This month the city of Belfast comes alive with more than 30 events covering music, art, film and performance. It’s the fifteenth annual Outburst Queer Art Festival and this year’s programme has a bit of everything, from large-scale music and art events to quieter and more intimate happenings.
It’s taking place in arts venues, outdoors and online, so there’s plenty of variety and a chance for everyone to enjoy something. There’ll be epic, immersive orchestral performances and an outdoor walking meditation for people who don’t like meditation.
Things to watch and discover in the city and beyond
You can expect new commissions, live podcasts, screenings, talks and poetry showcasing local, national and international queer work in Belfast. So, what are the highlights of this year’s festival?
All eyes will be on composer Conor Mitchell’s MASS. It’s an epic new music performance that combines with queer ritual to create something unique. This event features 64 Ulster Orchestra musicians, acclaimed Irish soprano Giselle Allen and six international film makers. Part classical oratio and part rave, you’ll be able to walk freely around the space to view the orchestra and films projected in cinematic scale onto the walls. And it’s on at The Telegraph Building.
The next highlight is Richard O’Leary’s intimate theatre event. It explores the true stories of queer northern life and borders. It’s the 100-year anniversary of the partition of Ireland and Border Fairies uses traditional Irish storytelling to recount tales across the divide.
Other live performances include David Hoyle: Rebellion. Hoyle’s described as a performance avalanche and raging bona-fide legend, so who knows what to expect!
Talks at this year’s festival come from influential queer writers, thinkers and activists. Hear Sarah Schulman in conversation as she talks about social change. Or enjoy a queer audio meditation on outdoor spaces with Calling the Corners from Dominic Montague. It’s ideal for those not ready to venture indoors. And it’s said to be a queer walking meditation for people who don’t like meditation. This audio piece is best listened to in green spaces, but can be listened to anytime and anywhere.
Podcasts, talks and artworks
In fact, many events are streaming online so you can join in from any location. These include poetry from landmark anthology Lifeboats: Queering the Green, and a special screening of Mondial 2010, shown in collaboration with Queer Cinema for Palestine.
Both live and online, podcasts will include the debut live show from The Kate Brennan Harding Music podcast and Belfast-based Fist City talking about queer country music. Plus there’s Dublin cabaret icon Veda Lady and HIV activist and academic Robbie Lawlor in Poz Vibe.
Queer art features in many forms during the festival, including a queer art market and large-scale commissioned cartoon works by Helen Gomez. And Isabella Anna Koban will be unveiling her new mural The Full Indian Rope Trick, which is a specially commissioned depiction of Artist in Residence Colette Bryce’s most powerful poems. Bryce will feature in other events in the festival, including a live in-conversation and a poetry masterclass. Joelle Taylor, who has just been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize for poetry, will also be delivering a masterclass.
To keep you safe as possible, some venues have COVID-19 measures in place. So, you may be required to show proof of vaccination or provide a negative test result. We’d advise you to check before you go, so you can arrive prepared and avoid delays.
When: 12th – 20th November 2021
Where: At venues across Belfast, Northern Ireland
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event. Some events are free