Foyle O-Bon Festival 2019 to be week-long celebration for first time

Members of the local Japanese community launching the Foyle O-bon Festival recently.
Members of the local Japanese community launching the Foyle O-bon Festival recently.

The Foyle O-Bon Festival in Derry is being expanded from a one day event to an entire week for the first time this year.

The Japanese cultural, family-friendly festival has been running locally since 2014 and this year takes place from Saturday May 18 to Saturday May 25.

Supported by principal funders, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund and Derry City & Strabane District Council Festivals Fund, the jam-packed week of exciting Japanese cultural events and workshops takes place across various venues.

The programme includes workshops in Taiko drumming, the Japanese crafts of Origami and Manga art, learning how to make felt Kokeshi Dolls, workshops in the art of Haiku and Tanka poetry.
There will also be a screening of Shin Godzilla, an intimate tea ceremony in the grounds of the Beech Hill Hotel, Japanese cookery demonstrations and a fun fundraising and lantern signing event in Foyleside.

The week will be closed out with O-Bon’s annual spectacular Foyle O-Bon Festival at the Playtrail.

“This beautiful setting is transformed into a Little Tokyo for an evening of Japanese dance, taiko drumming, arts, crafts and games as well as martial arts, food and our beautiful lantern ceremony which closes the festival for another year,” organisers have said.

Festival Director Fiona Umetsu said: “We are so excited to have a full week of events this year and hope to create a festival where the true meaning of O-Bon – the respect for the past and our ancestors, the coming together in the present with good food, the taiko drumming, dancing and love – is central.

“We believe it gives everyone hope for the future,” Fiona added.

Gilly Campbell, Arts Council Head of Community Arts &Education, added: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this wonderful, colourful celebration of Japanese culture.

“The Foyle O-Bon Festival brings communities from across the city closer together through the arts and I would encourage everyone to go along and experience the magic of this truly inclusive festival.”

For more information and details on the festival visit the website www.japanesefestivalsireland.com, or follow on Facebook at ‘Obon Japanese Festivals, or @foyleobon on Twitter.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.WeGotTickets.com or from the Playtrail, Derry and Diamond Centre, Claudy.