Belfast Int’l Arts Festival another reason to visit Northern Ireland

TORONTO — With 66,000 Canadian visitors to Northern Ireland – up 8% year over year – Tourism Ireland wants to give travellers another reason to come explore the beauty and energy of Northern Ireland and especially Belfast.

At Reds Wine Tavern in Toronto, Tourism Ireland’s Dana Welch and Richard Wakely of the Belfast International Arts Festival presented some of the highlights of Belfast and what is coming up for 2019.

Named the Top Destination by Lonely Planet Guide in 2018, Belfast has transformed over the past two decades, now full of bars, restaurants and venues that appeal to every traveller.

Richard Wakely, Artistic Director & Chief Executive, Belfast International Arts Festival commented: “I’m delighted to share a preview of the wonderful cultural offering that BIAF is bringing to Belfast. The festival prides itself on showcasing an ever-broadening range of perspectives and experiences, sparking conversations, and enriching lives. We’re looking forward to welcoming Canadian visitors to a great autumn of world-class festival events.”

Belfast International Arts Festival, now in its 57th year, will take place Oct. 15 to Nov. 3, 2019. This year’s edition includes a specific focus on contemporary arts from Japan and France, featuring 130 acts over 20 days with premiers of locations across the city. Many performances being free and visitors can explore the fusion of world-class theatre, dance, classical and roots music, visual, film and digital arts and literature accompanied by outreach and education events.

Wakely noted the importance the program places on “global connectivity, audience accessibility and participation, cultural diversity, gender equality, and contemporary arts practice”.

Signature acts included La Horde’s ‘To Da Bone’ performance, involving 11 jumpers to create an intense performance of dance, as well as Hiroaki Umeda, the opening show at BIAF19 that mixes dance, sounds, and visuals into an incredible piece.

Dana Welch, Manager, Tourism Ireland, Canada, said, “With one in four Canadian travellers visiting Northern Ireland as part of their island of Ireland vacation, this is a wonderful opportunity for those seeking a unique artistic experience in addition to experiencing all that Northern Ireland has to offer.”

Other highlights of Belfast include Titanic Belfast, featuring nine interactive galleries that explore the stories of the Titanic through sights, sounds, and smells; Feile and Phobail also known as “Festival of the People”, on the West of Belfast on Aug. 1-11 incorporating music, comedy, talks among other things; and the Belfast Cathedral, a treasure that is a place of worship, as well as a backdrop for concerts, recitals, carol services, and other events. They are a variety of ways to explore the city, with various tours of the city, different food and drink options, and street art tours that are offered on foot, bike, boat, bus or car.

An increase in air access helps the connection between Canada and Ireland. Canada is the fourth largest overseas tourism market to the destination. Recently launched is the direct Calgary to Dublin service through WestJet on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In addition to this, there is direct service from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton and Halifax.

Full program details for the Belfast International Arts Festival will be available online as of August 2019 at