Happy Days Beckett Festival Launches

The festival dedicated to Samuel Beckett returns to Enniskillen from August 22. View the full programme

The full programme has been launched for the second Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, which will take place August 22 – 26, 2013, in venues such as Blakes of the Hollow pub, Portora Royal School and the Higher Bridges Gallery.

And this year the festival – which is partly inspired by Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Beckett's favourite literary work – features some very special site-specific performances, of Inferno in the Marble Arch Caves, Purgatorio in Tully Castle, Devenish Island, and Paradiso at Enniskillen Airport.

Other highlights include television personality and acclaimed intellectual Clive James translating Dante via a video link-up, comedy and Beckett enthusiast Frank Skinner in conversation, actor Adrian Dunbar reading the words of minimalist painter Sean Scully, and the world premiere of artist Allan Milligan's Samuel Beckett Chess Set. View the full festival programme.

Sean Doran, Happy Days founder and artistic director, said: 'Following last year’s inaugural success, I am delighted to be announcing the second Happy Days festival. This year’s festival will be every bit as ambitious as the last, permeating the fabric of Enniskillen and its environs in a celebration of Beckett that goes far beyond the usual treatment of his work.

'Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which so inspired Beckett, has been our inspiration also, and has given shape to what I believe will be an enticing programme and an extraordinary five days in 'Beckett Town'.'

Happy Days is the world’s largest annual multi-arts celebration of Irish Nobel Prize writer, Samuel Beckett, who attended Portora Royal School in the island town of Enniskillen. The inaugural festival took place in August 2012 to critical acclaim and full houses, attracting audiences from far and wide with an estimated economic benefit of £2.5m.

The 2013 festival will also present the first major exhibition of material pertaining to Beckett’s work since 2007. Samuel Beckett: Witness to the Twentieth Century, will be curated by Conor Carville and Mark Nixon (Beckett International Foundation, University of Reading) and will explore the hidden politics of Beckett’s work and life through manuscripts, memorabilia and letters.

This year’s literary programme, entitled Writers & Artists The Talks (WATT), will include contributions from Beckett biographer Anthony Cronin alongside Tariq Ali, Margaret Drabble, John Gray, AC Grayling, Kathleen Jamie, John Montague, and Tom Paulin, who will share their memories, recollections, thoughts and ideas about Beckett’s life, work and influence.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster, said: 'Last year's inaugural Happy Days festival was a huge success in terms of numbers of festival-goers, ticket sales and the quality of performances. It set incredibly high standards, and I am very confident that 2013 will see the bar raised further still.

'The rich cultural heritage of Fermanagh, and indeed Northern Ireland, is increasingly attractive to visitors and events such as the Happy Days Festival can only enhance our tourism offering.'

Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival takes place in venues across Enniskillen from August 22 – 26. View the full festival programme.