Cultural Big Lunch with a spooky side
A cultural extravaganza with an international flavour took place at CS Lewis Square in Belfast recently, with the Halloween Cultural Festival and Big Lunch. People of all ages came together to share the aromatic smells and tastes along with the sounds and sights, with the beat of the African drums echoing in the background, to promote good relations by celebrating the diversity of cultures in Belfast.
The event was organised by Apex Housing Association in partnership with Radius Housing, Alternatives RJ & Eastside Arts with food, music and dance from across the globe including Romanian, South Asian, Arabic, African, Mexican Irish/Northern Irish and Scottish with some fusion included in the cultural mix. Provided alongside this was cultural storytelling and cultural arts & craft activities including The Verbal, Tauras, Mai Tai, Arabic Tea Ceremony, Henna, Chinese Lanterns, African Clay Mask Making & Mexican Candy Skulls and much more!
The event took on a spooktacular theme and participants were encouraged to dress for the occasion, with spot prizes for the scariest costume with more than a few ghosts, ghouls and witches in attendance. The Halloween Cultural Festival and Big Lunch aimed to highlight the diversity across the local community and celebrate the wide range of cultures together in one space. There was engagement from BME communities, while also highlighting traditional and local culture in a positive and inclusive way from across NI.
Apex has a Shared Housing Development in Ballynafoy Close in the Ravenhill area of Belfast, while Radius Housing manages another one in Global Crescent. Members of the Social Change Group who participated included tenants from both Apex and Radius Shared Housing Developments who had previously completed a 1-year Lincs programme facilitated by Alternatives on Peace Building and Good Relations and included an OCN Level 1 in Restorative Practice. They were presented with certificates of completion as part of the event.
The project was supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. Apex and Radius continue to work in partnership with local Advisory Group stakeholders, and with residents to develop each scheme’s Good Relations Plan. £11m has been invested in the Belfast shared housing developments and associated five-year Good Relations Plans.
Sharon Hunt from Apex Housing Association commented:
It has been a pleasure to be involved in the organising of such a vibrant and inclusive event in the heart of East Belfast. CS Lewis Square was alive with the sights, sounds and smells of cultural diversity and it was wonderful to see local people of all ages enjoying the performances, food and activities. We look forward to continuing our work in partnership with others to build even stronger community relations in the wider Ravenhill area.
Sharon Traynor from Radius Housing said:
Belfast is becoming more and more vibrant and diverse, with people from across the globe now putting down roots here and calling this city their home. It is important that we provide opportunities to bring people together to share their cultures and experience with each other. Belfast is a welcoming city, which is why the Cultural Festival and Big Lunch is such a great success and we are delighted that there has been such a great response, the smells and atmosphere here today and the Halloween costumes on display have been fantastic!