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Belfast Book Festival 2016


Now a firm fixture on the literary circuit, the Belfast Book Festival is getting ready to ‘open-up’ its unique and magical experience in venues across the City from 9 -19 June. With over 100 live events and workshops the festival will feature a wide range of writers, authors, poets, critics, musicians, films and film makers, activists, artists and actors from home and abroad. Run by the Crescent Arts Centre and funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council, the Belfast Book Festival offers yet another incredible programme for all ages and tastes with an aim to adhere to the ethos that books and authors matter and should be cherished.

Notable highlights for this year include; The Jam’s drummer Rick Buckler who will discuss his book That’s Entertainment: My Life in the Jam at The Black Box, John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) joins Nuala McKeever at Crescent Arts Centre to discuss his life in show business as well as his books Being Boycie and Reggie: A Stag at Bay; Award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch will discuss his memoir Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists at Crescent Arts Centre; Financial and economics expert Paul Mason will be in conversation with Martina Devlin about the state of the world economy, Brexit and much more; Leading contemporary novelist Dame Fiona Kidman talks to Cathy Brown about her book on the 1930s aviator icon aka ‘Garbo of the Skies’ Jean Batten; Award winning Kate Tempest talks to Jan Carson about her debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses and  maverick film-maker Alex Cox will discuss his book for aspiring filmmakers at Crescent Arts Centre.

The Belfast Book Festival is also proud to present a range of book launches during the festival this year.  Author George Larmour’s They Killed The Ice-Cream Man explores the brutal murder of his brother in 1988; Christine Hamill’s The Best Medicine is another emotional rollercoaster of a story from the writer of B is for Breast Cancer and R.B.Kelly will launch her Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Competition 2014 winning book The Edge of Heaven.

Poetry lovers will be in their element with the wide choice of events available. Red Pill presents award winning poet trail blazers Abby Oliveira, Erin Fornoff and Alice McCullough at Crescent Arts Centre; Templar Poet (I&II) with Dawn Wood, Tom Weir, Oliver Comins and Maggie O’Dwyer.  Over at The Sunflower Bar The Lifeboat with Sarah Howe, Kayo Chingonyi and Cal Doyle; Take a poetry tour of Ireland with Kevin Quinn; hear Three Voices from award winning poets Eleanor Hooker, Mel McMahon and Trevor Conway; and not forgetting the ‘open mic’ of the Festival Poetry Slam.

The festival will provide the opportunity to open up interesting topics and debates; Rebecca De Saintonge’s One Yellow Door explores the conflicting emotions of infidelity where one partner is severely disabled. Human rights activist Hyeonseo Lee will discuss her memoirs and her work on human rights as well as refugee issues. 93 year old Harry Leslie Smith will bring his unique perspective on the NHS cutbacks, benefits, political corruption and much more with Harry’s Last Stand. Join author of The Activist Alec Connon and local activist Tanya Jones as they discuss the role that activism can play in a healthy democracy.

If music, film and sport is an interest then you might like to consider some of these great events. Up By The Roots featuring the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award shortlisted Fidelio Trio, poet  Sinead Morrissey and composer Piers Hellawell present their collaborative works; Musical Truth by Mark Devlin which explores the darker side of the music industry; Take a music, film and narrative journey in reflections of WWI a musical journey with four time All Ireland Fiddle Champion Tracey McRory. Football fans will enjoy Evan Marshall’s Spirit of ‘58 which tells the story of how Northern Ireland football came of age that year, whilst petrol heads fans will enjoy Liam Beckett’s Full Throttle which explores his partnership with Robert Dunlop. Film buffs should check out ‘Ireland’s Orwell’ Hubert Butler Witness to the Future a film by Johnny Gogan with post show talk.

As ever children and young people play an important part of Belfast Book Festival. With this in mind the programme features a wide range of educational workshops and community outreach activities.  These include; Young Scribblers with Sharon Dempsey; silk screen printing with Kat St Angelo; and Stuart Reid will be talking Books, Bums, Bogies and Big Bottom Burps plus loads more. Also this year, and supported by Belfast City Council, is the annual Family Fun Day with a  Mad Hatters Tea Party Theme and featuring the Fine and Dandy Market. There will be something for children of all ages from storytelling, food and drink, entertainment, art workshops, a range of children’s author and of course – loads and loads of books.  Best of all, like most of the family events - it’s FREE! 

Deepa Mann-Kler, Chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, commented:
“ Yet again Belfast Book Festival has produced a fantastic programme for all tastes, ages and genres. As ever we are very grateful to our key funders Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and our key sponsors Standard Utilities, Nicholson Bass and Europa Hotel. Our programme this year focuses on the ethos that books and authors matter and should be cherished. With the support of all our funders and sponsors they have not only helped us to realise this but have helped us to create and ‘open-up’ a magical and engaging programme.  We look forward to welcoming everyone to the festival and it’s unique atmosphere.”

Head of Literature and Drama at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Damian Smyth, said:

"The Belfast Book Festival opens up the incredible worlds of literature and the imagination by allowing the best international and local writers to present their work to audiences in the most intimate and personable of settings. The Arts Council’s support as principal funder reflects of our confidence in this festival to extend the appeal of all literary genres so that everyone, from the most tentative to the most seasoned of readers, has the opportunity to experience the full and inimitable pleasure of books."

Festival Director, Keith Acheson, added:

“Every year the Belfast Book Festival provides an opportunity for authors, poets and performers, both international and local to showcase their work.  Yet again we reveal another packed programme of events which we hope will appeal to everyone - no matter what age or level of interest in literature. Whilst we are delighted to welcome returning supporters we are keen to open up to those who have never participated in our festival before and encourage them to join us in trying something new.  There really is something for everyone – all ages, all tastes – so pick up a programme and make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to join us."

For further details on the Belfast Book Festival including the full festival programme visit or follow on facebook – Belfastbookfestival or twitter @belfastbookfest #belfastbook.