Belfast International Arts Festival announces early highlights

Jenny Lee


FIQ! by Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger brings a whirlwind of acrobatics to the Belfast International Arts Festival

Marc Almond, The Waterboys, Cara Dillon and Moroccan contemporary circus show FIQ! are some of the early acts revealed for this autumn's Belfast International Arts Festival.

Fresh from its milestone 60th year celebrations, the festival is now at the dawn of a new decade of world-class arts programming with a host of events planned from October 12 to November 5.

For the first time, will open simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic as The Vanishing Elephant, a new collaboration between the festival and Cahoots NI, opens at the New Victory Theater on Broadway, New York before returning home to Belfast in October 2024.

In the first of a trio of events at Belfast’s Grand Opera House, the venue will host An Evening with Marc Almond and The Belfast Ensemble on October 17.

The special two-part event will see the ensemble joined by Canadian soprano Rebecca Caine in the first half to perform music from the award-winning Abomination: A DUP Opera, and international pop icon Marc Almond in the second as he performs the multi-award-winning song cycle TEN PLAGUES in an intense one-man tour de force that’s not to be missed.


The following evening, October 18, much-loved folk artist Cara Dillon will take to the stage to perform songs from her new album Coming Home, accompanied by original music written by Sam Lakeman.

On October 20 and 21, an otherworldly collection of acrobatic feats, figures, music, sketches and choreography exploding in a colourful visual world created by Hassan Hajjaj graces the stage.

FIQ! by Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger is a contemporary circus show for all the family, built of modern, tumbling alchemy, set to sounds by DJ Dino and fiery rap, all with a Moroccan touch.

Meanwhile, on October 28 at the Ulster Hall, veteran folk rockers, The Waterboys, make their awaited return to Belfast following the release of Mike Scott and company’s 15th studio album, All Souls Hill, last year.


Folk-rock veterans The Waterboys are set to take their shapeshifting brand of music-making to Belfast's Ulster Hall


Belfast International Arts Festival’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Richard Wakely, said: “As we emerge from our momentous 60th year, these signature events kickstart a new decade for our festival, setting out as we mean to go on with a true celebration of international artistic talent.

“They sustain that momentum, offering Belfast audiences a unique blend of contemporary arts and culture from the Middle East and North Africa complemented by homegrown musicians from across these islands. The events also throw forward to this year’s festival as they reflect the artistic diversity of our autumn programme which we look forward to sharing with the public in August.”

Tickets for all of this year’s early bird events will be available from Monday June 5 at