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The Arts

Comedy Festival Brings all the Laughs to Larne this September

Pictured is Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr, William McCaughey along with Give my Head Peace’s very own Da, Tim McGarry.

Some of the country’s best known comedians are hoping to be pitch perfect celebrating a night of side-splitting comedy at Inver Park.

BBC Blame Game Star Neil Delamere and Northern Ireland comedy sensation Paddy Raff will be taking to the stage this September as part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s vibrant arts programme.

Council has teamed up with Larne Football Club to bring two nights of laughs to Larne as part of a new mini festival ‘It’s Good to Be Back!’

The event at Larne’s Inver Park stadium is covered so can go ahead whatever the weather and runs from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19September.

Saturday will see BBC star Neil Delamere headlining, support acts Teresa Livingstone of Soft Border Patrol and upcoming star Frazer Robb will get the crowds warmed up whatever the weather.

Sunday sees the SSE arena sell out star, Paddy Raff, take to the stage, supported by funny men Micky Bartlett and Paddy McGaughey.

Both gigs will be compered by Give my Head Peace’s very own Da, Tim McGarry and kick off at 7.30pm with refreshments available from the 1989 Club onsite.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr William McCaughey said: “We are so pleased to bring some of the finest comedic talent seen on these shores to Larne. We’re so excited to be working with Larne Football Club to deliver a weekend of much needed humour after what’s been a tough year for most.

“The arts sector has suffered greatly during the pandemic with no live performances in over 18 months. It’s now fantastic to see light at the end of the tunnel and what better way to celebrate than bringing sport and comedy together, using football stadia to welcome audiences back in a safe environment. A huge thanks to Larne Football Club for working with us on this fantastic festival and it will be one filled with laughs, so is certainly not to be missed.”

Gareth Clements, Chairman of Larne Football Club added: “It’s great for the club to be working alongside Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on this fantastic event, for not only the town and borough, but indeed residents across Northern Ireland.

“One of our guiding principles since re-energizing the club four years ago, was to put Inver Park at the heart of the community and make it a hub for all things good.

“This event is a real cultural fit for what we are trying to achieve, and I believe this will be the first of many we deliver.

“Whether it be smiles on people’s faces leaving Inver Park with three points on a Saturday, or with tears streaming down their faces with laughter after a comedy evening.

“I’ll happily accept both; what’s not to like!”

This event is suitable for anyone aged 18+. Tickets are £25 (plus £1.50 booking fee per ticket) and are available online at

It is strongly recommended that anyone attending the event should take a Lateral Flow Device test (LFD) no more than 24 hours before they attend and on days two and eight after the event. If you have any signs or symptoms or feel unwell, you should not attend and should follow the advice found at the NI Direct website.

Belfast City

Spectacular Ogham Grove Opens Tonight In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarters Writers’ Square will tonight (September 17) be transformed into a spectacular installation from the creative team for CNB21 Presents: The Ogham Grove.

From 6pm tonight through until Sunday evening visitors can experience an interactive celebration of the ancient druidic language, with massive representations of trees, sounds and lighting weaving a path of learning about the language and the chance to win prizes.

Ogham Grove replaces the previous city centre based programme of street based activity and pop-up events.

Although the plans for this year are monumental in size, Culture Night Belfast and CQ Trust director Susan Picken said visitors should not expect the same on-street celebration as years gone by.

Prior to the pandemic, Culture Night had been one of Belfast’s largest free events, a cultural celebration that attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre. The impact of COVID has led to a major review of the event however.

Susan said: “Culture Night 2021 will be much smaller in scale and scope and will take the form of an on-site installation that people can drop into and enjoy over the course of the weekend – this different format will allow us to focus on safety as well as making sure everyone has a great time.”

The brains behind the concept include creative lead Gawain Morrison, artist and prop designer Dylan McCaughtry, designer Neil Beattie, lighting designer Tomás FitzGerald and drum loop producer Damian Mills.

Gawain Morrison said that the concept of The Ogham Grove “draws inspiration from the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree alphabet which dives deep into the era where nature and myths intertwined”. 

This year, as well as experiencing The Ogham Grove itself, visitors will be able to take part in an accompanying interactive experience that will lead them through the Cathedral Quarter, and also take them on a journey of personal discovery.

According to Gawain the immersive nature inspired trail and competition will mean visitors can take something special away from the experience.

“For somebody who will be coming to this, the several points of access means it is going to be a very experiential and sensory experience,” he explained. 

“I hope that as visitors walk around whether it’s in the day or night, that they will take something away from it.”

Across the Cathedral Quarter area, there will be five zones each representing one of the five families of the Ogham alphabet.

To be eligible to win a prize, participants must find and scan a QR code found on one of the trail’s bespoke wooden plaques and take note of the lines of poetry displayed.

Prizes to be won include vouchers for restaurants, gift tokens to purchase your own pieces of art and tickets to shows coming up in the Cathedral Quarter and will be announced at the end of the Culture Night weekend.

This year’s Culture Night Belfast is supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Tourism NI, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Translink.

To keep up to date with all the CNB Presents The Ogham Grove updates go to or follow #CNB21 on social media

Issued by Excalibur Press on behalf of CNB Presents: The Ogham Grove 

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The Arts

£5m Fund to Retain Skills in the Creative Sector

A £5million fund to prevent the loss of the talent and expertise of individuals and freelancers working in the creative sector has been launched by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme, which opens at noon today, will provide a grant of up to £2,000 per individual eligible application including DJs, artists, performers, sound and lighting technicians, writers, events managers and many other professionals who have been impacted as a result of the public health restrictions on the creative sector.

There is evidence that the creative sectors rely heavily on self-employed and freelance individuals and that many have already left the sectors because of the pandemic, with those remaining facing jobs vulnerability and unaffordable costs relating to re-establishing their creative practice.

Minister Hargey said: “I have listened to the recommendations of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce, and I have also engaged with the sector. As a result I am today launching a support scheme to provide grants to individuals to encourage them to remain in the creative arts sector.

“The culture, languages, arts and heritage sectors have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 restrictions as they rely heavily on people’s ability to get together which is why the Executive has provided £13million in 2021/2022 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

“There is a risk that self-employed and freelance individuals may be forced to leave the creative sectors as a result of the pandemic. As the sectors rely heavily on individuals, this could destabilise the sector and the benefits it delivers including social, economic and wellbeing. This new £5m funding scheme aims to prevent loss of sectoral skills for self-employed and freelance individuals and safeguard the sector for the future.

“This fund will help with costs of reactivating, maintaining and enhancing their creative trade, vocation or profession. It is designed to prevent individuals, and their talent and expertise, from leaving the creative economy; and help them re-establish their contribution to the important benefits these sectors deliver.”

Welcoming the funding, chair of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Rotha Johnston said:  “Freelancers and the self-employed are critical to the recovery and sustainability of the creative and cultural sectors as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. Many have been deprived the opportunity to use their skills, perform or practice their art in the last 18 months. The Taskforce is of the unanimous view that support for individuals is essential to protect the viability of the sectors going forward. The Taskforce’s findings and recommendations have been developed following extensive engagement with people from across the sectors and our conclusion is that this public investment in culture, arts and heritage will deliver significant benefits to individuals, society and the economy in the short, medium and long term”.

The fund, co-designed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) with the Department for Communities, will be delivered by the Arts Council. For information on how to apply including eligibility criteria please visit

D/deaf and disabled artists will be supported via a separate award via ACNI to the University of Atypical who regularly support this particular cohort, to ensure that artists with particular needs are appropriately supported through the application process.

The scheme is open until 12 noon, 6 October, 2021.

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