners an uninterrupted dash through the aisles.  For more information about how to get involved and for competition terms and conditions, please go to

Last Chance to Enter the Young Travel Writers Competition 2018

Glenn Patterson, Young Travel Writer judge and novelist, and Rosemarie McHugh, Young Travel Writer judge and Director of Product Development at Tourism NI.

With November being National Novel Writing Month, Tourism NI has put a call out to remind any budding storytellers and explorers to enter the Young Travel Writers Competition before Monday 12thNovember.

Along with partners including Department for Communities Historic Environment Division, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council and the British Council, Tourism NI is inviting novelists of the future to draw on their creative skills and share tales of their adventures with family and friends.

Rosemarie McHugh, Director of Product Development at Tourism NI, who will decide the overall winner and the Young Travel Writer of 2018, said: “We have had a fantastic response to the Young Travel Writers Competition so far and the judges are looking forward to reading the impressive entries. With a wealth of hotspots and hidden gems to inspire our talented young writers in the European Year of Cultural Heritage, we have extended the deadline to allow Northern Ireland’s adventurers to make the most of mid-term explorations.”

The competition challenges creative young writers to share their travelling adventures of ‘How I explored Northern Ireland this year’, for the chance to win exciting prizes and the coveted title of ‘Young Travel Writer 2018’.

Northern Ireland novelist and Young Travel Writers judge, Glenn Patterson, has shared his expert story-writing tips to help young authors create thrilling and captivating tales of your adventures across Northern Ireland.

Glenn said: “With November being National Novel Writing Month and 2018 being the European Year of Cultural Heritage, there is no better time for budding young writers in Northern Ireland to draw on their creative flair and take heed of my top tips to build upon their skills and talents.”

  1. Look out for ideas in real life

Exploring NI during the summer, half-term holidays or at the weekends means there are plenty of opportunities to get inspired. Whether it be scaling the Mourne Mountains, taking in the views across the Coast or uncovering the history of one of NI’s ancient abbeys and castles, there are many stories to be told and memories to be made.

  1. Set the scene

What are the most important pieces of information you need to include in your story? Is it describing the unique setting or location of where you explored? Or perhaps is it a high-action adventure with plenty of momentum, into which you must launch your readers? No two stories start the same, and your memories can decide which kind of introduction best suits your story.

  1. Becoming a writer

What are your favourite books and what are the best bits? You are becoming a writer because you have been a reader and it has inspired you! Think about the storylines that you have enjoyed and don’t be afraid to borrow a few writing techniques that have stood out.

  1. Video speaks a thousand words

For the video category, we are seeking the young visual storytellers of the future to put their skills to the test. Promising film directors and producers can share a two-minute snapshot of their explorations, to give the judges a real taste of the action. Try to capture your adventures in good lighting, from good angles and don’t rush!

  1. Enjoy yourself!

You are sharing the story of an experience you enjoyed, so why wouldn’t you enjoy telling your tale? Ask your friends and family who were with you what they remember and bring together everyone’s best memories. You could be on to a winner!

The competition is open to those from the ages of 6 to 16 years old and will close on Monday 12thNovember 2018. Entrants in each category are in with a chance to win a GoPro Hero 5, while the overall Young Travel Writer 2018 will win an exclusive weekend break at Blackhead Lightkeeper’s House with their family in Northern Ireland. Entries should be submitted to

To find out more about the competition, including entry categories and terms & conditions visit

To get inspiration for family breaks across Northern Ireland please visit

Budding young writers Anna Attwood, Oliver Poots and James McCrum.


Morelli’s Ice Cream has launched a limited edition Pumpkin Pie flavour ice cream just in time for Halloween. The brand celebrated the new flavour launch today (Saturday 27th October) with a special Halloween screening of Hocus Pocus at Movie House, Cityside with a few familiar Northern Irish faces in attendance such as former Ulster Rugby player, Paddy Wallace and model and mummy blogger, Lucy Evangelista.

The devilishly delicious new flavour consists of pumpkin flavoured ice cream layered with Morelli’s special Halloween cookie crumble ripple. Guests and their families enjoyed the Halloween film while tucking into the new flavour, after a wickedly wonderful ice cream reception where guests had a chance to meet the man himself, Mr. Morelli.

Daniela Morelli, Sales and Marketing Manager for Morelli’s, said: “We love coming up with fun new limited edition flavours to share with our customers, and we’re very excited to reveal our latest creation, Pumpkin Pie flavour. You can’t have Halloween without pumpkins, so this was a great opportunity for us to get creative and put a seasonal twist on our delicious ice cream.”

Pumpkin Pie will be available to purchase at Morelli’s Ice Cream parlours across Northern Ireland until Friday 9th November. Visit for more information on Morelli’s, including where to buy this spooktacular limited edition flavour!

‘Grace and Goliath’ screenwriter receives a Rising Star Award in LA

Maire Campbell

Cinemagic’s latest feature film ‘Grace and Goliath’, which had its world premiere in Belfast, hit cinema screens in New York and Los Angeles recently.

The USA cinema screenings of Grace and Goliath were part of the 2018 Irish Screen America Programme.  The programme runs a bi-coastal Irish Screen America festival in New York and in Los Angeles, which ran from 19 – 28 October.

Irish Screen America also announced that Maire Campbell, Grace and Goliath’s screenwriter, was the recipient of a prestigious Rising Star Award at the festival.

Joan Burney Keatings MBE, producer and executive producer of GRACE AND GOLIATH, and Chief Executive of Cinemagic, the award-winning Belfast-based film and television charity for young people, discusses“We are absolutely thrilled that Grace and Goliath will be screened to audiences in New York and Los Angeles and in Boston in December. We have been overwhelmed at the excitement and positive feedback, both locally and internationally, for the film since the world premiere in Belfast just a few weeks ago.

“The film showcases the beauty of Northern Ireland, its stunning landscape and also the genuine warmth, humour and spirit of the Northern Ireland people. We are unique in so many ways and this feature film captures and conveys our positivity.”

Ms Burney Keatings continues: “I would like to thank Irish Screen America for their continued support and on behalf of Cinemagic and the wider production team I would also like to congratulate Maire Campbell. We always believed she was a rising star and this award simply confirms that!”

Originally from Omagh, Maire is a writer and director who creates ground-breaking work for stage and screen. Maire was the screenwriter for Cinemagic’s first feature film ‘A Christmas Star’ and she has also written a number of compelling short films for the charity including ‘Sasha of the Sea’, ‘Chancer’, ‘Punch’ and ‘A Time to Stand’.

Maire has just returned from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a play she wrote, directed and produced called ‘Epiphany’.

Discussing Irish Screen America’s Rising Star Award, Maire Campbell says: “I am very honoured to receive this award from Irish Screen America (ISA). ISA plays an instrumental role in promoting work from this part of the world right across America and we really value what they do for our local creative industry.

“I also think it is important to acknowledge the incredible producers and crew at Cinemagic.  They believed in me and worked tirelessly to bring Grace and Goliath to the screen; a heartfelt thank-you to them. To Tony Mitchell the film’s remarkable director, thank-you for capturing the core message of the story; that although life can be very tough, love and grace must prevail.”

Since its inception, Irish Screen America has grown in tandem with the Irish film industry and connected Irish films with audiences and distributors in the U.S. and promoted upcoming Irish talent within its North American creative network.

Grace and Goliath’s unique production process also supported upcoming talent. Fifty aspiring filmmakers aged from 17 to 25, from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Los Angeles were given the chance to take part in a six-week training programme under the guidance of British/Canadian director Tony Mitchell (The Bible, AD The Bible Continues, Primeval, Supervolcano and Flood), producer and Cinemagic chief executive Joan Burney Keatings MBE, and GRACE AND GOLIATH screenwriter Maire Campbell.

The aspiring young filmmakers got practical experience in a range of disciplines from directing and production right through to costume, make-up, sound, lighting and music composition. Significantly, as a result of their input, they also gained their first ever credit on a feature film.

Film and television charity Cinemagic ( working with young people in 1989, and has since run festivals, workshops and masterclasses in Belfast, London, Castres (France), New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Nashville to encourage involvement in the industry. Cinemagic patrons include Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Saoirse Ronan, Paula Malcomson, Julian Fellowes, and Suranne Jones to name a few.

Marie Campbell and Olivia Nash at the Irish premiere of CINEMAGIC’s exciting new family film GRACE and GOLIATH which is presented in association with Tourism NI.

Local communities set to get the full film festival experience (with a twist…)

An exciting new initiative aims to project the thrills of the silver screen right into the heart of communities in Belfast and beyond.

Film Hub NI, working with Clanmil Housing Association, have unveiled an ambitious project which takes in four local communities, 36 classic movies and three mini festivals in just four months!

The idea couldn’t be simpler. Tenants of Clanmil Housing from across four communities – three in Belfast, one in Dundrum – get to pick the films they want to watch from a specially selected movie menu.

These 3 selected film choices are then screened slap bang in the heart of the communities, over one day, in a mini-movie festival atmosphere targeted at Primary School Children, younger teens and 15 plus.

The first round of these mini movie fests are taking place over Halloween week, the second over Christmas and the final screenings over the February 2019 half-term break!

The communities involved are from the Ormeau Road in south Belfast, Glen Road in west Belfast, Dundrum and Sailortown. The 4 venues are Curzon, Ormeau Rd. Main Street, Dundrum, Caffrey Hill, Glen Road and Harbour View, Sailortown.

Proceedings kicked off on the week beginning 29 October with Spooktacular cinematic extravaganzas for all ages, with movie choices including the Corpse Bride and The Babadook! Ormeau Road residents started the spooky proceedings with a screening of animated children’s horror classic Monster House!

Other potential film titles for residents to choose from over Christmas and February half term, include classics such as Gremlins, Elf, Muppet’s Christmas Carol (Xmas), Lego Batman, Sing Street, Babydriver (Feb Half term!).

Organisers hope this ground-breaking, interactive pilot scheme won’t just directly connect communities with cinema, but will lead to further engagement, with the hope of rolling out further community cinema projects throughout Northern Ireland.

Tim O’Malley, Community Development Manager at Clanmil Housing, said: “We are delighted to be working with Film Hub NI to bring our tenants across Belfast and in Dundrum a truly inclusive Halloween cinema experience.  These events are open to everyone and we have films to suit all ages.The movie goers themselves are even getting to vote for the film they would most like to see from a menu of blood curdling cinema classics.

“Events like these can make a really important contribution to developing a sense of community within an area.  They bring local people together in a fun way and create shared experiences that can develop into lasting relationships.  We hope people will get into the Halloween spirit and come along in fancy dress to add to the spooky party atmosphere.”

Sara Gunn-Smith, Marketing and Audiences Officer at Film Hub NI, said: “We are really pleased to be working alongside such a forward-thinking organisation as Clanmil Housing Association to deliver this series of screenings right in the heart of the community. We believe that film is a fantastic way to bring people together to discuss important issues, learn about the world around us and be entertained so we look forward to joining the residents and local community for this series of mini-film festivals in shared spaces in Belfast and Dundrum.”

For full details of the programme and screenings go to:

Lantern Parade returns to illuminate streets of North Belfast

Preparations are underway to spectacularly illuminate in the streets of North Belfast in a truly star-studded parade and festival.  

Ashton  and New Lodge Arts have announced that the hugely popular annual Lantern Festival will be returning for its ninth year. Organisers are putting the call out across North Belfast and beyond for participants to come join them for two days of family friendly fun on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th of October.

This year’s theme is ‘the moon and the stars’. There will be a range of free family friendly activities and lantern making workshops on the Monday and Tuesday  before participants assemble and depart from Girdwood Community Hub on Tuesday evening, illuminating north Belfast along the way with an enchanting array of lanterns, props and costumes, ending in Alexandra Park.  

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Alexandra Park will be transformed for one evening only, with a dizzying array of arts events and activities, including a Big Top, Circus performers, live music from Bjorn Identity, art workshops, and much much more plus a grand fireworks finale! 

Paul Roberts CEO of Ashton , who lead the Festival, said: “The Lantern Parade has become something of a tradition in north Belfast, and we’re thrilled to be in our ninth year. We’re also delighted also to have such an amazing array activities and celebrations around the parade this year. The Lantern Parade is about welcoming everybody and giving anybody who wants to take part the opportunity to shine.”

Coordinator,  Gerard O’Donnell of New Lodge  said: “This is going to be a good one!  The Lantern Parade is all about coming together as an inclusive community and celebrating the very best of north Belfast. This is truly a cross community and inclusive event like to extend an invitation to anybody who wants to take part to come join us and help us celebrate what’s become an essential date in the north Belfast cultural calendar!”

North Belfast Lantern Parade Activities Programme in Full!

Monday 29th October

12pm -3pm    Alexandra Park

Join the fun with our free Lantern workshops and activities for everyone 

6pm-9pm    Alexandra Park

Settle in for a magical movie night under the Big Top,

Tuesday 30th October  

12pm-3pm Alexandra Park

Join the fun with our free Lantern workshops and activities for everyone 

4pm-6pm Girdwood Community Hub 

Come along to Girdwood Community hub for a pre-parade gathering and all sorts of street entertainment and local community groups including Kozillzion Dance troupe, Beck over mantle, workshops and much more.

From 6-9pm – Main event with fireworks, live music, circus, interactive arts workshops and much more. 


Wristbands are £2 and can be purchased from the Ashton Centre, 5 Churchill St BT15.

All parade participants will get a complimentary wrist band to enter the park!


Magical comedian “Magic George” joins Conor Larkin (10) and Lauren Smyth (11) prepare for their starring role in the Lantern Parade which is set to illuminate the streets of North Belfast on Tues 30 October. Pic by Argyll Images.


From 3-7  November venues across Belfast City will be filled with magic, imagination and other worlds as EastSide Arts get ready to champion the famous Belfast-born author C.S. Lewis, at the  6thannual C.S. Lewis Festival.  Curated by celebrated Northern Irish author Jan Carson, the festival  theme, ‘Of this and Other Worlds’ taken from the C.S. Lewis essay collection of the same name, will feature more than 70 events, including walks, talks and debates, film screenings, faith and wellbeing events, events for children and families, visual art, literature, workshops, music and theatre, and innovative events showcasing the speculative fiction genres of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Magic Realism.

In keeping with the spirit of C.S. Lewis’s love of fantasy and mythology, The Day of Magical Thinking, (Saturday 3 November at Skanios Centre, Newtownards Road) will feature writing and visual arts workshops and discussions with events focused on imaginative approaches to creating a range of different art forms.

‘Of This World’ features a series of bespoke events creatively re-imagining the changing landscape of east Belfast. Hop aboard the Gaelic Bus tours, or watch a rehearsed reading of the satirical devilish comedy ‘Skrewtape Comes To Belfast’, at The Crescent Arts Centre, and take a tongue in cheek alterative look at Northern Ireland through the lens of literature and music presented by Alternative Ulster at Harland and Wolff Staff Club.

Explore ‘And Other Worlds’ via a series of carefully curated events looking at other worlds and others’ perspectives. Anthony Toner and Jan Carson, explore what the future might look  like in Future Sounds at Strand Arts Centre.  Join Andrew Cunning and guest readers at EastSide Visitor Centre and hear poems, novels and ideas that help us see, imagine and hope a little better.

Children and families will enjoy an ‘Out of this world’ musical adventure with leading children’s singer and songwriter Kyle Riley at Strand Presbyterian Church. Join local children’s writer Myra Zepf and craft genius Ali Fell in a crafty dragon workshop at EastSide Visitor Centre. Call into Connswater Shopping Centre and explore the brand new C.S. Lewis Reading Corner situated upstairs.  Pop into Strand Arts Centre or EastSide Visitor Centre to make a lantern for the community lantern parade  taking place on  8 December.

Enjoy films that whisk you off to other worlds, from The Wizard of Oz to Metropolis at Strand Arts Centre, or enjoy a screening of the classic film Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis, introduced by the film score composer, George Fenton. Discover imaginative literature events ranging from the launch of ‘The Trees of Kilbroney Park,’ art book which focusses on 27 notable trees, or ‘Come Fly’ with the Women’s Aloud NI and meet the authors who will take you on a journey into the skies, stars and space.

There’s a whole range of ‘other’ special events. Join festival curator Jan Carson along with poet Damien Smyth, novelist Bernie McGill, musicians The Darkling Air and The Arco String Quarter for an evening of literature and music at Campbell College, and explore the Narnia themed Fine and Dandy market at City Church.   Walks, talks and debates include discovering C.S. Lewis’s east Belfast and the Socratic Debate at Crescent Arts Centre. ‘Inklings of Heaven’ is an immersive series of three lectures by eminent theologians (Saturday 3 November at Kirkpatrick Memorial Church) featuring Dr. Michael Ward who will explore the magic and symbolism of the Chronicles of Narnia, alongside Professor Judith Wolff and Dr. Sharon Jebb Smith.

For visual art, join the Narnia keep sake box workshop at Robins’ Hobby Café or see In Other Worlds’ exhibition of new work by Brian Cunning at Maitri Studio. Take a journey into other worlds using your body and senses with yoga and the sound of healing also at Maitri Studio.

For further information visit, follow on Facebook /CSLewisFestival, Twitter @CSLewisFest #CSLewisFest.


Anna Burns Becomes Northern Ireland’s First Man Booker Prize Winner

Anna Burns made history as she became the first Northern Irish winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this year’s Man Booker Prize saw Anna beat off competition from two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer, to scoop the accolade for her novel Milkman.

Although she now lives in East Sussex, Anna drew on the experience of growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles to write Milkman. The novel, which is set in an unnamed city, focuses on middle sister as she navigates her way through rumour, social pressures and politics in a tight-knit community. Burns shows the dangerous and complex outcome that can happen to a woman coming of age in a city at war.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges for the Man Booker Prize, said: “None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

Milkman is published by Faber & Faber.

Lidl Ireland & Northern Ireland Remove Unrecyclable Black Plastic Packaging – Single-Use Plastic Items Also Scrapped

Lidl confirmed it is removing black plastic packaging from its entire fruit and vegetable range across all 195 Ireland and Northern Ireland stores before Christmas. The packaging, which cannot be recycled, will be scrapped from fresh fish products by February 2019, followed by fresh meat, poultry and cured meat ranges before August.

Black plastic packaging is not recycled in Ireland or the UK because recycling sorting systems cannot detect the carbon black pigment.

As a result of this move by Lidl, over 65 tonnes of black plastic waste will be avoided annually from fruit and vegetables alone.

Lidl, named Ireland’s ‘Green Retailer of the Year 2018’, said it has also today scrapped the sale of single-use plastic items including drinking straws, disposable plates, cups and cutlery, with plastic-stemmed cotton buds next on the list in the coming months. The single-use plastic items are being replaced with biodegradable alternatives.

No other supermarket on the island of Ireland has committed to such firm and imminent commitments in relation to either type of plastic.

“These are significant steps,” Lidl Ireland & Northern Ireland Managing Director, J.P. Scally said.  “Sustainability is core to our business and we are proud to continue leading the retail sector in implementing ambitious measures which will deliver real and lasting benefits for everyone.”

The move is one of many steps that the retailer is taking as part of its plastic reduction strategy.   Already this year the company confirmed it had achieved ‘zero waste to landfill’ and announced a ban on microbeads in all cosmetic and household ranges.

It also published several ambitious plastic reduction targets, including using 20% less plastic packaging by 2022 and having 100% recyclable own-brand packaging by 2025.

Lidl will also continue to trial more unpackaged fruit and vegetable options – the recent addition of 17 new loose items means that more than 25% of its fresh produce range is now package-free.

The new measures reinforce Lidl’s award-winning track record on sustainability. This October, Lidl Ireland was awarded the coveted ‘Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility’ at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards, while Lidl Northern Ireland won the ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ award at the 2018 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

“These announcements are a clear signal of our commitment to safeguarding the environment and to managing our operations in the most progressive and sustainable way possible.  It’s important and right that we act decisively and proactively in this area and take meaningful and measurable steps that matter to us, our customers and our communities,” J.P. Scally said.