At this year’s festival everyone is invited to be ‘Surprised by Joy’, a theme taken from CS Lewis’s works of the same name.
Through a series of events and activities including talks, film, theatre, arts, crafts, readings, discussions, music, workshops, exhibitions, tours and children’s activities; the festival will showcase Lewis’s diverse works, his legacy and especially his strong connections to his childhood home of east Belfast.
With a full festival programme, highlights for this year include a joyous family-friendly, fun programme featuring storytelling, crafts, music, yoga, art and film screenings. The little ones will enjoy Narnia storytelling at Sydenham Methodist Church, screenings of films UP, A Monster Calls or an illustration workshop at Strand Arts Centre.
Also at the Strand Arts Centre, artist Deirdre Robb will reveal how the ‘Worry Tree’ can provide positive thinking. Little folk under six years old can explore music and movement with Kyle Reily at Strand Presbyterian Church. You can create your own fantastical creature, like CS Lewis and his brother once did as children, at EastSide Visitor Centre or pop into the Narnia-themed Fine and Dandy market at Crescent Arts Centre.
Join Belfast-based writer Jan Carson and London-based poet Sarah Hesketh at Eastside Visitor Centre as they read and discuss their work on people with dementia. The Squat Pen welcomes everyone to their evening of words and music at St Martin’s Church or learn to write your own poem with Andy Eaton at Strand Presbyterian Church.
Bring your voice to Hops and Glory, an evening of beer and hymns at the Maple Leaf Social Club. Proceeds from the evening will go towards supporting the work of The Larder food bank at St. Christopher’s Church. Make sure to check out the ‘Surprised By’ series of mini gigs which will showcase some of Belfast’s best loved and talented musicians Anthony Toner, Ursula Burns and Alana Henderson.
Visitors to the Festival can discover CS Lewis’s east Belfast and Belfast connections via a series of walks and tours including the CS Lewis Bus Tour with Lewis expert Sandy Smith, a tour of Belfast City Cemetery where many of Lewis’s family are buried and an exploration of his childhood landscapes. You can also make discoveries on the east Belfast Street Art Walking Tour and Urban Bee Keeping Workshop at The Bank, Holywood Arches, home to the Belfast Bankers Artist Collective.
Enjoy an exciting programme of theatre, dance and visual arts including a Ceili night at Strand Presbyterian Church, Searchlight Theatre Company’s award-winning production of Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters at Willowfield Presbyterian Church or the haunting tales of the festive season in Christmas Gothic in the incredibly atmospheric surroundings of St. Martin’s Church, Ballymacarrett. Throughout the festival, enjoy exhibitions by Colin McGookin at EastSide Gallery and Ciaran Harper at ArtisAnn Gallery.
This year the CS Lewis Festival includes a fantastic poetry competition open to everyone. Entrants are invited to write a very short poem, based on the festival theme ‘Surprised by Joy’ about what surprises them about east Belfast, in less than 140 characters. Closing date is Friday, November 24, at 5pm.
Rachel Kennedy, Festival Director, commented: “We are delighted to return with the 5th CS Lewis Festival. With the festival theme Surprised by Joy’, our Curator Jan Carson has created a joyful, diverse and inclusive programme which celebrate all facets of this literary great. Festival goers will step into Lewis’s world to explore his imagination, legacy and huge cultural significance on the City of Belfast, especially the east of the City, and how it had an impact on him. We invite everyone, from across east Belfast and beyond, to not only enjoy the range of festival events and activities taking place across five days, but to understand the joy the city, and surrounding area, brought to CS Lewis and continues to bring to artists living here today”.