NI Festivals Goes to Celtic Connections

Great prizes on offer for festival lovers. Click Play Audio to listen to festival organisers and promoters.

Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual celebration of Celtic music and culture, is one of the largest festivals in the UK, with over 300 hundred gigs and concerts spread across two weeks. What better place, then, to promote Northern Ireland as a destination of choice for festival goers.

As part of Tourism Ireland's initiative to raise awareness of our great festivals a number of Northern Irish festival organisers and promoters made the trip to see Sharon Shannon Big Band and Cara Dillon in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall. 

The jewel in the campaign's crown is the launch of a new website, NIFestivals.com, with a fantastic online competition. Visitors to NIFestivals.com have the chance to win one of six fantastic festival breaks for two people at a Northern Ireland festival of your choice. Prizes include flights from anywhere in the UK, hotel accommodation and festival tickets.

As Rosemary Lightbody from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board explains, Northern Ireland is a great festival destination. ‘We believe that a lot of the people that have come to Glasgow should be thinking of coming to Northern Ireland because we have such a great range of festivals throughout the year,’

‘What better reason to come to Northern Ireland than to come and enjoy some of our festivals?’

There has been a marked growth in the number and range of Northern Irish festivals over the last decade, as Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival organiser Colin Magee recognises. ‘There are 50 festivals in Belfast alone and lots of others that people are coming from all over the world to see.’

‘Years ago if you saw tourists on our streets you took photos of them! But that’s all changed now.’

Having spent the afternoon manning the Northern Ireland Tourist Board stand at Celtic Connections, Magee can see the direct benefits of making the journey across the water.

‘I’ve seen a great response from people today. There is a dedicated audience here who go to festivals all over the UK and Ireland. We are just trying to catch them and convince them that they should come to the Belfast Nashville Festival to hear performers like Nanci Griffith and Raul Malo.’ 

Magee has been keen to attract Scottish songwriting talent to the seminars and workshops on how to write a song, copyright law and claiming royalties that are being organised as part of the Belfast Nashville Festival. ‘I’ve also been trying to draw songwriters from Scotland who would sit in on the songwriting workshops.’ 

Seeing Celtic Connections first hand is also an opportunity for Northern Irish festival organisers to learn from a successful, major urban festival, as Alison Gordon from Belfast’s Open House Festival says.

‘Being here, you get all kinds of ideas, you make connections. There are lots of ways we could be pooling resources and working together to get people to come over to our events from Northern Ireland.’ 

Northern Ireland really is a fantastic festival destination - tell your friends in the UK or sign up yourself on NIFestivals.com to win a great festival break.

Peter Geoghegan

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