Belfast TradFest’s Winter Weekend will get your toes tapping and your heart singing

Belfast TradFest’s Winter Weekend will get your toes tapping and your heart singing

Jam-packed with concerts, workshops, sessions, walks and talks Belfast TradFest’s 2nd annual Winter Weekend returns to venues across Belfast UNESCO City of Music from 24th - 26th February, supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster University and Titanic Distillers. Featuring a programme filled with internationally renowned talent in traditional Irish and Ulster Scots music, song and dance.

Internationally recognised artists including Déanta, The Friel Sisters, Ríoghnach Connolly, Seamus O’Kane, Niall Hanna, Cúig, Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, Tim Edey and Ryan Molloy will headline nine concerts. Founding member of Dé Dannan and fiddle maestro Frankie Gavinwill play the festival closing concert in the Empire Music Hall on a double bill with Armagh native but now Manchester based singer and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly of the Afro Celt Sound System.

Belfast TradFest’s Winter Weekend is delighted to host its inaugural Highland Piping Solo Competition at The Deer’s Head, Sunday 26th February. A selection of Irelands’ top pipers will compete for a place in the renowned MacCrimmonTrophy Competition 2023 that takes place annually at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany. The new Ulster University building on York Street will host workshops covering all instruments from bodhrán to bouzouki and smallpipes to singing. Delivered by some of the best traditional musicians from Ireland, Scotland and beyond. Beginners can also join in the fun with classes in Sean NósSinging (unaccompanied singing in Irish), whistle and sing (Ages 5 plus), Sean Nós Dancing with American Irish dancer Siobhán Butler and set dancing with Ulster’s own Mary Fox.

Join the lively Titanic Distillers Session Trail which will take you across the city to some of Belfast’s oldest and best-loved pubs including Madden’s Bar, The Duke of York, The John Hewitt, The Sunflower and The Garrick. 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.

The festival’s afternoon events will include album launches at Raidió Fáilte by legendary Fermanagh purveyor of song Gabriel McArdle and up-and-coming stars Martha Guineyand Piaras Ó Lorcáin, plus talks at Ulster University by renowned bodhrán player Mel Mercier & County Clare concertina maestro Mary MacNamara. Walking tours include Belfast City of Song led by traditional folk-singers Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February.

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. Joinprofessional musicians as guides on the Belfast Traditional Music Trail on Saturday 25th February. The trail winds its way through cobbled alleyways, past famous landmarks and on to private bars in some of the city’s oldest buildings. Theguides perform traditional tunes and songs and explain about the instruments, language, customs and history that make up Ireland’s vibrant musical tradition.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black said: “It’s an honour to support Belfast TradFest’s annual Winter Weekend through our Arts and Heritage Small Grants Scheme. As a UNESCO City of Music, Belfast is now recognised right across the world for our unique and diverse music and cultural scene, and of course traditional music is a central part of that. TradFest gives us a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of our outstanding local talent and to welcome internationally recognised guests to perform in Belfast in this special celebration of our Irish and Ulster-Scots musical and dance traditions.”

Artistic Director of Belfast TradFest, Dónal O’Connor said: “Traditional music is part of the fabric of this city and in recent years it has become recognised as one of the main attractions for visitors to this part of the world. It’s important that we support the ecosystem of musicians and music here and Belfast TradFest continues this work with our 2nd annual Winter Weekend. This is a great opportunity to make new friends and meet up with old acquaintances – everyone is welcome to take part in this rich cultural event. We’re looking forward to welcoming some of the most incredible musicians, singers and dancers of all ages to venues across Belfast city. The festival is gathering a reputation for being Ireland’s premier weekend festival of traditional music with Belfast aiming for the title of traditional music capital of Ireland. We are thankful for the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Ulster University and Titanic Distillers, without whom this festival couldn’t happen.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Belfast Tradfest’sWinter Weekend which promises to deliver thrilling, world-class traditional Irish and Ulster-Scots music and events across Belfast, helping to bring great art to all. Audiences also have the opportunity to take part in instrument workshops with some of the region’s leading traditional musicians – something not to be missed! Congratulations to Dónal O’Connor and the team in once again curating such a wonderful programme and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy!”

For full programme visit,

Belfast TradFest

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