First Acts Announced for Belfast International Arts Festival

Trio of shows give an early indication of the eclectic full programme to be launched later in the summer

The Belfast International Arts Festival has offered an early glimpse of its programme for later this year, with the announcement of three shows which audiences can now book tickets for well in advance.

The festival doesn't get underway until October, with events around the Weeping Window poppy installation at the Ulster Museum running on to December, but its first acts provide a small taste of the world-class array of talent to be expected when its full line-up launches in the summer.

You may not know him by name but there is no mistaking the voice of soul sensation Paul Carrack, who will take to the stage at the Grand Opera House on Saturday, October 21. Music lovers will easily recognise the singer-songwriter from hits with Mike and the Mechanics, Roxy Music, Ace and Squeeze. Currently touring with Eric Clapton, Carrack is celebrating his 18th and highest charting solo album to date, and promises to be an incredible live performance in Belfast.

paul carrack

On October 19 and 20 the same venue will host will Irish premiere of the Olivier Award nominated, Celui Qui Tombe (He Who Falls), presented by Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois. The perilous, gravity-defying show is a thrilling circus-influenced physical theatre spectacle, taking place on a suspended podium on which the cast must withstand its forces as it begins to spin, pivot, swing and elevate with choreography from tracks from Beethoven and Frank Sinatra. Time Out Paris praised the piece as ‘A poetic creation … it’s impossible not to fall for its charm’.

At the Ulster Hall on October 11, one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras will perform an all-Russian programme culminating in Shostakovich’s epic Symphony No. 11. The Mariinsky Orchestra, with conductor Valery Gergiev, will dedicate the first half of the programme to Russian national poet, Alexander Pushkin, including Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ from the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan.

Festival Director Richard Wakely is delighted to have secured these high quality artists, commenting: 'Belfast International Arts Festival thrives on the challenge to identify and bring dynamic, quality, cutting edge works from across the globe to the Belfast stage. Our aim with every festival is a simple one; to create a genuinely civic event of contemporary arts and ideas of international appeal and stature. With each event we set out to bring the very best to our audience and artists are always keen to take part in this established arts festival, recognised in the industry as one of the best.

Gergiev-1-- Baranovsky

'We are thrilled to be joined this year by the artists announced so far, and can promise more exciting announcements to come as we prepare to launch the full programme in August.'

The announcement of these events follows news last year that Belfast International Arts Festival and the Ulster Museum will present Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper as part of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour of the iconic sculpture. The installation will be at the Ulster Museum from Saturday October 14 to Sunday December 3 and will be accompanied by a range of special events that explore and illuminate contemporary issues arising from the legacy of the First World War.

Kabosh Theatre Company have also revealed the festival to be where its new production Lives in Translation will premiere. Written by Rosemary Jenkinson, the play examines and explores the realities of the immigration system, and will be staged as rehearsed readings as part of the EastSide Arts Festival on August 9 and at the Ards Arts Centre on August 17.

The Belfast International Arts Festival is supported by National Lottery funding through its Principal Funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, added: 'The importance of staging an international arts festival in Belfast cannot be overestimated. The Arts Council recognises this festival’s enormous contribution to high-quality, world-class arts and culture in return for a relatively small amount of public investment. From theatre, to music, visual arts and dance, there’s something for to suit all tastes and we wish Richard and the team every success with this year’s festival.'

To book festival tickets, including a special early bird £10 offer for Celui Qui Tombe until the end of May, visit