Up to 4,000 revellers are set to flock to Belfast’s Waterworks Park on Thursday night for one of Northern Ireland’s biggest cross-community events – the North Belfast Lantern Parade & Magical Festival.
Organised by New Lodge Arts, those attending the colourful parade can expect to enjoy a fun-filled programme including street theatre, interactive performers, live music and dance acts.
Also on display will be stilt walkers, traditional Indian drummers, and an array of food stalls, all culminating with a £4,000 firework finale at 8.45pm in Waterworks Park.
Hundreds of children from more than 30 schools and community groups right across north Belfast have been working hard in recent weeks to bring the event together, conceiving and creating their own eye-catching lanterns for the event.
The children will be participating in the carnival-style parade alongside street performers and players from Arts Ekta.
A range of associated free activities takes place between 11.30am–3.30pm on Thursday, including artist workshops and demos, caricatures and other visual arts workshops.
Cecilia Heron, good relations worker with New Lodge Arts, is leading the event.
“We have been running the festival for the past five years,” she said, “The way it started was that we took part in a similar festival in east Belfast and we realised that we had a need right where we are in north Belfast.
“We are in an area of deprivation but for anyone from this area to go to other events around this time they would be incurring significant transport and entry costs.
“We have involved schools and community groups from Carrick Hill to Whitewell and between the Shore and Antrim Roads.
“The most impressive part of the night is expected to be the parade with 450 children and their specially designed lanterns.
“And the finale is also not to be missed. As usual we will be sending up £4,000 worth of fireworks in 10 minutes.”
The programme has seen cross-community work such as children from St Patrick’s and Seaview Primary Schools visiting each other’s premises to work in pairs in designing lanterns for the event.
Tickets for entry to Waterworks Park are £1 each and available from The Ashton Centre. Out of 3,000 in total, 1,200 had been sold by Wednesday night.
Attendees will gather at Crumlin Road Gaol from 6pm. The parade will then leave via the Summer Street exit at 6.45pm and continue along Cliftonpark Avenue, down Cliftonville Road on to the Antrim Road then into the Waterworks Park at 7.15pm for fireworks at 8.45pm.