Belfast Festival at Queen’s ‘A Dream Ticket’

belfast festival
A Shakespearean classic performed in a former gaol, a troupe of incredible circus fleas and new work from Kylie Minogue’s choreographer are just some of the attractions on offer at Ireland’s biggest international arts festival, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, which runs from 19th October to 4th November.

Over 16 packed festival days and nights, international artists and events from countries including Sweden, Poland, India, Australia and South Africa will entertain audiences in venues across the city. Speaking at the festival’s programme launch, Graeme Farrow, Festival Director, said:
“You’ll travel a long way to find an array of talent like this. When you showcase the best of what Northern Ireland‚s culture has to offer alongside international arts and culture of the very highest quality you get a dream ticket – this is what Belfast Festival at Queen’s offers.

Opening Events
Topping the bill at this year‚s festival is The Ulster Bank Opening Concert at the Waterfront Hall on Friday 19th October, which features Irishmusic legends The Chieftains who will combine forces with The Ulster Orchestra, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, Ulster Youth Choir and guests. This special performance will feature original compositions, traditional music, early American country music and dancing.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which is the principal funder of the festival and has funded The Chieftains and a number of other festival performances through the Arts Council Lottery Fund, said:
“As the Festival’s longest-running supporter, the Arts Council is delighted this year to be able to help the festival to continue to offer its customary eclectic mix of events and to carry on its tradition of bringing over headline international arts to Belfast.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Jim Rodgers, pointed to the enormous benefits, which the festival brought to the city, both economically and culturally:
“If we have a vision of Belfast as a modern, vibrant cultural capital (and we should have) then Belfast Festival at Queen’s has a key role to play. It is an event that has reflected this city well internationally for 44 years and something that people in Northern Ireland can take ownership and be proud of.

The impact of Belfast Festival at Queen’s is varied and significant. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t be too bold a claim to suggest that Belfast Festival at Queen’s inches this great city forward every year, concluded the Lord Mayor.

The first Belfast Festival at Queen’s production for many years, Brian Irvine’s award-winning opera The Tailor’s Daughter is described as “a fast-moving modern-day fairytale of bad behaviour, dangerous deeds and extraordinary music. Premiered in Cardiff by Welsh National Youth Opera, it is coming home‚ for its Ireland Premiere, with a cast and orchestra that will showcase the best of Northern Ireland‚s young musical talent. The show will be performed at Grand Opera House on Wednesday 24th October, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland‚s National Lottery Programme and D‚Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.

Fresh from its award-winning success at Edinburgh this year, Truth in Translation (Thursday 25th October  Saturday 3rd November) transfers to the Lyric Theatre for the festival and follows the story of South Africa‚s Truth and Reconciliation Commission through the eyes and ears of interpreters who translated proceedings into South Africa‚s 11 official languages. This outstanding and powerful piece of musical theatre contains a sublime score by Hugh Masekela.

Presenting life through the eyes of an economic migrant who returns after many years spent in America, Sclavi/The Song of an Emigrant is a fast-moving piece of dance theatre which is “simply unforgettable‚ (The Scotsman). The production can be seen at the Waterfront Studio from Tuesday 23rd Friday 26th October.

Crumlin Road Gaol is the haunting backdrop for a bloody tale of ambition and betrayal as Replay Productions in Association with the Old Museum Arts Centre and Belfast Festival present Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy Macbeth. See this unique production in a memorable venue from Monday 22nd October to Friday 2nd November.

Described as a combination of Shakespearean verse, rap and a South African Natural Born Killers, the powerful Fringe First Award-winning script of Johnny Boskak Is Feeling Funny is brought to life with haunting projections of South African landscapes and live music at the Old Museum Arts Centre from Tuesday 23rd Saturday 27th October.

A serious comedy about drink, denial and desperate measures, The Duke of Hope by co-writers Conor Grimes and Alan McKee and produced by Tinderbox can be seen at Queen’s Drama Theatre from Friday 19th October to Saturday 3rd November.

Marking the achievements of 40 years of professional drama in Northern Ireland, the Lyric Theatre will be hosting LyricFest, a series of rehearsed readings, discussions and a poetry reading by Tom Paulin, on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October.

Rafael Bonachela’s stellar dance career has taken him from the streets of Barcelona to the world‚s biggest arenas via his ground breaking choreographic work with Kylie Minogue. His festival programme is entitled Voices (Monday 29th October, Waterfront Studio) and consists of an evening of two works linked by the power of the human voice.

Siobhan Davies is one of the towering figures in British dance and her company brings a new work, Two Quartets to the Waterfront Studio on Saturday 20th October for an evening of subtle changes and dynamic contrasts.

Sex, jealousy, contempt, brawls, clinches and a brilliant live jazz band ensures that Rosie Kay Dance Company’s The Wild Party captures all the energy, debauchery and sleaze of the golden age. Running from Tuesday 30th October Saturday 3rd November at the Old Museum Arts Centre it promises to be one night out that you’ll remember in the morning!

Created with wood, canvas, leaded glass and mirrors, The Spiegeltent is one of the world’s most decadent travelling cabaret and music salons and makes a welcome return to Custom House Square, (with support from the Department of Social Development), following last year‚s smash hit visit. Highlights of the Spiegeltent programme include two shows by raven-haired chanteuse Camille (Saturday 27th October), a fabulously captivating Irish/French performer who will perform songs by Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jacques Brel and more.

Also set to light up the Spiegeltent for two shows are the world‚s greatest cabaret band The Tiger Lillies, who have delighted and shocked audiences around the world with their deranged comic madness and brazen theatrics. You will fall in love with them too when they perform at the Spiegeltent on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th October.

Classical Music
Superstar counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, winner of the 2006 Classical Brit Singer of the Year award, will perform at the Grand Opera House on Friday 2nd November in an enticing programme of music by Handel accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.

The world’s greatest cabaret diva Ute Lemper is to set pulses racing at the festival, as she performs some of the great cabaret classics with the Ulster Orchestra at the Grand Opera House on Friday 26th October, with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund and Tughans Solicitors. The concert will feature works by the icon of French chanson Jacques Brel, tango genius Astor Piazzolla, the classic Mack the Knife and others by Kurt Weill, as well as a Northern Ireland premiere performance of Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.

Bach’s Mass in B Minor is undoubtedly his most spectacular choral work and one of the most joyous musical experiences in the classical tradition. Where better to hear it than in the stunning surroundings of Clonard Monastery, in association with, in a performance by the excellent Dunedin Consort on Sunday 4th November?

A series of festival recitals to celebrate the anniversary of celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3, with the line-up including the award-winning Psophos Quartet (Saturday 27th October, Elmwood Hall), one of the world’s leading piano trios, The Florestan Trio (Sunday 28th October, Elmwood Hall) and one of the most dynamic and exciting young quartets currently performing, the Jerusalem Quartet (Saturday 3rd November, Elmwood Hall.)

Described as “A genius like Fritz Kreisler, violinist Benjamin Schmid has developed an international career playing with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. Schmid will perform with “brilliant pianist and gifted musician (Gramophone) Dejan Lazic at the Sonic Arts Research Centre on Thursday 1st November and with the Beni Schmid Trio in a tribute to Stephane Grappelli at the Spiegeltent on Wednesday 31st October.

Belfast Festival at Queen’s will be rocking the Grand Opera House this year with a rare live outing from the Scottish Sinatra‚ Paul Buchanan and his seminal band The Blue Nile (Saturday 27th October), local hero Duke Special (Saturday 3rd November two shows, in association with Cool FM/Downtown Radio), multi-Grammy award-winning Gospel greats The Blind Boys of Alabama (Tuesday 30th October) and The Frames (Monday 29th October, in association with Cool FM/Downtown Radio), who have gone from being Ireland’s biggest cult act to one of its top selling bands.

Grammy Award winner and American country and folk giant John Prine will perform at the Waterfront on Thursday 25th October, in association with Allianz. Also feted by the prestigious Grammy Awards is jazz/blues great Mose Allison, who counts Van Morrison and Elvis Costello among his fans and who will dazzle audiences at the Elmwood Hall on Monday 29th October.

One of the biggest draws in European jazz, Swedes E.S.T. (Wednesday 24th October, Elmwood Hall) create a heady brew of serious jazz, electronica and dance music. Other highlights include Australian‚s finest avant-garde mavericks The Necks (Friday 2nd November, Sonic Arts Research Centre) and a joyful celebration of high-octane blues-seared hardcore jazz in Billy Jenkins‚ Songs Of Praise (Spiegeltent, Thursday 1st November.)

Also set to grace the Spiegeltent are The Bester Quartet (formerly the Cracow Klezmer Band) (Tuesday 23rd October), one of the most exciting exponents of klezmer music in Europe; classic American tunesmith Iron and Wine (Friday 26th October) and Sherman Robertson and his band BluesMove, who will treat legions of Belfast blues fans to two show-stopping nights, in association with the American Consulate, on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd November.

There’s a feast of folk on offer too, including Eliza Carthy (Sunday 21st October, Spiegeltent), winner of an unrivalled seven BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Turas na dTaoiseach (Thursday 25th October, Grand Opera House), an evening of music commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls and Islands (Saturday 27th October, Elmwood Hall), a new piece of music looking at the cultural tapestry of Scotland, Ireland and England.

Visual Arts
Showing for the first time in the UK and Ireland, the work of internationally acclaimed artists Marc Didou and Gabrielle Leidloff explores the use of medical imaging technologies in art practice.

Exhibiting at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s (19th Oct 1st Dec), Didou’s drawings and dramatic layered sculptures, created using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans surprise and intrigue the viewer, whilst Gabrielle Leidloff’s show at Queen’s Film Theatre (20th Oct 3rd Nov) uses x-ray and eye-tracking technology to produce stunning and unnerving images.

Showing at Belfast Exposed Photography, Portraits: Some Questions about Veiling (28th Sept – 9th Nov), by Jane Brettle and Tulu Bayar will explore experiences and the shifting cultural and political meanings of wearing the veil in contemporary Western culture.

One of Ireland’s foremost painters continues to deepen his exploration of Gaelic culture and tradition with a unique and captivating exhibition of paintings dramatising the story of Turas na dTaoiseach – the Flight of the Earls, one of the most momentous and far-reaching events in Irish history. The work of J B Vallely stunningly captures the story of the end of the ancient Gaelic Order and its ramifications throughout Europe and will be on display in the Grand Opera House foyer from 9th Oct 3rd Nov.

The poetry of mankind in all its energy, vision and blissful abandon is captured on a gargantuan scale in Neil Shawcross: New Paintings, which will run at Arttank from 17th Oct Fri 16th Nov.

Crime, adventure and capitalism are amongst the topics explored in this year‚s talks programme as best selling crime novelist Alexander McCall Smith (Thursday 1st November), intrepid adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes (Monday 22nd October), veteran reporter John Simpson (Monday 22nd October) and award-winning author Naomi Klein (Saturday 3rd November), share their worldviews and exploits with festival audiences.

The Spiegeltent will reverberate to the spoken word and gorgeous music with In Flagrant Delicht (Saturday 20th October) featuring Glasgow‚s Poet Laureate Liz Lochhead and singer/songwriter Michael Marra. Celebrated writer Louis de Bernières also performs Sonnets and Serenades, a show of poetry, classical/traditional music and badinage, alongside the Antonius Players on Sunday 28th October.

Celebrated filmmaker singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch will bring words and music to the Elmwood Hall on Sunday 21st October in a discussion about transcendental meditation, while on the same day Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen discusses great fantasy writers including Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, supported by the Belfast Telegraph.

The work of two of Ireland‚s greatest poets will be celebrated as Paul Durcan reads from his new collection The Laughter of Mothers (Thursday 25th October, Great Hall) and Peter Marinker reads from Louis MacNeice’s masterpiece Autumn Journal on Saturday 3rd November in the Harty Room.

Authors Anne Enright and Glenn Patterson read from their new works on Friday 19th October in the Harty Room, while three major authors discuss the recent history of Loyalism in Northern Ireland on Thursday 25th October in Elmwood Hall. One of the first lawyers to visit detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Clive Stafford Smith will deliver Amnesty International‚s Annual Lecture on Friday 2nd November in Elmwood Hall.

Magners Comedy
From cross-dressing country and western singers to TV favourites, this year’s Magners Comedy programme has got it all!

Described as “a treat for the funny bone, the brain and the ear (New York Times), Bill Bailey will perform two (nearly sold out!) shows at the Whitla Hall on Wednesday 31st October and Thursday 1st November, while Frank Skinner comes to Belfast’s Grand Opera House for one night of sidesplitting comedy on Thursday 1st November.

Three furious females take to the stage for an orgy of middle aged mayhem in Grumpy Old Women Live (Wednesday 31st October, Grand Opera House) and country music icon and presidential hopeful for 2008 Tina C will launch her new album of heart-hurting‚ country classics: If You Can‚t Live without Me, Why Weren’t You Dead When I Met You? At the Spiegeltent on Friday 19th October.

Now aged 41, but “spiritually 11, Sean Hughes (Friday 26th October, Elmwood Hall) has enjoyed almost two decades at the top of the comedy tree, while Sean Lock (Saturday 20th October, Elmwood Hall) has been described by Ricky Gervais as “one of the most influential British stand ups of the past 10 years. Direct from his latest sell-out Australian tour, Jimeoin makes a welcome return to Belfast to perform at the Grand Opera House on Sunday 28th October.

Featuring darkly funny stories from rural Queensland, and uniquely homespun versions of popular tunes heard on the old wireless from Sugababes to Steppenwolf! – The Kransky Sisters are sure to intrigue and delight with Heard it on the Wireless, at the Elmwood Hall on Tuesday 23rd October.

Now in its fifth year, Stand Up For Justice continues to bring the foremost comic talents to the festival to raise money for Amnesty International. This year’s event at the Whitla Hall on Tuesday 30th October will

be hosted by Andrew Maxwell, one of the highlights of last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball and the line-up will include local hero Colin Murphy and Australian musical comedian Tim Minchin.

Harry Potter fans will be flying in to the Lyric Theatre to catch Potted Potter a whistle stop performance of all the Harry Potter books in just 60 minutes, featuring Blue Peter storytellers Dan and Jeff! The production runs from Friday 19th Sunday 21st October.

Children of all ages are sure to enjoy the smallest show on earth, The Flea Pit, which is being presented by Cahoots NI in the Little Pavilion, Botanic Gardens. Running from Friday 19 October audiences can witness this incredible show in a unique purpose built theatre which holds just 15 people!

Film Queen’s Film Theatre
The work of two of cinema‚s greatest talents will be celebrated at Queen‚s Film Theatre during this year’s festival. To mark the centenary of movie legends John Wayne and Laurence Olivier, the festival will be hosting screenings of some of both actors‚ finest works at QFT from Friday 19th October to Thursday 1st November.

Highlights include Olivier‚s Oscar-winning Hamlet (Friday 19th and Saturday 20th October), and Henry V (Sunday 21st and Monday 22nd October) and John Wayne‚s classic Fort Apache (Monday 29th October) and Stagecoach (Thursday 1st November.)
Our special Halloween Night showing brings you a special screening of The Innocents, a chilling psychological horror film thriller sure to have hearts pounding!

Education and Outreach
With community group tickets priced at just £5 for a wide range of performances, workshops in dance, theatre and visual arts, free transport to selected events and community short film screenings, this year’s Belfast Festival at Queen’s Education and Outreach Programme aims to ensure the whole community can share in festival fever!

A limited number of free tickets are available for truth and recovery and victims groups to see Truth in Translation which has been described as one of the most important theatrical events of our time. Workshops are available for truth recovery and victims groups and thanks to Translink, the festival is also able to offer free transport to a limited number of schools to see the production. Contact 028 90 97 11 97 for further information.

A matinee performance of The Tailor’s Daughter, suitable for school children aged 9+ has been scheduled for Wednesday 24th October at 1.00pm in the Grand Opera House with a special ticket price of £7.50.

Contemporary dancers can take advantage of two dedicated workshops by festival artists Siobhan Davies Dance Company (Friday 19th October) and Kylie Minogue’s choreographer, Rafael Bonachela on Sunday 28th October. Please contact the box office on 028 90 97 11 97 for full details on times and venues.

QFT is coordinating a short film strand during the festival, for films made by young people aged 13 25 years, as well as school screenings and discussions to mark the centenaries of Laurence Olivier and John Wayne. For full details, contact QFT Education on 028 90971396.

  • The 2007 festival website offers unprecedented levels of interactivity. As well as online booking, full programme, travel, accommodation and hospitality information, the latest festival news, competitions, ticket promotions, this year‚s festival site will have its own weblog section, where festival staff, artists and audiences can log on to post their comments and photographs of the latest festival events.
  • Booking Information
    The programme for the 45th Belfast Festival at Queen’s is available free in Monday 10th September copy of the festival’s media partner, the Belfast Telegraph. The brochure will also be available soon from outlets throughout Northern Ireland and full details of all events are also online at

    Tickets for Belfast Festival at Queen’s events are on sale from today from the following outlets:

    · Telephone the Festival Box office on 028 90971197 open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm.
    · Call in to the festival box office at QFT, 20 University Square open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm.
    · Book online

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