Belfast Telegraph

Belfast International Arts Festival 2018: Everything you need to know

The Belfast International Arts Festival returns for another year, with a huge programme of events on offer across the city - and here's everything you need to know:

When does the Belfast International Arts Festival take place?

BIAF 2018 runs from Tuesday, October 16 to Saturday, November 3.

How big is this year's programme?

This year's programme boasts over 120 events over the 19 days, including 12 premieres, all of which will be hosted in venues across the city including the MAC, the Golden Thread Gallery, the Black Box and the Ulster Museum.

What will open this year's festival?

The world premiere of Marie Jones’ new play Dear Arabella with award-winning director Lindsay Posner will open this year's festival. Three women, three tales of love, regret and loss, all subtly intertwine to show the significance of a simple act of kindness. Marie Jones, writer of Stones In His Pockets and A Night In November, returns to the Lyric with this poignant piece starring Laura Hughes, Lucia McAnespie and Katie Tumelty.

What are the highlights of this year's festival?

With over 120 events taking place it's hard to pick a favourite, but here are a few 'must see' shows and exhibitions:

1. Double Cross, October 10-27

Double Cross creatively pitches two real-life Irishmen against each other in World War Two’s propaganda battle, Brendan Bracken the British Minister for Information and Nazi broadcaster William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw. Both parts are played by the same actor.

Originally performed in 1986 by Field Day Theatre Company, Double Cross now takes on a new relevance in an era of heightened nationalism and ‘fake news’.

2. Faces of Belfast, October 17-27

Faces of Belfast is an exhibition of new oil portraits by award-winning artist, Joel Simon. Each portrait represents a Belfast personality who has captured Simon's imagination through their contribution to the dynamic, vibrant cultural phenomenon that is contemporary Belfast.

The sitters in this exhibition will feature Fantastic Beasts actress Jenn Murray, author Glenn Patterson, Kristian Nairn AKA ‘Hodor’ from Game Of Thrones, Belfast drag queen Lady Portia Di’ Monte and world champion boxer Ryan Burnett.

3. Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone, October 19-20

A searing and soulful theatre piece inspired by the life and music of Nina Simone. Backed by a brilliant band, Olivier Award nominee Josette Bushell-Mingo mixes story and song as she draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone and her own extraordinary career.

Taking in the singer’s political acts as part of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s America as well as the struggles in her personal life, Josette finds a parallel with the persisting inequality in today’s society, and questions how far we have really come.

4. Repeal the 8th - Repealed! October 23

The Repeal the 8th Anthology is the definitive collection of writing and art inspired by the most pressing debate in contemporary Ireland, and beyond. Editor Una Mullally will be joined by a panel of contributors including poet Elaine Feeney, novelist Lisa McInerney and filmmaker, actor and writer Mark O’Halloran, sharing work produced by the movement that catalysed 2018’s momentous referendum.

5. Harlem Gospel Choir, October 28

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Harlem Gospel Choir

Performing contemporary gospel with a touch of jazz and blues, the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir is synonymous with power vocals, glorious sound and infectious energy. Get ready to tap your feet, clap your hands and even dance on stage to their high-energy, joyous and exuberant performance!

6.  Angelique Kidjo - Remain in Light Tour , October 29

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Angélique Kidjo

One of the Guardian’s Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World, multi Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer-songwriter, actress and activist, Angélique Kidjo will be performing her interpretation of iconic Talking Heads album ‘Remain in Light’ on the historic Grand Opera House stage.

7. Link Link, October 31

Watch as enduring style icon Rossellini transforms herself into Aristotle, René Descartes, a medieval theologian, Harvard Professor BF Skinner and Charles Darwin to explore what distinguishes humans from animals. Following Rossellini’s widely acclaimed theatrical lecture Green Porno, which explored the sexual behaviour of animals, Link Link addresses the latest scientific discoveries about animal minds, intelligence, and emotions.

8. A Manual for Heartache, October 24

In her widely acclaimed heart-breaking true story The Last Act of Love, Cathy Rentzenbrink movingly recounted the story of the death of her brother, following a childhood car accident. The response from readers, often telling their own stories of grief, led to A Manual for Heartache, a broader look at sorrow, anguish, despair, loss and how to try to live with the knowledge that the world can be a cruel place.

9. Out of Egypt: A conversation with Ibrahim Halawa and Darragh Mackin, October 29

Ibrahim Halawa, the Irish prisoner of conscience who spent four years in a Cairo jail, and his Belfast-based solicitor, Darragh Mackin, discuss his case and the international campaign to secure his release. Chaired by journalist Amanda Ferguson.

10. Yummertime, October 18 - December 2

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Brock Williams and Chris Lin

The Naughton Gallery presents a special collaborative project with Yummertime, a San Francisco-based lifestyle and photography blog co-founded by Brock Williams and Chris Lin.

This exhibition primarily focuses on Yummertime’s video and photography projects, exploring how the blog has captured a zeitgeist, raising key issues around contemporary society and the power, influence and profitability of social media.

View the full programme here.

Where can I get tickets?

Full event and ticket information can be found at

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