Van Morrison’s 70th birthday gig on Cyprus Avenue this summer is fast becoming one of the most anticipated music events ever held in Northern Ireland.
The legendary singer/songwriter, who immortalised the affluent tree-lined avenue in some of his most enduring songs, has attracted global interest for the one-off outdoor event on August 31.
Tickets go on sale this Wednesday (March 11), but Morrison fans from four continents have already booked their flights to hear the music icon perform on one of the streets where it all began.
Special hospitality packages have already been available through social media and have been snapped up by aficionados from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, America and South Africa.
The concert is taking place as a spectacular conclusion to the EastSide Arts Festival which runs from August 19.
Although Cyprus Avenue shares a junction with the working-class Beersbridge Road, with its large, comfortable houses it was a world away from Morrison’s boyhood home on nearby Hyndford Street.
DUP founder Dr Ian Paisley was one of the street’s most famous residents.
Announcing the concert last month, Morrison said: “It wasn’t far from where I was brought up and it was a very different scene. To me, it was a very mystical place. It was a whole avenue lined with trees and I found it a place where I could think.”
Many of the fans making their way to Belfast for the gig are using it as a excuse to finally pay their first visit to the Province, and most international visitors are expected to take an extended break taking in more of the locations mentioned in the Belfast man’s lyrics.
International visitors have been encouraged to leave comments on the ‘Van Morrison live on Cyprus Avenue’ Facebook page.
Jean Calhoun from Washington state said: “I’ll be travelling 7098.02km to hear the awesome Van the Man in concert again and to enjoy beautiful Belfast and environs.”
Sean O’Neill from Pennsylvania posted the message: “The chance of a lifetime to celebrate the core music of my lifetime in the heart of his conjuring! Plus, it’s a grand and alluring impetus to finally visit my family’s Belfast area roots.”
East Belfast Partnership chief executive Maurice Kinkead said interest has been phenomenal: “Already we have people are coming from 18 countries across four continents.”
Tickets are on sale on Wednesday at 9am from the Visit Belfast welcome centre, Donegall Square North, at www.visit-belfast.com, or by telephone on 028 9024 6609. The remaining hospitality packages are available by email at email@example.com
Already we have people coming from 18 countries across four continents