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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 28, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    If you only do one thing this weekend: get some Louth in your life

    Laurence Mackin

    Go south: The first of the seasonal flush of summer festivals got us a little excited and over-enthusiastic last week, so much so that we were bigging up Dingle’s Feile Na Bealtaine seven days too early – apologies to anyone who read that and immediately dropped everything to head to Dingle (although not one person came through with the helicopter seat I requested). So this week, can we (again) accurately recommend you check out Feile na Bealtaine. The highlight could be tonight’s opening show in the Hillgrove Hotel, when Motema – who the organisers say represent “the pinnacle of true Congolese musicianship anywhere in the world” – share the bill with Tarab, a fusion of Celtic, Arabic and jazz influences lead by Francesco Turrisi, who launched their new album just last night. Click here for more details on the festival.

    Go north: One of the quirkiest festivals of last year is back with a van – Vantastival takes place at Dunany, Co Louth this weekend on a privately owned organic farm near the seaside village of Annagassan. Among the acts living it up in Louth will be Donal Dineen and Niwel Tsumbu, Windings, Duke Special, Whipping Boy, Cast of Cheers, Wallis Bird, Jamie Lawson and Sweet Jane. Sounds like another fine Picnic in the making to us. Day tickets are ¤40, weekend tickets are €85; click here for further details.

    Go eastern: It’s all happening in Louth this weekend. The Drogheda Arts Festival is bringing a touch of the exotic to the northeast, and tomorrow evening sees the screening of a film about the ancient Silk Road trading route at 6.30pm in the Barbican, and on Saturday there will be a children’s art workshop, with painting on silk at 11am in Barlow House. These events are to complement a concert featuring work commissioned by the Louth Contemporary Music Society by Dmitri Yanov Yanovsky, a renowned composer from Uzbekistan, which will be performed by the Hilliard ensemble on Friday night at 8pm. Click her for further information.

    Work your brain: If you find yourself in Dublin for the duration, there is plenty to choose from this weekend, but the pick of the bunch is the Mindfield International Festival of Ideas, which is taking place in Merrion Square from tomorrow until Sunday, and runs the gamut from culture and comedy to planning and politics. Click here for more details but among the sessions piquing our interest are: the new ideas foreign policy session on Saturday at 1.15pm featuring Mark Little, Mary Fitzgerald, Hussein Buhidma, Mary Lawlor and Ed O’Loughlin; the Ignite session on Saturday at 8pm when 10 speakers get 20 slides and five minutes to blow your mind; and the MindField Finale on Sunday, featuring the best ideas of the weekend with the Leviathan Arkestra. Don’t forget to bring your brain to this one.

    Listen: We’re getting fierce jazzy around here of late, and ahead of next weekend’s 12 Points Festival in Dublin, we have this weekend’s Bray Jazz Festival to get us clicking our fingers in 5/4 time to. (You can read more about both festivals in this piece I wrote for Wednesday’s Arts pages.) Christine Tobin and Liam Noble will be giving Carole King’s album Tapestry the once over on Friday. On Saturday, the Andreas Varady Quartet are playing a lunchtime concert, with the Kalotaszeg Trio, featuring Gypsy jazz violinist Tcha Limberger, and US guitar great Kurt Rosenwinkel’s quartet is among the evening’s highlights. On Sunday afternoon there will be an Irish jazz showcase, with the Artvark Saxophone Quartet in the Town Hall in the evening, and Hamilton De Holanda and André Mehmari lighting up the Mermaid Arts Centre. Click here for more details; tickets are €10-25, depending on the show.

    And to give you a little taste of what to expect in Bray, here is 13 year old Andreas Varady ripping it up. Set your face to stunned.

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