From left are Lee Hedley (performer), Davy Watson (performer), Karen Sheals-Hoy from American Holidays, the Rev Doc (performer), Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Ellen Crawford, Linda McLaughlin (performer), Stephen Rafferty (performer) and at the front Mervyn Crawford (performer).
Photo by Tony Murray for Excalibur Press/Belfast City Blues Festival

The Belfast City Blues Festival is back with a whopping 50 gigs across 22 venues from June 23-25.

Now in its 9th year, it’s one of the biggest blues festivals in Ireland and Northern Ireland and is the widest reaching music festival in Belfast. With it’s loyal following The Belfast City Blues Festival, headline sponsored by American Holidays draws crowds from far and wide.

This year highlights include the annual Rory Gallagher afternoon with artists joining the bill such as The Pat McManus Band, The Willie Byrne Band and Blackwood.

“A great way to remember an Irish music legend with local talent, it’s always a popular occasion and draws large crowds every year” said festival director Seamus O’Neill.

The weekend is packed full of gigs as well as amazing opportunities, including the now famous Blues On The Boat Music Cruises, taking place over the weekend on Belfast Lough. More than just music, there will be tasty food and drinks to spend a perfect Saturday afternoon sailing. The cruises are set to host top performers The Fabulous Mustangs, Rab McCullough & The Rev Doc and Lee Hedley & Co.

Topping off the Saturday night, the Belfast Barge Gigs will be showcasing some of the finest local blues talent in a chilled atmosphere. Performers include The Kenny McDowell Project and The Ronnie Greer Band featuring Ken Haddock.

And as always the festival will be a who’s who of local music.  Top names such as Pat McManus Ronnie Greer, Kenny McDowell, Rab McCullough and Lee Hedley are all set to take to the stage across the weekend. As well known local favourites, they are some of the most talented and well-recognised blues musicians around and promise exciting performances.

Festival go-ers can also enjoy the Big Belfast City Blues Busk, taking place across the city with a top prize of £200.

At the Record & Memorabilia Fair fans can find the best of blues merchandise and vintage records from the best traders in the business. It’s just one of many events taking place at The Black Box and will be turning the city of Belfast into a celebration of the genre, blues fans of all backgrounds can come together on this vibrant, fun-filled weekend.

Also at the festival American Holidays are delighted to present ‘Blues at the Market’ at St George’s Market, with The Iconettes performing in the market for a free of charge concert on Sunday June 25.

Karen Sheals Hoy, Manager of American Holidays said: “This is the eighth year that American Holidays has sponsored the Belfast City Blues Festival and we are very proud to be involved in such a fantastic event which attracted over 15,000 people to the City last year.

“It is a great fit for our brand as we have a strong legacy with the Deep South’s music and culture through our various offers. We are also delighted to have our friends at Aer Lingus and U105 on board with us this year.”

Andrea Hunter, Business Development Manager at Aer Lingus added: “The Belfast City Blues Festival is always a great event for the city and we’re delighted to partner with American Holidays by offering return flights from Dublin to Chicago as part of their U105 competition. Chicago is one of 11 North American destinations that Aer Lingus fly to direct from Dublin and this summer we will operate two flights per day from Dublin to the ‘Windy City’.”

With plenty of events going on, there’s something for everyone. Whether they are just finding their love for blues or attending annually, the festival is a welcoming, friendly atmosphere for music lovers.

Festival director Seamie O’Neill is excited about the 2017 line-up.  He said: “We are absolutely delighted to be delivering the Belfast City Blues Festival once again for the 9th year.

“We cannot thank our sponsors and supporters enough, especially our principal sponsor American Holidays who have been great advocates for the local music scene.

“Without the continued support of our festival volunteers, supporters and sponsors the festival would not happen and thankfully we continue to grow from strength to strength each year. To all the participating venues, musicians and festival crew, a huge round of applause!

“This year once again we feel we have something for everyone, great live bands, great venues and of course great gigs all taking place we are proud to say in a great city.

“To everyone taking part and all our guests attending the festival, have a great weekend.”

The launch was attended by Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Ellen Campbell.  Speaking at the launch she said: “The Belfast City Blues Festival is bringing a wonderful range of musical talent to our city and tourism in Belfast is hugely dependent on events like these. More and more visitors are choosing their holiday destination based on the cultural experience they’re going to have when they arrive. Belfast City Council is working with our festivals, promoters and tourism trade partners to ensure that we’re capitalising on this trend and giving a great Belfast welcome that will keep visitors coming back for more.”

Other sponsors of the festival include Belfast City Council, Kolor Master Belfast, Sunday World, Berts, FT Contracts, Aer Lingus, Guinness and U105.

For more information, festival listings and tickets log onto www.belfastcityblues.com or connect with the Belfast City Blues Festival official Facebook page.

The Northern Whig – Saturday Afternoon
Saturday 24th June The Davy Watson Solo Blues Session 4.00pm – 6.30pm Free Admission 2 – 10 Bridge Street Belfast

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The Northern Whig – Friday Night
Friday 23rd June DJ Alan’s Soul Train 10.00pm – Late Free Admission 2 – 10 Bridge Street Belfast BT 1

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The Northern Whig – Friday Evening
Friday 23rd June Conor Martin Live 7.30pm – 10.00pm Free Admission 2 – 10 Bridge Street Belfast BT 1 1LU

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The John Hewitt – Sunday Evening
Sunday 25th June (Evening) Blues Singer Songwriter Evening 9.00pm – Late 51 Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2FH Phone: 028 9023

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The John Hewitt – Saturday
Saturday 24th June DD & The Delta Boys   9.30pm – Late Free Admission 51 Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2FH

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The John Hewitt – Friday Night
Friday 23rd June Ian Sands & The Blues Katz 9.30pm – Late Free Admission 51 Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2FH

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The John Hewitt – Thursday
Thursday 22nd June The Wilfie Gilbert Band 9.30pm – Late Free Admission 51 Donegall St, Belfast BT1 2FH Phone: 028

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The Spaniard – Sunday
Sunday 25th June The Steve Payne Trio with Billy Boy Miskimmin 4.00pm – 6.30pm Free Admission 3 Skipper Street Belfast

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The Spaniard – Friday
Friday 23rd June Beesting Bradiner’s Kit & Kaboddle Delta Blues At Its Very Best 5.00pm – 7.00pm Free Admission 3

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The Spaniard – Saturday Evening
Saturday 24th June Jackie Rainey 4.00pm – 6.00pm Free Admission 3 Skipper Street Belfast BT1 2DZ Tel +44(0)2890232448 Email –

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Aethor & Echo Sunday Afternoon
Sunday 25th June The Sunday Session With The Unholy Gospel Band 2.30pm – 5.30pm Free Admission 1 – 3 Lower

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The Hudson – Saturday Afternoon
Saturday 24th June The Grand Camaros Delta Blues At Its Very Best 3.00pm – 6.00pm Free Admission 10 – 12

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The Hudson – Sunday Afternoon
Sunday 25th June The Alan McKelvey Blues Band 3.00pm – 5.30pm Free Admission 10 – 12 Gresham Street Belfast BT1

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The Hudson – Friday Evening
Friday 23rd June Belfast Bull Frogs 5.00pm – 7.30pm Free Admission 10 – 12 Gresham Street Belfast BT1 1JN Tel+44(0)2890232322

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The Stokers Halt Holywood – Saturday
Saturday 24th June The Lee Hedley Band Check Out The Blues Session Every Saturday @ The STOKERS HALT Holywood 3.00pm

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Blues Workshop
Sunday 25th June FESTIVAL MUSIC WORKSHOP Billy Boy Miskimmin The Master Class Live From Dawson’s Music Blues Harp Techniques with

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Bootlegger’s – Friday Afternoon
Friday 23rd June The Rab McCullough Blues Band 5.00pm – 7.30pm Free Admission 46 Church Lane Belfast BT1 4QN Tel

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Kelly’s Cellars – Sunday
Sunday 25th June The Lee Hedley Band 9.00pm – Late Free Admission 30-32 Bank Square Belfast BT1 1HL Tel +44(0)2890246058

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St George’s Market – Sunday
Sunday 25th June American Holidays Proudly Presents The One & Only The Iconettes 11.30am – 4.00pm Free Admission 12-20 East

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St George’s Market – Saturday
Saturday 24th June David Taylor’s Soul Surfers 12.00pm 3.00pm Free Admission 12-20 East Bridge Street Belfast BT1 3NQ Tel +44(0)2890435704

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St George’s Market – Friday
Friday 23rd June Ludwig & Co 11.00am – 2.30pm Free Admission 12-20 East Bridge Street Belfast BT1 3NQ Tel +44(0)2890435704

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The Duke of York – Sunday
Sunday 25th June Kick The Bucket Blues Band 3.00pm – 5.30pm Free Admission 7-11 Commercial Court Belfast BT1 2NB Tel+44(0)2890241062

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The John Hewitt – Sunday Evening
Sunday 25th June Blues Singer Songwriter Evening 9.00pm – Late

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The Dirty Onion – Friday
Friday 23rd June The Speedy Mullan Blues Band 5.00pm – 7.30pm Free Admission 3 Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LA www.facebook.com/dirtyonion

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The Dirty Onion – Saturday
Saturday 24th June Billy Boy Miskimmin & Mercy Lounge 3.00pm – 5.30pm Free Admission   3 Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LA www.facebook.com/dirtyonion

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The Cloth Ear – Sunday
Sunday 25th June The Lee Hedley Band 4.30pm – 7.00pm Free Admission 35-39 Waring Street Belfast BT 1 2DZ Tel

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The Cloth Ear – Saturday
SATURDAY 24TH JUNE DD & The Delta Boys 4.30pm-7.00pm Free Admission4 www.merchanthotel.com Tel +44 (0) 2890262719 clothear@themerchanthotel.com 35-39 Waring Street

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The Cloth Ear – Friday
Friday 23rd June Otis & The Elevators 5.30pm – 8.00pm Free Admission 35-39 Waring Street Belfast BT 1 2DZ Tel

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The Cloth Ear – Thursday
THURSDAY 22RD JUNE Acoustic Soul 6.00pm-9.00pm Free Admission www.merchanthotel.com Tel +44 (0) 2890262719 clothear@themerchanthotel.com 35-39 Waring Street Belfast BT1 2

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2 Taps Wine Bar – Sunday
Sunday 25th June Ken Haddock Solo   4.00pm – 6.30pm Free Admission 42 Waring Street Cotton Court Belfast BT 1

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The Harp Bar – Sunday
Sunday 25th June DD & The Delta Boys 5.00pm – 7.30pm Free Admission 35 Hill Street Belfast BT1 4EF Tel

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Ramada Encore – Saturday
Saturday 24TH JUNE The Legendary Apartment B 9.00pm – 11.30pm Free Admission Free Admission www.encorebelfast.co.uk Tel +44 (0) 2890261800 email:sales@encorebelfast.co.uk

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