Ennio Morricone, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Magners Comedy are among the highlights of this year’s Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s which was unveiled today.
Held over 16 days from October 17 to November 1, the Festival will feature more than 60 events and 500 participants, offering theatre, dance, opera, rock, comedy and visual arts.
This year the organisers are promising a better-than-ever event, thanks to a much-needed cash injection from the Ulster Bank and a campaign by the Belfast Telegraph to keep the Festival afloat.
Film legend Ennio Morricone will open the Festival on October 17 in what is considered a major coup for the organisers. Morricone — best known for his movie theme tunes including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, will also play the Waterfront Hall on October 18 — his only UK and Ireland engagements this year.
Also coming to Belfast is Broadway diva Barbara Cook, who has played most leading lady roles including Anna in The King and I. Barbara will not only close the Festival on October 31, but will also give a talk on October 29.
Other guests who will be hosting talks this year are Cherie Blair, actress Sheila Hancock and former President of the Republic, Mary Robinson.
Musical highlights will include concerts by Elbow, Seasick Steve, Martha Wainwright and The Swell Season as well as 1970s legend Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Funnymen Ed Byrne and Dylan Moran will bring their new shows to Belfast as part of Magners Comedy while there’ll be a packed programme of theatre, including Footsbarn’s production of A Midsummer Night Dream, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
And once again Festival favourite the Spiegeltent returns with its Glitter and Sparkle party on Saturday, October 25 and Sunday, October 26.
Speaking at the Festival’s programme launch, Graeme Farrow, Festival Director, said: “We’re raising our game this year and beyond thanks to welcome increased investment. We aim to provide the best total arts experience in Ireland.
“When you read through the programme ask yourself where else you might find such an incredible array of local, national and international talent. Edinburgh maybe, but where else? This festival is an annual arts and entertainment Olympics. There is so much to enjoy and I would urge audiences to try on something new for size alongside the household names.”