East Belfast hosts array of arts events in memory of CS Lewis

Volunteers including the Queen of Narnia help launch the festival
Volunteers including the Queen of Narnia help launch the festival
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CS Lewis was born and bred in East Belfast but would go on to entrance readers worldwide with his Narnia series that so artfully mixed the metaphysical with supernatural fantasy as well as making important contributions to theological writing with such seminal works as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Latters.

Now in its fourth year, east Belfast will come alive with the CS Lewis Festival.

This year’s programme will run from November 18 until November 22.

Through a series of events and activities including talks, film, theatre, arts, crafts, readings, music, workshops, exhibitions, tours, children’s and spoken word events.

Highlights include a new story inspired by the character Jadis, aka the evil White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia. Join Belfast actress Maria Connolly and musician Ursula Burns at the Linen Hall Library for a staged reading of the work. Artists will reveal how CS Lewis has acted as an inspiration for their own literary careers.

Spend an evening with Fiona Lowe Brunell at ArtisAnn Gallery and hear how Lewis and other Irish writers inspired her work.

Through photography, sculpture, painting, fashion and video, the skating group Joyalists reveal their Lewis connection at Framewerk Gallery. Join a host of East Belfast writers, musicians and poets at EastSide Visitor Centre as they explore the work and legacy of CS Lewis. And, ever mindful that fantasy was a theme in Lewis’ work, don’t miss out on a range of fantasy film screenings in Strand Arts Centre.

Then you can celebrate another literary great, Roald Dahl, by enjoying his Tales of the Unexpected with a twist at Canteen, Belmont Road.

Closing the festival this year will be a Connswater Community Greenway event to officially open the CS Lewis Square, located behind the EastSide Visitor Centre, and to unveil seven Narnia inspired statues.

The festival will explore the spiritual side of Lewis and other artists, including a Faith and Fiction workshop with Jan Carson at Strand Church which will focus on the role of parable and allegory in his writing, TV personality Nuala McKeever leading a creative writing workshop, Surprised by Loss, at Strand Church, for anyone currently dealing with bereavement and living with the loss of their spouse of partner or take part in a CS Lewis Socratic Debate chaired by BBC’s William Crawley at Union College Chapel, Queen’s University.

There are lots of events for children including a Mini Narnia Adventure at the author’s old school Campbell College and a Narnian trail where you can enjoy activities such as lantern making and storytelling. Wandsworth Community Centre will host a creative animation Sozo workshop where you can create your own fantastic adventure.

Framewerk is the location for Imaginary World drama and storytelling workshops. Kids will love the Narnia Plasticine workshop with Sticky Fingers at Lampost Café.

Join Lewis expert Sandy Smith as he takes you on a bus journey visiting many locations connected to the writer,. If your Lewis adventure consists of being on two wheels join Belfast Bike Tours at the EastSide Visitor Centre. Ever wondered what it was like to be part of ‘The Inklings’ group of Oxford Scholars, which included Lewis and JRR Tolkien, who met and discussed their works in Oxford pubs? Then join The Inklings-inspired beer tasting and literature event at The Stoker’s Halt.

Rachel Kennedy, festival director, commented: “Not only does the festival celebrate all facets of this literary great but helps festival goers to step into Lewis’ world and reveal how he had a huge cultural significance on the City of Belfast, especially the east of the city, and how it had an impact on him.

“Our diverse range of festival events and activities aims to encourage everyone from across the city and beyond to come, explore and enjoy Belfast’s connections with this extraordinary man.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to key funders –Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department for Communities, as well as our sponsors, Hewitt & Gilpin, Ulster-Scots Agency and Translink – whose support has been invaluable in making the festival happen.”

Visit www.eastsidearts.net. Follow on Facebook /CSLewisFestival and Twitter @CSLewisFest.