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Belfast to be transformed into a hub of traditional music, gigs and workshops for one week in 2019

Tuesday 7th May 2019 at 1pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

Musicians Lisa Robinson and Caitlin Scott with Joanne Wright, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Armagh Rhymers at the launch of Belfast’s Trad Fest Image: Musicians Lisa Robinson and Caitlin Scott with Joanne Wright, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Armagh Rhymers at the launch of Belfast’s Trad Fest

Traditional music fans are in for a treat as Belfast’s Trad Fest returns for its third incarnation this summer across all four corners of the city. A launch event at Bullitt Hotel, which brought together performers, music lovers and key sponsors, revealed a week-long series of events, sessions and masterclasses. The festival will be the only one of its kind in the North and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture and heritage.

Descending upon the city – in a series of concerts, masterclasses, workshops, talks and sessions – will be a host of world-renowned traditional musicians, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Jarlath Henderson, Scottish piping legend Finlay McDonald, six former winners of the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards - Harry Bradley, Edel Fox, John Carty, Mary Bergin, Michelle Mulcahy & Conor Connolly alongside Niamh Dunne & Eamon Murray of Beoga (who recently co-wrote Ed Sheeran's massive hit 'Galway Girl'), Kevin Crawford of Lúnasa, Ulster Lambeg & Fife legend Willie Drennan, John Joe Kelly of Flook, Oisín MacDiarmada of Téada & Ríoghnach Connolly of the Afro Celt Sound System, amongst many others.

After two hugely successful years, Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music is re-branding as Belfast Trad Fest and will incorporate the summer school into its packed programme of events this year. In addition, this year Belfast Trad Fest will hold a very special opening concert on Saturday 27th July when three of the hottest acoustic acts in the Trad scene play Belfast for one night only.

In what will surely kick the festival off in style, Lúnasa, Ulaid & Ríoghnach Connolly will come together for what promises to be a spectacular night of traditional music and song in one of the most beautiful theatres in Ireland - The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

The Arts Council wishes the Belfast Trad Fest another very successful event as it brings this highly accessible, upbeat and positive addition to the creative and cultural life of the city.

Joanne Wright, Traditional Arts Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Belfast Trad Fest through our National Lottery funds. Belfast Trad Fest creates the opportunity for many more people to experience and enjoy traditional music, and it has turned Belfast into a hub for the best musicians from across these islands to come together to perform, to teach, and to encourage the emergence of the next generation of young musicians.”

For five days, hundreds of budding traditional musicians, of all ages, will get the chance to learn from traditional music royalty at the Ulster University, York Street, in a series of masterclasses across 18 instruments. In addition, the school will bring jigs and reels to all four corners of Belfast with concerts, demos and talks taking place at The Strand Arts Centre in East Belfast, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich in West Belfast, The Duncairn Centre in North Belfast and An Droichead in South Belfast- with the heart of the summer school and a packed programme of free sessions and events located in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. The program includes:

  • Master-Classes in 17 different musical Instruments, Traditional Singing & Set Dancing
  • 7 Concerts
  • 36 Afternoon events including Talks, Walks, Lectures, Demonstrations
  • 28 Free Traditional Music Sessions
  • 3 CD launches
  • 3 Ceilís

Speaking at the launch event, Bill Wolsey, Managing Director, Beannchor, said:

“As a key sponsor of Belfast Trad Fest we are thrilled to be a part of the festival again, promoting the arts, our local music scene and emerging talents. We are delighted that our venues, including The Dirty Onion, The Cloth Ear, and Bullitt, will play host to some great sessions, providing the perfect backdrop for the festival.”

A full program of events and further details can be found via, or connect with Trad Fest on Facebook and Twitter @BelfastTradF, using the hashtag, #BelfastTradF.


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