Two female dancers in rehearsals for ROOTS. One is standing on a table, with her feet hidden by brown soil. She appears to be about to fall but is supported by the second person leaning into her.
Festival News

ROOTS – a pioneering initiative in Belfast City Council’s Belfast 2024 programme and one of ten projects to also be supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – is poised to redefine the historically contested space adjacent to the ‘million brick’ peace wall dividing the Springmartin and Springfield communities. Led by home-grown choreographer Eileen McClory, this transformative project will unfold at the newly constructed Black Mountain Shared Space Building, offering an immersive, nature-inspired experience for all.

The vision for ROOTS is to cultivate a vibrant community garden teeming with life, energy, and creativity.  This garden will set the stage for LIVE DANCE SHOWS in August. Citizens from across Belfast, and beyond, are invited to immerse themselves in this newly planted garden, by then in full bloom, engaging all senses as they watch, listen, move, touch, and connect amidst the flourishing garden.


The ROOTS project kicks off with The Big Spring Dig, inviting Belfast residents to come along on the Bank Holiday Weekend for a collective effort of digging, planting and movement.  Led by Andy McCormack from Sow Grateful Flower Farm, this communal effort symbolises our shared commitment to shaping a brighter tomorrow.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Big Spring Dig, at Black Mountain Shared Space, which was due to take place this Sunday 26th & Monday 27th May, has been postponed. A new date will announced soon.

Through dance, poetry, storytelling, and active participation, ROOTS aims not just to entertain, but to ignite fresh conversations and narratives about Belfast’s future.

Eileen McClory, leading the ROOTS team, expressed her enthusiasm for the project, stating, “I’m thrilled to be part of such an exciting year for Belfast. ROOTS offers us a unique opportunity to reshape our cityscape through nature and collective creativity. But what truly excites me is the chance to collaborate with local residents and capture the essence of our connection to Black Mountain through movement, stories, and gardening that will resonate for generations to come.”

“This is one of the most exciting projects in our Belfast 2024 programme, bringing together our central themes of People, Place and Planet, with additional support provided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund,” said Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy.

“ROOTS will invite communities to get involved in something really special by working together to develop new skills and enjoy poetry, dance and storytelling sessions as their efforts come into bloom over the summer. The end result will be to create a lasting legacy on what is now a shared space, as well as a chance to celebrate the unique heritage of this special part of our city, in the shadow of Black Mountain.”

Stella Byrne, Head of Investment for Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“We are pleased to support ten exciting Belfast 2024 Our Future Heritage projects which are using £250,000 of heritage funding made possible by National Lottery players to explore Belfast’s heritage. Together, cultural organisations, artists and community groups are providing opportunities for people to engage with the City’s built, cultural, industrial, maritime, natural and intangible heritage uncovering forgotten or overlooked sites and stories.”

ROOTS boasts a diverse array of creative partners, including Black Mountain Shared Space, Sow Grateful Flower Farm, PLAYGROUND Productions, Queen’s University Belfast, Eden Project, and Belfast International Arts Festival.

Richard Wakely, Artistic Director & Chief Executive, of Belfast International Arts Festival, added “ Belfast International Arts Festival is delighted to be able to continue to support the practice and work of Eileen McClory, a former Festival Artist in Residence. We’re very proud that ROOTS has been commissioned for the Belfast 2024 Programme as it gives audiences across Belfast the opportunity to experience at first hand Eileen’s wonderful new, site specific work for the Black Mountain Shared Space Building.”

Seamus Corr, Projects and Programmes Manager, Black Mountain Shared Space Project: “Together, we sow the seeds of possibility, cultivating a vibrant garden where diverse voices bloom.  Through dance, poetry, and storytelling, we paint a story of Belfast’s future, weaving together dreams and aspirations. With each step we take, we dance towards a tomorrow filled with shared experiences and boundless imagination.”

Speaking on behalf of Eden Project, Emma Tolley stated:  “ROOTS represents a powerful fusion of nature, creativity, and community engagement, offering a transformative vision for Belfast’s shared spaces. Eden Project is proud to contribute to this innovative initiative, inspiring and demonstrating positive action for the planet for generations to come.”

Andy McCormack, co-founder Sow Grateful, a cut-flower farm and landscaping company on the edge of Belfast. “We focus on nature-first horticultural practices, and grow pear-free seasonal flowers, as well as being registered with the All Ireland Pollinator Plans for our pollinator-friendly landscape designs. With core values of community engagement and environmental education, Sow Grateful, are delighted to be part of this garden design and implementation project. Bringing our expertise and energy to incorporate the ideas and interests of the local community to create a garden that reflects the people and location in which it is nestled “

ROOTS Live Shows: Saturday 10th August  – Sunday 18th August (no performances on Tuesday 13th August).

In August, the garden will come alive with dance and stories amidst the blooming sensory feast. Audiences will be invited to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of movement and stories rich in biodiversity and dreams for the future, experiencing firsthand the beauty of collective creativity in action.

This will be followed by a Self-Guided Audio Experience from Friday 23rd August – Sunday 2nd September, on Fridays / Saturdays / Sunday weekly.

Join us on the mountain, where art and nature intertwine to rewrite the narrative of Belfast’s public spaces, embracing inclusivity, collaboration, and the boundless potential of collective imagination.

For further details and participation opportunities, visit

OFF THE RAILS DANCE is a Belfast Dance Company committed to creating daring and inspiring works that entertain, challenge and push the boundaries of dance as a theatrical form. Formed in 2010 under the Artistic Direction of Eileen McClory.

About Belfast 2024

Belfast City Council is investing £5.9 million into Belfast 2024, which builds upon the council’s existing support for culture and arts and invites citizens to get creative, through a mix of new commissions and community-led programmes, all reflecting the city’s diversity and vibrancy.

The aim of the programme is to support jobs in the creative sector, create new opportunities for residents to enjoy and participate in the arts, and showcase the city as a global destination for culture, through its three key themes of People, Place and Planet.

ROOTS is one of 17 locally-led projects which have been selected following an open call to the arts sector in the city.

For more details of the Belfast 2024 programme, visit