14th Apr 2019 in Arts

Festival of Fools returns with a spectacular programme packed with the best local and international circus and street art talent.

The largest comedy and street festival on the island of Ireland takes over various locations around Belfast this May Day Bank Holiday weekend from Friday May 3 to Monday May 6.

The festival’s newly launched programme showcases a variety of fantastic homegrown artists as well as performers from countries around the world, including America, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Argentina and Australia to bring a truly international flavour.

Highlights include American precision acrobats The Red Trouser Show whose astonishing display of non-stop action and skill laced with comedy and fire concludes with a breathtaking finale performed high in the air.

Italian Master Jester Ugo Sanchez Jnr promises to draw the audience into his bizarre imagination, and Spanish Cyr Wheel artist Mr Dyvinetz comes to life inside the wheel with a performance which will surprise and enchant with its display of beauty, balance and strength.

Local artists including the Great Mefiesto, Angelique ‘Reckless’ Ross’, and over a hundred young people with community groups will perform in Writer’s Square, providing entertainment for all ages.

Jenna Hall, Chief Executive of the Belfast Community Circus School, organisers of the Festival of Fools, said: “This year’s programme is jam-packed full of the best local and international circus and street theatre talent. We are also delighted to once again offer performance opportunities to over 100 young people who receive tuition through Belfast Community Circus School. Come and see their work in Writers’ Square.

“We are hugely grateful to Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Destination CQ BID and Tourism Northern Ireland for their continued support, and this year we are excited to be working with the Department for Communities, who are enabling us to stage shows in a new performance zone in Castle Place.”

The festival will be rounded up on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday by The Big Finish at the Will Chamberlain stage. Hosted by Frankie Magilligan, this display is a mash-up of the best action of the day’s performances.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: “Festival of Fools is always a great weekend of fun for everyone, young and old, and provides a platform to showcase our local creative talent.

“Belfast’s arts and cultural scene has been key to reinvigorating our city centre spaces over this last number of months, and this is another really fun initiative to look forward to.

“Council is a proud supporter of the festival which gets bigger and better every year, and I’d encourage everyone to make a date in their diary and come and join in the fun and laughter.”

Gareth Neill (Manager of Destination CQ), Jenna Hall (Chief Executive of the Belfast Community Circus School), Gilly Campbell (Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council NI) and Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Deirdre Hargey
Photo by Debbie Deboo Photography

This year the festival is once again supported by Arts Council for Northern Ireland; Belfast City Council; Department for Communities; Destination CQ; Tesco; Tourism Northern Ireland; Third Source; Excalibur Press; Ramada Encore Hotel.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council Northern Ireland said: “Festival of Fools has established Belfast on the world map as a capital of street theatre and circus excellence. It has grown to become a truly global brand showcasing all that is good about the performing arts sector in Northern Ireland and, generating over £1 million in visitor spend for traders in the Cathedral Arts Quarter, it demonstrates the major contribution that the arts make to the local economy.”

Gareth Neill, Manager of Destination CQ added: “Destination CQ BID (Business Improvement District) is committed to ensuring a wide audience of Belfast accesses and has the opportunity to access Arts and Culture within their experience of the Cathedral Quarter; this area of the City is unique for its heritage, vibrancy and more importantly the people who work here. The creative economy  and cultural sectors are an integral key driver to the continued transformation of Belfast. The opportunity to support the Festival of Fools and Belfast Circus School is seen as incredibly important investment by businesses within the area.”

While festival organisers are confident the sun will shine on this event, wet weather provision has been made to allow the show to go on regardless.

For full details on the Festival of Fools check out the programme on the website www.foolsfestival.com

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