Music fans are gearing up for a weekend of entertainment as two huge outdoor events get under way in Belfast and Carrickfergus.
Thousands of concert-goers are expected to descend on Custom House Square in the centre of Belfast for the three-day Belsonic event, which kicks off today.
An international line-up of acts will join local musicians on the bill in Belfast’s only outdoor concert of the summer.
The mini festival was launched last year and drew large crowds to see acts such as The Flaming Lips and The Zutons. In the absence of Tennent’s ViTal for the second consecutive year, the organisers of Belsonic are hoping that large numbers of music fans will turn out to support their event.
Topping the bill this year is London born rapper Dizzee Rascal who has had two number one singles — Dance Wiv Me and Bonkers. He will take to the stage tonight supported by New Yorkers Vampire Weekend, Toronto electro-pop duo Crystal Castles and Co Down outfit Two Door Cinema Club. The crowd will be warmed up by DJs from Belfast club night Sketchy (Stiff Kitten).
Tomorrow night acclaimed Belgian duo 2Manydjs, the team behind Soulwax, will present their new live audio-visual production, which is closing summer festivals across the UK and Europe. Appearing alongside them are Canadian electro house super producer Deadmau5 and German wonderkid Boyz Noize.
Northern Ireland’s own Duke Special will host Dukebox on Saturday — a one-day event in its own right within Belsonic.
As well as being his only headlining gig in the province this year, it will feature friends and special guests from the world of music and other performance arts including The Magic Numbers, Bell X1, Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club and David Kitt.
Tickets for the event are on sale from www.belsonic.com , the Stiff Kitten bar, Ticketmaster and from 0870 243 4455. Each day is priced at £29 plus booking fee. Three-day passes are available at £75.
Outside Belfast final preparations are under way for the Live At The Castle event in Carrick.
Billed as a family event, the two day concert features a host of musicians playing in the shadows of historic Carrickfergus Castle.
Tomorrow night Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues |Orchestra will headline, while veteran rockers Status Quo will close the weekend on Saturday.
Holland has brought together a tight band including Rockpile guitarist Dave Edmunds and guest vocalists Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall. Support comes from Paul Carrack, who has worked with everyone from Roxy Music to Mike And The Mechanics and rising Dublin rockabilly singer Imelda May.
On Saturday Status Quo - who opened Live Aid in 1985, will be supported by Ireland’s own Saw Doctors, as well as Hayseed Dixie, Thin Lizzy tribute band Tinn Lizzy and Carrickfergus’ own guitar talent Simon McBride.
Tickets are available from Katy Daly’s and Ticketmaster, including VIP tickets for the enclosed hospitality area.
Meanwhile, it looks like the organisers of both events could have the luck of the Irish on their sides when it comes to the weather.
Although forecasters are predicting a few days of strong winds and showers, the wet weather is likely to clear up in time for the evening sessions.
A spokesman for the MeteoGroup in London said: “Thursday and Friday will see some fairly heavy rain during the day with strong winds, but by evening the showers look set to clear and the night time should be dry enough.
“On Saturday there’ll be a brisk westerly wind but it should be mostly dry with just the odd shower. Saturday evening should be dry enough too.
“So, despite the rain and wind, the concerts-goers may well miss the worst of the bad weather.”