Féile an Earraigh 2023 was launched on Tuesday, February 21 in Áras Uí Chonghaile, the James Connolly Visitor Centre on the Falls Road in Belfast.
Belfast's spring festival is the first in the organizers' series of events and Festivals in 2023, which also sees Féile an Phobail mark its 35th anniversary.
Féile an Éarraigh 2023 launching now at @JamesConnollyVC
300 events over 19 days from 1-19 March including over 100 free traditional music sessions! pic.twitter.com/bcXBxpSu70— Féile an Phobail (@FeileBelfast) February 21, 2023
Speakers on Tuesday included Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black and Arts Council NI Chairperson Liam Hannaway.
Féile an Phobail Director Kevin Gamble spoke at the launch event and gave a taste of what Féile an Earraigh has to offer, with more than 300 events taking place this March.
Gamble said: "Féile an Earraigh is programmed to coincide with the celebration of our patron saint, St Patrick. This year’s Féile an Earraigh delivers a wonderful mix of traditional music, concerts, talks, tours, exhibitions, family events, International Women’s Day events, and St. Patrick’s Day-related arts and cultural events.
"At Féile an Earraigh, it’s not just about the tunes, it’s also about the warm and welcoming atmosphere that awaits locals and visitors alike.
“Féile an Earraigh, and specifically our Traditional Music Trail across the City, forms part of a wider series of fantastic events organized in partnership with Belfast City Council for the week leading into and including St. Patricks Day.
“We are delighted this year to partner once again with Conradh na Gaeilge, and to be involved with the all-island initiative Seachtain na Gaeilge. As well as a massive day of fun, music, culture, language, and family activity in Custom House Square on Saturday the 4th March, we have an abundance of social and cultural events to showcase in partnership with the Irish Language community in the City.
“Some of the highlights of this March’s Spring festival include the Féile Trad Trail with over 100 free live Irish traditional music sessions at venues across west Belfast, in Belfast city centre, and in venues in East and North Belfast.
Féile Trad Trail traditional musicians pictured at todays Féile an Earraigh launch at @JamesConnollyVC.
Over 100 free Irish traditional music sessions will take place at over 40 locations across Belfast from 1-19 March! 🎻 pic.twitter.com/iFrRfj9U4h— Féile an Phobail (@FeileBelfast) February 21, 2023
"On Friday 3rd March, the incredible John Spillane will play to a sold-out concert at Áras Uí Chonghaile. John Spillane encapsulates Irish traditional music in its contemporary form - a reflection of Ireland today.
“We have a massive concert in The Devenish on Sunday 5th March, with the Fairytale of New York Pogues tribute night with The Rapparees. Tickets are available for only £12 from Ticketmaster.ie. This will be a sell-out so get your tickets sorted now!
“On International Women’s Day [8th March], we have a free Irish traditional music session in 2RA on Royal Avenue in Belfast city centre, beside Primark, with an all-female line up of traditional musicians.
"The famous International Day and Food Fayre will take place on Wednesday 15th March at 12pm in the Conway Mill Atrium, showcasing food from across the world and with fantastic international live music.
“On St. Patrick’s Day, the Craic 10k will take place from Belfast City Hall. Thousands take part in this huge event which is now in its 9th year, and you should get registered now and get yourself ready for this great event.
“The full event programme is now available to view on feilebelfast.com."
Gamble added: “Féile is a powerful advertisement for the incredible, talented, and creative community that is west Belfast and this year’s Féile an Earraigh is going to be the biggest yet.
“It is fantastic to see so many local musicians, community groups, Irish language groups, youth groups and businesses taking part and making a great effort to keep building on the tremendous success of last year’s Féile."
Belfast Mayor Tina Black also spoke at the launch: “We are thrilled to be supporting Féile an Phobail’s Féile an Éarraigh festival once again this year.
“As a UNESCO city of music, we are of such a vast array of music genres. Our Irish traditional offering is a key part of the city’s musical heritage and this festival, which has grown from a grassroots and community level, embraces that heritage.
“This year’s Féile an Éarraigh brings us an impressive, diverse line-up of high-quality live events right across the city, animating Belfast in the lead up to, and during, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“Gach rath oraibh to the entire Féile an Éarraigh team, and wishing everyone a wonderful spring festival.”