The annual 4 Corners Festival features art, music, discussion, sport, debates and faith-based events.
It runs until 5 February in venues across Belfast.
Now in its 11th year, the festival’s aim is to inspire people from across the city to work toward transformation to bring about peace and wellbeing.
It features innovative events designed to entice people out of their own ‘corners’ of the city and into new places where they will encounter new perspectives, new ideas and hopefully meet new friends.
Co-founder, Father Martin Magill explained that while in the past there was a focus on peace-making, the festival is about the next step.
“I see the 4 Corners Festival as making a contribution towards peace building,” he said. ‘The idea of people getting to know one another, spending time with one another. I see the festival really as a catalyst to help encourage that building of relationships.”
Fellow co-founder, the Rev Steve Stockman said the traditional divides have changed much in recent years and that’s one of the things that keeps him involved.
“It is those moments where people come to a part of the city they’ve been in before and they meet somebody across whatever the divides are,” he explained. “Of course, we have the traditional Catholic/Protestant divide and that’s one of our major divides in Belfast, but there are other races in Belfast now too so there are all those kinds of divides, but there’s also class divides.”
Included in this year’s busy programme will be a photographic exhibition and discussion of homelessness in the city, women in peace building and visions of Belfast. It will conclude with the theme of ‘the city where dreams become reality’.
The year 2023 marks a number of significant anniversaries: 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and 60 years since Martin Luther King’s ‘I Had A Dream’ speech.
The 2023 festival explores whether the dreams behind these historic events have been realised and if we still hold enough hope to dream big for Belfast.
The organisers hope 4 Corners will help people listen to each other’s dreams, and keep working towards a more peaceful and just city.