BuskFest hailed a great success

THE eight annual Banbridge BuskFest event was another great success, attracting over 10,000 people to the town last Saturday.

Almost 200 talented musicians, bands and street performers from Ireland, England, France, Poland, Spain and Australia took to the streets and put on a tremendous show.

Prizes were presented in several categories and a total of £3,000 was presented to the winners. Solo guitarist Stephen Catherwood from Belfast was named Overall Champion of Champions. Matthew Rutherford Jones from Banbridge, also a solo guitarist, won Best Individual. The Fionntan McDonald Band from Lurgan won Best Band and the Rockolin Twins from Belfast won Best Performance. Female vocalist Toni Upton from Armagh won Best Junior.

Two prizes were awarded by The Outlet in the Spirit of BuskFest category. Cain Bairnskill, a trio from the Armagh area who performed a mixture of storytelling, music and song, won this category. A special prize consisting of shopping vouchers for The Outlet was given to Jamie Knight who demonstrated superb football balancing skills at the entrance to Solitude Park throughout the day.

Later in the day, over 4,000 people attended the prize presentation and concert in Solitude Park. Celebrity compere Ralph McLean from BBC Radio Ulster welcomed the crowd.

Belfast rock band ‘Last Known Addiction’, whose lead singer is Stephen Cairns from Banbridge, opened the gig with a selection of popular rock classics and hits from their new album.

Headline act ‘Blackthorn and Bernagh’ performed an international mix of music complemented by a superb dance troupe comprising highland, Indian and Irish dancers.

One of the many highlights was the performance by BBC Young Musician of the Year, Bradley Parker, who currently holds the title, Under 18s World Champion Solo Piper.

The concert was funded by Banbridge District Council’s Good Relations programme.