02 Feb 2024
Over three days in February, Belfast will be the stage for a host of internationally renowned talent in traditional Irish and Scottish music, song and dance.
The Belfast Tradfest Winter Weekend (23–25 February) crams multiple concerts, competitions, workshops, album launches, sessions and talks into three magical, music-filled days in the island of Ireland’s only UNESCO city of music.
The festival opens with a concert in the Empire Music Hall by leading Irish trad band Altan supported by Monaghan harp maestro Michael Rooney playing a rare solo set.
On Saturday 24 February, acclaimed fiddler Bríd Harper is being celebrated with a family-friendly concert in the Mandela Hall at Queens University featuring the cream of traditional musicians and singers such as Australian guitarist Steve Cooney, Donegal accordion wizard Dermot Byrne, Breton flute player Sylvain Barou and singer Rita Gallagher.
Some of the finest singers on the island of Ireland will gather to perform the distinctive Songs of Shane MacGowan. The Saturday evening concert will feature Andrew Hendy & Finnian O'Connor (The Mary Wallopers), Monaghan songstress Dani Larkin, Lough Neagh singer Niall Hanna, Belfast’s Duke Special, Crossmaglen rising star Piaras Ó Lorcáin, County Derry’s Jack Warnock and Castlewellan native Múlú.
Other highlights include concerts with Ciarán & Caitlín, Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and a full programme of Festival Club events with acts such as Sligo’s Niamh Farrell, Jos Kelly and Cillian Doheny.
The festival will also host its annual Highland Piping Solo Competition when Ireland’s top pipers will compete for a place in the renowned MacCrimmon Trophy Competition 2024 that takes place at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany.
Fiddler Bríd Harper.
Workshops covering a dozen instruments from banjo to smallpipes as well as traditional singing and sean nós dancing will be delivered by some of the best traditional musicians from Ireland, Scotland and beyond, celebrating the cultural diversity of the different traditions in Northern Ireland.
The festival closes with a concert by the most influential Irish trad band of all time, The Bothy Band, who are reforming for the event (sold out) on Sunday 25 February.
Outside of the ticketed events you can join the lively Dunville’s Irish Whiskey Session Trail which will take you across the city to some of Belfast’s oldest and best-loved pubs including Madden’s Bar, The Garrick, The John Hewitt, The Sunflower, The Duke of York and Hatfield House. Sessions are free, and times are staggered so that traditional music fans can fit in as much ‘ceol agus craic’ (music and fun) as possible.
Dunville's Irish Whiskey Session Trail at Belfast TradFest.
Mick O'Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh
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