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Belfast Hills Festival to celebrate our shared heritage


Celebrating our shared history is the theme of the first ever Belfast Hills Heritage Festival taking place next month.

The week-long programme with many free events runs from July 2-8. It forms part of the Belfast Hills Partnership’s Landscape Partnership Scheme that seeks to foster greater social interaction among communities.

It hopes to inspire people to become involved in the future protection of the unique rural environment of the hills that are situated amid the large urban population areas of Belfast, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and Antrim.

The festival will recall how we lived and worked during the Great War, the roaring twenties, the hungry thirties and the wartime forties in the Belfast Hills.

There will be a living history treasure hunt and fun day on Cave Hill, a Belfast Hills murder mystery supper night and a drive around the historic sights on a 1930s-style bus.

Local historians will present a journey of History In The Heart of the Hills at Belfast Castle, while a walking tour on Divis and Black Mountain will tell the story of the early settlers. There will also be a music and walking event on the black bull of Colin Glen in west Belfast.

A free movie barge theatre night is happening on the River Lagan screening local film Closing The Ring.

A tour will take place of Sentry Hill Museum and Carnmoney Hill where female flying ace Lillian Bland flew in the early 1900s.

The festival is part of a Landscape Partnership scheme project being undertaken in the Belfast Hills. Funded by the Rural Development Programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund the festival aims to attract all ages, communities and ethnic groups to experience all the Belfast Hills have to offer.  It also encourages communities to get healthy by walking in the great outdoors as well as learning about the industrial heritage and wildlife of the Belfast Hills.

Outreach officer Jo Boylan said the festival was a celebration of our shared heritage.

She said: “The entire heritage on offer relates directly to the communities in the areas associated with the Belfast Hills. We have lots of interesting stories for our ethnic communities too including the tales of Polish pilots in World War Two.

“We want to get communities up into the hills and show them what is on offer with a strong flavour of the historic value of the sites. So if it has been years since you visited the Belfast Hills or if you have never ventured there, this is definitely the time to do so.”

“Thousands of people live in the areas below the hills and we want them to experience what is their legacy and shared history. We hope the festival will encourage people to become aware that this outdoor area is there to enjoy, cherish and protect.”

For details go to www.belfasthills.org/events, email info@belfasthills.org or call 02890 603 466.

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