When you mention summer festivals in Northern Ireland, Belsonic and Tennent’s Vital tend to hog the limelight but there’s a host of other great festivals taking place this July and August which are flying below the radar.
We’ve picked out some of the best upcoming summer festivals you might have overlooked.
Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady, August 12 & 13
Badly Drawn Boy, Therapy?, Hayseed Dixies, DJ Yoda and Lynched are the big name acts at this year’s Stendhal Festival.
The festival is brought to you by 70+ volunteers who are committed to bringing you a high value experience that competes with the best of weekends at a friendly and artistic escape in the beautiful Roe Valley.
Stendhal has won Best Small Festival for the past three years at the Irish Festival Awards.
Glenarm Castle, July 16 & 17
Belfast’s unique cycle tour company Wee Toast Tours, owned by Ron and Jennifer Kenna from Minneapolis, hosted an Independence Day party with a difference to introduce Dalriada Festival to the people of Belfast.
Ireland’s leading tributes to American singers Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond and Carrie Underwood entertained people in the streets of Belfast, to give a taster of their ‘Dolly’s Rockin’ Country Club’ gig, as part of Dalriada Festival’s ‘Rock the Castle’ concert on July 17.
Other events taking place at the family friendly festival include live wrestling, a special screening of The Goonies, a headline appearance from Andrew Strong of Commitments fame and an appearance from some of the characters from Paw Patrol.
Eastside Arts Festival
East Belfast, August 10-21
This year the festival programme is packed with 100 events which will be taking place in more than 40 venues across east Belfast as well as in the city centre.
From music, comedy, movies, theatre, talks, workshops, visual art, exhibitions, poetry, events for the young and old, community events and heritage tours plus over 50 free events – there really is something to inspire everyone this year.
Among this year’s musical highlights are two headline concerts which will be staged in the stunning setting of St Patrick’s Church, Ballymacarrett. Be enchanted with the beautiful atmospheric vocals of Anúna or spend an evening in the company of musician and headmaster of rock, Nick Lowe.
Check out east Belfast’s award-winning musician Kaz Hawkins, who will bring her band and entertain with their unique take on the blues, or renowned saxophonist Keith Donald who is bringing his fantastic one-man drama to the Belvoir Players Studio, tracing his life in music.
For younger audiences there’s the Ossia Music Rock School followed by a youth gig featuring East Belfast indie rock band, The Late Twos. The fantastic Woodstock Rhythm & Blues Festival opens proceedings this year, bigger and better than ever, with six days of music in venues across the east and city centre, featuring the sounds of artists such as Amanda St John, Anthony Toner, Ken Haddock, Ronnie Greer and Rab McCullough – to name but a few.
Belfast Film Festival Outdoor Picnic Screenings
Crescent Park, Belfast, August 16-17
This summer Belfast Film Festival present classic cinema in the great outdoors! Bring your own picnic and seating (rugs or camping chairs) and simply enjoy.
The four films they’ll be showing are Grease, Dirty Dancing, Sound Of Music Singalong and Life Of Brian.
For more information visit belfastfilmfestival.org
Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, August 5-7
Sunflowerfest will play host to over 150 acts across six stages with live music, DJs, comedy, poetry, and theatre.
Confirmed acts include The Strypes, Le Galaxie, King Kong Company, Emerald Armada and Trucker Diablo.
Alongside the announced acts there will be live art and sculpture, a range of talks and workshops, media installations lots of family activities, silent disco and the ‘Bliss’ well-being area.
There will be a regular shuttle bus leaving from Glengal Street outside Europa Bus Centre in Belfast City Centre and outside McDonalds at Sprucefield Shopping Centre to and from the festival. For tickets and more details about the festival go to sunflowerfest.co.uk.
The Demesne, Moira, September 10
The festival will be headlined by Dublin duo Hudson Taylor and it’s hoped audiences will travel from all across NI and beyond to soak up the vibrant atmosphere and sample a superb range of independent music, food and drink.
There will be 14 acts performing across two stages throughout the day – a selection of the best singer songwriters and bands have been hand-picked to perform at Moira Calling to reflect the ethos of the festival organisers, Brown Lemonade Ltd.
Also on the bill are David C Clements, Ports, New Portals, Aborist and Exmagician.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.ie or at selected outlets. Full details of outlets and information can be found at moiracalling.com or on the facebook page facebook.com/moiracalling
Castlewellan, July 13-17
Now in its fourth year, the festival is supported by Northern Ireland Tourism, Newry Mourne and Down District Council, Food NI and the Arts Council, and features a wide range of concerts, workshops, literary events and food tours.
There will also be a dedicated area on Saturday and Sunday which focuses on health, wellbeing and creativity. SOMA Body & Soul, organised by Tessa Greer, is a unique event offering the perfect opportunity for people and families to try something new, with activities including therapies such as Indian Head Massage, Meditation and Mindfulness, Aromatherapy, Baby Massage, Bowen Therapy and Reflexology. As well as exhibitors, workshops and talks, taster sessions for complementary therapies and full treatments will be available from the information stands. Also available this Body & Soul weekend will be Angel and Tarot Card Readings, Palmistry and Astrology readings.