IMBOLC Festival welcomes spring with music and arts

Shake off the shadows of winter and head to the uplifting IMBOLC International Music Festival in Derry~Londonderry.

Taking its name from the Celtic festival of spring, the IMBOLC International Music Festival (26 January – 4 February) is an eight-day celebration of music, arts and culture set in Derry~Londonderry.

This year some twenty-five musicians from Ireland, Canada, India, Wales and South-Korea will be performing their own brand of folk and traditional music across a range of events that bring new and innovative performances to the city. 

The Sounds of Solidarity concert will feature a number of musicians including Grenadian-Canadian Kaia Kater, Dublin band Kila, and Belfast singer-songwriter Grainne Holland. Citadels of the Sun will be an evening of Irish and Indian fusion music while po(e)sies will experiment with the ancient poetry/song form Hyangga in a bilingual Korean/English performance.

IMBOLC Unsigned will once again give new and emerging artists a stage to promote their music and there will also be a number of workshops in a range of instruments including fiddle, harp, Uilleann pipes, banjo and bodhran.

St Brigid’s Day, 1 February, which marks the beginning of spring in the Irish Christian calendar, will be marked by the Brigid 1500 concert to celebrate the creative contribution of women to arts and culture.

The Derry Walls.

The Armagh Rhymers, a traditional music and theatre ensemble, will also perform a special St Brigid’s Day mix of masked music and storytelling capturing the spirit of the Wren boys.

With lunchtime sessions, a session trail around various venues in the city, and late-night performances at the Festival Club, there will be music to be enjoyed every hour of the day.

For those who want to have a go at traditional step dancing there will be a sean-nós workshop followed by a dance performance by Mary McGuiggan.

The festival closes with a performance of A Deep Ravine, Reflections on a Divided Ireland in the city’s historic Guildhall. 

In between enjoying the concerts and sessions, visitors to Derry~Londonderry should make sure to explore the city’s rich heritage. It is the only completely walled city on the island of Ireland and one of the finest in Europe, so a walk along the 400-year-old walls is a good place to start.   

A visit to one or more of its museums will reveal the city’s complicated history or why not do a guided walking tour of the city’s street art where recent history is dramatically captured in its famous murals.