Derry gears up for WallsFest

Some of the WallsFest line-up bound for Derry's city centre this weekend: Clockwise from top left: Beatles for Sale, Jazzie B from Soul II Soul, Colm Cille Pipe Band, Abbaesque and The Wailin' Banshees.
Some of the WallsFest line-up bound for Derry's city centre this weekend: Clockwise from top left: Beatles for Sale, Jazzie B from Soul II Soul, Colm Cille Pipe Band, Abbaesque and The Wailin' Banshees.

The sounds of local bands, choirs and singers will be joined by the music of Abba, The Beatles, Soul II Soul legend Jazzie B and a host of top Irish traditional artists as the Walls of Derry come alive for the first ever three-day WallsFest festival this weekend, May 24 to 26.

WallsFest will see outdoor live ticket-only concerts on three successive evenings from Friday to Sunday at Bishop Street car park next to the Walls, while the City Walls themselves will become a warren of free family fun activities, music, dance and drama over the entire weekend showcasing the cream of local talent.

There will be food stalls and bar facilities at both locations - at the ticket only Bishop Street gigs and the open to all events on the City Walls, which are 400 years old this year.

FRIDAY

The celebration of music and culture kicks off on the City Walls at the Double Bastion at 5pm this Friday, with the Big Ridge Ceili Band up first, followed by Sollus Highland Dancers at 6pm; Voices Of the Foyle at 6.30pm; Strabane Brass Band at 7pm; Colmcille Pipe Band (pictured) at 7.45pm, Ringabellas at 8.15pm and True Clockwork at 9pm.

Meanwhile at Bishop Street car park, the ticket only R’N’B Fest will kick off at 6pm through until 11pm with headliner Jazzie B from Soul II Soul topping the bill, supported by hip hop and club DJ Shortee Blitz, with other acts including MC Pranksta (London), Locky, Simone, Type One and MC Daz.

SATURDAY

Events on the City Walls on Saturday begin at 2pm with the Hamilton Flute Band up first followed at 2.45pm by Sollus Highland Dancers (who will also perform at 3.45pm and 4.30pm); Strabane Brass Band at 3pm; Hamilton Flute Band again at 4pm; John & Fiona Trotter at 4.45pm; Michael & Zara at 6pm; Tumblin Paddies at 7pm; Eilidh Patterson at 8pm; and The Blackwater Ceili Band bringing proceedings to a close from 9pm.

Meanwhile, Saturday night is also ‘Trib Fest’ night at the Bishop Street car park with Ireland’s premiere Abba tribute outfit Abbaesque, who have previously headlined Dublin’s 3 Area and Olympia Theatre as well as performing on The ‘Late Late Show’ and at the Rose of Tralee festival, headlining.

Joining the quartet on the bill are the George Michael Tribute six piece live show, Beatles For Sale, Robbie Williams Tribute and Gerard C’s Famous 80s/ 90s Party.

SUNDAY

The final day on Sunday begins on the City Walls at 2pm with the Sollus Highland Dancers returning (also at 3pm and 3.45pm); followed by Bready Pipe Band at 2.30pm; WKMFB 3.15pm; Voices of the Foyle 4pm; Michael & Zara 4.45pm; Sontas Lite 6pm; Ringabellas 6.30pm; True Clockwork at 7pm; and acclaimed band Connla headlining from 8pm.

The ticket-only Trad & Big Band Fest at Bishop Street car park stage, meanwhile, begins at 4pm on Sunday. The festival will be headlined by The Logues, with other acts on the day including The Wailin’ Banshees, Stevie & The Gs (Plus Brass section); The Rare Auld Stuff; The Soul Seekers and The Mindbenders.

*Free tickets for the three concerts at Bishop Street car park are now available from Cool Discs, Foyle Street and online at Skiddle.com (£5 booking/ admin. fee per ticket).

Other free events taking place on the City Walls include hourly performances/ walking tours of ‘Noose or Necklace’ along the Walls, looking at the social, political and economic history of the city since the building of the Walls in 1613.

Finally, the Verbal Arts Centre will host Foyle Genealogy, where people can check out about tracing their family’s history free of charge over the three days of the festival. Call 028 71350179 for more information.