Belfast Telegraph

Belfast International Arts Festival 2019 Programme is live

By Belfast International Arts Festival

The programme for the 57th Belfast International Arts Festival has been launched, featuring over 200 events from the world of music, dance, film, visual arts, literature and theatre. It includes 14 UK, Irish and world premieres. The Festival will run from 15 October to 3 November.

This year, Belfast will be part of two major international celebrations, the Japan-UK Season of Culture and FranceDance UK. 

The opening event on 15 October is the UK and Irish premiere of Median, a dazzling performance combining choreography with digital projection and electronic sound from Japanese experimental artist Hiroaki Umeda. Think of the most creative music videos by Radiohead and Aphex Twin, meets the stealth and intensity of The Matrix.  Also featuring will be Tokyo artist, ASUNA, with his quirky, immersive sound installation, 100 Keyboards.  Both of these are at The MAC.

If you’ve seen Christine and the Queens’ video for Girlfriend, you may have seen the Festival’s French dance stars, (LA) HORDE, who will be performing their utterly captivating, high energy jumpstyle piece, To Da Bone, in the Grand Opera House Belfast.  The cast of 11 dancers were crowd-sourced from across Europe through internet auditions, and the piece is a rebel call to the social media generation.

Also in dance Shobana Jeyasingh Dance will be performing an Irish premiere of Staging Schiele, the story of radical Austrian nude artist and self-portraitist, Egon Schiele, before it heads to Southbank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for its London run.

This year’s Embrace FREE public events programme includes the UK and Irish premiere of a performance by French all-female circus-arts troupe led by Chloe Moglia, called La Spire, which will take place in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October.

The eclectic musical offering in this year’s programme features two shows by Glen Hansard, along with Two Door Cinema Club, Joshua Burnside, 70’s ska favourites, The Selecter and Cuban-born Parisian musician and all-round queen of cool, La Dame Blanche, whose father was creative director of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Classical music fans will also need to move quickly to secure their tickets for a performance by pianist Lucy Parham, who’ll be joined by British acting royalty, Juliet Stevenson and Tim McInerny, performing Beloved Clara, the love triangle story between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara and Johannes Brahms. Tickets for Ruth McGinley’s premiere duo with violinist Darragh Morgan are also proving popular.

In the field of theatre, the Festival brings together some of Ireland’s finest, including Dublin-based Fishamble with Pat Kinevane’s searing solo choreography and hugely entertaining theatre piece Before, which met with critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival last month; and an edgy, of-the-moment piece by Chalk it Down Productions, Spliced, is a timely study of mental health in the uber-male sports world.

On the lighter side, Forced Entertainment’s Real Magic at the MAC is a darkly comedic groundhog-day look at current world events; while our own Big Telly Theatre Company will premiere The Worst Café in the World, a special for the Festival, in a make-believe pop-up café in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.  Here, the diners will become flies on the wall as reality theatre unfolds around them.  With 8 performances from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 October this is chaos not to be missed and diners are advised to book a post-theatre meal elsewhere!

The literary and film sections of the programme are packed with highlights and big names, including author Michael Rosen (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) and Booker longlisted authors Max Porter (Grief is a Thing with Feathers and Lanny) and Kevin Barry (Night Boat to Tangier), along with hotly tipped Kerry Hudson (Lowborn), Emilie Pine (Notes to Self), Meena Kandasamy (Exquisite Cadavers) the Octavia Poetry Collective and a special event on 30 October, the eve of Brexit, featuring journalist and author Gavin Esler talk about his latest book Brexit without the Bullsh*t.  Perfect timing!

This year’s Festival season will close with the UK and Irish premiere of Lady Magma by Belfast-born choreographer and dancer, Oona Doherty, in partnership with Prime Cut Productions.  Oona will come, fresh from a hugely successful Edinburgh Festival, to perform this brand new ode to female strength and new femininity.

The Belfast International Arts Festival is only made possible with thanks to Festival supporters and funders, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, the British Council, the Department for Communities, and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

Visit for full details and booking links or book in person at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, Donegal Square North, Belfast or by telephone: 028 9024 6609.

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