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Belfast's vibrant social scene makes it receptive to the annual October festival
BELFAST FESTIVAL AT QUEENS
September is usually the time to recover from festivals. as the last juggler on the streets of Edinburgh packs up his balls and heads for home. That's why we're giving you a bit of advance notice that by the end of October you'd better be ready to start all over again.
Now that Easyjet and Go both have direct flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Belfast. you've got no excuses fOr not getting to know the city. While Northern Ireland gets more than its fair share of bad press from the ‘troubles' and beleaguered peace process. there's a vibrant cultural and social scene waiting to be explored. Stylish bars. clubs and restaurants are springing up at a rate of knots, making Belfast an excellent destination for a weekend away. The 39th Belfast Festival At Queens is more diverse than ever and takes place at a range of venues from the imposing Waterfront Hall to the University.
So what are the highlights? Jack Dee and Mark Thomas are the big names in the comedy sector. both performing new shows. while acclaimed local theatre companies Ridiculusmus and Tinderbox will also have
premieres on the bill. The commitment to international work is evident in performances from Japan's Sapporo Symphony Orchestra. Oskaras Korsunovas' leading Lithuanian theatre company (seen in Dundee a few years ago) and an Australian "Indonesian co- production of Asian legend Tlie Theft of Sita. Ja/x fans are well catered for with trumpeter Dave Douglas making an appearance with a new band featuring Japanese percussionist Ikue Mori. Also look out for the aw;.1rd-winning New Helsinki Ouartet as part of a series of jazz gigs. You won't want to miss reggae's mad professor Lee 'Scratch' Perry. the huger influential songwriter and producer. There's lots more to be ElllIlOtlIICUd. and although this isn't quite on the same scale as Edinburgh's August mayhem. new director Stella Hall has put together a programme which should attract more visitors than ever to the city. (Louisa Pearson) Belfast Festival At Queens. 26 October—l 7 November. 02890 (56 7 (587 . www. l.)e/fastfest/va/. con i
Festivals, flights and fabulous fares
BEER LOVERS WILL already have Oktoberfest marked in their diaries (22 September-7 October), as the huge German festival offers the chance to eat, drink and be very, very merry. The Munich breweries erect tents at the world’s biggest public festival where you can sample the local tipples. More details from the Munich tourist office on +49 (0) 89 233 0300 or e-mail tourismus@ muenchen.btl.de WITH MORE AND MORE people taking a year out. STA Travel has produced a new booklet to help you on your way. Taking Time Out is packed with information on working your way around the world. volunteer projects and ideas on how to fill a career break. Pick up a free copy from any branch or call 020 7361 6166.
IF YOU’RE PLANNING a trip ‘down under’ next month, don’t forget about the Melbourne Festival, running from 11 October-3 November. You’ll find acts as
TRAVEL MEMOIR MICHAEL RIPS
diverse as the Harlem Gospel Choir, Oscar- winning actor Geoffrey Rush in Company B. Belvoir’s The Small Poppies and a whole host of home-grown and international arts performances. Expect plenty of free events and a real party atmosphere. More details on +61 (0) 3 9662 4242 or e-mail contact.us@melbourn efestival.com.au TRAILFINDERS HAS A special six night package to Montreal on offer, for departures 1 September—1 4 December. Flying with KLM from Glasgow or Edinburgh you'll be accommodated at the first class Hotel Maritime Plaza at the bargain price of $439. For me details call 0141 353 2224. WORK IT GIRLFRIEND! There’ll be no more excuses for just sitting around on your long-haul flight if you’re flying Virgin Atlantic. The airline has launched an inflight workout video presented by Dani Behr, aimed at keeping passengers active and helping avoid circulation problems. Just don’t try doing press-ups in the aisle when the duty free trolley is approaching.
Pasquale's Nose (Chatto and Windus £14.99)
Subtitled ‘Adventures in a Small Town in Southern Italy’ this is a kind of One Year In Provence with a bit more wind in its fagiola regina sails. Our protagonist, the author, is an unemployable bum hanging out in seedy cafes in New York. Tricked by his painter
wife into moving to the eccentric Etruscan town of Sutri, near Rome, he just hangs round with the eccentric old boys and collates absurd
stories from its vaults.
Rips can’t write for toffee yet his deadpan voice and simple tales are deeply affecting. Maybe the material is just so strong he can’t lose or maybe the fact that he isn’t some middle England arsewipe jughead in pursuit of rural chic helps. Either way, this works as a document of the peculiar and disturbed, cinema paradiso it
is not. (Paul Dale)
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