Neeson pays tribute to local festival

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson has paid tribute to Ballymena Festival in this, its Centenary year.

The Ballymena-born actor has praised Festival organisers for their commitment to the performing arts in the area over the decades.

He said: “As a Freeman of Ballymena, I am always pleased to hear about the good things that are happening in my home town. I want to congratulate Ballymena Festival of Music, Speech and Dance on reaching their centenary year in 2016. Many of my extended family members have been involved over the years in the Festival, whether as teachers or performers or committee members. The Feis has provided a platform for the nurturing of talent over generations and in many areas of the performing arts. I commend the organisers for their hard work and dedication, and I encourage the participants in this special year to appreciate that they are part of a very worthy tradition.” To mark the centenary, a special Centenary concert is to be held in the Braid Arts Centre at 7.30pm on Saturday, February 13.

It promises to be a captivating and varied event.

All the entertainers will be distinguished past or current performers at Ballymena Festival: musicians, singers and exponents of Irish and Modern dance. Among those taking to the stage will be actress Allie Ford (Dympna from Give My Head Peace); soprano Rachel Thompson (singer with Anuna and Riverdance); Northern Ireland Young Musicians Eva Richards (cello) and Stephen Rankin (flute); the award-winning Nine Glens School of Irish Dancing (from Martinstown); traditional musicians, the McCloskey Family from Portglenone; and contemporary dancers, the Ballymena Dance Academy.

Internationally renowned artists, The Priests, will also grace the stage. As boarders at Garron Tower, they regularly appeared at Ballymena Festival in their student days.

Tickets for this exciting evening of music, song and dance are currently on sale on the Festival website ballymenafestival.org.uk, and from the box office at the Braid Centre.