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As Look North! returns for its third annual festival weekend of literature, entertainment and collective discussion, Ulster University will play host to a series of events celebrating the heritage and creative talents of North Belfast.

Taking place from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 February, Look North – The North Belfast Festival examines and celebrates the creativity and quality of work from local artists, authors, musicians, poets and young people from North Belfast and beyond.

With talks, walks, poetry readings, panel discussions, music and creative writing classes, the festival will be hosted at a range of venues in the North of the city, including Ulster University’s state-of-the-art Belfast campus.

Professor Duncan Morrow, Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University said:

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Look North – The North Belfast Festival back to Ulster University Belfast next weekend to explore and celebrate North Belfast’s important place in the history of Belfast, from its historic buildings to its internationally acclaimed talent. As a University, we are proud of our roots in North Belfast and want to support the development and prosperity of this area that we deliver our research and teaching in. Look North! is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the talent and character of the city and we are excited to welcome local talent and community leaders to our campus.”

Events at Ulster University:

In the fiftieth anniversary year of sculptor and performance artist Joseph Beuys lecturing at the former Belfast School of Art, Robert McDowell returns to the city for a discussion on his work and the legacy he left behind. Director and founder of Summerhall Edinburgh, McDowell has studied at Belfast, Slade, and Hamburg Art Schools & Cambridge University, and worked for over 10 years with Beuys and 40 with Ricky Demarco.

Situated on what was once considered an interface area, Peas Park is a creative growing space in the Skeogniell and Glandore area of North Belfast, a shared place for people from different backgrounds to meet and plant seeds of change. This talk, facilitated by Dr Callie Persic who works in urban regeneration at Belfast City Council, will explore what a ‘shared space’ means and how it’s best achieved.

Who has the vision and the influence to realise the full potential of the North of the city? Power is never just vested in politicians. Activists across community, voluntary, education, faith and business sectors also have ideas and the means to influence change. Political commentator David McCann will be joined by Chair of the Cavehill Business Association Paul Carlin, Parkrun Ireland country manager Matt Shields, and Belfast Royal Academy principal Hilary Woods to reflect on new ideas for change.

There are a number of ways in which greater opportunities for engagement between young people through schools can be enhanced, including each school attracting a more religiously diverse enrolment. This presentation by Queen’s University Belfast Honorary Professor Tony Gallagher will examine whether this has happened since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.

A Lecturer in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast’s Seamus Heaney Centre, Dr Tara West has published two novels Fodder (2002), Poets Are Eaten as a Delicacy in Japan (2014), and a memoir of depression and recovery The Upside of Down (2020). Her third novel, Inventionland, is due for publication in 2025. Dr West will be in conversation with Glen Patterson on Saturday 24 February.

From his home on Belfast’s Antrim Road, surrounded by major figures of Ireland’s cultural and political revival, Francis Joseph Bigger (1863-1926) promoted all aspects of his country’s Celtic heritage. Dr Myrtle Hill, former Senior Lecturer and Director of the QUB Centre for Women’s Studies will be in conversation with Ruth Taillon, former Chair of the Mary Ann McCracken Historical Society, considering the life of the Antiquarian, conservationist and author who passionately endorsed traditional festivals, literature, art and music.

Professor Duncan Morrow, Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University will be joined by Avila Kilmurry, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Betty Carlisle, Manager of the Shankill Women's Centre and Paul Caskey OBE, Head of Campaigns at the Integrated Education Fund to reflect on the memories and enduring legacy of Baroness May Blood (1938-2022). A community worker, trade unionist and integrated education activist, Baroness May Blood was once president of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland and worked with the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition.

About Look North!

Presented by The John Hewitt Society, the third annual Look North! Festival is supported by principal festival sponsors the National Lottery Community Fund, Belfast City Council Community Festivals Fund, Belfast Harbour, Belfast Charitable Society, Cathedral Quarter and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Discover the full programme of events and register for tickets at: Look North! The North Belfast Festival.