Gig’n’the Bann this weekend

Now in its fourteenth year the Portglenone Cross Cultural Music and Dance Festival has established itself as one of the premier and much anticipated events on the festival calendar.

Mark September 5 - 8 in your diaries and you will be assured a warm welcome and a weekend of top class entertainment on the banks of the Bann.

It is attended by people from the locality, from the length and breadth of Ireland and from as far as away as Canada and the USA.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The festival has built a reputation for offering a highly impressive line-up of top performers spanning Traditional, Scottish, Gospel and Folk Music circles.

The festival will begin on Thursday, September 5 with the 5K run and walk, the proceeds of which will go to support the work of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Why not get all the family to enter into the fun spirit of this event and participate in fancy dress, all support would be warmly welcome.

Also on Thursday they are delighted to welcome Mike Denver and his band to Portglenone.

Mike has become one of the most popular names in Irish Country Music attracting a huge following wherever he goes.

He has a very busy touring schedule while also finding time to release numerous albums and DVDs in addition to appearing on many television shows.

Tickets for this concert will be in high demand so you are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

The proceedings on Friday, September 6 will begin early in the day with an event for the local Primary Schools. The participating primary schools have thoroughly enjoyed this event in the past and it has been gratefully received by both teachers and pupils.

Hannah McCauley and Una McGill will make a return visit to provide the entertainment and the local school children from both communities are in for another treat when they listen to these talented young musicians.

On Friday evening the Riverside Suite will host two concerts commencing with Mary Dillon, the Co. Derry singer from Dungiven.

Mary recently launched her debut solo album, ‘North, described by the Irish Music Magazine as “a warm, beautifully crafted and inviting album with Mary Dillon at her absolute zenith”.

Mary will be joined on stage by two fantastic musicians, Neil Martin and Paul McSherry. Later in the evening The Illegals will be on stage making this their third visit to the festival, testament to their huge popularity.

The band also features the vocal talents of Irish Eurovision winner, Niamh Kavanagh. This is an evening of entertainment not to be missed and for just £10 you can gain admission to both concerts.

The events on Saturday, September 8 begin at 11am with an underage camogie blitz organised by Geraldine’s Camogie Club.

The Pipe’n the Bann event will commence at 1pm in the Bank Square and as always this will be a highlight for followers of the Pipe Band tradition where pipe band enthusiasts are treated to an open air display of top class piping and drumming.

New to the programme will be ‘Celtic Thistle’, a solo piping competition with ten of Ireland’s best soloists taking part. This will take place in the Bank Square following the Pipe’n the Bann event.

In the case of inclement weather both these events will move to the comfortable surroundings of the Riverside Suite at the Wild Duck Inn.

Another new event on the programme will be an Art Exhibition in the Wild Duck Inn by Conor Larkin from Kilrea. Anyone familiar with the festival will know that Conor’s artwork has formed an integral part of the official flyer and poster over the last four years.

This will be Conor’s first solo exhibition where he hopes to introduce his work to a wider audience.

The art exhibition will run from 1pm on both the Saturday and Sunday of the festival weekend.

The Family Fun Day begins at 2pm and will take place in the playing fields on the Townhill Road and in the case of inclement weather this event will move to the 1st Portglenone Presbyterian Church.

Come along and join in the fun with a bouncy castle, face painting, games and a pre-school corner.

The ‘Courtyard Sessions’ which starts at 2.30pm was a new addition to the festival programme two years ago and we are delighted at how popular the event has become. Spectators are treated to the best of traditional music and singing where they can relax and enjoy the open air music. It has also given committee members the opportunity to take a break from their very busy schedules to play a few tunes!

This year there will also be an all day Festival Fry on the Saturday and Sunday – stop at the Rose Café for a fry and you may be surprised by an impromptu selection of tunes!

All musicians are very welcome.

The Saturday concert in the Riverside Suite at the Wild Duck Inn is always a highlight of the weekend. This year Dervish will top the bill having first performed at the inaugural Gig’n the Bann in the year 2000. Thirteen years later we are delighted to welcome them back again!

Their colourful career has taken them to every corner of the globe with their recent album ‘The Thrush in the Storm’ being described by the US Irish Echo as “12 tracks of Pure Class”.

The concert will also include Niamh Dunne, singer and fiddle player with the band Beoga who has recently released her first solo album entitled “Portraits”.

The band ‘Halfway Tree’ a folk inspired acoustic four piece from Kilrea will complete the lineup for this fantastic concert.

In addition, the popular Acoustic Cafe which is returning to the programme by popular demand will be open from 9pm to late on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival weekend where visitors can enjoy the best of tea, buns and hospitality!

On Sunday, September 9 events begin at 2pm with the Set Dancing & Séan-Nós Dance Workshop.

The legendary Gerard Butler from County Roscommon will return by popular demand to pass on the steps that he has taught to countless others around the world.

Praise’n the Bann will take place in the Bank Square at 6.30pm where local churches will come together to lead worship. Music will include a range of contemporary and traditional hymns and the informal setting allows anyone to attend throughout the evening.

The festival weekend draws to a close with the Ann O’Brien tribute stage on Sunday evening where the winner of the “Young Band Competition” will be crowned and there will be a highly anticipated performance from the reigning ‘Young Musician of the Bann’, Emmett Conway, piper with the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band.

This year the recipient of the ‘Contribution to Music Award’ is May Close (ADCRG) who has devoted her life to Irish Dancing both as a teacher and adjudicator for over sixty five years.

As usual the traditional music sessions will be taking place over the course of the weekend with the finest musicians from the locality and further afield.

Many of the session musicians travel long distances just to be part of the unique atmosphere that the festival has to offer and many of them return year after year such is their respect for the festival.

Organisers would like to extend a huge thank you to all our sponsors as without their support and generosity the festival would not be possible! Please check the website for a full list of all the sponsors.

Tickets for the concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening can be reserved by emailing [email protected] Tickets can also be purchased from ‘Cards & Candy’ and ‘All Occasions’ Main St, Portglenone.

Also, please visit the website at and our facebook site at where you can keep up to date with the latest happenings!