Belfast is filled with the sound of trad music

Belfast TradFest, which runs from July 23-29, returns with a jam-packed week full of traditional music, song and dance, featuring some of the best traditional musicians, singers and dancers from across these islands.

Sharon Shannon helps to launch this year's Belfast Tradfest
Sharon Shannon helps to launch this year's Belfast Tradfest

This week-long event, featuring a summer school and a full programme of concerts, workshops, talks, lectures, sessions, céilís and festival club, is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture and heritage.

Festival headliner is Sharon Shannon Big Band & Liam Ó Maonlaí at Ulster Hall on Friday July 29. Opening the show will be Hothouse Flowers’ frontman Liam Ó Maonlaí, performing a rare solo set with Grand Piano, Bodhrán & Tin Whistle followed by Sharon Shannon’s eclectic six piece band.

Belfast TradFest events will run across many of the city’s well known venues: The Fiddle Monologues on Sunday July 24 at The Black Box is a play that focuses on four women from 1679, 1789, 1889 and 1959 and their relationship with the violin. Song and Fiddle on Sunday July 24 at The John Hewitt with Niamh Parsons, Graham Dunne and Sinead McKenna.

Dervish frontwoman Cathy Jordan brings her trio ‘The Unwanted’ to The Black Box Sunday July 24. A tribute to the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 takes place on Tuesday July 26 at Áras Mhic Reachtain and will feature world renowned harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Australian guitar virtuoso Steve Cooney. With Fife & Drum Tuesday July 26 at Strand Arts Centre explores the traditions of Scotland and Ireland with some of the world’s finest pipers and drummers. Ceoil Beirte on Wednesday July 27 at An Droichead features Ciarán & Caitlín and Barry Kerr & Síle Denvir amongst others.

Make sure you also look out for Belfast TradFest Session Trail running across a wide range of venues.

For full festival programme visit