Comedian Lenny Henry, 80s band ABC and the Russian Philharmonic St Petersburg Orchestra are among the highlights of this year’s Féile an Phobail festival which got under way yesterday.
The festival is a community arts organisation which works all year round to promote both Irish and international culture.
It will include 11 days of festivities, entertainment and events across the city.
Sean Paul O’Hare, director of Féile an Phobail, said of this year's festival: “Féile 2010’s programme is the best ever.
“Eleven days and nights of awesome music, comedy, drama and major speakers.”
As part of the festival, a host of performances will grace Belfast's venues over the next week-and-a-half.
Festival-goers can look forward to a variety of acts, from the folky tones of David Dempsey to the rock sound of Everlast.
Other performers include The Neville Staple band and 80s New Wave veterans ABC who will close the festival with a bang.
There will also be music from the Russian Philharmonic St |Petersburg Orchestra and a comedy night featuring Lenny Henry.
One of the highlights of the festival is a reading from Nobel Literature prize winner Seamus Heaney at St Mary's University College.
The reading will be in celebration of the poet and novelist Michael MacLaverty.
“People will not be stuck for choice,” Mr O’Hare said of the variety of acts and with marquee nights, ‘trad nights’, big gigs, dramas and entertainment in bars and clubs, he can't be too far wrong.”
Féile an Phobail was established in 1988 as a response to the conflict in Northern Ireland. It set out to celebrate west Belfast’s passion for arts, culture and sport. It also aimed to provide entertainment at a price everyone could afford.
In August 1988 the first Féile opened with a small parade of floats, bands and GAA clubs walking in their club regalia to an open-air party in Dunville Park.
The organisation quickly grew from a one-week festival to a year-round programme with many events.
For more information on the festival go to www.feilebelfast.com.
1. Songs of Féile, Thursday August 5, Kelly’s Cellars, Bank Square — 8pm
2. Opening Parade, Sunday August 1, meeting at Kennedy Centre Car park — 1pm
3. Russian Chamber Philharmonic St Petersburg Orchestra, Wednesday August 4, Clonard Monastery, Belfast — 7pm
4. Rickshaw Racing, Thursday August 5 — 7pm
5. ‘A Night With George’, Sunday August 8, Balmoral Hotel, Blacks Road — 8pm