This year’s festival runs from 27th April – 7th May with 120 events in 30 venues encompassing every genre, style and medium of art you could possibly imagine. If you’re one of those people who can debate for hours the age old ‘what is art’ question then I would recommend flicking through the pages of the programme. The answer will be in there!
As in the last six years, the festival will feature the best in comedy, literature, theatre, family entertainment and street theatre with special mention going to Fight Club author Chuck Palahnuick, who will be in town promoting some new material and one of Ireland’s hottest comedy talents – Dara O’Briain.
For me though, the music is what makes this festival so special. Do you ever get bored listening to youngsters play guitars, bass and drums and singing about girls? No danger of that if you happen to venture into one of the vibrant music showcases. A special ‘World’ marquee in Custom House Square will include music from Cuba, Africa, India and Siberia! Rhythms, rhymes and ethnic rock’n’roll will come from Manu and his Latino House Band, The Bollywood Brass Band, Black Umfolosi, Siberian Throat singers Huun Huur Tu and many others.
A Belfast based festival would not do itself justice without celebrating the genius found within the confines of its own city. A rare film tracking George Best over 90 minutes of a game against Coventry in 1970 shows off the footwork as well as the fanaticism that followed the local legend. A bus tour visits the inspirational corners of the town that prompted many of the musings of Van Morrison and maybe after discovering just what went on down on Cyprus Avenue you’ll be up for a spot of Ceili dancing on the streets of old Belfast.
Musical highlights this year include legendary saxophonist Courtney Pine, Julian Cope and Terry Hall from The Specials will serve up a feast of Ska and Reggae classics. Singer-songwriter du jour Richard Hawley will make his Northern Irish debut showing off tracks from his album ‘Coles Corner’, and winner of the Choice Music Prize, Julie Feeney will perform music from her acclaimed CD release ’13 Songs’. Folk and Roots guitar maestros Bert Jansch and Davey Graham share a stage, while Elana James takes time out from her other job as the fiddle player with Bob Dylan’s touring band to visit this year’s festival.
Cutting edge film and visual art will once again be pushed to the fore with film productions looking at some of the major iconic figures from rock’n’roll including documentaries on Nick Cave, The Flaming Lips and Townes Van Zandt. As if all that hadn’t already whetted your appetite, this year will also see the launch of a brand new performance space for the city, the Black Box. Situated on Hill Street, in the heart of Cathedral Quarter, the 300 capacity Black Box is a new resource for arts groups in the city and will host everything from theatre and live music to comedy, dance and film.
Full details of the festival programme will be available from April 4 on www.cqaf.com and the programme will available from Belfast Welcome Centre or by phoning 028 90232403.