As autumn takes hold and the darker evenings draw in, let this fantastic line-up of festivals brighten your days and nights. Whether your passion’s music, theatre, dance, film, comedy or experiencing something new, there’s a feast of festivals to be enjoyed throughout Belfast this autumn.
14 – 15 September, Botanic Gardens
Celebrate the changing season and crisping leaves with a weekend of fabulous food, flowers and family fun at Botanic Gardens! Includes live music, a variety of food and craft stalls, children’s activities and award-winning blooms and exhibits.
European Heritage Open Day
14 – 15 September, various locations
See behind closed doors and enjoy free entry to some of Belfast’s most famous heritage landmarks during this year’s European Heritage Open Day Weekend! With over 300 properties and events open free of charge during the weekend of 14 – 15 September, many of which do not usually open to the public, enjoy the variety of historic environment on offer.
20 – 21 September, Cathedral Quarter
The biggest date in Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar, Culture Night Belfast, returns for its 11th year on the 20 and 21 September. For the first time ever, there will be two days of free, family-friendly events across the city centre and beyond. Over 200 gigs, talks, tours, walks, activities, screenings, workshops, children’s events and more.
Belfast International Arts Festival
15 October – 3 November, various locations
Bringing an eclectic fusion of cutting edge performances to Belfast with world class theatre, dance, visual art, music, film, literature and talks. With over 200 events to choose from over 20 days, the 57th edition promises to stretch minds, challenge perceptions, and surprise and delight audiences. Highlights include the explosively energetic To Da Bone; the wonderfully quirky 100 Keyboards; the exquisitely Beckett flavoured Real Magic; the beautifully captivating La Spire; Oscar-award winning Glen Hansard; the spectacularly immersive Median; pulsing Afro-Cuban beats with La Dame Blanche and much more.
Armagh Food and Cider Festival
19 – 22 September, various locations in Armagh
Famed for its spectacular food quality, top-notch artisan ciders and an agile band of inventive, enthusiastic chefs, Armagh Food and Cider Festival promises to highlight this region’s reputation for outstanding food quality, unique events and distinctive experiences. A mouth-watering experience not to be missed!
20 September – 3 October, various locations
FIX is an internationally renowned biennial of live art, delivering an innovative programme of local and international live, sonic and performance artists to the city of Belfast. This year’s festival will run from Culture Night on 20 September to Late Night Art on 3 October, with what will be a programme full of exciting new work with a mix of established, emerging, local and international artists, utilising different media and approaches to performance.
20 September – 6 October, various locations
The Aspects Irish Literature Festival returns to Bangor for its 28th year. Choose from over 40 events on this year’s programme celebrating historic writing, poetry, crime-fiction, writing workshops, children’s events, politics, memoir, journalism, script-writing, short stories and exhibitions.
Cinemagic International Film & Television Festival
1 October – 3 November, various locations
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cinemagic’s festival for young people returns with an action-packed film programme showcasing the very best of world cinema. Expect big studio previews, director talks, boot camp masterclasses and fun-filled family film events; as well as the annual CineSeeker’s and CineFocus film juries offering you the chance to become movie reviewers and choose the winning films of the festival.
Armagh Georgian Festival
27 November – 1 December, Armagh City Centre
Armagh’s ancient streets will buzz with Georgian costumed figures, street entertainment and festive market stalls, hosted by offering locally produced, artisan food and drink. Celebrations include a themed children’s Christmas market, horse and carriage rides along the stunning Mall, live music, talks and tours. As darkness falls, A Christmas Cracker light show bursts to life, illuminating the backdrop of the Georgian Market House and creating a festive atmosphere with seasonal music.
CS Lewis Festival
22 – 26 November, various locations
Celebrating the life and works of the renowned east Belfast-born writer the festival gives everyone the opportunity to engage with Lewis and his legacy in Belfast.
Belfast Halloween Monster Mash
27 October, Titanic Slipways
Come along for a spooktactular evening of fangtastic family fun as the Halloween Monster Mash returns to Belfast! With hauntingly good live music, creepy street theatre, wicked workshops and much more, this eerily good event is perfect for the whole family!
Fleadh Feirste: The Gaeltacht Quarter Festival
4 – 8 November, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
A vibrant cultural festival celebrating Belfast’s heritage as Ireland’s leading Irish language city. Enjoy traditional music, art exhibitions, poetry events and activities for children. Highlights include the phenomenal musical experience that is Dáimh, Aisling Óg’s Christmas show, renowned Super Céilí, Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company’s new drama Is Iomaí Rud a Tharla – The Story of the Irish Houses and the switching on of the Christmas lights.
Outburst Arts Festival
7 – 16 November, various locations
Outburst is Northern Ireland’s annual queer arts festival. It features 10 days of theatre, film, music, literature, visual art, discussion and debate from both local and international LGBT artists and performers.
Belfast Christmas Lights Switch On
16 November, Belfast City Hall
The Lord Mayor and Councillor John Finucane will be joined by special guests to help push the big button and switch on Belfast’s magnificent Christmas tree lights! As you wait, the stage will come alive with festive entertainment, including sing along carol singing, Christmas magic and plenty more musical fun before the big countdown!
Belfast Christmas Market
From 16 November, Belfast City Hall
Belfast’s famous Christmas market returns, bringing its infectious festive atmosphere and delicious international foods. Warm yourself with fresh crepes or bratwurst, or enjoy a drink in the beer tents before browsing a huge selection of artisan and handmade gifts. Kids can visit Santa and enjoy festive amusements.