18 Jan 2023
Northern Ireland’s capital will resound with Irish traditional and Ulster Scots music when Belfast TradFest’s Winter Weekend 2023 strikes up in February.
The Winter Weekend festival running from 24–26 February will present a jam-packed programme of amazing events covering traditional music, song, dance and more.
Internationally recognised artists including Seamus O’Kane, Niall Hanna, Cúig, The Friel Sisters, Déanta, Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, and Ryan Molloy will headline eight concerts.
Founding member of Dé Dannan and fiddle maestro Frankie Gavin will play the festival closing concert accompanied by Catherine McHugh on piano and supported by vocalist and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly.
The festival’s afternoon events will include album launches by the established singer Gabriel McArdle and up-and-coming stars Martha Guiney and Piaras Ó Lorcáin.
For musicians there will be workshops covering multiple instruments from bodhrán to bouzouki delivered by some of the best traditional musicians from Ireland and beyond.
Beginners can also join in the fun at classes on sean nós (unaccompanied singing in Irish), whistle and singing, and set dancing.
For those who prefer to listen, there will be lively sessions galore across the city at some of Belfast’s oldest and best-loved pubs including the Duke of York, Madden’s, The John Hewitt, The Sunflower and The Garrick.
The Friel Sisters play Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend.
The sessions are free and times are staggered so that trad fans can fit in as much ‘ceol agus craic’ (music and fun) as possible.
A fascinating walking tour, ‘Belfast City of Song’, will take place on Sunday 26 February. Led by folk-singers Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy, the singing-walking tour draws on Maurice’s acclaimed song collection to tell the story of Belfast as it grew from a small town to an industrial city.
And the popular Belfast Traditional Music Trail will also be in the festival mix. With two professional musicians as guides, the trail wends its way through cobbled alleyways, past famous landmarks and on to private bars in some of the city’s oldest buildings.
At each stop a drink can be enjoyed while the guides perform traditional tunes and songs and explain about the instruments, language, customs and history that make up Ireland’s vibrant musical tradition.
The strength of Belfast’s musical heritage and the importance of music in its past and to its future secured it a designation as a UNESCO City of Music in 2021. It’s the first city on the island of Ireland and the third city in the UK to be given the honour.
Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend Poster.
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