Belfast Festival Acts Announced

Elvis Costello, KT Tunstall and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa head up this year's music programme

The countdown to Ireland’s largest arts festival – the 49th Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s – is under way. Some of the acts appearing at the 16 day event – which kicks off on October 14 – have been revealed, and the festival has also announced that it has received financial backing from the European Union.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's became the only UK festival to receive major financial support from a new European Union Cultural Festivals initiative. Festival Director, Graeme Farrow, welcomes this development as recognition of the festival's position as a leading international event.

'It sends an attractive signal to artists that this is a high quality stage on which to present their work,' said Farrow. 'We reach our 50th anniversary next year and, together with additional support from government, we are well placed to celebrate in real style.'

Taking place at over 30 venues across the city and featuring more than 60 international acts, this year’s festival programme looks set to be one the best yet.

In a coup for the festival, the world’s most popular dancer, Carlos Acosta, will visit Northern Ireland for the first time when he performs at the Grand Opera House October 27-29. Elsewhere, Elvis Costello plays a rare solo concert in the Waterfront Hall on October 28.

Norwegian jazz legend Jan Garbarek will perform in a new festival venue at St Thomas’ Church in Eglantine Avenue on October 21 with the Hilliard Ensemble, and there’s a treat in store for KT Tunstall fans – a solo acoustic gig in the Ulster Hall on October 26. Lovers of classical music can also look forward to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's long awaited return to Belfast with a concert in the Ulster Hall on October 30.

Farrow said this year’s line-up would secure Belfast and Northern Ireland’s place as a world-class destination for arts entertainment. 'We thought that last year’s programme would be hard to beat, but this year is shaping up very well indeed. We sold 44,500 tickets for last year’s event and we aim to go higher.'

Congratulating the festival on its continuing partnership with main sponsors, Ulster Bank, Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'As the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s long-standing funder, the Arts Council is delighted that the festival has again secured support from the Ulster Bank.

'Businesses invest in success and will look to the presence of public funding from the Arts Council as a Kitemark of quality. The Ulster Bank’s continued sponsorship is an expression of confidence in the Festival and a positive statement that investing in the arts makes good commercial sense.'

To find out more about the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and to book tickets for this year’s highlights, log on to www.belfastfestival.com.