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ICONS kick off festival with Belfast launch party

Sean Muldoon, one of the owners of the world's best bar the Dead Rabbit, pictured back home in Belfast yesterday for the ICONS Festival. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE "smartest, most enriching party" in Belfast officially kicked off yesterday as the 2015 World's Best Bar travelled to the city to kick off the ICONS Festival.

Café Vaudeville was taken over for the night by Belfast-natives Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon of New York's renowned Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog to host the launch party for the global event where, according to organisers, "the icons of today can come together to inspire the icons of tomorrow".

The four-day festival runs until Sunday in the Titanic Quarter and features a high level conference, careers carnival and music.

Among the icons attending are Public Enemy's Chuck D, Hollywood executive Bill Daly, 500 Startups investor Marvin Liao, Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud, Radio One DJ Phil Taggart and Northern Ireland internet singing sensation Emma Horan.

Last night, the Dead Rabbit - recently named the `world's best bar' - came home to Belfast, where owners Jack and Sean first worked together at The Merchant Hotel.

Among its 16 industry awards are World's Best Bar 2015, World's Best Cocktail Menu 2013/15 and World's Best Drink Selection 2013.

Jack McGarry said the VIP party was a "homecoming" for the bar.

"It's been an incredible few years for us, and to win the World's Best Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirit awards just tops the whole story off," he said.

"There's never been a better time to bring The Dead Rabbit experience home to Belfast."

As part of the ICONS Festival, Jack and Sean will feature on the Startup stage today to give a keynote speech on 'The Magic of Dreaming Big', sharing their story and expertise.

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