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 04TH – 09TH MAY 2024




Over 50 free performances taking place on the streets of Belfast City Centre and Cathedral Quarter from May 04TH – 06TH


Ireland’s largest free street performance festival returns to Belfast city centre from May 04th - 09th 2024. This year’s exciting free daytime programme offers three days of jam-packed, all-inclusive daytime entertainment for the whole family including circus, parkour, dance, archery and visual arts. Festival of Fools will inspire, entertain and engage, taking place at various locations across Belfast City, and with all daytime shows free to attend, this is a festival for everyone to enjoy!


As in previous years, Festival of Fools brings together the best local and international circus and street performance talent taking over the city streets across the Bank Holiday Weekend at the start of May. This year’s programme features award-winning talent from across the globe including Ireland, Canada, Italy, Argentina, Germany, France, Spain and Australia. In 2024 the programme will once again span indoor and outdoor venues, with 2 Royal Avenue becoming a central hub for performances by young people and emerging artists and drop-in workshops for children and adults alike. For visual arts fans a new partnership with Leo Boyd and Laura Nelson will bring The Belfast that Time Forgot (in 3D) to life for audiences in-between shows inside 2 Royal Avenue. For the first time in 2024 Festival of Fools are working in partnership with Big Telly Theatre to deliver The Worst Café – an interactive experience for diners and Sailortown Regeneration Project on a walking tour from the Big Fish and Hit the North a locally led Street Arts Festival.


Expect an action-packed extravaganza from READY. AIM. FIRE! on Saturday and Sunday. Sara Twister is a crowd-stopping phenomenon who, whilst balancing on her arms, can fire a bow and arrow with her feet! The classic Big Finish is back on all three days, but with a twist, so keep an eye out for that. Classic Connee will have you singing along, JUMPNI will make you gasp with some extreme parkour and there is also some classic aerial antics, juggling, acrobatics, custard pie fights and much more to see over the weekend.  


In addition to the daytime programme, FoF 2024 will also offer two very special thought-provoking evening shows, Contra and Belonging on May 08th - 09th.


Gilly Campbell, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support the Festival of Fools, thanks to The National Lottery players. National Lottery funding is a game changer in helping this festival spread amazement and joy across Belfast and bring communities closer together.  Once again, this year, the organisers have curated a fabulously fun programme with something to suit all ages and tastes.  From the very young, to the very young at heart, I would encourage everyone to get outdoors this May and enjoy everything that this terrific celebration of circus has to offer.”    


Jenna Hall, Festival of Fools Chief Executive, said: "We are so excited to launch Festival of Fools 2024! With over 50 professional shows taking place across the city, our all inclusive programme offers something for everyone.


Our strong partnership with 2 Royal Avenue continues in 2024 and again offers everyone the chance to take part and learn Circus skills across a variety of workshops, a real hit at the 2023 festival. 


We are so proud to deliver yet another brilliant Festival of Fools in 2024. We are also very grateful to our funders and the audience who donate so generously to keep us coming back year after year. I can’t wait to showcase our talented performers across the city of Belfast.”


For the full Festival of Fools programme of events please visit; www.foolsfestival.com 


For more information contact Jeff Robinson PR / +44(0)7874862334 / jeff@jeffrobinsonpr.com



Editor Notes;


Founded in 2003, the festival is the brainchild of the late Belfast Community Circus School (now Circusful) Director Will Chamberlain, who believed passionately in the power of street theatre and laughter to bring people together regardless of background, religion or language. He established Festival of Fools in Cathedral Quarter in Belfast at a time when the area was a far cry from the bustling cultural centre it is today.


Nowadays the Festival is a firm fixture on Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar, bringing thousands of visitors to Cathedral Quarter and the city centre.

A long-standing tradition at Festival of Fools is for audiences to donate cash into hats at the end of each show.

100% of every single cash donation goes directly into making the festival possible. Public donations are an incredibly important part of how Festival of Fools is funded and are collected at the end of every show. This year the team are using QR code donations too.


We are hugely grateful to all of our sponsors and funders, with particular thanks to our principal funders Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. Other funders and supporters include: Destination CQ BID, Creative Ireland, ISACS and the Ramada by Wyndham. 


About Contra by Laura Murphy


Drawing from circus, stand-up and live art, Contra is a solo-cabaret of contradictions. Fierce, witty and uncompromising, this highly physical show interrogates personal, social and historical occupations of the female body and explores, literally, where such bodies are positioned and how we are meant to look at them. Expect scenes of nudity, aerial acrobatics, and explicit references to mythical reptiles and female sexuality.

Laura Murphy is a genre-defying queer performance maker from Bristol who makes dynamic, cross-disciplinary physical work about things that she thinks need to be talked about. Contra was directed by alt cabaret legend Ursula Martinez.

Laura Murphy is a circusnext Laureate, circusnext is a platform for circus creation supported by the European Union.

Age Guidance: 18+ Contains nudity, strong language and frank discussions of sex and the body.

About Belonging by Cikada Circus


Belonging is an abstract acrobatic performance piece originally crafted in 2022 as a response to a collection of artworks of the same theme. The performers use a piece of stretch fabric as a medium to create fluid sculptures and abstract shapes, acting as a platform to explore physical and metaphorical expressions of what it is to belong: to one another, to a place, to the natural world, or a feeling of simply not belonging.

In this extended and immersive version, adapted especially for Festival of Fools, the acrobats invite audience members to contemplate our connections to the natural world, to one another, and to the planet as a unified entity.

The original Belonging performance was directed by Alain Servant, commissioned by the Belonging exhibition of works from the EIB Art collection – Limerick, and the creation was supported by Art Council Ireland and Nenagh Arts Centre.

Tickets available here:  www.foolsfestival.com

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