EXCITEMENT is mounting in the lovely north-coast village of Cushendun as we prepare to launch our fifth annual Big Arts Weekend with a programme that is, yet again, lively, varied – and very ambitious! The festival organisers are delighted to have secured the participation of distinguished performers, lecturers and guides who are expert in a wide range of areas:  whether you are interested in drama, music, the visual arts, history, archaeology, gardening, poetry, language, cookery, or simply in forming a more knowledgeable acquaintance with the outdoor world and the local landscape, there is something here for you.

An hour-long walk on Saturday morning will provide an opportunity to explore the many literary associations of Cushendun’s ‘Five Big Houses’, and our continuing sense of the importance of literature is reflected in our programme.  The festival will begin on Friday night with a performance of Songs and Poetry of the Easter Rising.  On Saturday afternoon, a Creative Writing Workshop led by Medbh McGuckian, an Irish poet of international acclaim, will give an innovative twist to the popular Share a Poem session; earlier that day, Professor Frank Ferguson will speak about John Hewitt and his contribution to Ulster Scots.  Theatre events range from a stand-up comedy event on Friday night, to Donal O’Kelly’s award-winning Catalpa, to the Lurig Drama Group’s rehearsed reading of John Patrick Stanley’s play, Doubt. Children will be able to take part in a ‘Play in a Day’ drama workshop.

Music for a Spring Evening is always a highlight of the festival: this year we are thrilled to welcome the Voices Together Community Choir to St Patrick’s Church on Sunday evening.  Earlier that day, Cushendun musician Glenn Simpson will play in the Old Church, against a backdrop of sculpture by Raymond Watson and a photographic exhibition mounted by local young people.  Glenmona House will be the venue for a lecture by artist and historian Hector McDonnell on megaliths in the Glens, and for a talk by Conor McCormick entitled ‘A Year of Colour in My Garden.’

Exciting outdoor events include a two-day course on foraging in the Glens, a guided walk through Ballypatrick Forest, and our popular Dawn Chorus walk in Cregagh Wood.  There will be the usual range of outdoor family activities and, on the final afternoon of the festival, an opportunity to sample the delights of the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market.

The weekend is organised by Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) in support of the Old Church Project.  CBPT gratefully acknowledges the Department for Communities, and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for Community Festival Funding.  It also wishes to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust, the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, McBride’s bar and the Cushendun community for their contribution to the festival.


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