If you love music that’s vibrant, exciting and cutting edge – then Northern Ireland is the place to be. 2013 is an amazing year packed with great events, music experiences and gigs. So don’t miss out.
It’s all going down in Derry ~Londonderry, UK City of Culture 2013
Known as the ‘City of Song’ there’s never been a better time to check out the Walled City and its music scene. There is a huge line-up of top events as part of the City of Culture celebrations. It’s not just about the events either; experience the best of Derry’s live music, from impromptu traditional sessions to contemporary music at many great events across the city.
City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival, Derry~Londonderry
2 – 6 May
There are great jazz and electronic music festivals, not least the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival, which promises a jam-packed programme of some of the biggest stars and newest names on the jazz scene.
Radio 1′s Big Weekend, Ebrington Square & The Venue, Derry~Londonderry
24 – 26 May
The UK’s biggest free ticketed event returns to Northern Ireland with two huge days of big name acts including Two Door Cinema Club and Olly Murs and fresh new music plus a day focused on dance music.
Phil Coulter & Friends Live with the Ulster Orchestra, Ebrington Square
14 – 15 Jun
A one-off chance to hear the maestro Phil Coulter with the incredible Ulster Orchestra and very special guests.
Columba Canticles – Four Centuries of Song, Londonderry/Belfast
Columba Canticles weaves a dazzling tapestry of music and verse celebrating 400 years of Derry’s richly joyous, yet turbulent history. It features the choirs of the Universities of Ulster and Aberdeen combined with the London Southbank Sinfonia. 9 June, St Columb’s Cathedral, Londonderry and 10 June, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast
Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club ® featuring Omara Portuondo & Eliades Ochoa, Derry~Londonderry
An unmissable finale event as part of the ‘Music City!’ with the Derry~Londonderry debut of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.
Status Quo at The Venue 2013, Derry~Londonderry
Rock legends, Status Quo, return to the city to play a massive rock event.
Celtronic, Citywide, Derry~Londonderry
26 – 30 June
Celtronic is Ireland’s premier electronic music festival. The festival showcases the best in all forms of electronic music and will include a series of special events connecting electronic music worldwide.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Enjoy the debut of Elvis Costello & The Imposters.
All Ireland Pipe Band Championship, St. Columbs Park & Ebrington, Derry~Londonderry
This is a superb family day out watching the best pipe bands and drum majors in the world compete for the coveted title of All Ireland champions.
Walled City Music Festival, Citywide, Derry~Londonderry
19 – 28 Jul
Ten days of classical concerts by internationally renowned virtuoso musicians. The festival presents fresh innovative and exciting programmes from the world’s most exceptional musicians.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Derry~Londonderry
11 – 18 August
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is bringing the biggest festival of Irish culture in the world to the city in 2013.
The Walled City Tattoo, Derry~Londonderry
28 – 30 August
A 600-strong cast will use music, song, dance and theatre to create an unforgettable celebration of our colourful history.
City of Song Singer/Songwriter Festival, Derry~Londonderry
1 September – 31 October
The finest singer/songwriters from throughout Ireland, Britain and beyond will converge on the City of Song for a weekend celebration of all that is great about this much-loved genre.
Roctober Metal Fest, Various Locations Derry~Londonderry
30 September – 05 October
A festival of pure rock. Roctober Metal Fest will showcase the best of the city’s talent alongside national and international acts inspiring a new generation of rockmetal fans and musicians.
City of Derry International Choral Festival Citywide, Derry~Londonderry
24 – 27 October
A four-day celebration of choral activities involving some of the worlds most accomplished choirs who will compete for a prestigious locally-designed trophy.
Teenage Kicks – A Punk Musical, Millennium Forum
01 – 09 November
For old and new punks alike. A musical about teenage lust and love featuring classic songs from the punk era. Written by award-winning novelist and screenwriter Colin Bateman.
Northern Ireland’s Music Calendar
The fun doesn’t end here either, time your visit around one of our many other music festivals across Northern Ireland and you’ll find the best of music in some wonderful and unusual settings. There is a great line-up of musical treats throughout the year, no matter what genre you’re into.
Here’s a quick round-up of what’s on offer:
Annual International Guinness Blues on the Bay, Warrenpoint
23 – 27 May
Five days of blues and workshops over a bank holiday weekend, in the beautiful setting of Carlingford Lough.
15th Open House Festival, Various Venues, Belfast City centre
19 – 23 June
Five days of world class folk, Americana and traditional music concerts. The festival also includes a city pub trail of Bluegrass and Traditional Irish music sessions as well as many all-age gigs and family events.
Glasgowbury Music Festival 2013, Draperstown
19 – 20 July
Northern Ireland’s best music festival (NIMA Awards 2011) returns to its Eagle’s Rock home in Draperstown armed with an extra day’s entertainment. The two-day event will see the best in new, emerging and established home-grown talent from throughout Ireland combined for one small, but massive celebration.
Ulster Fleadh 2013, Dromore, County Tyrone
20 – 29 July
Irish traditional music, song, dance and language, ove rnine days with over 2,000 musicians and up to 25,000 visitors. A wonderful family-oriented, welcoming and vibrant festival.
Fiddler’s Green International Music Festival, Rostrevor
21 – 28 July
The best in Irish and international music, arts and culture. The festival caters for music fans, families and anyone looking to enjoy the scenery and friendly atmosphere.
7 Hills Blues Festival, Armagh City
8 – 11 August
A weekend of blues as some of the finest blues bands on the circuit take to the atmospheric streets of Armagh. Fringe events add an artistic and family-oriented buzz to the festival. A weekend not to be missed.
Tennents Vital, Belfast
This much loved outdoor festival is a must-see on the Northern Ireland music calendar. Kings of Leon will headline Tennent’s Vital on Wednesday 14th August. The Southern rockers are the first act to be announced for the 2013 festival, which returns to Boucher Road Playing Fields in Belfast this August. Details of a second date are to be unveiled.
Belsonic 2013, Belfast
16 – 26 August
BELSONIC returns to Belfast’s Custom House Square this August, delivering an eclectic range of world class musical artists. This year’s all-star cast of headline acts include Basement Jaxx, Ben Howard, The Lumineers, Jake Bugg, Suede, Steve Angello & Bullet For My Valentine & Bring Me The Horizon.
22nd Annual Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh
30 August – 1 September
There’ll be strumming on the porches of log cabins, dancing in the cobbled streets and jamming outside the General Store. With some of the biggest names in Bluegrass, stroll through the afternoon sessions or book tickets for an evening concert.
The Belfast Tattoo, Belfast
27 – 28 September
This spectacular event will celebrate the music and culture of the Ulster Scots with the Massed Pipe Bands, dancers, drummers and singers. A cast of hundreds of the finest musicians and a night of music and dance for all the family.
20th William Kennedy Piping Festival, Armagh City
14 – 17 November
An international piping festival based in Armagh which highlights the pipes, traditional music and song of Ireland, Scotland and many countries of the world – a true melting pot of world cultures. Concerts, workshops, recitals, lectures and plenty of free sessions and events for schools.
Top Music Experiences
It’s not just all about events either. There are some top experiences awaiting music fans all across Northern Ireland.
Belfast (Rock and Roll City)
It won’t take long to realise just how much this buzzing city prides itself on its rich musical heritage. Swing past the Oh Yeah Music Centre, a converted warehouse in the heart of city’s Cathedral Quarter and learn all about Belfast’s musical exports from Van Morrison and Snow Patrol to Ruby Murray. Budding musicians will love the performance space, rehearsal rooms, song writing room, exhibition and café to refuel.
Or if you prefer to learn on the move then the Belfast Music Tour is must. It’s another opportunity to explore Belfast’s musical memories, but this time, with a guided bus tour.
Prefer something more informal? Then you’ll love the live music on offer at one of the many iconic music venues throughout city – be sure to check out the Empire, Laverys, Duke of York, Black Box, Oh Yeah Centre, An Culturlann and perhaps one of the most iconic venues in Belfast, The Limelight which will has some great gigs coming up in 2013 including Irish band Kodaline, Azeaila Banks, Everything Everything and many more!
You can also go it alone with the Belfast Music iPhone application – a great way to explore Belfast’s musical history on foot at your leisure. Free to download the app is a font of information about music in Belfast and is narrated by recognised journalist and broadcaster Stuart Bailie.
Derry~Londonderry (the ‘City of Song’)
This ‘City of Song’ packs a real punch when it comes to its musical power. Peadar O’Donnells or the Gweedore Bars are a must visit for hardy music fans offering a great mix of traditional and contemporary music. Don’t forget The Nerve Centre, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin and many more pubs and clubs which are also host to a vibrant music scene –so check out their programmes too.
If our buzzing music cities have left you inspired for more then don’t forget about the many traditional gigs or the weekly music sessions on offer. Often at ‘smaller-in-scale’ (but ‘large-in-atmosphere’) venues they set the stage for amazing live and impromptu music. Dun Uladh Cultural Heritage Centre in Omagh, The Crosskeys Inn, near Toome (an atmospheric thatched pub thought to date from around 1740) and Tomney’s Bar, Moy are just some to add to your list. Or for a truly memorable gig, call into the Brontë Music Club – a former church, this intimate and unique venue has links to the literary Brontë family. It’s the setting for some memorable and heavenly music.
For more things music in Northern Ireland visit: www.discovernorthernireland.com/music.