20 Of Northern Ireland’s Best Festivals
NORTHERN Ireland has a rich festival programme this year – from country fairs and food festivals to music weekends and world culture celebrations there’s literally something for everyone.
Tens of thousands of people across the country will pack their summer schedule not by flying off to sunny destinations across the world but by going on short staycations all around Northern Ireland.
Here’s your guide to 20 of Northern Ireland’s best festivals this year:
Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival
July 26 – August 3
Various venues across Enniskillen
Taking place over two long weekends this is the fourth annual festival in Enniskillen dedicated to the work of playwright Samuel Beckett.
Directed by Sean Doran the festival boasts performances in all of Enniskillen’s four churches, the 300 seat Ardhowen Theatre on the banks of Lough Erne, at Portora Royal School and off the beaten track, in the underground caves of Marble Arch as well as on remote islands and hidden locations in the countryside.
For more information log onto www.happy-days-enniskillen.com
July 30 – August 9
Falls Park, Belfast
The August Feile is a jam-packed programme of events including: music concerts, debates and discussions, exhibitions, international food fayre, children’s events, literary events, community events, walks and tours, sports, dramas, something for everyone at every age. This year’s headline acts include reggae legends, UB40 and 80s stars the Human League supported by Marc Almond.
For more information and full listing log onto www.feilebelfast.com
July 31 – August 2
Tubby’s Farm Hillsborough
Considered one of Northern Ireland’s best family friendly music festivals, Sunflowerfest is billed as a “magical weekend-festival of great music, arts and entertainment”. With a fantastic lineup of live music, family fun, performances in the Enchanted Glade, storytelling, poetry, interactive art, dance and music workshops.
More information and lineup details can be found at www.sunflowerfest.co.uk
Open House Festival
August 1 – 31
Various venues around Bangor
As well as running annual arts festivals Open House also runs a year round programme of music and arts events throughout Belfast and Bangor.
Next month various acts will play in venues across Bangor ranging from hotels to churches to boats.
For more information log onto www.openhousefestival.com
Monsters Of Rot V
Letterbreen, County Fermanagh
The festival has been one of the country’s best kept metal secrets. The one-day fest of extreme metal will see Belfast band Altus take to the stage. Camping is also available at this festival.
For more information and lineup log onto www.monstersofrot.com.
Belfast Hills Heritage Festival
The Belfast Hills Partnership’s week long summer programme of events will bring the Hills alive with folklore, nature, entertainment and good healthy outdoor fun. Activities include walks, talks and wildlife hunts
For more information log onto www.belfasthills.org
7 Hills Blues Festival
If you are a fan of the Blues then the 7 Hills Blues Festival is for you. With 60 free gigs across the city from Chicago Rhythm to Funk Style, this festival brings some of the finest Blues bands to the atmospheric streets of Armagh with local bands featuring alongside international acts.
For more information log onto www.armagh.co.uk/7hills
Stendhal Festival of Art
Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady
Celebrating the creativity of artists from all over Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and further afield, Stendhal Festival of Art is much more than just a music festival. Over 70 volunteers work hard all year round to put together this massive festival lineup.
For more information log onto www.stendhalfestival.com
Bliss Summer Festival
Narrow Water Castle, Warrenpoint, County Down
Northern Ireland’s first ever festival promoting sexual freedom. Originating in Ireland, the festival has been set up by organisers to promote “sexual freedom, health and pleasure in mind, body and spirit”.
As well as running a number of “playshops” that promote sexual exploration and freedom, the weekend will see participants taking part in sessions entitled everything from Cuddle Party, Arousal and Sensual Massage to Orgasmic Yoga and Erotic Party Games and the G-Spot Experience.
For more information log onto www.blissfestival.org
B/E Aerospace Festival of Flight
Newcastle, County Down
From exhibitions and live music to street entertainment, craft stalls, food village and more the Festival of Flight will see a whole host of family orientated activities fill the town.
U105 will be on hand with live entertainment from the big stage as well as an aircraft display from 3pm which will include Typhoon, Team Raven, Lancaster, Blenheim, Aerobatic Display, Red Arrows, Pitts Special, Catalina, Irish Aircraft Historic Flight and Strikemaster.
For more information log onto www.facebook.com/NewcastleFoF
Custom House Square, Belfast
This year’s festival will be headlined this year by drum and bass and soul band Rudimental as well as Paloma Faith, Bastille, Stereophonics, Hozier, Above & Beyond and All Time Low.
With a mixture of genres the festival is set to see thousands of people pack into Custom House Square over six nights. Already confirmed for support are Duke Dumont, The Coronas, twenty one pilots, Mini Mansions and Echosmith.
Tickets available here.
More infomation can be found at www.belsonic.com
East Side Arts Festival
Various venues across Belfast
From music events from Van Morrison, Duke Special and Soak to the theatre production Dancing Shoes – The George Best Story throughout the 12 days there will be 78 events, 33 of which are completely free. The packed programme includes everything from music, movies, theatre and talks to workshops, exhibitions, poetry, community events and heritage tours.
For more information log onto www.eastsidearts.net
The Lughnasa International Friel Festival
Various venues across Belfast and Donegal
Tyrone born Brian Friel, best known for his plays Dancing At Lughnasa and Philadelphia, Here I Come! will be honoured in a two-part festival dedicated to his career.
Taking place between Belfast and Donegal The Lughnasa International Friel Festival begins in Donegal with Welcome To Friel Country from August 20-26 and culminating in the second leg Belfast, Here I Come! running from August 26-31.
For more information log onto www.lughnasainternationalfrielfestival.com
August 21 & 22
Headlined by country sensation Nathan Carter, Linenfields Festival is a new kid on the festival block in its first year.
Set to bring a flavour of American and Irish country to the picturesque meadows there will be a whole host of tribute acts including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks on Friday night and Nathan on the Saturday.
Country music heart-throb Nathan Carter will headline the festival on Saturday August 22.
Tickets and more information are available from www.linenfieldsfestival.com.
Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast
Superstar DJ Calvin Harris and The Script headline this year with bands such as Ellie Goulding, John Newman, Disciples, Kodaline and Burns also taking to the stage.
As one of the biggest dates in the festival calendar tickets are set to sell out, so get in there fast.
Get your tickets from www.ticketmaster.ie.
Hilden Beer Festival and Music Festival
The August bank holiday brings beer lovers in droves to the Hilden Beer and Music Festival. This year there will be over 30 craft drinks being served with 20 musical acts, three stages and three bars. The music will span everything from rock and bluegrass to blues, traditional and singer songwriters while the craft drinks include everything from ales and stouts to lagers and ciders.
For more information log onto www.taproomhilden.com
Carnival of Colours
St Columb’s Park, Derry~Londonderry
This flagship circus, arts and music festival will be filled with top treats for all the family. Highlights include the very best of international and local street theatre, storytelling, workshops and international foods, with evening cabaret, music and comedy.
Botanic Gardens, Belfast
The Mela is a unique global get-together with tens of thousands of people enjoying music, dance, food, fashion, cuisine and lots of community celebration.
20,000 people are expected to attend this celebration of world cultures organised by ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland’s largest ethnic arts organisation.
For more information log onto www.belfastmela.org.uk.
Hillsborough International Oyster Festival
Various venues around the town
The Hillsborough Oyster Festival will include activities, performances and eating experiences to satisfy all tastes. This year’s Festival will see the return of the World Oyster Eating Championship, the glamourous Pearl and Oyster Ball, The Oyster Masters Golf, the Super Car Dream Sunday and the Soapbox Derby which is being sponsored by TrustFord this year.
For more information log onto www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com
Bluegrass Music Festival
Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone
A unique festival in Northern Ireland where acts perform throughout the outdoor museum seeing them strumming on the porches of the log cabins, dancing in the cobbled streets and jamming outside the General Store. The line-up includes some of the biggest names in bluegrass, hailing from Ireland, England, North America and mainland Europe.
More information can be found at www.nmni.com
By Ciaran McElhinney & Tina Calder, Excalibur Press
@TinaCalder | @ExcaliburPress