Festivals Northern Ireland

Discover the Best Festivals in Northern Ireland | Official Guide

More than 60,000 people visit Derry-Londonderry each May for the Walled City Jazz and Big Band Festival.1 Northern Ireland has many rich festivals. Its musical history has given us stars like Van Morrison. And bands like Snow Patrol and Two Door Cinema Club.

Our festivals are more than just music. They are about celebrating culture. Derry-Londonderry hosts lively events. And Belfast is famous for its high-energy concerts. We have a year-round celebration waiting for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Northern Ireland’s festivals celebrate a rich musical heritage with world-famous artists and bands.
  • Over 60,000 attendees visit the Walled City Jazz and Big Band Festival each May Bank Holiday weekend in Derry-Londonderry1.
  • Stendhal Festival is a multi-award-winning event making a significant impact on the cultural scene since 20101.
  • Belsonic in Belfast has drawn in colossal crowds with top international acts like Stormzy and Hozier1.
  • AVA Festival is renowned for showcasing both local and global dance music talent1.
  • The Belfast International Arts Festival offers a distinguished program across various arts disciplines and has been a cultural pillar since the 1960s1.

IMBOLC International Traditional Arts Festival in Derry-Londonderry

The IMBOLC Festival is a key event in Derry-Londonderry that starts the year with joy. It combines Irish traditional music with cultural fun. People from Ireland and the UK come to enjoy and join in with the festivites.

IMBOLC Festival

Music and Dance

From the 28th January to the 4th February, the IMBOLC Festival lights up the city. It brings different styles of music from over twenty-five artists, some from far away places like Canada and South Korea2. People can also take part in workshops to learn more about the music and dance2. The day ends with exciting “Club Trad” nights. Plus, there are activities for the whole family23.

Poetry and Art

The festival is not just about music. It also has poetry readings and art shows. Everyone can join in, even if they have special needs3. New music is made just for the festival, making the shows very special3.

Special Screenings and Intimate Chats

Special movies and talks create a very friendly atmosphere at IMBOLC. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and local councils help make it a great time for everyone23.

The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival

The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival takes place during the May Bank Holiday. It turns the historic Walled City into a vibrant hub of jazz music. This year marks its 21st anniversary, promising a fantastic time for all with over 400 shows at different locations4.

Local and International Artists

Each year, the festival welcomes a wide range of musicians from both near and far. Acts vary from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to bands celebrating Amy Winehouse. New additions like Tom Ollendorff and local favorites Luke Thomas and the Swing Cats ensure there’s something for everyone. The mix makes the program exciting for a broad audience4.

Jazz in Theatres, Bars, and Streets

The festival stands out for its music in various atmospheres. You can enjoy jazz in cosy theatres, lively bars, and on the streets. This mix of experiences creates a special vibe that brings the whole city together. It’s a great chance to feel part of something special and enjoy music in unique ways.

Derry Jazz Festival

Annual Celebration and Community Vibe

The real magic of the Derry Jazz Festival is its community feel. The organizers always include special events like tribute shows and a jazz parade. These features, alongside many outdoor gigs, help make it a standout in the jazz calendar. In 2019, it drew 70,000 visitors over five days, proving its growing prominence and role as a beloved local tradition.

Stendhal Festival: A Summer Highlight

The Stendhal Festival isn’t just an event. It’s an unforgettable experience at Ballymully Cottage Farm near Limavady. This festival, a key event in Northern Ireland, started in 2010. Since then, it has won many awards1. Its mix of music draws big crowds every year.

Wide Range of Music Genres

This festival presents over twenty acts from different music styles5. You can hear everything from indie-folk by Villagers to Irish music on the BBC stage5. This variety makes Stendhal special for music fans.

Comedy and Fine Food

There’s more than music at Stendhal. There are also comedy shows and tasty food. This adds extra fun and flavour to the festival experience. It really highlights what Northern Ireland’s summer events are about.

Award-Winning Festival Experience

The festival welcomes over ten thousand people5. It has a range of ticket prices for adults, from £80 to £145 on average. For those who return, there are special prices thanks to the loyalty programme6. Loyalty tickets sell out quickly, within a week or two.

Stendhal Festival’s dedication to music and diverse fun sets it apart in Northern Ireland. It’s not just about the music but about creating a full, rich festival experience.

Belsonic: The Heartbeat of Belfast’s Music Scene

Belsonic lights up Belfast’s summer with music, drawing fans from around the globe. Ormeau Park becomes a hub of fun and music every year. It’s a key part of Northern Irish life, hosting this lively festival.

Top International Acts

Top stars like Stormzy, Hozier, and George Ezra have graced Belsonic’s stage. Their shows have brought in huge crowds from far and wide. This mix of big-name acts makes Belsonic a highlight for music lovers worldwide.

High Summer Celebration

Belsonic is known for its electric vibe, marking Belfast’s lively summer. It’s part of a season packed with outdoor concerts, cultural events, and food festivals7. For a memorable season, attending Belsonic is a must.

Ormeau Park’s Spectacle

Belsonic unfolds in the stunning Ormeau Park, offering an amazing setting for music. With its green surroundings and lively shows, the festival is a unique experience. The large park can host many people, making the event truly spectacular7.

Belsonic festival in Ormeau Park

AVA Festival: Dance Music Extravaganza

The AVA Festival is now a key event on Belfast’s electronic music calendar. It’s loved for its cool designs and creativity. Celebrating its 10-year mark in 2023, this event is a big part of the city’s live music scene. It offers a wide range of acts and cultural things to see8.

AVA Festival dance music event

Innovative Production

The AVA Festival is famous for its high-tech stages. It changes the Titanic Slipways into a buzzing spot for top and new artists. The music and technology mix up for an experience like no other. It’s more than just music; it’s a full-on party for your senses9.

Art Exhibitions and Installations

There’s more than music at the AVA Festival. People can enjoy unique art and cultural showcases. These things make the festival a big celebration of all types of creativity. Visitors can see cool works that bring together music and art beautifully8. It’s an immersive feast for the senses.

Conference and Workshops

Learning and growing are a big part of the AVA Festival. It includes a special music conference and workshops. These are great chances to meet and learn from experts in the music and arts world9. For those starting out or already in music, there’s plenty to get from these talks and lessons.

Festivals Northern Ireland: Celebrating Diversity and Culture

Festivals Northern Ireland show a culture as varied as its people. Belfast is full of life during its festivals. Derry-Londonderry echoes with history during events, showing the province’s wide range of celebrations.

In Derry-Londonderry, the IMBOLC International Traditional Arts Festival is a must for music lovers. It’s ten days of traditional Irish and world music. The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival in May brings in over 60,000 people, proving its vibrant music scene1.

Belfast shines with its festivals too. The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has seen greats like Patti Smith, Johnny Marr, and Billy Bragg since 20001. The AVA Festival, known for dance music, started in 2017. The Belfast International Arts Festival, since the late 1960s, has welcomed celebrated artists from various genres1.

Belfast festival scene

The Stendhal Festival, near Limavady, has greatly influenced culture in the north since 2010 and won many awards1. Portrush hosts the Atlantic Sessions, where top musicians play in small venues over four days1.

Across the province, art is celebrated. The Bluegrass Omagh is Europe’s big bluegrass festival, with acts from the USA and Europe since 1990. The Armagh Bard Festival honours the Bard of Armagh in a special way1.

These festivals show us Northern Ireland’s rich cultural mix. They make it a perfect spot for all sorts of celebrations.

For more details on Northern Ireland’s rich festival scene, check out our official guide.

Belfast International Arts Festival

The Belfast International Arts Festival started in 1962 and has been a key part of Northern Ireland’s culture for more than 60 years10. It takes place in over 30 venues around the city. The festival runs from October 12 to November 5 every year and includes theatre arts, dance, and more11.

Belfast International Arts Festival

Rich History and World-Class Performances

The festival has hosted some of the world’s best performances. Stars like Jimi Hendrix, Laurence Olivier, and Billy Connolly have graced its stages10.

In 2007, it faced a big financial challenge. But it found the support it needed to go on10.
Even when Ulster Bank stopped sponsoring in 2016, the festival continued. This showed its strong spirit and its vital role in the arts world10.

Theatre, Dance, and Music

The festival is known for its captivating theatre and dance shows1011.
Every year, it draws artists from all over the world. Its music events cover a wide range from classics to avant-garde1011.

Dance performances are just as varied. They include everything from modern to traditional styles.

Film, Visual Arts, and Literature

The festival also shines with its art exhibitions. Both local and international artists get to show their works.

There’s also film screenings and literary events. People can join in the creative process, making the festival open to all11.

It’s truly a place where everybody can find something they love.

To learn more or get in touch, visit 109-113 Royal Avenue, Belfast, Antrim, BT1 1FF. Or, call +44 28 9033 2261. For more about upcoming events, check the official website of the festival11.

Aspect Details
Established 196210
Duration October 12 – November 511
Venues Over 30 locations11
Highlighted Performers Jimi Hendrix, Laurence Olivier, Billy Connolly10

Country to Country: Belfast’s Country Music Festival

The Country to Country Belfast festival is now a key event in the European country music world. It started in 2013 and is now the largest outside the USA12. This year, it’s happening for the first time in Northern Ireland, along with events in London and Glasgow12.

Country to Country Belfast

Leading Country Artists

Things kicked off in Belfast with an amazing show by Old Dominion. They’re a top band from Nashville12. The festival also saw Brad Paisley as the headline act. He’s a big name with 14 CMA and 3 Grammy awards12. These acts show how big the festival is in the country music world.

Three Days of Country Music Celebration

Over three days, the festival had performances by Nashville’s top stars, UK musicians, and European talents1213. It created an amazing experience for fans and a lively atmosphere. For country music lovers, it was the place to be.

Nashville, UK, and European Talents

The UK has really taken to country music, and this festival has helped boost its popularity12. Catherine McGrath, in 2019, became the first UK country artist to play on the main stage13. Also, the CMA’s “Introducing Nashville” series is bringing new Nashville acts to Europe for the third year12. The festival’s mix of talents reflects the variety in country music all over the world.

Orangefest: A Historical and Cultural March

Orangefest is a big deal on the Twelfth of July. It celebrates Protestant loyalist history in Northern Ireland. This marks William III’s win with lively city-wide events.


Every year, Northern Ireland’s streets light up with flags, bunting, and huge bonfires14. Orangefest started in the late 18th century. It remembers the Battle of Aughrim and the Williamite War in Ireland14. The first parades were in 1796 in places like Portadown and Lurgan14.

Protestant Loyalist Event

Orangefest is mainly for Ulster Protestants. It brings centuries of tradition to life through historical marches14. This event shows how important its history and culture are to all of Northern Ireland.

City-Wide Marches

Orangefest’s main part is Belfast’s cultural marches by the Orange Order and bands14. Belfast has the biggest among the 18 ‘Twelfth’ parades in Northern Ireland15. Parades happen from April to August, with July 12th being the high point15. These activities are about tradition and unite the community with joyful events.

Security and Celebration

Orangefest is full of life but needs good security. The parades have seen some political stress before14. To keep things okay, parades might take new routes and police are easy to spot15. The name ‘Orangefest’ makes the celebrations more inviting to everyone, young and old15.

Orangefest mixes history’s respect with today’s joy, linking the old days with now in a peaceful way.


Our journey through Northern Ireland’s festivals has shown us its vibrant cultural scene. It offers celebrations for every season and sensibility. From the IMBOLC Traditional Arts Festival to the City of Derry Jazz Fest, and the AVA Festival, Northern Ireland is packed with music, art, and joyous gatherings.

No exploration would be complete without highlighting the Twelfth. It’s a big event, celebrating the Glorious Revolution and the Battle of the Boyne14. In recent times, it has become a major public holiday with big parades.

We must also talk about the Ulster 71 festival. Even with street disturbances in 1971, it attracted over half a million visitors16. This festival was held to showcase Northern Ireland at its 50th anniversary and stands as a key moment in our festival history.

More than just parties, these festivals celebrate our heritage and invite all to join in. We hope our guide has revealed the deep richness and diversity of Northern Ireland’s festival spirit. It’s an open invitation to join us in experiencing the joy and culture that these events bring.


What are some of the most popular festivals in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, lots of people love festivals. You’ll find the IMBOLC International Traditional Arts Festival and the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. There’s also the Stendhal Festival and Belsonic. Don’t forget about AVA Festival, Belfast International Arts Festival, Country to Country, and Orangefest.

What kind of events can I expect at the IMBOLC International Traditional Arts Festival in Derry-Londonderry?

The IMBOLC Festival is all about Irish culture. It has music, dance, and poetry. Artists also show their work, and you can watch special films. It’s great for anyone who loves art and culture.

When does the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival take place?

This jazz festival happens every May Bank Holiday. It brings life to theatres, bars, and streets. You can enjoy jazz from musicians all over the world.

What makes the Stendhal Festival a highlight for the summer in Northern Ireland?

The Stendhal Festival is known for its variety. It has music, comedy, and good food. The festival offers a full cultural experience. Anyone who loves summer fun should go.

Who are some previous headline acts at Belsonic in Belfast?

Belsonic has had big names like Stormzy and Hozier. George Ezra also performed there. It’s famous for its lively atmosphere and concerts in Ormeau Park.

What should I expect at the AVA Festival?

AVA is all about dance music and modern art. You can see music production and artwork. There are also workshops. It’s a great place to learn and have fun.

How does the Belfast International Arts Festival distinguish itself?

The Belfast International Arts Festival is known for its performances. There’s theatre, dance, music, and more. It even featured Jimi Hendrix once. It’s a big deal in the arts world.

What kind of experience does the Country to Country festival in Belfast offer?

This festival brings the best country music artists to Belfast. It lasts three days and has a great atmosphere. It’s a big hit with fans.

What is the significance of Orangefest, and how is it celebrated?

Orangefest is on July the 12th. It remembers a big battle victory. The day has marches and parades across the city. But, it needs strong security too.

Source Links

  1. https://discovernorthernireland.com/whats-on/music-events
  2. https://www.visitderry.com/whats-on/imbolc-international-music-festival-2024-p875081
  3. https://www.visitderry.com/whats-on/imbolc-international-music-festival-2023-p770161
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-61250515
  5. https://www.chordblossom.com/livereviews/stendhal-festival-2022
  6. https://wewillthrive.co.uk/resources/blogs/northern-rhythms-taking-a-closer-look-at-festivals-in-northern-ireland
  7. https://www.inyourpocket.com/belfast/things-to-do-in-belfast-in-summer_79932f
  8. https://www.theirishroadtrip.com/music-festivals-in-ireland/
  9. https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/music/uk-festivals-2024-line-up-tickets-summer-b1118689.html
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfast_International_Arts_Festival
  11. https://visitbelfast.com/partners/belfast-international-arts-festival/
  12. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-68511091
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C2C:_Country_to_Country
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelfth
  15. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-18769781
  16. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-13839746

Healing Spirit festival takes place at Drummany Spirit, Milltown, Cavan, Ireland on the 4rd to 5th August 2024. Our festival is run by our small community group, Drummany Spirit, is family and child friendly and is alcohol and drug free. This boutique festival features a large lineup of live music, plus a large array of holistic events and practices including sweat lodges, yoga classes, movement meditation (ecstatic dance), pranayama/breathwork, meditation; plus alternative healing and therapies, crafts, art, drumming circles and talks by leading authorities on personal and spiritual growth, sustainability, conscious living, and healing.

We are set on beautiful sacred land overlooking Lough Oughter in Cavan. Drummany Spirit is a community group which hosts the festival each year. 2024 is our third year running the festival and it's been a major success so far with new friends from across Ireland and abroad attending. You can see the festival lineup here, see photos from previous years here and you can get tickets here (note: the festival has very limited capacity and is almost sold out) .

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