Categories: things to do

With autumn arriving, there is a wealth of colourful and diverse events to look forward to across Northern Ireland.

Whether you’re an art afficionado, a music lover, or a food fanatic, you will find an event to whet your appetite. 

As September arrives, check out an array of international and homegrown musical and artistic talent at the new look Culture Night Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Aspects Festival.

Or if going in search of some tasty treats is more your idea of a fun day out, then don’t miss the sumptuous Armagh Food and Cider Festival and NI Vegan Festival.

Finally, as October descends and the nights draw in, there will be some spooky goings on as Crumlin Road Gaol as the Jail of Horror bares its teeth once again.

Whatever your preference, we have rounded up a list of the most unmissable events to help kick start autumn in style.

SEPTEMBER

Open House Festival, Music in the Park, Sunday afternoons in September


Don’t miss the free concerts in Ward Park in Bangor on Sunday afternoons during August and September (restrictions permitting).  Upcoming highlights include Bluegrass Picnic, Belfast Busking Band featuring reggae, soul, funk and ska played by young Belfast musicians and Folk in the Park.

Balmoral Show: 22 – 25 September

Balmoral Show is delighted to be returning at the end of September.  Over 4 days there is an impressive timetable of events for all the family including livestock displays, show jumping, a children’s farm, fun fair and a food pavilion.  Tickets must be booked online in advance and are day specific only.

AVA Festival: 24– 25 September

This independent festival celebrates its 7th year in 2021, growing in size year on year.  With Belfast being the main location, the core goal from the passionate individuals behind the conference is to provide a creative platform for electronic arts and music and to showcase the best in Irish talent.

Aspects Festival: 24 September – 3 October

The Aspects Festival in Bangor is a celebration of Irish writing and is now in its 30th year.  Live readings and conversations take place in stunning local locations such as Bangor Castle, Bangor Abbey and Clandeboye Estate.  There will also be outdoor workshops and creative experiences where you can enjoy the natural beauty and stunning locations in the area.

OCTOBER

Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival: 1– 31 October

The Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People returns in October 2021.  Including international film screenings, movie premieres, industry Q&As, discussions, competitions and masterclasses in all aspects of filmmaking this is one festival for creative young people not to miss!

Jail of Horror, Belfast: 18 October – 1 November

One of the most fearsome events on the calendar, the Jail of Horror takes one of Belfast’s most haunted buildings, Crumlin Road Gaol, and opens its cells for a spine-chilling, nerve-shredding experience. Unwitting visitors will come face to face with scary inmates, killer clowns, witches and other ghastly ghouls. Meanwhile, the Paranormal Investigation tour takes visitors on a search for the spirits which many people believe still haunt the building. You will assist paranormal experts by conducting various experiments in the most haunted locations of the jail including the tunnel, infirmary, boiler room and hanging cell. Not for the faint of heart! 

Ultimate Strongman World Championship III, Belfast: 29-31 October

Taking place for the first time in Northern Ireland, in Crumlin Road Gaol, this family-friendly event for fans of all ages will showcase the biggest legends in strongman sport from around the world alongside a programme of entertainment. The event will be filmed for TV being shown around the world and will be streamed live on our Facebook page. 

The City of Derry International Choir Festival (also available online): 20-24 October

The only international choir festival held in the UK, this event was conceived as a joyous celebration of all that choral singing has to offer. Its activities include concerts by world-renowned vocal groups, competitions for choirs, workshops and educational events for singers and conductors, community concerts and choral trails in landmark locations across the city and the surrounding area. And, following the success of the festival’s digital offer in 2020, the organisers will be offering a full programme for online audiences, accessible through Facebook, YouTube and the festival website. 

Belfast International Arts Festival: 6 October – 7 November

Back for its 59th edition, Northern Ireland’s largest contemporary arts festival will offer an extensive programme of both live performances and a selection of online events that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. Featuring the best in theatre, dance and music performances, the festival continues to explore contemporary matters of interest to audiences such as gender equality, multi-culturalism, representation, the climate crisis, and democracy. The full programme is expected to be announced later this month.

Some events are taking place both online and in person in accordance with Government guidelines and in line with current restrictions. Be sure to visit each event website to purchase in-person tickets directly.