Yhetto, the Asian elephant celebrates birthday with elephantastic weekend!

Yhetto, the Asian elephant will celebrate her 34th birthday this weekend at Belfast Zoo!

Belfast Zoo is planning an ‘elephantastic’ weekend, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May, to celebrate Yhetto the Asian elephant’s 34th birthday!

To celebrate this special occasion visitors will be able to enjoy a range of fun activities, including:

  • elephant keeper talks;
  • jumbo arts and crafts;
  • face painting;
  • meet the neighbours, including Rothschild’s giraffes, meerkats and Visayan warty pigs;
  • decorating birthday presents for Yhetto and the other elephants – Tina, Dhunja and Jenny;
  • watch the elephants at bath time;
  • birthday games;
  • visitors will also be able to help keepers make Yhetto a special birthday cake and of course sing happy birthday to the zoo’s birthday girl!

Elephantastic will be a weekend of celebration of the zoo’s elephants and will demonstrate how these amazing animals are cared for at Belfast Zoo, as curator Alyn Cairns explains;

“Each of our elephants has a fascinating story, at the weekend as well as celebrating Yhetto’s birthday we will celebrate our elephants, tell you their stories and the successes that we have had.”

Huge changes to the elephants at Belfast Zoo occurred during 2008, when two breeding age female elephants, Johti and Vishesh, left the zoo to join a herd in Ostrava Zoo in the Czech Republic.   Belfast Zoo became a sanctuary for older elephants, and four females now live in Belfast, including the ever popular Tina.  Subsequent changes to the zoo’s management techniques and facilities has helped create a superb retirement home and sanctuary for these elderly elephants, a much needed role as part of the European wide zoo conservation and breeding programme.

Alyn continues, “Recent proof that this was the right decision for us to make, was the fantastic news that one of our previous elephants, Johti, gave birth to a very healthy female calf at her new home in Ostrava Zoo! We look forward to welcoming visitors to the zoo’s elephantastic and promise there will be lots of treats and surprises in store for both our visitors and our elephants.”

For more information, call us on 028 9077 6277 or email events@belfastzoo.co.uk

An American affair with the Ulster Orchestra

Dima Slobodeniouk

Barely a week after announcing the appointment of the leading American conductor, JoAnn Falletta, as its new Principal Conductor, the Ulster Orchestra is preparing to end its 2010/11 Season with an American-flavoured concert in the Belfast Waterfront on Friday 20 May.

The grand finale of the Orchestra’s Season features Peter Donohoe playing that favourite of popular classics – Gershwin’s Piano Concerto – a jazz-inspired take on the classical concerto.

Also featuring is Copland’s ever-popular Rodeo and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, one of the composers best-loved and exciting works written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Lydia Gamble, the Ulster Orchestra’s Head of Marketing and Development said: “The closing concert, conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk, promises to be a superb finish to a wonderful Season and is the ‘last-chance-saloon’ to hear the Orchestra before its summer break.”

However, she added: “Fear not! We unveiled our forthcoming Season 2011/12 at a launch in the Ulster Hall on Monday 9 May and there is plenty to look forward to when concerts resume in September, providing a platform for some of the finest international conductors and soloists to bring our audiences some fabulous music”.

The Orchestra’s new brochure is available from its Box Office or can be downloaded from the homepage of its website – www.ulsterorchestra.com

And so audiences don’t have to go completely ‘cold turkey’, there’s one more lunchtime concert of the current Season – at 1.05pm on Wednesday 8 June in the Ulster Hall. And of course not forgetting the BBC’s Summer Invitation Concert series with the Orchestra which culminates in Proms in the Park on Saturday 10 September.

Irish Trad legends support Derry Fleadh Cheoil bid

Irish Traditional music royalty, including Clannad’s Moya Brennan and Mairead Ní Mhaonnaigh from Altan, visited Derry last week to lend their support to the “Bring the Fleadh to Derry” campaign, prior to their sell out show at Derry’s award winning Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin.

Moya Brennan, formerly with the Donegal based band Clannad, Mairead Ní Mhaonnaigh, one of Ireland’s leading fiddle players and the lead vocalist for the Irish super group Altan, and Triona Ní Dhomhnail and Maighréad Ní Dhomhnail, both of whom performed with the highly respected Skara Brae, took part in a photo shoot to celebrate and promote Derry’s bid for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2013.

Speaking at before the gig Mairead Ní Mhaonnaigh commented “This is great news for Derry and I wish the bid well, if we can do anything to assist the bid we will all be delighted to help.”

The Bring the Fleadh to Derry campaign is going from strength to strength at the present time, with the passing of each month heralding more support from around the island of Ireland for this major event to be held in Derry. If successful the event would bring in over £30 million to the local economy and attract over 250,000 visitors over a 7 day period.

The awarding body for Fleadh Cheoil, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, recently held their Annual Congress meeting in Tullamore, where the Derry bid was discussed and received recognition within the prestigious Congress Annual Report. The report highlighted the strength of its current campaign and the strong political support coming from the First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness. Both politicians have sentComhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann a joint letter urging Comhaltas to award Derry the host status for 2013 highlighting that by “this would be major recognition of the changes that have come about in recent years and would encourage many thousands of additional visitors to experience the magic of the city.”

Eibhlin Ní Dhochartaigh from Comhaltas Doire, who is spearheading the “Bring the Fleadh to Derry campaign commented “We are delighted with how the campaign is currently progressing and after our recent meetings at the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Congress I know we will have the support when it comes to the final vote next year.” For more information on the campaign visit www.2013fleadh.ie or www.facebook.com/bringthefleadhtoderry

Switch How You Hitch!

If you’re married or organising a wedding you’ve probably been to a wedding fair to help with the planning process.

“We want to encourage people to be a little more daring on their wedding day!” says Saima Akram, Co-Founder of Quirky Weddings.

“Many people feel there’s a check list of things they ‘have’ to have but it’s just not true. We feel it’s time for NI people to feel brave enough to inject their own personality into the day and many brides don’t fit the whole ‘blushing bride’ image projected by a lot of the wedding industry”

“We like to get out and about to find NI’s most unusual wedding suppliers to write about in our blog and advertise on our listing site. We also want to change how people plan their weddings too.”

Quirky Weddings next event, the ‘Pop-Crawl’ on from 1pm til 5pm on Sunday May 15, is like a pub crawl and wedding fair rolled into one (alcohol optional of course!).

“We found a number of city centre venues that can cater for weddings and asked them to have an ‘open day’ so couples can call in and see what’s on offer. Participating venues include La Boca Argentinean Restaurant, Love and Death Inc, Made in Belfast, Harlem, The Penthouse at the Europa, The Barge and Printers Wine Bar. Most venues will host other wedding suppliers like photographers, entertainers, florists or outside caterers.” adds Saima. “Many companies involved are offering discounts on the day too.”

“The response to this idea has been amazing. New exhibitors are coming on board everyday. Couples should keep checking our website for more information. On the day, the first port of call is La Boca Argentinean Restaurant in Fountain Street, after that couples can choose which venues to visit at their leisure.”

30 SECONDS TO MARS to headline opening night at Belsonic!

30 SECONDS TO MARS headline the opening night Belsonic 2011 on Tuesday 15th August.  The L.A. Based arena-rock three piece, fronted by brothers Jared & Shannon Leto, make their Belfast debut ay Belsonic! Their third studio LP, “This Is War” was released to massive mainstream success in 2009, and was backed by a global arena tour, including a sold-out headline show at Dublin’s O2 Arena.

The brainchild of ex-Oasis members Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer & Andy Bell, BEADY EYE exploded onto the UK scene in November 2010 with debut release “Bring The Light”. Their debut LP “Different Gear, Still Speeding” was released on 28th February 2011, to coincide with a short run of UK live dates, all of which sold out in a matter of minutes. They headline Belsonic 2011 on Saturday August 20th.

Liam Gallagher commented: ‘The people in Northern Ireland are always so up for it – they just get it. It’s like they know something nobody else does. But we’ve never played a festival in Belfast, so I can’t wait for this Belsonic thing. It’s about time I played an outdoor gig in the city, long overdue.’

EXAMPLE is set to play main support for Dizzee Rascal on Wednesday August 16th at Belsonic 2011. He has made a huge impact with his sophomore LP “Won’t Go Quietly”, which spawned the singles “Watch The sun Come Up”, “Won’t Go Quietly” and “Kickstarts”, the latter peaking at number 3 in the UK singles chart. Example played to two consecutive sold-out crowds in Belfast’s Mandela Hall earlier this year, and his popularity continues to grow exponentially, with latest single “Unorthodox” charting at number 2 in the UK.

THE VACCINES, who join Beady Eye at Belsonic 2011 on Saturday August 20th, rocked the UK indie world with the release of their debut LP “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” in March of this year. The London based 4 piece recently played to a sold-out crowd at Queens University’s Students Union, and their popularity has continued to rise following the release of hit singles “Post Break-up Sex” and “If You Wanna”.

Tickets for 30 Seconds To Mars & Beady Eye go onsale this Friday, May 6th, at 9am from www.belsonic.com, Ticketmaster Outlets & The Stiff Kitten.

Tickets for Beady Eye are priced £32.50 including Booking Fees, tickets for 30 Seconds to Mars are priced £31.50 including Booking Fees.

Belsonic 2011 in association with Absolut:

Tuesday August 16th: 30 SECONDS TO MARS + Special Guests

Wednesday August 17th: DIZZEE RASCAL + EXAMPLE & Wretch 32

Friday August 19th: PRIMAL SCREAM : SCREAMADELICA & Special Guests

Saturday August 20th: BEADY EYE + The Vaccines & Special Guests

Wednesday August 24th: ELBOW & Special Guests

Thursday August 25th: PLAN B + Katy B & Special Guests

Saturday August 27th: THE SPECIALS & Special Guests

For more details check out www.belsonic.com