Belfast International Arts Festival
Oct 15 2019 - Nov 03 2019
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An eclectic fusion of cutting-edge performances incorporating over 200 events from over 20 days.
Belfast International Arts Festival brings an eclectic fusion of cutting-edge performances to Belfast with world class theatre, dance, visual art, music, film, literature and talks. Over 200 events to choose from over 20 days, the 57th edition promises to stretch minds, challenge perceptions, and to surprise and delight audiences.
The international programme focuses on crossing artistic borders and pushing boundaries. Highlights include the explosively energetic To Da Bone; the wonderfully quirky 100 Keyboards; the exquisitely Beckett flavoured Real Magic; the beautifully captivating La Spire; Oscar-award winning Glen Hansard; the spectacularly immersive Median; pulsing Afro-Cuban beats with La Dame Blanche and much more!
Belfast has been chosen to contribute to two major international cultural celebrations: Japan-UK Season of Culture and FranceDance UK.
Opening the festival on 15 Oct is the UK & Irish premiere of Median, a contemporary paring of choreography with digital projection and electronic sound from Japanese multi-disciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda. Think of the most creative music videos by Radiohead and Aphex Twin, meets the stealth and intensity of The Matrix. ASUNA, an experimental artist from Tokyo brings his quirky, immersive sound installation, 100 Keyboards to The MAC.
As part of FranceDance UK, the high energy jumpstyle To Da Bone is a captivating, contemporary rebel-call to the social media generation. The work of (LA)HORDE will be recognisable from the multi-million-viewed music video for Christine and the Queens’ track Girlfriend.
The eclectic musical offering features two shows in the Grand Opera House by Glen Hansard, which have all but sold-out on pre-release, County Down-born Two Door Cinema Club and Joshua Burnside, 70’s ska favourites, The Selecter and a host of classical performances including NI star pianist Ruth McGinley and violinist Darragh Morgan performing as a duo for the first time; and classical pianist Lucy Parham, joined by Juliet Stevenson and Tim McInnerny, performing Beloved Clara which brings to life the love triangle story between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara and Johannes Brahms.
In the field of theatre, check out Ireland’s finest, including Dublin-based Fishamble with Pat Kinevane’s searing solo choreography and theatre piece Before, which touchingly combines some of the best-loved songs from musical theatre with a family drama centred around the closing day in Dublin’s iconic Clery’s department store; and an edgy, of-the-moment piece by Chalk it Down Productions, Spliced, a study of mental health and male identity in the uber-masculine sports world of gaelic games.
The literary and film sections of the programme are packed with highlights and big names, including author Michael Rosen (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) and Booker long-listed authors Max Porter (Grief is a Thing with Feathers and Lanny) and Kevin Barry (Night Boat to Tangier), along with hotly tipped Kerry Hudson (Lowborn), Emilie Pine (Notes to Self), Meena Kandasamy (Exquisite Cadavers) the Octavia Poetry Collective and a special event on 30 October, the eve of Brexit, featuring journalist and author Gavin Esler talk about his latest book Brexit without the Bullsh*t. Perfect timing!
Don’t miss the breath-taking UK and Irish premiere performance by French all-female circus-arts troupe led by Chloe Moglia, called La Spire, which will take place in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October. This is a free, unticketed event, no booking required.
Always seen as an important platform to profile some of Northern Ireland’s top artists, this year’s Festival season will close with a tour-de-force UK and Ireland premiere of Lady Magma by Belfast-born choreographer and dancer, Oona Doherty. In partnership with Prime Cut Productions, Oona will come, fresh from Edinburgh Festival, to perform this brand new ode to female strength and new femininity.
Why not make a night of it and stay over? Hastings Hotels are offering special Belfast Festival accommodation packages, starting at £45 B&B pps in the Europa and from £65 B&B pps in Grand Central.