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Free trad gigs to enjoy as excitement builds in the run-up to to Sunday's Gradam TG4 event

THE FRIEL SISTERS: With a new album out and appearances at Gradam TG4, the Glasgow-born traditional musicians are on the crest of a wave.
Robert McMillen

Trad fans are in for a treat as a range of special, free events take place across the city in the run up to TG4’s traditional Irish music awards, Gradam Ceoil at the Belfast Waterfront this Sunday, 4th February. 

Developed in association with Belfast City Council, the free trad events, billed as a ‘fringe festival’, include highlights such as: a special Belfast Trad Trail guided by professional musicians, taking in iconic landmarks and venues, alongside performances of traditional tunes, songs and stories; a session with Young Musician of the Year, Clare Friel and the formidable Friel Sisters and friends at The Hilton, Belfast; a recital in An Droichead Arts Centre featuring from some of the brightest local stars trad stars; and a traditional music session to set the scene on Sunday morning in St. George’s Market.

Gradam Ceoil celebrates the talent and achievements of musicians from Ireland and across the world. The live concert and awards ceremony takes place at the Belfast Waterfront this Sunday (4 February) and will be broadcast live on TG4 at 9.30pm.

This is the first time in its 21-year history that the prestigious live concert and awards show will take place in Ulster. The recipients, who represent world-class traditional music talent, will take to the stage to perform alongside a top bill of well-known faces for what will be a truly unforgettable show.

For further information on all of the free events taking place across Belfast on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th, visit gradam.ie.

Tickets for TG4’s Gradam Ceoil Awards 2018 are available from  www.waterfront.co.uk or by phone on 028 9033 4455, priced £25 (£22 for concessions).  To find out more, visit www.gradam.ie or connect with Gradam Ceoil on Facebook, facebook.com/gradamceoil or Twitter, @GradamCeoil or search the #Gradam hashtag.

The full series of the free trad events taking place across Belfast on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th February are:

Saturday

Janet Harbison – Recital and Performance - a history of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, Linenhall Library, Belfast, 12.30pm.

Acclaimed harpist Janet Harbinson and members of Belfast Harp Orchestra at Linenhall Library, who will showcase how their iconic organisation was instrumental in bringing together traditional musicians from both sides of the border.

idí Ó Lionaird in conversation with Gradam Ceoil Award Sculptor John Coll, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, 2.00pm.

Award sculpture John Coll will take to the stage in West Belfast’s Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich to talk about the creative process behind this year’s awards.

Belfast Trad TrailThe Dirty Onion, 4pm

Professional musicians will guide attendees through cobbled alleyways, past famous landmarks and on to some of Belfast’s best-known trad venues for performances of traditional tunes, songs and stories. (Free but ticketed. To book your space, visit belfasttradtrail.com or at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre.

Launch: TG4 Gradam Ceoil Archive 1996 – 2018 with the ITMA & TG4The Hilton Hotel 8.00pm followed by Trad Session (Friel Sisters and friends) at 9pm

This year’s Young Musician of the Year, Clare Friel and the fantastic Friel Sisters and friends will perform a trad session at the Hilton Hotel for the launch of an exciting new collaboration between the ITMA - the national public reference archive and resource centre for the traditional song, instrumental music and dance of Ireland - and TG4.

Oíche Airneáil at Cumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain will play host to a long list of popular traditional music acts, includingMairéad Ni Mhaonaigh (Na Mooneys, Altan).

Sunday

Youth Concert, An Droichead Arts Centre, 12.00pm

Sunday’s highlights include a recital in An Droichead Arts Centre featuring from some of the brightest local stars in the traditional music industry.

Traditional Music at St. George’s Market, St. George’s Market, 11.00am

Get in the mood as the big Gradam Ceoil Show draws nearer with a live traditional Irish music performance from guest musicians in St George’s Market between 11am-12pm.

Great Highland Bagpiping, Ulster Scots Centre, 3.00pm

Enjoy an illustrated lecture from renowned piper Harry Stevenson in the Ulster Scots Centre.

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