Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Festival: International talent to fore as Queen's event marks 51st year

BY LESLEY HOUSTON

It has a reputation as an international artistic melting pot – and this year will be no different.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's was officially launched by unveiling a programme boasting talent from 24 countries – from Brazil to Bosnia and Australia to Austria.

Now in its 51st year, the festival will be running at various venues in Belfast from October 17-27.

The line-up, launched at George Best Belfast City Airport today, includes a diverse range from classic films to avante garde dance, audience-participation theatre and provocative talks.

From all over the world, troupes of actors, dancers and musicians will ply their trade to local culture-seekers, presenting over 70 events.

There will also be a number of firsts including St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road opening its doors to renowned vocal group Ars Nova Copenhagen.

There's also the launch of the first dedicated Music Club at Queens' Elmwood Hall. Clonard Monastery will play host to La Serenissima's performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Festival director Richard Wakely said the event was "one of only a handful of European arts festivals that can deliver such diversity boasting an eclectic mix of dance, theatre, classical music, jazz, roots based music, visual arts, talks and film".

"It is exciting to welcome the international arts community to Belfast and to see these performers share the billing with our finest local talent.

"Together they will deliver seven Irish premieres and three UK and Ireland premieres in this year's line-up, and with 95% of all our shows priced at £16 and under it is there to be enjoyed by all."

Bob Collins, chair of the Arts Council, said the festival "adds a massive contribution to Northern Ireland's cultural life and reputation".

"We are proud of our commitment to the festival over the last number of years because the investment of public money has enabled this defining festival to continue to aim higher than most, bringing the best and most sought-after arts, from home and abroad, within the reach of all."

Ellvena Graham, head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland, said the event was "firmly embedded in the heart of cultural life in Northern Ireland and has established a reputation for delivering world class, international performances".

"But more than that, it's about celebrating diversity and improving access to the arts across all communities."

The Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's runs from October 17-27 at venues all over the city. To find out more and book tickets visit www.belfastfestival.com or call box office on 028 90971 197.

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