The countdown is on for some of the UK’s leading tribute bands to perform at TRIBUTE in Belfast’s Custom House Square on Saturday 15th May.

Taking the crowd on a musical journey from the 80s through the 90s and into the 00s, this event is a unique recess-fest designed to bring life right into the heart of Belfast’s city centre, offering fans of some of the world’s greatest bands the chance to enjoy their hits, performed live at a rock bottom ticket price.

Maurice Jay’s Pleasuredome will kick things off with a set of their special mix of 80’s classics.  Formed earlier this year, the band’s lead singer Johnny Brady won his place to front the band when he was spotted singing at a Rockaoke event in Belfast late last year.



ZU2, the UK’s leading U2 tribute band, will then take to the stage to perform some of the classics which have taken Bono and the boys to superstardom.

Brandon Flowers look and soundalike Leon Heynes will lead Hot Fuss, the ultimate tribute to The Killers, with hits such as All These Things That I Have Done, Mr Brightside and Human.

With the audience totally warmed up and feeling good, Rockaoke, a live karaoke rock band, will take to the stage and invite budding rock and popstars to join them.  Already, a range of local acts have been chosen to headline the festival and there is also the chance for you to take the place of the lead vocalist.  The best headliner will win a rockstar prize, details of which will be revealed on the day.

Hott Fuss

The feelgood theme will transcend the stage with entertainment on the ground too including the chance to dress like your favourite rockstar with official fancy dress partner, Dramaqueens.  Dress to impress, as the best rock star will win a ‘best dressed’ prize; have your face painted in the most glamourous glam-rock style and sample a range of hot and cold refreshments throughout the event, which starts at 4.00pm.

Festival Director Lynne Maltman, the brains behind TRIBUTE, explains the concept: “For the first time in history the public will get the chance to headline their very own outdoor music festival.  I’ve worked with Rockaoke on various events and I’m really passionate about giving the public the chance to take to the stage to perform classic hits with their backing at Custom House Square.  It’s going to be a great day out with entertainment to suit all music tastes”.


Tickets priced at £22.00 can be purchased at the Belfast Welcome Centre until Friday 14th May and will be posted out if bought online before 10th May at 4pm.  After this, tickets bought online must be collected at the Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place, Belfast.  Tickets will be on sale at the event priced £25.00.


Visit to find out more about this unique event.  Gates open at 4.00pm with Maurice Jay’s Pleasuredome onstage at 4.30pm.

Maurice Jay's Pleasuredome

Kerry Curran from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who are supporting the event added:  “Belfast was named the UK’s number one karaoke destination in a survey carried out by computer game retailer Game at the close of 2008, seeing off competition from London, Guildford, Manchester and Edinburgh to come out top. The TRIBUTE Festival is putting that accolade to the test and inviting the general public to take to the stage with Rockaoke. We’re looking forward to what promises to be an unmissable event and to welcoming lots of visitors into the city for the event on 15th May.”

Those travelling to Belfast for TRIBUTE can avail of a special Festival rate with hotel partner Premier Inn Waring Street. Also, Belfast Sightseeing Buses will give a discounted rate to Festival goers who can hop on and off the bus throughout the day and make the most of their visit to Belfast.


Marie Curie is TRIBUTE’s partner charity and Lesley Wright, Community Fundraising Manager for Marie Curie Hospice, Belfast, commented:  “Marie Curie Hospice, Belfast is thrilled to have been chosen as TRIBUTE’s festival charity. It is such a unique, fun concept and a really exciting event to be happening in Belfast. We are looking forward to seeing lots of people at Custom House Square on 15th May when our volunteers we will be in attendance undertaking a collection to raise funds which will provide hospice care to patients terminally ill with cancer and other illnesses.”

TRIBUTE is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Cool FM.  Its partner charity is Marie Curie Hospice Belfast.


Get a sneak peak here

Medieval May Day Holywood

Medieval May Day 2010 in Holywood was a fantastic day out for the whole family.
Some 18,000 people attended the event that was organised by North Down Borough Council in partnership with Holywood and District Community Council.

Visitors were treated to lots of top-class entertainment including jesters, acrobats and fighting knights in the medieval arena.  There was also  maypole dancing and the crowning of Linzi Sinton as the May Queen.

Crowds and Stalls at Holywood Medieval May Day.

Dancing round the Maypole at Holywood Medieval May Day
Ella Dougal dances at the childrens interactive dancing with Jump Jiggle and Jive at the Holywood Medieval May Day Holywood County Down Monday 3rd
Ella Dougal dances at the childrens interactive dancing with Jump Jiggle and Jive at the Holywood Medieval May Day Holywood County Down Monday 3rd
Valerie Cobain Chair of Holywood and District Community Council May Queen Linzi Sinton Mayor of North Down Councillor Tony Hill

Securing Corporate Sponsorship for Events

Speaking from personal experience I know how difficult it can be to secure event sponsorship, particularly if you are involved in a new event with no track record of success.  I came across the following article on

It’s some top tips and advice from Christine Jacob, senior manager of corporate sponsorships in the Mayor’s Office of Special Events in Chicago who has been involved in the highly successful Chicago Taste Festival (the model for the Belfast Taste and Music Festival – run by the enigmatic Connie Cunningham of Cunningham Events).

The Belfast Taste and Music Festival will take place again this year in Botanic Gardens 5th – 8th August.

Even though Christine is talking about a huge, internationally recognised food event, the information here still applies – no matter how small you think your event is.  Sponsors all want the same thing – return on investment. So keep reading – I hope you take something from it.

Corporate sponsors play a significant role in the planning and execution of any community festival. For the Taste of Chicago 2007, a total of 69 sponsors across 12 different sponsorship categories supported the event.

Christine Jacob, senior manager of corporate sponsorships in the Mayor’s Office of Special Events in Chicago, supports numerous programs throughout the year. But for the Taste, her goal is to identify sponsors and secure/negotiate terms early to help maximize the event’s total revenue.

Sponsorship categories at the Taste include the following:

  • Presenting ($750,000)
  • Family Village ($125,000)
  • 3rd of July ($125,000)
  • Official Credit Card ($90,000)
  • Taste Stage ($90,000)
  • Concert: 1 per night (customized)
  • Gourmet Dining Pavilion ($50,000)
  • Dining Pavilion ($40,000)
  • Participating ($30,000)
  • On-Site: 10 days ($25,000)
  • On-Site: 1 day ($5,000)
  • Media: in-kind value ($120,000)

Of course, sponsors are savvy and measure the benefits of participating in a community festival against their own business objectives.

For example, some sponsors use the Taste as an opportunity to brand themselves with some of the entertainment options to expand their visibility with event attendees. The result: Humana Senior Pavilion, Dominick’s Cooking Corner, Gallo Wine Pavilion (part of Gourmet Dining).

How to Secure Sponsors

Because the Taste of Chicago is an established annual event, sponsorship renewals typically begin in September for the following year with contract commitments by December.

“We’re fortunate that Taste is what it is,” Jacob explains. “People call us – which is great. It’s a marketer’s dream to be part of Taste.”

When the programming committee for the Taste meets each year in the fall, they consider new programming areas and that’s when the sponsorship team begins to integrate these ideas into the their platform.

In 2007, the Taste included three new areas: Goin’ Green Pavillion, Sports Pavilion, and a International Pavilion. If a sponsor isn’t identified, the category is simply sponsored by the city, and the benefits are measured and used to find a sponsor for the following year (as long as the for the next year.

If sponsors do not commit by year end or drops out for any reason, it’s time for the sponsorship team to pursue new sponsors.

“That could mean cold calls and pitches,” Jacobs explains. “For example, if an automotive sponsor drops out, we’ll approach another automotive sponsor who we’ve worked with in the past.”

For those approaching sponsorship for the first time or those who are holding a previous organized event that is now annualized, Jacobs offers the following tips:

  1. Even if you’re not successful, try to secure a first year sponsor.
  2. Sponsorships must be identified as part of the initial planning phase.
  3. Brainstorm program elements early to allow maximum time to secure sponsors.
  4. Identify the value of each category; reinforce the benefits of a previously held program and its sponsorship levels.
  5. Create a fact sheet for each property/individual sponsorship category.
  6. Offer higher level sponsors the right of first refusal. Majority of sponsors are either participatin or onsite. Many
  7. Renew all sponsorships at least six months prior to the event.
  8. Secure new/replacement sponsors at least three months prior to the event.
  9. Hold weekly or regular meetings to communicate sponsor status and renewals.

Common Elements in a Sponsorship Package

Sponsors consider return on investment (ROI) when measuring the value of sponsorships. And the most important elements include awareness and financial benefits.

Nevertheless, event planners who organize community events such as a food festival will determine sponsorship levels and direct benefits from the organizer to help support those ROI objectives. Depending on the sponsorship level, visibility included in the Taste may include any portion or all of the following:

  • Signage/banner opportunities (stage, railing, towers, street pole, etc.)
  • Corporate logo on main stage
  • Category exclusivity
  • Promotional tent
  • Advertisement in program materials
  • Status level on event brochure
  • Corporate logo on event advertisements
  • Corporate logo at ticket windows
  • Mentions in radio advertising
  • Priority seating tickets
  • Use of corporate hospitality tents
  • Main stage presentations
  • Main stage mentions
  • Opportunity to bring inflatable for increased visibility
  • Corporate press releases with event press kits
  • Parking and delivery permits
  • Invitations to press preview party
  • Opportunity to distribute pre-approved sample items

Benefits of Sponsorship

While “cash” may seem like the most obvious reason to secure sponsors, many other benefits exist for incorporating sponsorship categories into a community food festival, according to Jacob:

  • Concert sponsorship helps bring top name artists.
  • Corporate sponsorships enhance programming.

The Value of In-Kind Offers

To be sure, sponsoring an established event like the Taste is beneficial to both sponsor and organizer, so in-kind offers can sometimes be viewed as cash. Some examples that Jacob suggests include the following:

  • Media sponsors to provide TV, radio and print advertising.
  • Radio sponsors to offset talent expenses.
  • Airline sponsors to provide seats for out of town entertainment.
  • Hotels to provide complimentary guest rooms for entertainment.

Another important factor when identifying sponsors for a family event: “We do not have any ‘sin’ categories. We avoid tobacco and sex related sponsors,” Jacob says. “And because this is a food festival, no food sampling is allowed.”

For anyone who is considering an event like this for the first time, Jacob recommends doing a lot of research, and suggests that planners consider using an experienced firm to find out how other people do it.

“As far as creating something new, I’d research comparable events. Network as much as possible. You cannot use the same pricing and benefits, but try to compare apples to apples.”

Jacobs also recommends IEG, an international provider of independent research, consulting, training and analysis on sponsorship, as a good source for information.


£35.00 + booking fee / 6pm
Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends, Blondie, make a return to Belfast this summer, this time at the King’s Hall complex. Originally forming in 1974, they are one of a few bands from this era still touring. Fronted by the iconic Debbie Harry, the band have had a string of chart topping hits over the years and have toured extensively around the world. The UK band enjoyed huge success in USA before a band member fell ill, the band took a break and worked on individual projects. Sixteen years later the band reformed and released a new album, No Exit, their seventh studio album. The album was a product of what the band had evolved to, but still had the elements that gave Blondie their individual sound. Soon after the release of the single “Maria” went to number one in 14 countries. Following this, they embarked on US, UK and European tours. Blondie continued to release more successful material and tour extensively. Their album The Best of Blondie reached double platinum for sales of over 2 million.

In 2008, EMI celebrated the 30-year anniversary of Blondie’s Parallel Lines with a re-release of the iconic album that gave the band their first #1 hit in the U.S., “Heart of Glass,” and went on to sell over 20 million copies – an extraordinary feat achieved only by an elite club of artists. The reissue contains all the original classic tracks, along with instrumental versions, some vintage recordings previously available only on vinyl, plus exclusive video content. Debbie is rightfully proud of the band’s hard work and accolades: “The guys have gotten really good at what they do. I mean, they always were good players and songwriters, but I think now you could say they’re accomplished.”

Blondie will be performing in Belfast’s Nugent Hall, part of the King’s Hall complex on Wednesday 23rd June 2010. Tickets go on sale on Friday 16th April at 9am. Tickets are priced £35.00 plus booking fee and will be available from all Ticketmaster outlets including Katy Dalys and

Find out more about Blondie at Blondie

Venue: Nugent Hall (King’s Hall complex)
Date: Wednesday 23rd June 2010
Ticket Price: £35.00 + Booking Fee (Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult)
Doors: 6pm
Support: To Be Confirmed
In person: From 22 Ticketmaster outlets province wide (Including Easons) / Katy Daly’s Bar
24hr hotlines: Tel: (NI) 0844 277 44 55 (ROI) 0818 719 300
Buy online: