General Industry

Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend To Take Place 24-26 February

By Dave Simpson
Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend To Take Place 24-26 February

Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend will take place in venues across Belfast from 24-26 February, supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster University and Titanic Distillers.


The festival will feature a programme filled with talent in traditional Irish and Ulster Scots music, song and dance.

Artists including Déanta, The Friel Sisters, Ríoghnach Connolly, Seamus O’Kane, Niall Hanna, Cúig, Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, Tim Edey and Ryan Molloy will headline nine concerts. Founding member of Dé Dannan and fiddle maestro Frankie Gavin will play the festival closing concert in the Empire Music Hall on a double bill with Armagh native but now Manchester-based singer and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly of the Afro Celt Sound System.

Belfast TradFest will host its inaugural Highland Piping Solo Competition at The Deer’s Head on Sunday 26 February. The new Ulster University building on York Street will host workshops covering all instruments from bodhrán to bouzouki and smallpipes to singing. Beginners can also join in with classes in Sean Nós Singing (unaccompanied singing in Irish), whistle and sing (ages five plus), Sean Nós Dancing with American Irish dancer Siobhán Butler, and set dancing with Ulster’s own Mary Fox.

The Titanic Distillers Session Trail will take people across the city to some of Belfast's oldest pubs including Madden's Bar, The Duke of York, The John Hewitt, The Sunflower and The Garrick. Sessions are free, and times are staggered.


The festival’s afternoon events will include album launches at Raidió Fáilte by Gabriel McArdle, Martha Guiney and Piaras Ó Lorcáin, plus talks at Ulster University by bodhrán player Mel Mercier & Mary MacNamara.

Walking tours include Belfast City of Song led by traditional folk singers Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 February.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Christina Black said, "It's an honour to support Belfast TradFest's annual Winter Weekend through our Arts and Heritage Small Grants Scheme. As a UNESCO City of Music, Belfast is now recognised right across the world for our unique and diverse music and cultural scene, and of course traditional music is a central part of that. TradFest gives us a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of our outstanding local talent and to welcome internationally recognised guests to perform in Belfast in this special celebration of our Irish and Ulster-Scots musical and dance traditions."

Artistic director of Belfast TradFest Dónal O'Connor said, "Traditional music is part of the fabric of this city and in recent years it has become recognised as one of the main attractions for visitors to this part of the world. It's important that we support the ecosystem of musicians and music here and Belfast TradFest continues this work with our second annual Winter Weekend. This is a great opportunity to make new friends and meet up with old acquaintances - everyone is welcome to take part in this rich cultural event. We're looking forward to welcoming some of the most incredible musicians, singers and dancers of all ages to venues across Belfast city. The festival is gathering a reputation for being Ireland's premier weekend festival of traditional music with Belfast aiming for the title of traditional music capital of Ireland. We are thankful for the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Ulster University and Titanic Distillers, without whom this festival couldn't happen."

Ciaran Scullion, head of music and opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, "The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Belfast Tradfest's Winter Weekend which promises to deliver thrilling, world-class traditional Irish and Ulster-Scots music and events across Belfast, helping to bring great art to all. Audiences also have the opportunity to take part in instrument workshops with some of the region's leading traditional musicians - something not to be missed! Congratulations to Dónal O'Connor and the team in once again curating such a wonderful programme and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy!"


Full Programme

The full programme can be found at

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