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Belfast International Arts Festival

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(Redirected from Belfast Festival at Queen's)

Belfast International Arts Festival
GenreArts festival
Begins5 October 2022
Ends5 November 2022
Location(s)Belfast, Northern Ireland
Years active60

Belfast International Arts Festival, formerly known as Belfast Festival at Queen’s, claims to be the city’s longest running international arts event.[1]

Originally established in 1962, it was hosted by Queen’s University until 2015, after which a new independent organisation (a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity) was formed. The event covers theatre, dance, classical and roots music, visual, film and digital arts and literature accompanied by outreach and education events. It takes place every October in venues and locations across Belfast.


Held annually, usually in October/November, the festival was founded by student Michael Emmerson in 1962.[2] Emmerson was succeeded as Director by Michael Barnes.

From small beginnings the festival grew through the 1960s and 1970s, expanding to a two-week-long event. Performers during this time included Jimi Hendrix, Richard Stilgoe, Laurence Olivier, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly.[citation needed]

The festival is held at several venues across the city, including The MAC, Ulster Hall, the Naughton Gallery, the Queen's Film Theatre, the Brian Friel Theatre and the Whitla Hall at Queen's, as well as the Grand Opera House, the Waterfront Hall and An Chultúrlann arts centre.

Funding crisis[edit]

In January 2007, sufficient funding was not in place to ensure that the 2007 festival would go ahead, and the university launched a 'Save Belfast Festival' campaign, encouraging people to petition Maria Eagle MP, then minister responsible for cultural activities in Northern Ireland.[3] The campaign received support from the Belfast Telegraph and celebrities including Patrick Kielty.[4] On 16 February 2007 the Minister announced a £150,000 one-off payment to the Belfast Festival at Queen's, although the campaign to raise more funds continued throughout the year.[5] The university subsequently announced that the 2007 festival would go ahead, albeit on a reduced scale, but that work is still required to secure its long-term future.[6][7]



This funding came to an end in 2016 when the Ulster Bank announced its withdrawal from the funding of the much-diminished festival. [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2022 Festival". Belfast International Arts Festival. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  2. ^ Culture Northern Ireland. "The 1960s Revival". Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  3. ^ Patrick Clarke, Letters: Join campaign to help save Belfast Festival, Belfast Telegraph, 15 January 2007, accessed 16 January 2007
  4. ^ Star Kielty stands up for festival, Belfast Telegraph, 19 January 2007, accessed 3 March 2007
  5. ^ Festival remaining on life support, Belfast Telegraph, 19 January 2007, accessed 3 March 2007
  6. ^ Belfast Festival at Queen's to continue at least in 2007, Queen's University Belfast press release, 6 March 2007, accessed 10 March 2007
  7. ^ McCreary, Matthew (8 February 2008). "Festival future looks bright with £1m deal". The Belfast Telegraph. p. 3.
  8. ^ McCreary, Matthew (8 February 2008). "£1m 'new dawn' deal for Queen's Festival". The Belfast Telegraph. p. 1.
  9. ^ "Funding blow to Belfast arts festival". artsindustry.co.uk.

External links[edit]