Duke Special headlines series of festive events

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As part of the run up to Christmas Northern Irish troubadour supreme, Duke Special, is set to bring his unique and charming musical extravaganza to Banbridge district when he headlines a series of special festive events in Solitude Park.

Organised by Banbridge District Council ‘Solitude Yulefest’, is a programme of arts, music events and workshops guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. From Saturday, 30 November, until Friday, 6 December, Solitude Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with events taking place in a special marquee, fully heated to keep the winter chill at bay.

The magical marquee venue will provide the perfect atmospheric setting for an intimate concert with local legend Duke Special on Tuesday, 3 December, from 7pm to 10pm.

Those who know Duke for the platinum album ‘Songs from the Deep Forest’, which includes the hit song ‘Freewheel’ and other radio mainstays like ‘Sweet Sweet Kisses’ and ‘Last Night I Nearly Died’ may be surprised by the amazing breadth of his work. Duke Special inhabits a world unlike any other - a world filled with vaudeville-esque sensibility, sing-a-longs and addictive melodies. A unique event not to be missed, tickets are on sale now priced £12.

On Saturday, 30 November, Solitude will be swaying to the sound of Swingabella from 7pm to 9.30pm. Tickets cost £5.

Swingabella is a close-harmony vocal trio bringing back the sassy sound of the 30s and 40s – the swing era, lovingly reproducing the intimate and intricate harmonies of the Andrews Sisters in the 40s and the Boswells Sisters before them. Nothing conjures up the image of that era quite like the jaunty ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ and the ever-popular ‘In The Mood’, coquettishly sung by three broads in victory rolls and T-bar shoes!

Come along early and learn to Lindyhop and Charleston with the Belle Hoppers, and then practice your new fancy footwork during the live performance by Swingabella backed by their seven piece band!

On Wednesday, 4 December, Yulefest warmly welcomes Warrenpoint singer-songwriter Allison McGrath and Soulantics from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Allison is a familiar face on the local festival and live music scene, appearing at Sunflower Fest, Tanglewood, International Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival and Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, to name but a few. Following the success of her 2012 debut CD, ‘Overboard’, Allison is currently recording her second album. Citing her influences as ‘far too many to mention’, audiences can expect Allison and Soulantics to deliver an eclectic mix of original material and soul, blues and jazz covers. Tickets cost £5.

Sick of ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’? All ‘Jingle Belled’ out? The old classics are great, but you may want to hear a uniquely different celebration of Christmas music for a change. If that’s the case, then come along to ‘Christmas Around the World’ on Friday, 6 December, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm for a truly global take on the season of goodwill.

Led by Banbridge-based virtuosos Nikolay and Vessie Ivonov, this Christmas journey will start with music from Europe, before moving further afield to India, Africa and South America. This inspirational music collective, featuring 12 talented musicians and singers showcasing festive music from their own countries, is guaranteed to get you rocking around the Christmas tree. This event is free of charge, but admission is strictly by ticket only. A maximum of four tickets per person may be obtained from Banbridge District Council’s Leisure and Development Department.

Christmas shoppers will be in for a treat on Monday, 2 December, and Tuesday, 3 December, from 12.30 to 2pm. Bring your lunch to the Yulefest marquee and soak up the atmosphere of this uniquely festive venue. Take the weight off your feet during your seasonal shopping trip, and be serenaded by Buskfest 2013 Individual Winner, Juram Gavero. These lunchtime music events are free of charge.

A wealth of wonderful workshops awaits those who enjoy the creativity of the festive season.

Sometimes presentation is everything, so why not spend a little time learning how to be more creative when it comes to parceling up your pressies at a Christmas Gift Wrapping workshop on Saturday, 30 November, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Packed with lots of practical tips this workshop will show you how to use paper and accessories to give your presents the ‘wow factor’, as well as showing you how to wrap those awkward items! Please bring your own scissors and a small item to wrap. Cost is £5

Christmas nights out are a great excuse for a little girly glitz and glamour. Irish Makeup Artist of the Year 2012, Stacey Kilpatrick, Creative Director of SAK Designs, will show you the professional way to polish and perfect your Christmas look during the Girls Night Out Makeup Masterclass from 7.00 to 9.00pm on Monday 2 December. Why not get a few of your girlfriends together for a couple of hours of pampering during this special workshop? You never know, you may want to hit the town afterwards to show off your new look! Refreshments and nibbles provided. Please bring your own makeup bag and a good mirror. Cost is £5.

Conservation Volunteers will facilitate one of their ever-popular Wreath Making Workshops on Thursday 5 December from 6.30 to 9.00pm. During this session, participants will learn how to make a luxurious Christmas wreath from natural materials, as well as adding a little ‘bling’, should you wish! All materials will be provided for participants to take home a unique festive creation of their own. Cost is £5.

All Solitude Yulefest events will take place in the Christmas marquee in Solitude Park, and advance booking is essential. Tickets are available now from Banbridge District Council’s Leisure and Development Department T: 028 4066 0605.

Free parking in all Banbridge Town Centre pay and display car parks on Saturday 7th December!