Northern Ireland

Dancing and singing on the Titanic slipways as trad fest comes to a close

Céilí takes place at Titanic Quarter on Sunday as Belfast Tradfest ends
Céilí takes place at Titanic Quarter on Sunday as Belfast Tradfest ends

There will be dancing and singing down by the Titanic Slipways this Sunday as the week-long Belfast Tradfest comes to a close.

Organisers of the festival of music and song are working towards hosting the biggest Céilí in the world - but not this year.

It is planned to shoot for the Guinness World Record for the world's biggest ceili in 2026, hopefully in tandem with the hosting that year's Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. 

This year's seven-day festival ends on Sunday as many of those who have played over the week gather for the finale at the city's Titanic Slipways.

Sessions continue in other parts of the city during the afternoon and evening, at The Reporter, Madden's, the Deer's Head and Morning Star. 

The outdoor Céilí will include sets led by Ronan Eastwood, with The Waves of Tory and Siege of Ennis featuring.  

The event runs from 1pm-5pm, clashing in part with the All-Ireland Football Final.

Among those taking the stage are The Blackwater Céilí Band, Niall Hanna, Ciara Fox, Belfast Wren Boys, Cleamairí Feirste, Ards CCÉ, Drumlough Pipe Band and Glengormley School of Traditional Music.  

Four Men and a Dog
Four Men and a Dog

There will also be bodhrán circles, children’s maritime art workshops, face painters and a live five hour traditional music session on the deck of the SS Nomadic.

Dónal O’Connor, Belfast TradFest artistic director, said the festival has showcased "some of the best music these islands have to offer".

"Our finale weekend is filled with fantastic  events, not to be missed. We are very excited to be working, once again, with the team at Maritime Belfast Trust to bring the Titanic Céilí back to the Maritime Mile," he said.

"What a wonderful place and space for this event. Our finale weekend programme is filled with extraordinary music and performances and will be a very special way to close this year’s festival.”

Maeve Moreland, of the Maritime Belfast Trust, sponsors of the event, added: "We are delighted to be sponsoring Belfast TradFest’s Titanic Céilí for a second year running.

"The Céilí is a great way to spend the afternoon along the Maritime Mile dancing on the historic Slipways.”

Among the acts playing this year's festival was The Ollam, described as the trans-Atlantic folk supergroup.

They played on Friday at the Mandela Hall at Queen's University, with Clare Sands.

Four Men and a Dog play on Saturday afternoon, also at the Mandela Hall while Scottish singer Kathleen MacInnes and multi-instrumentalist Mike Vass join the Highlands band Elephant Sessions in the evening.

The Elephant Sessions
The Elephant Sessions

Belfast TradFest started in 2015 as the Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music.

Up until 2018 it provided a five-day summer school with world class musicians, including concerts, sessions, céilís, talks, master classes and free events. It rebranded as Belfast TradFest in 2019 as a seven-day festival.