10 Great Festivals You Should Check Out

The Script

NORTHERN Ireland has a rich festival programme this year – from country fairs and food festivals to music weekends and world culture celebrations there’s literally something for everyone.

Tens of thousands of people across the country will pack their summer schedule not by flying off to sunny destinations across the world but by going on short staycations all around Northern Ireland.

Tourism NI’s Destination PR Officer Pauline Gormley said: “Whether you have a love of live performances and spending time with friends or you are after something more low key and a day out with the family, there is a great festival to suit you in Northern Ireland.

“Our varied festival selection means that foodies, music lovers and keen culture vultures are all catered for – the only difficulty is choosing which one you want to visit.”

For more information about what’s on around Northern Ireland log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com


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1. Belsonic

August 15-26
Custom House Square, Belfast
This year’s festival will be headlined this year by drum and bass and soul band Rudimental as well as Paloma Faith, Bastille, Stereophonics, Above & Beyond and All Time Low.
With a mixture of genres the festival is set to see thousands of people pack into Custom House Square over six nights. Already confirmed for support are Duke Dumont, The Coronas, twenty one pilots, Mini Mansions and Echosmith.
More infomation can be found at www.belsonic.com

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2. East Side Arts Festival

August 19-31
Various venues across Belfast
From music events from Van Morrison, Duke Special and Soak to the theatre production Dancing Shoes – The George Best Story throughout the 12 days there will be 78 events, 33 of which are completely free. The packed programme includes everything from music, movies, theatre and talks to workshops, exhibitions, poetry, community events and heritage tours.
For more information log onto www.eastsidearts.net

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3. Linenfields Festival

August 21 & 22
Headlined by country sensation Nathan Carter, Linenfields Festival is a new kid on the festival block in its first year.
Set to bring a flavour of American and Irish country to the picturesque meadows there will be a whole host of tribute acts including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks on Friday night and Nathan on the Saturday.
Country music heart-throb Nathan Carter will headline the festival on Saturday August 22.
Tickets and more information are available from www.linenfieldsfestival.com.

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4. Tennents Vital

August 28-29
Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast
Superstar DJ Calvin Harris and The Script headline this year with bands such as Ellie Goulding, John Newman, Disciples, Kodaline and Burns also taking to the stage.
As one of the biggest dates in the festival calendar tickets are set to sell out, so get in there fast.
Get your tickets from www.ticketmaster.ie.

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5. Hilden Beer Festival and Music Festival

August 28-30
Hilden Brewery
The August bank holiday brings beer lovers in droves to the Hilden Beer and Music Festival. This year there will be over 30 craft drinks being served with 20 musical acts, three stages and three bars. The music will span everything from rock and bluegrass to blues, traditional and singer songwriters while the craft drinks include everything from ales and stouts to lagers and ciders.
For more information log onto www.taproomhilden.com

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6. Carnival of Colours

August 29–30
St Columb’s Park, Derry~Londonderry
This flagship circus, arts and music festival will be filled with top treats for all the family. Highlights include the very best of international and local street theatre, storytelling, workshops and international foods, with evening cabaret, music and comedy.

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7. Belfast Mela

August 30
Botanic Gardens, Belfast
The Mela is a unique global get-together with tens of thousands of people enjoying music, dance, food, fashion, cuisine and lots of community celebration.
20,000 people are expected to attend this celebration of world cultures organised by ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland’s largest ethnic arts organisation.
For more information log onto www.belfastmela.org.uk.

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8. Hillsborough International Oyster Festival

September 1-6
Various venues around the town
The Hillsborough Oyster Festival will include activities, performances and eating experiences to satisfy all tastes. This year’s Festival will see the return of the World Oyster Eating Championship, the glamourous Pearl and Oyster Ball, The Oyster Masters Golf, the Super Car Dream Sunday and the Soapbox Derby which is being sponsored by TrustFord this year.
For more information log onto www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com

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9. Bluegrass Music Festival

September 4-6
Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone
A unique festival in Northern Ireland where acts perform throughout the outdoor museum seeing them strumming on the porches of the log cabins, dancing in the cobbled streets and jamming outside the General Store. The line-up includes some of the biggest names in bluegrass, hailing from Ireland, England, North America and mainland Europe.
More information can be found at www.nmni.com


10. Belfast Comedy Festival

September 23 – October 4
Various venues across Belfast
More than 40 acts will take to the stage alongside performers such as Daniel Sloss, Ardal O’Halon, Sara Pascoe, Diane Morgan and even a Red Bastard.
Believed to be the biggest comedy event in Ireland local comedy stalwarts Nuala McKeever and Neil Dougan will also appear on the bill alongside a whole host of emerging talent.
There will also be kids events, film, cabaret, theatre, clowning, workshops and laughter yoga.
For more information log onto www.belfastcomedyfestival.com

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Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.