The Festival of Fools in Belfast
I was in Belfast last week for my younger brother's wedding, and had a bit of time spare for a day exploring the city. This was May 4th, right in the middle of Belfast's Festival of Fools, which sees performers come from around the world for several days of street performances and happenings.
I didn't get a chance to stop and watch any individual performances, but in many ways I'm glad I didn't. What I got instead was a day of walking round the city and having several random encounters with bizarre people - overheard shouts, men in crazy costumes, a small group here crowded round a tightrope, a cowboy over there entertaining children. It was a fascinating festival, with an almost guerilla feel - events weren't signposted, there weren't any 'Festival of Fools' banners or billboards, there was just entertainment happening around every corner.
A few that I caught were Leaping Louie, the aforementioned cowboy, Pete Sweet, another American who was winding up his tightrope/unicycle climax when we passed, the extremely funny Edmund Tahl, carrying a suitcase which periodically let off bloodcurdling screams causing him to run down the street, and the irritating St Joan's Ambulance, a pair of faux medics who interrupted our bus tour.
I only mention the Festival because it's under threat, having been unable to secure funding for next year. It seems a real shame, as from what I saw of the Festival it was a fun and highly interesting undertaking, that was genuinely engaging people of all ages in free theatre. I only hope that some private sponsors step up, as it would be very sad for Belfast to lose it.