It’s a marvellous time for a Moondance Festival

Orchestre des Réfugiés et Amis will be performing this weekend Orchestre des Réfugiés et Amis will be performing this weekend
By Ciara Quinn

Appalachian bluegrass, Argentinian Tango, a street ceilidh, and a pop-up orchestra of refugees and asylum seekers – just some of the highlights of Moondance Roots Festival at Bank Square in Belfast on September 30 and October 1.

Folktown, Belfast’s emerging cultural quarter, is hosting its second global Folk and Roots Festival with support from the Department for Communities. The renamed Moondance Roots Festival will feature the Broken String Band, which plays high energy Appalachian mountain music, while ‘Bal Feirste’ is kicking off the party on the square on Saturday with French folk music and dance. Everybody can join in at this free event.

And the Orchestre Des Réfugiés et Amis, a group of musicians formed by Beyond Skin and facilitated by musician and human rights campaigner Joby Fox, will also perform at this family friendly festival which features acoustic roots music, story-telling, artisan food and craft beer.

It is not a traditional orchestra but a space where musicians from other parts of the world work together, collaborate and perform. It was created by Beyond Skin and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Intercultural Arts Programme. Joby, director of Folktown CIC says, “The orchestra is a symbol of the type of changing city that we live in and that Moondance Roots Festival is seeking to reflect.”

He went on: “At Folktown we seek to create a place for everybody, where we can flourish, live and learn through culture, music, art, food and from each other. The Orchestre Des Réfugiés et Amis reflects a vital and vibrant part of our society and we want to celebrate their talent in this friendly and inclusive festival.”

Joby, who once opened for music legend Van Morrison as bass player of the band Energy Orchard, says the title Moondance was not named after the East Belfast troubadour’s famous song and album.

He added: “The festival is taking place during early autumn, a few days after the September Equinox when the days and nights are the same length while October 1 just happens to coincide with a new moon so we thought Moondance was the perfect name to celebrate the changing of the seasons and a new start for Belfast.”

Moondance will also feature discussions about the future of Belfast City Centre, and the Folktown area and its vital role in stitching the city back together post-Troubles. One of Belfast’s leading writers Martin Lynch will host a storytelling event with key people from in and around the Folktown area. The aim of these events is to showcase unique and historic part of Belfast.

Folktown CIC was set up to regenerate and revitalise the Bank Street, Berry Street, King Street and Castle Street area of the city. As well as its weekly Thursday and Friday evening markets it has created a number of other great initiatives including a story-telling festival, an oral history project and new public artwork.

To find out more about Moondance and other Folktown events, check out or contact Sophie Rasmussen: