Traditional Music Festivals in Belfast.

An overview of traditional music festivals in Belfast

Belfast Folk Festival is part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s in the south of the city. I have attended a number of folk gigs associated with the festival over the years and enjoyed them tremendously. However, the folk music promoted at the Queen’s festival, focusing mainly upon singer/songwriters, caters for only certain traditional music tastes. Belfast desperately required a platform to promote and celebrate traditional music in all its diversity.  
Throughout the 1990s, Féile an Phobail, the largest community arts festival in Europe, filled void by staging traditional and folk music concerts, but it was not until the late 1990s that a definitive acoustic/folk/contemporary stage was established in the form of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. The festival has staged folk and acoustic acts from across Ireland and throughout the world.  
The Lagan Fleadh acts as the traditional music fringe festival to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. Organiser Jerry Jones has been involved with the Fleadh for over six years. It holds a variety of music, song, and dance events, emanating from the cobbled streets around Hill Street and Commercial Court.  
Since 1998, the best traditional music festival in Ireland has been the Open House Traditional Arts Festival, held each October. The festival provides lovers of traditional music with the opportunity to see top quality concerts, mostly held in The John Hewitt public house. Festival organiser Kieran Gilmore wants his audience to experience a wide variety of traditional arts, incorporating music, song, dance, literature and the visual arts. The festival appoints a poet in residence, and incorporates musical pub crawls, workshops, and drama celebrating the traditional arts.
 © Paul Flynn 2004

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