Carnlough School Reaching Out To Families During Financial Crisis

(L-R) Students of Carnlough Integrated Primary School Tomas, Scott, Principal Claire Mulholland, Elsa, Rose

Healthy Heroes Lunch Club among series of initiatives

Carnlough Integrated Primary School is reaching out to pupils and their families as the cost-of-living crisis bites, with a series of initiatives to provide support and healthy, curriculum-led options designed to offer practical options.

The school has launched its Healthy Heroes Lunch Club with P6 and P7 pupils leading this school nutrition programme.

Launched recently, the programme, from the Irish Bread Bakers Association, aims to engage pupils in peer learning to encourage healthy eating.

Principal, Claire Mulholland, explained that the ethos of inclusion of the school is very much part of being a supportive environment that includes helping parents and families at this time when so many are experiencing financial difficulties.

“The Healthy Heroes Lunch Club is part of our efforts to make sure that our pupils are aware of how they can make healthy choices,” she said. “That learning is very much being undertaken by the children themselves, and the scheme is designed so that these choices can feedback to other pupils and their families.

“The learning also showcases how the healthy options can be more affordable for families in addressing their nutrition needs.”

Designed by Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietitian at The Blackrock Clinic, Dublin, it has grown into one of the leading pupil-led healthy eating programmes for children.

During lunch, the club meet to eat together and nutrition is addressed informally through teacher led discussion.

The children then take over and run the activities, building on those suggested in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club pack and developing their own club games.

“The fact that, with a little teacher input, this programme emphasises that children can lead, and innovate when given the opportunity. It also echoes perfectly our school motto, ‘Learning Together’.”

In conjunction with the scheme, the school is offering free breakfast club and free break time snack on the last Friday of every month for every child. This will run until the end of the school year.

The initiative comes at a time when further support was announced by the school.

“An anonymous supporter of integrated education has pledged to donate five school uniforms each year to be kept for emergencies or for new families starting in the school in the middle of an academic year,” explained Miss Mulholland. “As we already hold some stock in school, we have been able to donate uniforms to our new Ukrainian families who have joined us.”

That support of new pupils, from a very different background, is a further emphasis of Carnlough Integrated Primary School’s culture.

“We are so very proud of our integrated ethos, an ethos that is about more than just religious balance, but about all abilities, needs, race, culture, gender, economic background,” said the principal. “We are here to welcome everyone to our loving and nurturing school community.

“Our children know that each and every one of us is unique and different, but we are also special and important. Our job is to learn from one another and with one another in a safe and secure environment.

Motorcycle Enthusiasts Gear Up For Show This Weekend At Eikon Centre

Tomorrow (Saturday, February 4) motorbike enthusiasts are set to descend on the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn for the inaugural Motorcycle Plus Show.

Organised by 360 Events, the motorbike extravaganza is set to welcome racing and road bike fans from across Northern Ireland, Ireland and the UK.

Planned as a curtain raiser for the start of the motorcycling season for the year ahead the show will attract fans of both on and off road competitions as well as bike enthusiasts across the country.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the return of the annual bike festival hosted by former rider and commentator Gareth Keys.

“I’m delighted to come on board with 360 Events to host this year’s Motorcycle Plus Show. I’m looking forward to welcoming all our riders and motorcycle professionals for the Q&A Sessions and Meet & Greets.

“The show is a fantastic way to kick off the new season and a great opportunity to catch up with fellow riders and enthusiasts.”

Among the exhibitors and teams attending the show is Grahame Hanna who will be showing off his North West 200 and Ulster Superbike winning IFS Yamahas, Team JMcC Roofing who will have a number of machines on display, Revival Racing MCC with a display of race machines, Irish Drag Racing with their specialist bikes and cars and much more.

Whilst on the rider front the show announced big names such as BSB Superstock Champion and North West 200 winner, Richard Cooper as well as multiple TT winner, and Ulster Grand Prix superstock lap record holder, Dean Harrison will be over from England for the event, along with former World Grand Prix 250 winner, North West 200 and Daytona winner Jeremy McWilliams, and British Superbike Championship rider, Korie McGreavey and Irish motorsport icon Ivor Greenwood who will be taking to the stage for the talks and available for meet and greets.

Throughout the weekend Mental Health Motorbike, the UK charity focused on creating meaningful opportunities to grow the well-being of the Motorbike community and reducing the number of bikers in the UK committing suicide will also be on site to speak to the community.

Other attractions at the show include Faye Ho from FHO, a true trailblazer in motorcycle racing and nine-year-old Irish Minibike 90cc Championship winner, Joel ‘The Rocket’ Haire and the world-renowned motorcycle film producer Colin James along with interviewer Toni Connor who will record interviews with riders, teams, personalities, traders, young budding racers and fans.

“I’m a bit nervous about going to the show because I’m going to be on stage but I’m excited to see my teammates and hopefully see Steve Leicster for the first time,” said Joel.

Filling in for the “Plus” element of the show will be displays such as F1 star Grand Prix driver Heikki Kovalainan’s famous Dallara Nissan World Formula car, one of Ireland’s fastest racing cars.

This year’s show is sponsored by AB&C Insurance and supported by Hurst Yamaha, Hurst BMW and Crossan Motorcycles.

Organisers have also pledged to support local charities such as Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Mayoral charity, Helping Hand for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children,   the Atlas Women’s Centre in Lisburn and St John Ambulance service. 

Kenny Gardner from 360 Events said: “The Motorcycle Plus Show is a great meeting place in the winter to plan your summer months ahead.

“We believe that after four years’ absence the public are ready for a winter Motorcycle Show once again to ‘launch’ their year in the great pastimes of motorcycling & motorsport, whether racing, touring or just enjoying riding bikes.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone throughout the weekend. Having been on site for the last two days during setup, I’m excited to open the doors on Saturday.”

There will be a free Minibus service from Lisburn railway station to the Motorcycle Plus Show on both days of the weekend, leaving every hour on the hour and returning every half hour.

The Motorcycle Plus Show will take place at Eikon Centre in Lisburn on February 4-5, 2023. For tickets go to

Tickets are also available to purchase at the doors on the days of the event.

4 Corners Festival Set To Make Belfast A City Where Dreams Become Reality

Inderjit Bhogal Methodist Conference 2018

Reverend Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE to share his dream of a better world

This year’s 4 Corners Festival will conclude with a talk hosted by Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE entitled The City Where Dreams Become Reality.

The festival that includes a eight day long programme of music, art, sport and religious-based discussions until February 5 will also be streamed online across Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The City Where Dreams Become Reality aims to bring forth a vision from near the end of the Biblical scriptures (Revelation 21-22), that of a new holy, beautiful city where God dwells among the people, all tears are wiped away and the reign of pain and death has passed away.

The founder and president of the City of Sanctuary movement, Rev Inderjit Bhogal will delve into the idea of this dream coming to fruition in reality, sharing his own hopes, dreams and experiences.

Having supported the 4 Corners Festival since it began in 2013, Rev Bhogal is very much looking forward to having a deeper involvement, expressing his joy at being approached to speak as part of the various events.

He said: “I have been a supporter of 4 Corners from the beginning, and did attend one of the earliest events in Fitzroy. I am honoured to be invited to participate as a speaker this year.”

The premise of 4 Corners Festival is to unite individuals from all communities seen both within Belfast and the wider world is a sentiment that resonates with Reverend Bhogal and is one of the main reasons he is taking part as a speaker.

He added: “I liked the idea of bringing people from all sides together to celebrate commonalities and share differences.”

This year’s residing theme for 4 Corners Festival is ‘Dreams…A Vision for Belfast’, one which perfectly encapsulates the topic of the Reverend’s talk and personal beliefs.

He expressed that his dream was for everyone to be respectful of each other and work in conjunction to achieve a tranquil, harmonious life for all.

“The best dreams don’t become a reality, they begin in reality. I dream of a world where all people, of all backgrounds, engage in respectful conversation and work together to build a better world where all belong and benefit equally, where people acknowledge and honour and celebrate differences without demeaning or denigrating anyone, where all are at the table and no one is excluded or neglected,” he explained.

The talk itself will cover a handful of different topics, with Reverend Inderjit explaining what people can expect from his talk, which will be available both in-person and online.

He said: “I will share a few thoughts on the theme of Dreams becoming a reality. I will share the story of City of Sanctuary within the context of migration, movement and refugees. I will acknowledge the good work of Belfast City of Sanctuary, and encourage wider support. I will share my dream of a better world.”

Accompanying the final event will be a Concentio directed by Jonny Ireland.

The City Where Dreams Become Reality featuring Rev. Dr. Inderjit Bhogal OBE will be held at St John’s Parish, 444 Falls Road, Belfast at 7pm on Sunday, February 5.

A full programme for the festival and booking information can be found at

Influential Mental Health Charity To Attend Motorcycle Plus Show

Biking community flooded with support from wellbeing team

The Motorcycle Plus Show is returning in 2023 after a four year hiatus, bringing with it a diverse range of events, attractions and organisations to the Eikon Centre in Lisburn.

Hosted by 360 Events, the weekend extravaganza spans from February 4-5 and is sure to be filled with many different points of interest inside the arena relating to motorcycle racing and beyond.

One of the groups that are set to be present at the two-day event is Mental Health Motorbike, a charity focused on creating meaningful opportunities to grow the well-being of the Motorbike community and ultimately reduce the number of bikers in the UK committing suicide. 

They also actively try to improve the wellbeing of bikers and provide a network where individuals can support each other and connect through their shared hobbies, interests and passions.

Ashley Knowles, Mental Health Motorbike Ambassador, will be present at the event and can be found amongst the people walking the grounds of the site during both days.

He explained: “One in four adults in the UK have been diagnosed with mental health illnesses and 75% of these receive no treatment. Suicide is the most common cause of death of men aged 20-49 and 75% of all suicides are males.

“The biker community are a high risk group receiving very little or no formal support our charity aims to address this.”

He will be networking on behalf of the charity, providing an insight into what they do, how people can get involved and offering any help to individuals who might need it at the time.

“We offer free online support through a members only peer group on Facebook, attend 100+ activities across the UK throughout the year and we also train people associated with the bike community in Mental Health First Aid through an accredited course run by MHFA England.” said Ashley.

More information can be found on their website and social media channels, with contact information found online too.

For anyone who doesn’t get a chance to meet Ashley in-person at the event, their site features a handy form to get in touch with the team and discuss any topics you would like to.

The Motorcycle Plus Show is committed to engaging with the rider community and all members involved as well as wishing to provide a safe experience for everyone to openly discuss mental health.

The Motorcycle Plus Show will take place at Eikon Centre in Lisburn on February 4-5, 2023. For tickets go to

To find out more information about Mental Health Motorbikes go to

4 Corners Festival Unites Belfast Giants Legend With Fans At Q&A

David Goodwin Joins Mark Simpson in conversation

4 Corners Festival is currently running its 9-day event, complete with a spectacular line-up of events, from discussions to activities held across Belfast.

Featuring a range of music, talks, sporting events and religious sermons, the festival promises to have something for everyone.

Exclusive to 2023’s schedule, Belfast Giants captain David Goodwin will be involved with the programme, being interviewed on all aspects of his life.

Held at Agape Centre on Lisburn Road, David Goodwin will be speaking alongside BBC’s Mark Simpson on his experiences with the Belfast Giants, his progression from the USA to Northern Ireland and more.

Set to take to the stage on Thursday February 2, the talk ties in with this year’s theme, Dreams… Visions For Belfast, with David sharing his own dreams and various aspirations he’s had throughout his career.

Speaking on his desire to partake in the festival, David said he looked forward to being able to talk openly and hopefully inspire his audience.

He said: “I’ve heard nothing but great things about the 4 Corners Festival and I was honoured to be invited to participate in one of the events. 

“I would always welcome the opportunity to promote the wellbeing of all in the city of Belfast.”

Having been involved with the Belfast Giants since 2019, David Goodwin has been a keen ice hockey fan and player for several years, with the Northern Irish team hosting its own community and sense of harmony through the sport.

David explained that the united front that can be found in Belfast drew him to the area, adding that the culture in the Northern Irish capital is unrivalled.

He said: “The locals are easygoing and sociable, which has made me feel welcomed. I’ve found the culture to be exceptionally hospitable. 

Belfast fosters a slower pace of life compared to the US, which I prefer.”

David also identified what would be in his talk with Mark Simpson, saying he will cover stories from his life as an American in Belfast and how his dreams have led him to where he is today.

He said: “I will offer unique stories and experiences of what it’s like for an American professional Ice Hockey player living in Belfast for the last 4 years. 

“I love Belfast and it really has become a second home for me.”

Tickets are available online for both in-person attendance and access to the virtual stream for those who are interested in hearing more but unable to physically attend.

For more information and to secure tickets for David Goodwin in Conversation with Mark Simpson go to For the full 4 Corners Festival programme visit

Racing Champion Set To Display Winning Bikes And Appear At Motorcycle Plus Show

Image by Baylon Mccaughey

9-year-old Joel Haire has an impressive record on and off the track

Motorcycle Plus Show is returning for its 2023 instalment at the Eikon Centre in Lisburn, showcasing a range of talks, entertainment attractions and stalls across the weekend-long event.

Running from February 4-5, there are lots of great activities and speeches that have already been announced, with the newest name added to the upcoming itinerary this week.

Joel ‘The Rocket’ Haire, the 9-year-old Irish Minibike 90cc Championship winner, will be attending the show, with the child superstar set to hold a talk in front of an audience about his experiences in racing so far in his blossoming career.

The Blackskull rider will be bringing two of his Minibikes, to be displayed alongside his team’s other riders 2 Honda CBR600s.  All 4 bikes will be kept on display for the duration of the show, appearing on both Saturday and Sunday.

Having raced for nearly half his life, Joel began on a bike four years ago and fell in love with the sport, going on to compete for the last three years and appearing on the podium for a total of 29 races out of 30 in the 2022 Irish Minibikes 90cc “Bam Bam” Class.

The impressive 9-year-old even went on to win the Irish Minibike Championship in the 90cc class, solidifying his status as an incredibly talented young racer. In the 125cc Junior gearbox, Joel finished 4th, 1 point behind 3rd in the championship. 

Peter Eaton from 2Strokesracing, Joel’s manager, commented on his successes during his first complete season.

He said: “Joel is a very dedicated, and talented young rider. Winning the 90cc Irish Minibike Championship in his first full season marks him out as a rider to watch for the future.” 

Peter also explained that Joel will be situated within the 2Strokesracing stand when he’s not up on stage talking about his sport, so anyone can talk to him and ask him any questions they may have.

He added: “If you visit Joel and the team at the 2Strokesracing stand at the Motorcycle Plus show, you’ll see what a cracking lad he is, and he’ll maybe let you sit on one of his bikes!”

A collection bucket will be available at the stall for anyone wanting a photo taken on one of Joel’s or the team’s bikes, with all proceeds going towards the show’s chosen charities.

Joel’s manager has plenty of compliments for the budding biker, saying he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on in upcoming competitions.

Peter said: “As you will see, Joel has an impressive record already, and I think that he will be one to watch for the future. 

“He’s a natural Irish champion. Try stopping him.”

The Motorcycle Plus Show will take place at Eikon Centre in Lisburn on February 4-5, 2023. For tickets go to

Young People From PUL Communities Share Aspirations For Future At 4 Corners Festival Exhibit

A major immersive installation and exhibition showcasing the aspirations of children and young people from Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist (PUL) communities will take place at the iconic Telegraph Building from January 30 to February 2, as part of the range of events in the 4 Corners Festival.

Organised by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts it is entitled Present Future and features the voices and images of children and young people from East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Larne. The project was supported by the Executive Office through the Communities in Transition programme. 

Director of Wonder Arts, Jonathan Hodge, explained the idea for the project emerged organically from the B.A.N.D (Build, Advocate, Nurture, Develop) project group who discussed important issues affecting PUL communities.

“One of these was educational under-attainment and it was felt that this issue fitted well with the overall theme of the 4 Corners Festival – Dreams,” he said.

“Once the theme was agreed, the group participated in creative planning sessions where different ideas were explored.” 

A number of the group has attended the Dream Machine event at Carlisle Circus church, which was an immersive experience combining music and the use of light, resulting in the development of a ‘Cube’ installation.

“The Cube and exhibition feature the voices of children and young people from East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Larne who have been involved in the Raising Aspirations projects,” Jonathan explained. 

“The younger children talk about what they would like to do in the future, and what is really positive about this is the diversity of aspirations they all have in terms of careers.

“The young people talk more about their own experiences of education and making their way in life. The voices have been set to a specially commissioned score by producer Ryan Vail.”

Other elements of the exhibition include a set of specially commissioned images of children and young people who have been involved in outreach projects delivered by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts in Carrickfergus, exploring their experiences in their community. These images will be projected large-scale onto the wall in the Telegraph Building.

“The project has a number of important messages,” said the Director of Wonder Arts. 

“The first of which is about encouraging children and young people to have dreams and make positive choices about their futures. 

“Another key message is about challenging narratives and stereotypes about children and young people from working-class PUL communities and about encouraging young leaders to think about different ways of telling the story of their community, particularly through the creative arts.

“The project also demonstrates to children and young people that a career in the creative industries is a viable opportunity, particularly as this is a major area of growth within the local economy.”

The annual 4 Corners Festival will feature a range of art, music, discussion, sport and faith- based events from January 29 to February 5 in venues across the city and streamed online across various platforms.

Dreams…Visions for Belfast is the theme of this year’s festival, and as in its previous 10 years, it aims to inspire people from across the city to transform it for the peace and wellbeing of all.

Jonathan explained that the creative CUBE was a key way to engage audiences. 

“We went down the immersive route because we wanted to present an important issue in a way that was creative and that was engaging to different audiences,” he explained. 

“Digital technologies are also something that are particularly relevant to children and young people, so this was a medium that they felt comfortable with. We also wanted to create something that was visually striking, made the best use of the space in the Telegraph Building, and created a memorable experience for the audience and the 4 Corners Festival.”

The installation and exhibition is open from 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm each day in half hour sessions.

This project was supported by the Executive Office through the Communities in Transition programme.

Full details of all the events taking place during 4 Corners Festival can be found at

4 Corners Festival Bringing Communities Together Through Sports

Uniting children with a Game of 3 Halves 

4 Corners Festival returns for its 11th annual instalment on January 27 for a 9-day event running until February 5, covering a variety of music, art, talks, sporting and religious-based events.

This year’s theme, Dreams…Visions For Belfast is hoping to inspire individuals from all areas within the city to create a peaceful home for all communities.

One of the many activities taking place within the festival is the Game of 3 Halves, which sees young people from all areas of Belfast brought together through the power of sports.

PeacePlayers NI are hosting the event, open to all young people aged 11 to 14, with the aim of changing the competitive nature of games and removing any conflict, instead replacing it with positive lessons and outcomes, on and off the court.

Games such as Gaelic football, soccer and rugby will be played by integrated teams from Belfast as well as having on-site PeacePlayers Coaches and mentors to help participants throughout the 3-hour long event.

Aoife Redmond, Regional Programme Coordinator, has seen how this scheme is successful in uniting children through engaging fun sports based activities.

She said: “We get kids together on integrated teams to play basketball, to engage in team building activities together and actually get to know one another.

We run programmes for multiple age groups; our Twinning programme brings catholic and protestant primary school classes together on integrated teams, to play basketball and engage in good relations conversations and activities.

Aoife also explained that PeacePlayers offer further programmes to promote togetherness outside of the festival, which is ideal for any children and young people who enjoy the event to continue with the inspirational messages the team and activities produce.

She added: “We also have our Leadership Development Programme, which is for participants in 4th year – Upper sixth to come together and learn about cultures, our core values and curriculum delivery as well as playing basketball together.

Ed Peterson of Clonard Monastery, representing the 4 Corners Festival, explained that the event is aimed at bringing young people from all communities, backgrounds and corners of the city together.

He said: “I love the overall ethos of the 4 Corners Festival to encourage all of us to get out of our corner of the city, not only just the geographical corner of the city to experience other parts of Belfast but also just around other ideas and opportunities.

“Young people can meet new people and explore various different subject matters together with people from different areas of Belfast or even beyond.”

Open to both previous PeacePlayers attendees and young people (aged 11-14) who have never been to the programme before, perfect for anyone looking to get involved, meet new people and develop connections and friendships.

Siblings Abdelmonieum and Maryam Salman are both participants who regularly attend the PeacePlayers events, with them both enjoying the sense of community they gain from going.

Abdelmonieum said: “PeacePlayers is always like a second home to me. I look forward to going to it every week.”

Maryam also explained how she has developed great connections with fellow students who attend the sessions, saying: “Because of PeacePlayers I got to meet new people and make new friends.”

Joshua Curtis, another young person who attends the games, said he finds PeacePlayers to be incredibly fun and rewarding.

He said: “I’ve made plenty of friends through the festival. There’s so many games, there’s so much to do, there’s such a great atmosphere in the stadium – it’s really, really fun.”

Game of 3 Halves will take place at 6 pm on Wednesday, February 1 at Queen’s PEC, and is open to young people across the city who have not attended these programmes before.

For more information on how to get involved with Game of 3 Halves go to For the full 4 Corners Festival programme visit

Dublin Coffee Chain FUEL Invests £100k In South Belfast Café

FUEL Lisburn Road creates 8 jobs locally

Dublin’s renowned coffee chain FUEL has opened its first Belfast branch on the Lisburn Road, in a £100,000 investment that is set to create at least eight new hospitality jobs, to begin with.

Belfast born businessman David Beggs has two FUEL branches in Dublin in Rathmines and Clontarf but aims to further expand the offering in Northern Ireland in the future.

Based in Dublin, he said it was inevitable he would eventually open in his home city as he further developed FUEL from its initial roots.

“Having experienced some really good eateries in places like New York I wanted to bring the international love of and accessibility of healthy, tasty, and vibrant food home,” David said. 

“Trends are changing, and people want high-quality food that is good for their body and soul.”

With a background in professional healthcare, David has a heightened awareness of the need to bring healthy street food into the community. 

“We all know the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ but the thing is, it’s not what you eat on one day, it’s the consistency of what you eat and how it fits into your ecosystem. It needs to be accessible,” he explained, adding: “Whenever you’re eating the right food for a sustained period of time, you’re going to feel better, you’re going to sleep better and you would hope that everything else will fall into place.”

David admitted that his drive to lead a healthier lifestyle was not a trait he was born with, but rather something he learnt over time which is why he is keen on giving people easy access to quick and healthy food.

He explained: “We want to provide people with healthy, tasty, and vibrant food to eat in or on the go.The Dublin-based businessman knows the benefits of making healthy choices himself.

“I believe that diet is something you have to constantly work at making some tweaks here and there and then hopefully see the benefits. My current regime seems to be the one that is best for blood sugar levels, mental health, and general well being.”

This is not to say that David is waging a war on sugar. He believes that there is a time and place for everything, but while on weekdays people would opt for salads, healthy soups, and other healthy options, on the weekend’s many people break out into an all-day-brunch menu which can still serve you well.

With FUEL, his vision is one with a community vibe at heart. 

“The idea of the local pub being the epicentre of the community is gone,” he explained. “People are meeting at coffee shops and very much at the takeaway coffee shops because they may not have the time to sit for an hour and a half with each other, but they’ll have a catch up as they grab and go.”

Manager of FUEL in Belfast, Thom Moreland says the values of the brand and its healthy range of options will resonate well with customers visiting the Lisburn Road outlet.

“When customers arrive at FUEL they will be greeted with great coffee in a community focused setting where they can choose from a range of everything from your healthy options such as protein pancake stack, sweet potato fritters and chorizo eggs all the way to your beautifully indulgent fresh dishes like our decadent french toast, breakfast burrito and range of pastries and protein balls.

“One of the things we’ve found is that many groups of friends find it difficult to find something for everyone so we’ve curated a menu that gives you the option to choose the dish that suits you best, especially if you’re on a cheat day.

“All our produce is sourced locally, we have a wide range of gluten free and vegan options and our freshly squeezed, made on site juices, have become a firm favourite with our regulars.

“We’re delighted to be opened on Lisburn Road, the bustling heart of South Belfast. The community here has been incredibly welcoming and we’re looking forward to getting to know everyone.”

4 Corners Festival Announces This Year’s Programme

The annual 4 Corners Festival programme has been unveiled featuring a range of art, music, discussion, sport and faith-based events from January 29 to February 5 in venues across the city and streamed online across various platforms.

The Festival, which announced its dates for 2023 earlier this month alongside this year’s theme, Dreams…Visions for Belfast is now in its 11th year inspiring people from across the city to transform it for the peace and wellbeing of all.

This year’s week-long festivities will give people the opportunity to listen to the dreams and visions for a better Belfast from Church leaders and women in leadership to children and young people from working-class PUL (Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist) communities, the homeless and artists.

2023 marks a number of significant anniversaries: 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and 60 years since Martin Luther King’s ‘I Had A Dream’ speech. The 2023 festival explores whether the dreams behind these historic events have been realised and if we still hold enough hope to dream big for Belfast. 

Included in this year’s busy programme will be a photographic exhibition and discussion of homelessness in the city, women in peace building, visions of Belfast, and will conclude with the theme of ‘the city where dreams become reality’.

In ‘Never In My Wildest Dreams’, a photographic exhibition will be installed at Artcetera Studio people will get the opportunity to explore the topic of homelessness in Belfast city and beyond. This eye-opening exhibit aims to increase awareness of and encourage discussion around the grim reality of homelessness in our city and speak the truth about the issues that force people into it.

Throughout the week, visitors will also be able to experience an immersive video and audio installation titled ‘Present Future’ at the Telegraph Buildings which explores themes of dreams, aspirations and leadership from the perspective of children and young people in PUL communities in Northern Ireland. 

Each night of the festival, Rev Kiran Young Wimberly and Jim Deeds will lead a night prayer with a mix of contemplation, music and scripture to help reflect on the day that’s been and on the events in the festival via Zoom.

The week-long festival will also feature a range of innovative events designed to entice people out of their own ‘corners’ of the city and into new places where they will encounter new perspectives, new ideas and hopefully meet new friends.

Discussions will take place around synodal conversations which inform the future of the Catholic Church as well as women’s role in peacebuilding via a panel including Inspector Róísín Brown from the PSNI, Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana from Queen’s University, Eileen Weir from the Shankill Women’s Centre and Emma De Sousa, campaigner and writer.

Speakers at the events will include Dana Masters, who will be talking about Civil Rights and its impact on America as well as the families of its leaders and Captain of the Belfast Giants ice hockey team David Goodwin who will speak about his own dreams as a sportsman and as a captain of the team in a specific place.

Another highlight of this year’s festival will be the screening ‘The Letter’, a documentary which starts with a personal letter and invitation from Pope Francis to 5 climate activists from different parts of the globe to enable their voices to be listened to as we face together the climate emergency we are all facing today.

Alongside all this, young people aged 11-14 are invited to an exciting evening of sports and team activities delivered in partnership with PeacePlayers – NI in ‘Game of Three Halves’, where participants will try their hand at playing games including GAA, soccer and rugby in integrated teams from across Belfast.

The festival will conclude with a vision from near the end of the Biblical scriptures led by Rev. Dr. Inderjit Bhogal OBE, the Founder and President of the City of Sanctuary movement, a former President of the British Methodist Conference and former Leader of the Corrymeela Community who will discuss what it means to live in a city with open gates.

The full programme of events is available on