Belfast International Arts Festival is back

The stage is set, mics checked and curtains drawn as Belfast International Arts Festival officially gets underway.

Dervish will be presenting ‘The Great Irish Songbook’ with some very special guests
Dervish will be presenting ‘The Great Irish Songbook’ with some very special guests

Now in its 59th year, Northern Ireland’s largest contemporary arts festival promises a compelling programme of drama and dance, topical talks with the authors behind the latest literary releases, classical music, toe-tapping folk and roots, affecting independent film and contemporary visual arts. In addition, there will be a number of special digital events to enjoy from home with the Digital Pass.

As COP26 nears, join award-winning Canadian science journalist Alanna Mitchell for her one-woman show, Sea Sick (October 16-17), a critically acclaimed production about climate change and the state of the global ocean.

With live gigs back on, unmissable concerts at the Grand Opera House include The Great Irish Songbook (October 21) with legendary folk group Dervish who will be joined by star-studded line-up of guests, including Glen Hansard, Eddi Reader, Brian Kennedy, Cara Dillon, Karen Matheson, and the Open Arts Community Choir for an unforgettable night of music.

Also at the Grand Opera House, the Ulster Orchestra and ‘the Irish Queen of Game Music’, conductor Eímear Noone, join forces to take video game music to a symphonic level with Electric Arcade (23 October).

Other spectacular music events include Billy Bragg’s first Belfast solo headline show for a decade, Belfast Music Society’s Northern Lights Mini Festival and an exploration of Belfast’s unique place in the history of harp music.

Dance enthusiasts are in for a treat with Uncle Ray, (October 13-14) a touching new dance duet by David Bolger which takes audiences back to 1970s Dublin where as a young boy, David grew up with stories about his magnificent Uncle Ray, whose career took him from vaudeville, to Broadway and then the glitz of Hollywood, eventually playing one of the most famous characters of all time: the Scarecrow.

A cornerstone of the festival programme, its Talks & Ideas section features the UK’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Booker-shortlisted novelist Damon Galgut and the finest writers from these shores and afar.

To book, visit or call 028 9024 6609.