Belfast TradFest returns with a jam-packed week of traditional music, song and dance, featuring some of the best traditional musicians, singers & dancers from across these islands.
Featuring a summer school and a full programme of concerts, workshops, talks, lectures, sessions, céilís & festival club, this week is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture & heritage.
Festival headliner and set to be an 'I was there moment' is Sharon Shannon Big Band at Ulster Hall on Friday 29th July. Opening the show will be Hothouse Flowers' frontman Liam Ó Maonlaí, performing a rare solo set with grand piano, bodhrán & tin-whistle followed by Sharon Shannon's eclectic six piece band.
Belfast TradFest events will run across many of the city's well known venues: The Fiddle Monologues Sunday 24th July at The Black Box is a play by Sorcha Meehan that focuses on four women from 1679, 1789, 1889 and 1959 and their relationship with the violin. Song and Fiddle Sunday 24th July at The John Hewitt with Niamh Parsons & Graham Dunne and TG4 Gradam Ceoil / Belfast City Council bursary recipient Sinead McKenna. Dervish frontwoman Cathy Jordan brings her trio 'The Unwanted' to The Black Box Sunday 24th July.
A tribute to the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 takes place on Tuesday 26th July at Áras Mhic Reachtain and will feature world renowned harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Australian guitar virtuoso Steve Cooney amongst others. With Fife & Drum Tuesday 26th July at Strand Arts Centre explores the traditions of Scotland and Ireland with some of the world's finest pipers and drummers including Alastair Roberts, Mike Smyth, Garthe McLees & Tommy Hayes. Ceol Beirte Wednesday 27th July at An Droichead features Ciarán & Caitlín and Barry Kerr & Síle Denvir amongst others in a celebration of duet playing.
World class traditional flute players and whistlers such as TG4 Gradam Ceoil musicians of the year Harry Bradley & Mary Bergin, feature at Flutopia Thursday 28th July at The Deer's Head. Thursday 28th July showcases two emerging artists Dàibhidh Stiùbhard and Miadhachlughain O'Donnell at the SunFlower Folk Club. Ta Bean In Éirinn will be a celebration of the finest female traditional musicians, singers and dancers in Ireland, such as Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Caitlín Níc Gabhann & recent TG4 Gradam Ceoil recipient Edwina Guckian, on Thursday 28 July at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich.
A cornerstone of Belfast TradFest is the summer school, which is five days of masterclasses, Monday 25th – Friday 29th July 10am – 1pm, at Ulster University, York Street. The summer school's team of tutors is made up of internationally renowned performers with proven track records as teachers and educationalists across music, song and dance. There are a range of classes to suit all ages and abilities from beginners to advanced. Masterclass attendees can also avail of a fantastic accommodation offer from festival partner Liv, the new accommodation at the Ulster University, Belfast campus.
Make sure you also look out for out for Belfast TradFest Session Trail running across a wide range of venues. The trail sponsored by McConnell's Irish Whisky features over 40 sessions, all free admission. TradFest partners with Belfast Pride to host the Pride Céilí with music by Ciaran Kelly & Friends and with dances called by Ronan Eastwood at Oh Yeah Music Centre Wednesday 27th July. TradFest Festival Club will be a rip-roaring late night hot spot with trad luminaries including Gino Lupari of Four men & a Dog, Gerry 'Banjo' O'Connor, Damien Mullane and local trio's Briste & Troda. Also look out for a range of exhibitions and CD launches.
Dónal O'Connor Artistic Director of Belfast TradFest says: "Belfast TradFest is a distinctive and progressive music festival which reflects and nourishes the traditional music of the whole community of the North, by representing both the Irish and Scots musical traditions. With the burgeoning number of traditional musicians and venues across the city, plus the incredible quality and creativity amongst young players of all instruments and ages, Belfast is fast becoming the traditional music capital of Ireland. Belfast TradFest invites locals and visitors to join us in celebrating our cultural richness while embracing the Giant Spirit that traditional music has to offer. "