Celebrating creativity and diversity at this year’s Eastside Arts Festival

From the 1st-11th August places and spaces across east Belfast will transform into hubs of creativity and diversity for the annual EastSide Arts Festival. Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, this year’s  exciting programme is filled with glorious new experiences, amazing and inspiring activities which are open for everyone to enjoy.

With so much to do across music, comedy, film, theatre, talks, workshops, exhibitions, literature, events for the young and old, community events and heritage tours over the 11 days, here’s 11 ideas to capture your imagination:

1. The Big Top

at C.S. Lewis Square is back. There’s cool stuff for families with The Irish Video Game Orchestra, Bollywood Baba and Pink and Blue. Music from Kitt Phillipa and Beauty Sleep, a day celebrating 50 years since The Pound opened in Belfast, culminating with a performance by Henry Cluney and Jim Reilly’s X-Stiff Little Fingers; circus cabaret with Tumble Circus and to finish the festival in style, a Dragtastic Wrap Party.

2. Visual Arts

Enjoy late night art events with ArtisAnn Gallery, The Vault and Creative Exchange or call into the fantastic new QSS Studios in the Wyse Byse building for their members’ exhibition.

3. Film

Classic films at  Strand Arts Centre include the 60th anniversary screening of Some Like It Hot and Sunday brunch and screening of When Harry Met Sally.

4. Tower Street Faculty Takeover

For one day only join Seedhead Arts as they take over the old Tower Street Campus and go back to school, but not as you know it – this school curriculum includes beginners’ axe throwing, ballroom dancing and a cocktail masterclass.

5. Workshops

If you are into all things dance check out Project Dance’s weekend of dance featuring leading names from the dance industry, or if creative writing takes your fancy, discover the history of the area and join east Belfast author Heather Richardson for her workshop, ’Stories of the Streets.’

6. Talks & Tours

From Van Morrison to George Best, Yardmen to Gaelic Tours, Titanic Belfast to Belfast During the Blitz, Gourmet Greenway Foraging to discovering the stories of people from the past in Dundonald Cemetery, there are dozens of tours to choose from.

7. Children and Families

Travel to Narnia with Mr Tumnus and Translink, listen to three beardy men play music just for babies in ‘Baby Daddy’, meet books and bears at Connswater Shopping Centre, join in all things creative at the FunKademy or check out Drag Queen Story Time at Holywood Arches Library.

8. Special Events

Include a tea dance at Knocknagoney Community Centre, a literary knittery with Emily DeDakis and Yoga in the Park with East Belfast Yoga and Vault Artist Studios.

9. Theatre and Comedy

Enjoy A night in November, the award-winning play by east Belfast’s Marie Jones at Strand Arts Centre, a new play by Daniel Kelly about living with Dementia, A Thought for Your Pennies, back by popular demand the cult classic Murder She Got Wrote Off or take a sneak preview of a brand new play, Living the Dream, based on a true story featuring the ‘spirit’ of George Best and John Lennon.

10. Music and Words

Take you pick from an 80’s Prom with live band at The Vault, live music by The Ronnie Greer Almost Big Band with special guests Alice McCullough and Ken Haddock, Hex Hue at St. Martin’s Church, Boxcar Blues Brothers, Matt McGinn, poetry with Colin Dardis, storytelling with Tenx9 and ‘Reporting the Troubles’ with Deric Henderson and Ivan Little.

11. EastSide Festival Fayre and Parkfest

Enjoy A World of Rhythms with ArtsEkta, street dancing with JamzNI and an event showcasing new DJs with More Volume. Two days and two parks – enjoy free family fun at C.S Lewis Square and Orangefield Park as part of EastSide Parkfest and look out for the live sessions stage featuring young talent from the annual Forestside singer/ songwriter competition at Orangefield Park.

Roisin McDonough

Chief  Executive of Arts Council of Northern Ireland

“It’s always a pleasure to welcome the annual EastSide Arts Festival with its packed programme of inspiring and entertaining arts and cultural  events for everyone to enjoy. The Arts Council, as a principal funder, is delighted to be able to support the EastSide Arts in their continued success as they go about delivering their vision for the creative transformation of east Belfast.”

Rachel Kennedy

Director of the EastSide Arts Festival

“This year’s festival programme reflects and celebrates the growing diversity and creative that is making its presence felt in this part of the city.  It is with huge thanks to the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland as well as all our funders and sponsors that we can continue to deliver our annual festival. The people and places of east Belfast provided the inspiration for our amazing 11 days of events. We warmly welcome everyone to come and join us and enjoy this year’s unique and exciting programme.”

For the full festival programme visit www.eastsidearts.net and follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest19.

GAME are Hiring

Assistant Manager Role available!

We’re all about building the most valuable community for gamers, bringing them latest games, exclusive editions, and hottest consoles to the UK. We’re the UK’s No.1 high-street videogames retailer for a reason – and we’re looking for someone special to join us.
Think you’re up for the challenge?

What you’ll be doing

We’re on the look for an Assistant Manager to join our team, as part of the team you’ll be:
• Increase customer satisfaction with our products and services
• Maintain a high standard of customer service
• Support to build the most valuable community for gamers
• Provide consistently high-quality service through GAME.

Your EXP
• Being friendly, honest and approachable at all times and always representing GAME’s behaviour
• Approaching and building a rapport with our customers to recognise and identify their needs, matching
• Inspire and support your team’s development by conducting quality 1-1’s
• Understand the store P&L to enable you to influence the store’s profit levers to deliver an exceptional performance around controllable costs to drive potential savings without threatening sales or profit

Think you’ve got what it takes? Leave a CV instore!
2 years minimum customer service experience!


Alfred Street Properties Ltd, owners of Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park, has today announced that a strong performance in 2018 has supported the creation of more than 100 new jobs at the complex.

Footfall in the scheme has grown significantly from 1,910,862 in 2017 to 2,412,717 in 2018. A range of new retailers including Tim Hortons, Savers, Sports Direct, Brand Max, Pro Mobile and Sky Stand opened their doors in the last twelve months with the creation of 105 jobs.

Total retail area take up is 31,453 sq ft of which 28,355 sq ft is in the shopping centre.

Laura McCarthy, property asset manager of Alfred Street Properties Ltd, said:

“Despite a challenging retail environment Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park has continued to perform extremely well, with a range of new retailers all coming to the scheme for the first time in the last year. As landlords we have continued to invest in the overall customer experience. The Complex is now a thriving retail destination which continues to experience growing footfall from a wide demographic of shoppers.

“The success of the scheme has provided a fantastic boost for the local economy through significant job creation and we know that more than ten of the positions created are in management roles. We also attracted many firsts for Northern Ireland in Brand Max, The Range and the Tim Hortons’ drive thru. We have started 2019 in a positive position and we intend to continue to build on this momentum as we move forwards.”

Kurt Eastwood, surveyor at CBRE, said:

“Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park is a great example of what can be achieved when retailers identify and utilise prime location to market their offering.

“The substantial increase of footfall which was attracted by the opening of The Range at the end of 2017 lead to an influx of new brands seeking to secure lettings at the growing scheme.

“Food & beverage and fashion & lifestyle have all been bolstered by the openings of Brand Max, Sports Direct, Savers and Tim Hortons and we expect another exciting year at Connswater in 2019.”

Christmas Opening Hours

There’ll be plenty of time to shop this year as Connswater is open late every weeknight to 9pm.

Shops will open as normal from 2 January onwards.

Opening times for some stores may vary over the Christmas period.


Last chance to visit the grotto

Its your last chance to visit Santa in his grotto at Connswater. Santa will be ere until Christmas Eve. See below for times.

Price List

  • Photograph  – £3
  • Photograph & Gift – £5



Tim Hortons®, the iconic Canadian coffee chain, will open a new restaurant at Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park on 12th December 2018 following an investment of £750,000.

The new restaurant will create 50 jobs, a combination of full-time and part-time.

The Connswater location will be the second Tim Hortons® restaurant to open in Northern Ireland, and the first Drive-Thru. The first location, on Fountain Street, opened to great excitement in May, with 300 people queuing around the block to be among the first to taste Tim Hortons’ famous coffee and donuts.

The Tim Hortons®  brand was founded by its namesake, a top professional ice hockey player, who wanted to create a space where everyone would feel at home. Fast forward to 2018, nearly eight out of 10 cups of coffee sold across Canada are served at Tim Hortons® restaurants and more than 5.3 million Canadians – approximately 15 per cent of the population – visit the café daily.

Laura McCarthy, senior property asset manager of Alfred Street Properties Ltd, said:

“We are very excited that Tim Hortons will be opening its first Drive-Thru in November Ireland at Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park in the run up to Christmas. We have already seen how popular the chain is in Belfast and we know that it will be a great addition to our growing retail, food and beverage and leisure offering.”

Kevin Hydes, Chief Finance and Commercial Officer of the Tim Hortons® franchise in the U.K. said:

“When we opened our first Belfast Restaurant in May, we were completely blown away by the excitement and the wonderful welcome from the people of Belfast. We are now thrilled to be opening our first Drive Thru site on Connswater Retail Park and can’t wait to open our doors.”

Sports Direct opening in December at Connswater


Alfred Street Properties Ltd, owners of Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park, has today announced that Sports Direct will open a 4,500 sq ft store at the complex in mid-December.

Founded in 1982, Sports Direct International PLC is the UK’s largest sporting goods retailer, and operates a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle fascias and brands.

This is one of several notable deals to have taken place recently at Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park including the opening of Brand Max, Savers Health and Beauty and Tim Horton’s drive-thru.

It follows the opening of national home, garden and leisure retail chain The Range in 2017, which created 80 new jobs in a 55,000 sq ft anchor unit.

Laura McCarthy, property asset manager of Alfred Street Properties Ltd, said:

“This year has been exceptional for Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park and we are delighted to finish on a high with the arrival of Sports Direct opening in December. We know that this is a very popular retailer and our customers will welcome the opening in the run up to Christmas. It is also a great boost for the local economy.

“Since the opening of The Range at the end of last year there has been a substantial increase in footfall by 50 per cent to the scheme and we have continued to build on that successful momentum throughout 2018. We are looking ahead to next year with optimism and we continue to explore opportunities to improve and diversify our offering.”

A spokesperson for SportsDirect.com said:

“We offer something for everybody and we’re very proud to be opening a store in a great location like Connswater Shopping Centre.

“As we continue to grow throughout the UK, our ethos has never changed in that we offer our customers the biggest brands in all types of sportswear, footwear and sports equipment at low prices.”

Connswater Grotto Opening Hours

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to see Santa. Santa will be in his grotto at Connswater until Christmas Eve.

Come and tell Santa your Christmas wish and don’t forget to post your letter in Santa’s talking postbox. Santa will reply to all the letters received before 17th December, just remember to include your address and postcode on the envelope.

Price List

  • Photograph  – £3
  • Photograph & Gift – £5


Santa’s Arrival Thursday 15th November

Join us on Thursday 15th November from 6pm to welcome Santa to Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park. Santa will be arriving with his parade at 7pm but get down early as we have lots of entertainment for all the kids.

  • Facepainting
  • DJ Entertainment
  • Dancing and Singing in the Centre
  • Balloon Modelling

Join the fun as Santa takes up his residence in the grotto at Connswater just in time for the Christmas season.


Savers Heath and Beauty Now Open at Connswater

16th October 2018


Alfred Street Properties Ltd, owners of Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park, has today announced that Savers Health and Beauty will be opening a new store at the complex this week, creating 12 new jobs.

The 5,000 sq ft unit will bring the total number of Savers stores in Northern Ireland to 20, with four in the greater Belfast area.

Savers, which celebrates its 30th birthday this year, specialises in branded health, home and beauty products at everyday low prices, stocking a wide range of hair care, personal care, oral care, household cleaning, fine fragrance, toiletries, health care, skin care, food, drink and alcohol products.

Laura McCarthy, senior property asset manager of Alfred Street Properties Ltd, said:

 “We are delighted to welcome Savers to Connswater Shopping Centre in what will be another great addition for the scheme just in time for the peak Christmas period. Connswater has turned a corner in the last year, offering a revitalised customer experience with a great selection of retailers to choose from.

“Since the opening of The Range in December 2017 we have seen footfall increase by 20-25 per cent and we are pleased that retailers like Savers recognise that this is an excellent shopping destination.”

Marie Graffin, Savers Area Manager for the North Region, said:

“We are looking forward to opening our Connswater Shopping Centre store on Friday 19th October. We chose this location because it is easily reached via local transport links and in a very lively and vibrant area.

“This store will be a great addition to our existing three shops already open in Belfast. We have created 12 new positions with the store opening, which have been filled, and we are hoping that there will be more available in the future. We will be holding a store launch celebration event on our opening day and we look forward to welcoming everyone along.”



For more information please contact

Andrew Kelly at MCE

T: 028 90 267 099

E: andrew@mcepublicrelations.com