Belfast Telegraph

Festival lifts lid on packed programme

'Tough cookie' opens jar of goodies

By Jane Coyle

Belfast Festival at Queen's director Graeme Farrow is to the point.

"The festival didn't get to be 45 years old in this town without being a tough cookie," he said.

And today, that same middle-aged but extremely tough cookie, which Farrow describes as "having gone through a number of Dr Who-like reincarnations " will lift the lid on its 2007 store of artistic goodies.

There had, of course, been a huge question mark over whether Belfast would be staging its world-famous festival this year, given the massive financial difficulties facing it.

So, there is all the more reason to salute Farrow's team for producing a high quality programme of events, many of which are already sold out.

Proceedings will kick off in traditional style this evening, with the Ulster Orchestra's Opening Concert in Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

Irish musical legends The Chieftains team up with the Orchestra, the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, the Ulster Youth Choir and guests in a musical starter that is just about as tasty as they come.

Grimes and McKee's first full-length play The Duke of Hope had its premiere last night in the Drama Centre at Queen's University. This Tinderbox production continues throughout the festival.

Replay's new adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth has been conceived with its venue specifically in mind. The spooky surroundings of Crumlin Road Gaol provide the gloomy atmosphere for this blood-soaked tale of self-destructive ambition, betrayal and murder.

The run opened on Wednesday, but all the shows are completely sold out.

The boy wizard Harry Potter has been responsible for another super-quick sell out.

This afternoon at 2.30pm is the only date that still has a few seats remaining for Potted Potter, a 60-minute gallop through all the books at the Lyric Theatre, in the company of two irreverent young Muggles, Dan and Jeff.

And what a coup for the festival that, just three days after winning the Man Booker Prize, Anne Enright will be in conversation with Belfast writer Glenn Patterson tonight in the Harty Room at Queen's.

Full programme and bookings: or 028 9097 1197.

Due to the recent postal strike, no more festival tickets will be posted out. All tickets will be available for collection at the door of the event. To enable smooth distribution and a prompt start, audience members should aim to arrive up to 45 minutes in advance of the start time printed in the festival programme.

Belfast Telegraph


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