Community Arts Fest returns to the District

Ralph McLean
Ralph McLean

BANBRIDGE District’s long-established Community Arts Fest, which runs from Friday 12 to Saturday 27 October and features a host of arts, crafts and cultural events, is guaranteed to delight arts lovers young and old.

The opening event on Friday 12 October at Banbridge Old Town Hall features BBC NI personality Ralph McClean hosting a special live edition of his ‘Locals Lock In’ show. Featuring a line-up of the finest local musical talent including Malojian, Matt McGinn, 20 Second Century and former BuskFest winner Warren Attwell, the show will be recorded for broadcast on Ralph’s popular BBC Radio Ulster show. Tickets for this live music spectacular cost £5 each and are available from the Tourist Information Centre located on the ground floor of Banbridge Old Town Hall.

The festival continues with a free craft demonstration by a number of leading artists on Saturday 13 October at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio from 12 noon until 4pm. This event includes glass jewellery making, wood carving, textile designing and much more.

Workshop highlights during the first week of the festival include ‘Button to Brooch’ on Tuesday 16 October from 7pm to 9pm in Banbridge Old Town Hall, where you will learn ideas and techniques on what to do with all those mismatched buttons. The cost of this event is £5 per person. To book a place contact Banbridge Old Town Hall on 4062 0232.

At the upstyling ‘Junk to Funk’ Furniture Workshop on Thursday 18 October in Banbridge Old Technical Building at 6pm to 9pm, you can learn tips and ideas on recreating and restyling old pieces of furniture using a variety of techniques including painting and stenciling. The cost is £8 per person and places can be booked by calling 4066 0605.

Fans of the big screen will enjoy the Cinemagic family screening of the fantastically frightening fun-filled film ‘The Witches’ at the Iveagh Movie Studios on Friday 19 October at 7pm. Admission is only £2 per person however advance booking is essential on 4066 2666.

The weekend provides plenty of activity with a ‘Fantastic Fascinator’ workshop taking place on Saturday 20 October from 11am to 3pm in Banbridge Old Town Hall. Cost including all materials and a light lunch is £20 and booking is essential on 4062 0232.

The fun continues later that day in the same venue with ‘Saturday Swing’ in the company of NI’s premiere swing performers and instructors from 4pm to 6pm. Learn the moves of the cheeky Charleston and jumping Jitterbug all washed down with a refreshing cup of afternoon tea. The cost including tea is £5 and advance booking is also essential.

Music lovers will be excited to hear that local blues legends Grainne Duffy and Ronnie Greer will be taking to the stage at 7.30pm in the Bronte Interpretive Centre, Rathfriland on Saturday 20 October. Tickets for this superb evening of blues, roots and jazz are £12 and tickets are available from the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio on 4062 3322.

The second week kicks off with more workshops including ‘Totally Portable Pottery’, an adult workshop allowing participants the chance to create their own masterpiece in clay on Tuesday 23 October at 7pm to 9pm. This workshop will be held at 50b Bridge Street, Banbridge and costs £5 per participant.

Artist Grahame Booth provides a splash of colour with a wonderful watercolour workshop on Wednesday 24 October from 7pm to 9.30pm in Banbridge Old Technical Building. Booking for both this and the pottery workshop can be made on 4066 0605.

Banbridge Old Town Hall will host ‘Mid-Week Music’ on Thursday 25 October from 7.30pm to 9pm, featuring an extravaganza of music, laughter and fun staring Ivan Black and his highly original ‘One Man Show’ supported by Banbridge Ladies Community Choir. Tickets are priced £5 each and advance booking is essential on 4062 0232.

The closing event of the festival is ‘Craft in the Park’ on Saturday 27 October, a craft fair showcasing the work of craft artists from across Northern Ireland and further afield. Located in Solitude Park from 10.30am until 4pm, this event will provide the perfect opportunity to purchase some unique Christmas gifts.

The ‘Wheelworks Art Cart’ will also be in Solitude Park from 11.30am until 3.30pm. This event will feature a unique digital arts vehicle, delivering a range of arts based workshops and projects for young people. Wheelworks will be hosting free live electronic music drop-in workshops where young people will have the chance to work with skilled musicians and create their own hit tunes.

For the duration of the festival and throughout October the fun continues with street entertainment, storytelling and exhibitions each Saturday in Banbridge town centre.

Festival brochures detailing all the events and activities will be widely available from a number of outlets across the district and online at

For further information about the festival, contact Banbridge District Council’s Leisure and Development Department on 4066 0605.