Under a Christmas Sky features Northern Ireland’s finest musicians, actors, poetry and story-telling, filmed live at the Ulster Folk Museum. From traditional to contemporary everything you will see and hear has one thing in common. The…magic…of…Christmas!
Snow Water (the creators and curators of Distant Sky) are bringing you one cultural treat per day from 10th – 23rd December, and on Christmas Eve you can watch our full programme, hosted by BBC’s Joe Lindsay. Each day, an advent door will open online to reveal a delicious film for the viewer. Under a Christmas Sky combines beautiful poetry from the likes of Michael Longley, George Bernard Shaw, Thackeray and Frank Ormsby, with songs by Darlene Love, Joni Mitchell, Bing Crosby as well as traditional carols. But with a twist – all are given new interpretations by some of Northern Ireland’s finest artists!
Versatile and well-known actor CHARLOTTE MCCURRY, who has performed leads on the stages of The Lyric Theatre, Grand Opera House and BBCNI in productions of works from Rudyard Kipling to Shakespeare, reads ‘Christmas Wayfarers’ by Cathal O Byrne.
Composer and musician NEIL MARTIN, who has long been an undeniable force in music both in Ireland and internationally, performs a stunningly beautiful ‘A Wexford Carol’, an extraordinarily evocative piece.
It isn’t Christmas without a Grimes and McKee show, and we’re delighted to have the incredible actor ALAN MCKEE reading George Bernard Shaw’s ‘No Music at Christmas’.
21 year old multi-award winning ROE, who is blazing a trail for musicians across Ireland and who’s music has featured from Glastonbury to Netflix, brings an incredible new interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’.
Without a shadow of a doubt, ‘A Christmas Gift For You’ by Phil Spector, is the greatest yuletide album of all time and multi-instrumentalist and singer KATIE RICHARDSON delivers a belter cover of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas, Baby Please Come Home’ with her band HEX HUE.
Actor CHRIS GRANT, seen most recently in SyFy Channel’s series ‘Krypton’, performs the great Michael Longley’s piece ‘The Goose’.
Sibling fronted indie-pop band, BRAND NEW FRIEND, who have supported Snow Patrol, Lewis Capaldi and Feeder, and who have fired up stages from Reading and Leeds to Radio 1’s Big Weekend, appear as Carol Singers with their version of ‘Silent Night’.
Bangor duo THE DARKLING AIR, who’s ‘Ancestor’ was nominated for Best Album in 2020, instantly bring an air of sublime melodies and harmonies to the minds of anyone who has ever heard them. They truly have a special aura to their music and they envelope and reinterpret Bing Crosby’s ‘I’ll Be Home for Xmas’.
Award winning actress ABIGAIL MCGIBBON reads ‘In Lieu Of Carols’ written by one of our most acclaimed poets and Ireland’s Professor of Poetry, Frank Ormsby.
We defy you to not reach for the tissues to wipe tears of joy at MATT MCGINN’s performance of the classic favourite, a truly epic Christmas song, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. He was hailed by Hot Press as ‘1 to Watch’ in 2020.
A song so traditional yet timeless it has been covered by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sufjan Stevens and Mariah Carey, ‘O Holy Night’ is as festive as mince pies and we are definitely treating you with a performance by NI OPERA.
For our finale, William Makepeace Thackeray’s ‘The End of The Play’ read by an actor whose credits are matched only by his awards. A career spanning over three decades and most recently Game of Thrones, The Fall and Derry Girls. We are absolutely delighted and honored to have IAN MCELHINNEY close our festive feast.
On Christmas Eve, a film featuring all the artists will be presented by radio and television broadcaster Joe Lindsay (presenter of BBC 6 Music’s festival Big Weekend, BBC1’s The One Show, Our Coast and the award-winning travel series Getaways).
Joe said: “Snow Water hopes to bring a little joy, a little beauty, a little magic to the days leading up to this rather unique, strange and unexpected Christmas. Day by day then as a full piece on Christmas Eve. We are bringing together some of the finest pieces of music and poetry with some of the finest talent in the country. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and to all a good night. Until we return to good nights out.”
Director of Snow Water, Carolyn Mathers, added: “This project would not be happening without the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and we are thrilled that, thanks to their support, we are able to work with 18 artists and 6 freelancers at the beautiful Ulster Folk Museum. We are home to some of the finest artists in the world and, after such a difficult year for the cultural industries and with four of our own live festivals cancelled, we are able to celebrate NI’s artistic excellence and to end the year with some light. It can also be enjoyed every Christmas for years to come and thanks to Tourism Ireland, Under a Christmas Sky will be showcased internationally and watched by digital audiences across Europe and North America.”
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council is proud to support this magical and imaginative project from Snow Water who once again has gathered together some of the finest names from theatre, literature, poetry and music, to lift our spirits and inspire us all this Christmas. The project is supported through our Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP), a fund which has supported 212 organisations to date and will help them buy creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and withstand the shock to their organisation of the substantial loss of income during lockdown. Congratulations to Snow Water on creating, Under a Christmas Sky, a beautiful initiative which will bring joy to all this Christmas.”
10th – 23rd December: Advent Calendar
24th December: Film
Watch on YouTube at Under a Christmas Sky
Facebook & Instagram: @distantskysw