Speech section kicks off annual festival

Beth McConnell from Portadown performing her violin solo at the final night of Portadown Music Festival last year. INPT17-208.
Beth McConnell from Portadown performing her violin solo at the final night of Portadown Music Festival last year. INPT17-208.

Portadown Festival starts again next week with almost three months of drama, dance and music on the agenda.

The first section is speech which runs from February 23 to March 3, with adjudicators Tish Nicoll and Priscilla Morris, both from England, making a return visit to the town.

A number of new classes have been introduced this year. They are The Seamus Heaney Class for Senior Students, Musical Theatre Duologue Class for Seniors and Juniors, and three Monologue Classes which cover a range of ages from 8-16 and over.

The speech festival will end with an awards ceremony on the final night, beginning at 7pm.

The remaining sections are drama (March 7-17), Irish folk dancing (March 18-25), music (March 28-April 5) and dance (April 27 to May 6).

Drama secretary Elizabeth Pollock said, “It’s good to welcome all the competitors back from last year and new ones, bringing new life to the festival. They all work incredibly hard to reach festival standard.”

The drama festival will see 10 amateur dramatic societies staging their plays over 10 nights.

All the classes will be held at Portadown Town Hall, with the exception of the schools section of Irish folk dancing which will be staged at Craigavon Civic Centre.

Portadown Music Festival Association was founded 95 years ago and from just 41 classes in the music section, it has grown to a total of 510 classes across the five different sections - music, speech, drama, Irish folk dancing, and dance,

Around 8,000 competitors are expected to compete over the festival period.