Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Almost 200 events on offer at the 2017 Belfast International Arts Festival

The 2017 Belfast International Arts Festival will host 191 events over 23 days, as the huge event returns to the city from October 6-28.

The event was launched at Black Box in Belfast on Tuesday, with visitors getting a sneak peek of what's on offer this year, covering everything from music, art, theatre and beyond.

Artists from 14 different countries will be making their way to Belfast, with the Festival hosting 12 premieres in total.

Among this year's highlights will be the huge Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper at the Ulster Museum.

Showcased as part of a UK wide tour, the Weeping Window is a cascade of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies, which will pour down the facade of the museum to the ground below.

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Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper

Elsewhere, soul singer and songwriter Paul Carrack will take to the stage at the Grand Opera House on Saturday, October 21.

Music lovers will recognise his voice from hits with Mike & the Mechanics, Roxy Music, Ace and Squeeze.

Currently guesting on the Eric Clapton tour, Carrack is celebrating his 18th solo album with his highest chart entry to date.

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Paul Carrack

Meanwhile, the Irish Premiere of the Olivier Award nominated, Celui Qui Tombe (He Who Falls) is presented by Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois as part of this year's Festival.

The gravity-defying show is described as a "circus-influenced physical theatre spectacle", taking place at the Grand Opera House on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 October.

The performance takes place on a suspended podium on which the cast must withstand its forces as it begins to spin, pivot, swing and elevate with choreography from tracks from Beethoven and Frank Sinatra.

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Celui Qui Tombe.

And on Wednesday, October 11 , Ulster Hall will play host to one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, The Mariinsky Orchestra with conductor Valery Gergiev.

They will perform an all-Russian programme culminating in Shostakovich’s epic Symphony No. 11.

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Conductor Valery Gergiev

Other highlights of the Belfast International Arts Festival include:

  • Compassion: The History of the Machine Gun –Berlin’s acclaimed Schaubühne Theatre return to open the festival at The Lyric on the 6 October with a hard-hitting new work from the Swiss director Milo Rau exploring the limits of human compassion in a globalised world.
  • Gardens Speak – an award winning and deeply moving interactive sound installation from Tania El Khoury containing the oral histories of ten people buried in Syrian gardens, running from the 11 to the 22 October in 12-13 Shaftesbury Square.
  • The Tempest – Ireland: Memory: Identity: A major exhibition of large scale, sculptural paintings from one of Ireland’s leading artists, Hughie O’Donoghue.  Created specially for Belfast International Arts Festival, The Tempest foregrounds 3 major new pieces. The exhibition will be held in Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church from 10 to the 28 October.
  • Hard to be Soft; a Belfast Prayer - a four-part contemporary dance and music spectacle co-commissioned by the Festival with Prime Cut and Dublin Dance Festival and bringing together an ensemble of Northern Ireland’s top artists. The production incorporates interviews from people across the city and will close Festival from the 26 to the 28 October in The MAC.

Festival Director Richard Wakely said: “This year’s Festival explores artists as innovators and activists, addressing the uncertain times we live in.

"The Festival is a place for our communities to gather together with a belief that change is possible. Often entertaining and always enlightening, there is something for everyone in the 2017 Belfast International Arts Festival."

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Belfast International Arts Festival launch 2017

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: "Northern Ireland enjoys many arts and cultural festivals, all of which contribute something unique and special to the richness of our creative landscape. 

"The Belfast International Arts Festival is no exception, bringing us world-class acts and using its international profile to promote our home-grown talent, strengthening Northern Ireland’s creative reputation."

Speaking at the launch of the event, Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council, Councillor Nuala McAllister said: "I've chosen 'Global Belfast' as the theme for my year in office.

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Belfast International Arts Festival launch 2017

"So I'm delighted that Belfast City Council is continuing to invest in the Belfast International Arts Festival - it not only attracts international acts, but it also showcases homegrown talent and helps to position Belfast as a must visit cultural destination."

As well as support from the principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast International Arts Festival receives core funding from Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the British Council.

For a full list of events, visit the Belfast International Arts Festival website

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Belfast International Arts Festival launch 2017

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