AVA Festival debuted in Belfast last year and made ripples on the electronic music arts scene, harnessing a melting pot of homegrown talent with a few international kings thrown in as well.

Fast forward to March 2016 and with more than half of the tickets sold out for the all day event on June 4 in Belfast’s T13, it’s clearly an indication of something special, something desired, something stellar.

Caroline Davis caught up with Founder of AVA Festival, Sarah McBriar…


“AVA stands for Audio Visual Arts,” Sarah explained. ‘”I felt that Belfast was lacking a festivalthat brought together electronic music, visual arts and talent… it was one of the reasons why I wanted to create such an event.

“I remember my first Glastonbury experience, which was about eight years ago now, and I have gone back to it every year ever since…It was this experience plus working at Glastonbury two years ago, and completing an MA in Creative Producing that spurred me on. It is something I have wanted to do for a good few years.”

Sarah’s passion and enthusiasm for AVA is paramount, she strongly believes in the event, her team and in the people that surround her to make this event possible and successful. It’s completely refreshing to hear.

“It’s about surrounding yourself with people who feel as strongly about this as you do, everyone who I work with on this are the best and they just want to put on a good show,” she said. “It’s irrespective of backgrounds and anything else, it’s about having people who care and believe in what it is all about it as much as I do.”

AVA begins with a free daytime conference that offers workshops, seminars and talks from DJs/Producers and those working within the industry. The event does equally exhibit visual artists, established artists and emerging talent. If you are an unknown artist you are able to submit your work and have the opportunity to become recognized while the industries’ heavyweights are watching and listening through the emerging Producer & DJ competition – see avafestival.com for more details

It’s the perfect package for the electronic arts scene, much needed in Belfast. There are no other events offering a platform for this sophisticated subculture. The event will be covered and aired by Boiler Room stamping it with the international ‘seal of approval’.

Sarah was asked if she had to pick one act from AVA Festival in Belfast that she will not miss who would it be?

“Oooh there are too many,” she said. “Rødhåd is a debut for NI! Gerd Janson is one of my favourite DJs and I am excited to see Swoose & Cromby, Brame & Hamo, Jordan, Timmy… aaaa!  There really are too many to choose from. Bicep will also be debuting their live show, which is a first – people are flying in to see this.”

AVA 2016 Headliners

Sarah is sweet, ambitious and appears to have a natural aptitude for making this type of event a success. There is quite a lot of top tier talent booked and the significant factor is that a ticket only costs £30.

Sarah laughed when I mention this: “It’s pretty hard to make AVA happen and only chargen £30 a ticket for all of this but we love it and want to make it accessible.”

In keeping with making the festival accessible, AVA are also offering volunteers the chance to try their hand at helping out at the event.

Sarah has also just hosted AVA’s first international ‘X’ event in Mumbai, called ‘The Exchange X AVA’, which judging from the photographs went incredibly well – see the AVA Facebook page

“The plan is to run an ‘X’ series of events, where we take AVA and some of our artists to an international city and work with emerging and established talent.”


With more acts and information still to be announced for Belfast, we’re feeling lucky to have this brilliantly executed festival on our doorstep to kick off the summer.

Get your ticket from avafestival.com

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