RE[act] Festival

Creating a sustainable Belfast.

RE[act] Festival logo.

Our story

by Chris McCracken, Linen Quarter BID

The Linen Quarter BID (LQ BID) is an independent not for profit company that focuses on delivering specific improvements based in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland.

In Sept 2021 LQ BID launched Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, with a series of ten initiatives that seek to make the Linen Quarter the most sustainable business area in the region.

RE[act] featured 30 unique events between 2 – 14 November 2021. RE[act] was a completely new Northern Ireland festival, that sought to inspire - and lead – a more sustainable Belfast (and Northern Ireland). It took place at the same time as COP26, and was aligned with the global conference's daily themes, to help integrate Northern Ireland into the global conversation.

The RE[act] festival was the largest strategic COP26 event in Northern Ireland.

Our Linen Quarter BID's RE[act] was a success for the district and the region as a whole – and we would like to thank all those you attended the festival, the event coordinators and Belfast City Council along with the UK Government BEIS Green Region Zone support programme (through NILGA) for supporting us and making this such a great regional event.


The RE[act] festival was the largest strategic COP26 event in Northern Ireland.

Re[act] festival included live talks, public debates, workshops, international webinars, and place-based events. Bringing together lively debate and events about how we and the city can continue to be more sustainable around common themes of energy, public empowerment, nature, science & innovation, and active transport.

There were a number of business breakfasts covering topics such as eco-innovation, waste and city sustainability. Community sustainability art workshops were supported by Queen's University, and Belfast City Council facilitated fashion and waste awareness events on the Belfast Barge. Festival attendees had the opportunity to learn about how to make community wealth building work for Belfast. Over 80 young people – between 13 to 18 years old – launched the Belfast Climate Commissions Climate Crisis Youth Survey in front of senior politicians.

We had a packed audience to hear about the difference Edinburgh, Leeds and Belfast Climate Commissions are making to their cities and promoting local jobs.

The RICS global webinar on circular environment attracted over 120 attendees from 23 different countries, and the LG BID launched its green building report on Bedford House to illustrate the practical and commercial benefits of moving towards a sustainable built environment.

There were a number of fun family nature walks hosted by the RSPB and a lively sustainable regeneration café conversation event hosted by the BID along with a successful active travel event supported by Translink.

We will now – with partners – reflect on the festival, and how we will build upon it for the future.

Our advice

In Sept 2021 Linen Quarter BID launched Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, with a series of ten initiatives - including the plan for a city sustainability festival - that seeks to make the Linen Quarter BID the most sustainable business area in the region.

During COP26 we wanted to show sustainability leadership both as a city district but also as a region. It was important for us to both to raise city sustainability awareness and encourage business and citizen participation. We needed to create as a team (along with partners) a 'big' event that would stimulate regional interest in sustainability and our transition towards a circular economy city - during COP26 and after. That is why we developed our sustainable festival - RE[act].

During festival design consultation it became clear that we had to open up the benefits of city sustainability to all - business and citizens alike. We needed to create a programme that was accessible, practical and fun for the family. Not an easy ask - particularly as a region (and business district) we were still finding our way back as a city post COVID-19 lockdown. The numbers returning to city offices remained low - but we felt the message (and opportunity) was too important to ignore.

It was important for us not only to illustrate but practically show how Belfast City was actually doing this and how collectively business, community and government are partnering with others towards a greener city - with new opportunities for job creation and social / community impact.

Re[act] festival included live talks, public debates, workshops, international webinars, and place-based events. Bringing together lively debate and events about how we and the city can continue to be more sustainable around common themes of energy, public empowerment, nature, science & innovation, and active transport - it was a great first success for such an event in Northern Ireland.

We would encourage other smaller cities or districts to hold similar events and open them to both business and civic audiences.

Our metrics

Number of people attending festival event.
Positive evaluation by participants.
Number of partnerships built to influence the agenda moving forward.
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