Browse the brand new Belfast International Arts Festival programme

See what takes your fancy from close to 200 events this year including spectacular first-time productions and major visual works

An eclectic fusion of performances have been announced for this year's Belfast International Arts Festival, with 191 events in total taking place over 23 days from October 6 - 28.

Celebrating contemporary arts from home and abroad, the line-up spans 14 different countries and includes 12 works never before seen in Northern Ireland.

The festival launch featured readings by the 2017 Artists in Residence, Maria McManus and Deirdre Cartmill, and a performance by Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, who appears in the Irish premiere of Wind Resistance at the MAC on October 10 and 11.

McManus and Cartmill, meanwhile, will be bringing poetry to the public realm with ‘The Poetry Jukebox’, a contemporary on-street sound installation at the Crescent Arts Centre.

Other highlights of this year's programme include:

  • Compassion: The History of the Machine Gun: Berlin’s acclaimed Schaubühne Theatre return to open the festival at the Lyric on October 6 with a hard-hitting new work from the Swiss director Milo Rau exploring the limits of human compassion in a globalised world.
  • Celui Qui Tombe (He Who Falls): A perilous spectacle of survival sees artists swing, spin and pivot on a suspended podium in the Grand Opera House on October 19 and 20.
  • Gardens Speak: An award-winning and deeply moving interactive sound installation from Tania El Khoury containing the oral histories of 10 people buried in Syrian gardens, running from October 11 - 22 in 12-13 Shaftesbury Square.


Gardens Speak installation

  • The Tempest – Ireland: Memory: Identity: A major exhibition of large scale, sculptural paintings from one of Ireland’s leading artists, Hughie O’Donoghue. Created specially for Belfast International Arts Festival, The Tempest foregrounds three major new pieces. The exhibition will be held in Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church from October 10 - 28.
  • Hard to be Soft; a Belfast Prayer: A four-part contemporary dance and music spectacle co-commissioned by the Festival with Prime Cut and Dublin Dance Festival and bringing together an ensemble of Northern Ireland’s top artists, including choreographer Oonagh Doherty and legendary DJ/producer David Holmes. The production incorporates interviews from people across the city and will close Festival from October 26 - 28 in the MAC.
  • Poppies: Weeping Window: Experience this deeply moving ceramic sculpture draped across the front of the Ulster Museum from the October 14 to the December 3, accompanied by a supporting programme of talks, music, theatre and literary events, ‘Contested Legacies’.

Browse the full programme of events below.

Richard Wakely, Festival Director on launching the fifth edition under his tenure, said: 'This year’s festival explores artists as innovators and activists, addressing the uncertain times we live in. The festival is a place for our communities to gather together with a belief that change is possible. Often entertaining and always enlightening, there is something for everyone in the 2017 Belfast International Arts Festival.'

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: 'Northern Ireland enjoys many arts and cultural festivals, all of which contribute something unique and special to the richness of our creative landscape. The Belfast International Arts Festival is no exception, bringing us world-class acts and using its international profile to promote our home-grown talent, strengthening Northern Ireland’s creative reputation. The Arts Council is proud to support the Belfast International Arts Festival through both Exchequer and National Lottery funding and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to be part of it.'

Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council, Cllr Nuala McAllister, also spoke at the launch event: 'I've chosen 'Global Belfast' as the theme for my year in office. So I'm delighted that Belfast City Council is continuing to invest in the Belfast International Arts Festival - it not only attracts international acts, but it also showcases homegrown talent and helps to position Belfast as a must visit cultural destination. I'd encourage everyone to check out this year's impressive programme and wish everyone involved in the festival the very best of luck.'

Tickets are available now at; by calling 028 9089 2707 or at the Festival Box Office in the MAC.