Go-ahead for big gig in Belfast ‘a sign our nightmare is ending’

A number of attractions have been given the go-ahead in Belfast by its council – including a concert which is estimated to draw several thousand people.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:00 am
The big wheel at Belfast City Hall; a smaller model is now to open in Botanic Gardens in a few weeks’ time

Veteran UUP member Jim Rodgers has hailed the move, saying that it signifies the city is beginning to emerge from the “bad dream” of the pandemic at last.

The details about the events appeared on the agenda for tonight’s city council meeting, where it was expected the decisions to approve them would probably be rubber-stamped by the full 60-strong council.

The documents for tonight’s meeting state that the chief executive of the council Suzanne Wylie had already used her delegated powers to allow Boucher Road Playing Fields to be used for “a local music festival” from Octber 25 to November 2.

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The applicant for using the venue is given as Shorefest.

This outfit is already in the process of selling tickets for an event at noth Belfast’s Seaview Stadium (home of Cruaders) which will feature dance music legends Sash! and N-Trance, among others, on September 24.

Boucher Playing Fields is a huge space in south Belfast, where tends of thousands of fans have previously attended open-air concerts with the Foo Fighters, Avicii, and more.

A gig by theatrical German metal giants Rammstein at the playing fields on June 12 had already been cancelled.

The documents for tonight state that the council’s director of neighbourhood services is to be given the power to come up with a fee for the use of the fields, and a plan for how the festival will be staged.

Another item on the agenda, which had likewise been approved by the chief executive, is the arrival of a big wheel to Botanic Gardens.

The machine is almost 110 ft tall – 90ft less than the wheel which sat for years beside City Hall.

The wheel (£4.50 for adults, £3.50 for under-18s) was already set to appear there from September 5 until 27.

Assuming there are no objections from council members, it will now be in place from July 3 until September 26.

The council has also given the green light for a Christmas-time event at Botanic Gardens, where the park will be illuminated at night time for families to stroll around – akin to similar Christmas event held in Dublin Zoo.

Mr Rodgers estimated a crowd of “several thousand” for the Boucher festival.

He told the News Letter: “We’ve got tremendous facilities in Belfast City Council, and it’s important where possible we should use them to the best of our advantage.

“We’ve got people from the private sector putting their money into events. Sometimes it can be a big gamble.

“We want to try and support people who are prepared to put their head above the parapet.

“And long may it continue! Because this last 18 months has just been a bad dream.”

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