Tradfest festival brings six days of Irish music and culture


The largest traditional Irish music and culture festival in Belgium returns with a special focus on the events of the First World War


The first TradFest in Belgium took place in 2015. This year, the event will see 70 performers take part in dozens of cultural events in Brussels and elsewhere. “TradFest is a way of bringing Irish music and culture to the large Irish community in Belgium and to a Belgian and wider international audience,” Irish ambassador Eamonn Mac Aodha says.

Renowned folk singer Mary Black is the headline act and will open the festival at Flagey cultural centre in Brussels. She has been performing professionally since 1975 but it was the release of her album No Frontiers in 1989 that catapulted her to stardom.

Other well-known musicians visiting from Ireland this year include Liam ó Máonlaí of the Hothouse Flowers, Irish sisters Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Brú Ború traditional Irish musicians and dancers, and the Máirtín O Connor Trio (pictured).

There will also be an art exhibition by Helen O’Sullivan Tyrell, who studied at the Beeldende Kunst Overijse art academy, a poetry talk by Dublin poet Phil Lynch, and Bloomsnight, a celebration of James Joyce’s writing by the Irish Theatre Group, in De Lijsterbes in Kraainem.

In the centenary year of the Battle of Messines Ridge during the First World War, TradFest 2017 has placed a special focus on this event.

Messines to Carrick Hill, by Irish author Thomas Burke, will be launched at the Aloft Hotel in Brussels. The book is structured around a collection of letters written by a 19-year-old Irish soldier, Lieutenant Michael Wall of the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, who turned down the prospect of studying science at University College Dublin to join the Allied forces in the trenches of Flanders.

12-18 June, across Belgium