Van the Man to serve up hits from past at Europa supper club during Festival

From Mexico to Belfast: Festival fans promised 2012 treat

By Paul Ainsworth

THE 50th Belfast Festival at Queen’s is set to feature a wide range of arts and music from across the globe, and also closer to home. The festival, focused mainly on South Belfast but with events taking place across the city, will be celebrating its half-century when it kicks off in October, and organisers recently revealed details of the line-up, which includes the Grammy Award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Belfast’s own Van Morrison.

This year also sees the return of festival founder Michael Emerson, who is visiting from his home in Mexico to see how the event, which began as a small campus-based festival in 1962, has grown into one of Northern Ireland’s leading cultural attractions. He brings with him a Mexican theme which will be illustrated throughout the line-up, and will include a performance from his wife, flautist Elna Duran, and one of the most distinguished groups in Mexican music today, Pate de Fua.

Along with the Caribbean vibe, which includes Cuban music phenomenon Buena Vista Social Club, East Belfast boy-done-good Van Morrison will bring a more intimate feel to his latest festival appearances.

Van-the-man will be hosting a number of ‘Supper Clubs’ in the Europa Hotel, where audiences will get up-close-and-personal with one of the greatest musical icons of the past fifty years.

Of course, festival events for children and young people will once again be included in the schedule, with the return of the Enchanted Garden to Botanic Gardens, while a ‘Comedy 4 Kids’ show will be arriving in town, which has been a hit over six years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Festival Director Shan McAnena said: “It’s a really exciting line-up this year and this first release of shows should whet the appetite for what is to come. Our vision this year is to celebrate the past but also to deliver new experiences encouraging new audiences to ‘get in on the act’. We want to engage, excite, inspire and even provoke audiences with an eclectic mix of performances. It will be a great celebration of culture for everyone to be part of.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of Arts Council and the Festival’s principal public funder added: “As always the range of local and international talent that will be on offer throughout the Festival is as tantalising as anywhere else on the island of Ireland. It’s a great platform for local acts to show what they can do in the company of top international performers, and it’s a unique opportunity for audiences to see major acts which come to Northern Ireland on the strength of the Festival’s reputation.”

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