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Belfast autumn festival season unveiled

Fiona Cunningham of Tourism NI, Richard Wakely, director of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival, and Anne McMullan of Visit Belfast.

Fiona Cunningham of Tourism NI, Richard Wakely, director of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival, and Anne McMullan of Visit Belfast.

Belfast has announced a stellar line-up of performances, festivals and events for autumn 2015 at a major tourism industry briefing in Dublin, further underlining the city’s growing reputation as an exciting world class leisure and business tourist destination.

As Ireland’s second-largest city prepares for a bumper Belfast Busy Festival Season of events and experiences, the stage is already set for Belfast’s most exciting programme of festival events yet, which this year includes the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival (UBBIAF).

The highly acclaimed UBBIAF programme features an internationally-renowned roster of artists and events that will inspire, provoke and stimulate. It will include 134 events from 23 countries, 18 UK and Ireland premieres, nine Northern Ireland premieres, three Irish premieres and two world premieres.

The festival will open with Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive starring Adrian Dunbar at the Lyric Theatre. Other theatre highlights from local artists include the world premiere of The Suitcase written by Jane Coyle at the Belfast Synagogue in the north of the city which tells the poignant story of a Jewish family.

Highlighting the eclectic nature of this year’s festival, the art and culture of India and Mexico will be showcased together with the spoken word, physical theatre and contemporary dance by acclaimed stage artists from across the globe and new collaborative works and installations from across Europe.

The city itself will become a backdrop for many performances during the UBBIAF, and, for those looking for something different from their usual city break, Belfast is bursting with excitement this autumn. A new, jam-packed schedule of thrilling events, festivals and unique things to do including Comedy Week, Belfast Fashion Week, the Cinemagic International Film Festival for Young People, and the C.S. Lewis Festival, are proof there really never has been a better time for the whole family to visit.

“Belfast is a year-round destination of choice among both leisure and business travellers, whether local or from further afield, but autumn is a really special time to visit as the city comes alive with a vibrant and fun-filled calendar of world class entertainment, cultural highlights and fun ways to learn about the city’s history and heritage,” said Anne McMullan, marketing and communications director for Visit Belfast.

“TripAdvisor has named Belfast again this year as one of the Top 10 places to visit, which, thanks to great hospitality, shopping and world class attractions, promises a season that will be just as exciting with an abundance of festivals and special events. We look forward to welcoming many new and repeat visitors to Belfast who I know will be delighted by the choice on offer.”

Richard Wakely, director of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to Belfast with our rich programme of music, theatre, dance and arts from around the world this October, with many of the city’s best and most prestigious venues playing host to the schedule of events that will encapsulate the creative inspiration that has been gleaned from all corners of the world, truly bringing an international flavour to the streets of Belfast.

“We are thrilled to present several wonderful free events over the course of the festival featuring acts from Russia, India, France and Italy that will include live art projections, music, circus acts and more. We are so happy to be able to once again provide residents and visitors alike with such an enviable roster of global talent.”

Fiona Cunningham, Tourism NI’s market manager (ROI), said: “Every season provides a new aspect to Northern Ireland’s calendar of festivals and events and this autumn in Belfast will be no different this year, with an action packed programme of music, culture, arts, food and fashion with something to suit all tastes. Belfast is an exciting, thriving, cosmopolitan city and provides a gateway to exploring the rest of Northern Ireland and I am confident that this fantastic line-up of festivals and events will give visitors from the Republic of Ireland even more reason to visit this autumn.”

Belfast’s tourism credentials continue to be recognised and the city has received many accolades including the ‘Happiest City in the UK’ by Instagram, one of the world’s top destinations by National Geographic Traveller magazine, one of the Top 10 places in the world to hold a conference or major event the Financial Times’ most Business Friendly City in the world of its size.

This autumn, day or night, Belfast will be alive with a vibrant mix of music, arts, theatre and festivals. Whether its food, fashion, comedy or culture there’s something for everyone to discover in Belfast this season.

Below are just some of the key festival highlights:

Belfast Comedy Festival
23 September – 4 October
Blending uproarious humour with light-hearted events, the festival isn’t just about stand-up. Whatever your sense of humour, choose from music, cabaret, improv, sketch shows, walking tours and even special kids events, with all events featuring the finest local and international talent, so come along and enjoy the craic!

Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival
9 October – 1 November
Ireland’s leading contemporary arts festival never fails to delight with high quality arts from music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts, many of which are UK and Irish premieres. Two countries, India and Mexico, take centre stage this year and the best of new European theatre will feature at the Grand Opera House and The Mac as well as many more exciting venues throughout the city.

West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK
15-18 October
Celebrating its twentieth season, West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK continues to keep fashion lovers up-to-date with the latest styles and trends. Bringing autumn and winter fashion must-haves to help fashionistas through the cold winter months, this season’s events will run over four days across various venues in Belfast but the key catwalk shows will return to FASHIONWEEK HQ on Bruce Street in the city centre.

Cinemagic International Film Festival for Young People
9 October – 4 November
An award winning festival that embraces the magic of film, television and digital technologies to educate, motivate and inspire young people through film screenings, industry workshops, practical masterclasses, filmmaking projects and outreach activities. This unique festival for children is now a global phenomenon with events in Dublin, LA, New York and London

Nine Nights
24 October
Providing a spectacular free outdoor theatre experience that will celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, Nine Nights is a captivating story of hope inspired by ancient Indian myths and legends. Staged at dusk across Belfast City Centre, family audiences will be immersed in a visually thrilling experience of music, dance, and theatre as hundreds of community participants, dancers and musicians join together in the spirit of storytelling and celebration.

C.S Lewis Festival
19-22 November
Now one of the most popular elements of Belfast’s burgeoning Eastside Arts Festival, the third C.S. Lewis Festival will recognise and celebrate the life and legacy of the author of some of the world’s most widely read books in the English language. Across 4 days, there will be reflections on the cultural significance of Lewis’ rich legacy, the impact he had on Belfast, as well as the strong influence his native city had on his vast body of work.

Fleadh Feirste
28 November
Celebrating the spirit of Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter, Fleadh Feirste offers an Irish tourist and arts experience of the highest quality. An experience based on Gaeltacht Quarter’s traditional strengths of Irish language and culture. Representing a new set of voices in the city, this vibrant part of Belfast is where imagination, initiative and achievement abounds and this unique festival throws open a window for residents and visitors alike.

For more information about what is happening in Belfast this autumn contact the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre on 048 9024 6609 or call in to 9 Donegall Square North, Belfast BT1 5GJ

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