Fiddle fest looks world-class!

Habedekuk - in action in McGrory's and Sandinos during NAFCO 2012.
Habedekuk - in action in McGrory's and Sandinos during NAFCO 2012.

It could well be the greatest fiddle show on earth - and it’s being held in Derry and Donegal this summer.

Fiddlers from folk traditions on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond will be attending the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention from Tuesday 26th June until Sunday July 1st.

They include some of the biggest names in international fiddling, among them Seattle-based Martin Hayes, Scottish legend Alasdair Fraser and Troy McGillivray from Cape Breton Island in Canada.

And one of headline acts is Irish traditional music legends the Chieftains, who have celebrated their 50th year with a new album which sees them collaborating with some of the coolest names in music, including Bon Iver, the Decemberists and the Civil Wars. Also on the bill is Norwegian dance act Frikar who created a sensation when they featured as part of the winning entry for Norway at Eurovision 2009.

NAFCO 2012 has built up a budget of more than £400,000 from funders and will be one of the big musical events of 2012 on the island of Ireland.

The event director is fiddler and lecturer at Magee Liz Doherty. She says it has come together brilliantly.

“NAFCO is held every two years and this is the first time it’s been in Ireland so we really had to pull out the stops,” she says. “And thanks to the support of everyone involved, Derry and Donegal has certainly delivered on this one. The musicians involved read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of fiddle-playing across the globe and we’ve been able to put together a fantastic series of major concerts in Derry, Letterkenny and Buncrana, and a whole session-full of other events.

“We’ve got a big international dance section, we have specially-commissioned works from Neil Martin and Chris Stout, we have academic stuff, always an important part of NAFCO. We have lots of lunchtime concerts, masterclasses, films, sessions, late night festival club and so much more, including a trade fair in our hub, the Millennium Forum.”

In all there are more than 200 events planned for Derry and Donegal over the six days of NAFCO 2012.

Full details are available online at

The end of June promises to be one of the busiest periods in Derry’s history. NAFCO is bringing hundreds of musicians, dancers, academics and music lovers to the city from a host of countries from Tuesday 26th June. Then the round-the-world Clipper race calls in on the weekend beginning Friday 29th, and thousands more are expected for that.


Liz says, “There should be a fantastic atmosphere around and lots of brilliant music to entertain all our visitors. That week is certainly going to be a curtain-raiser for what we all hope will be a wonderful year in 2013.

“It’s great to be part of it all, and we must pay tribute to everyone who bought into the idea of what we were trying to do and, even more importantly, backed it with funding! What we have now is a world-ranked music event which is cross-border and cross-community, which celebrates the vibrant music tradition we have locally and also opens up to our international musical cousins from so many countries.”

Those stepping up to the plate with funding for NAFCO 2012 include the University of Ulster, Leader, Donegal Local Development Company,The Arts Council, Donegal County Council, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013, Derry City Council, NITB, Creative Scotland, Dance Research Forum of Ireland and the Derry Visitor and Convention Centre.