200+ events, 100+ venues and over 30,000 people in Cathedral Quarter and beyond - Culture Night is taking over Belfast on 19th September between 4-10pm. VIEW EVENTS
"Best night ever! A surprise round every corner. Simply brilliant!"
Whenever anyone asks about Culture Night or even when most people think about the event itself the first of a collection of things which springs to mind is Writer’s Square. Or Buoys Park. Or parades climaxing outside St Anne’s Cathedral. Or trying to force through the crowds of Hill Street. And rightly so, because there’s always amazing things to see in all of these places.
However, this year the participants and team at CNHQ have made an incredible effort to spread the love throughout all of the Cathedral Quarter and beyond, which will keep you guessing and full of wonder from beginning to end. Look beyond Buoys Park and the site keeps going. Block parties in Dawson’s Music! A Cat Café in Clements! Walk down Union Street and you’ll find weird and wonderful street art and events in bars like The Maverick and The Sunflower running from beginning to end.
Drift past the Assembly Rooms on Waring Street and find dragons at The Wickerman and a Zine-making workshop in Mikey’s Diner. Stroll across the road and find a beautiful art installation in Joy’s Entry about The Fishermen of Lost Dreams and the Belfast Feminist Network’s walking tour, A Wander of Wonder Women, departing from Pottinger’s Entry.
Go even further “off the beaten track” and you’ll find Fountain Street has constructed a mini area of its own for Culture Nght containing Tradiohead (Radiohead tribute by way of traditional Irish instrumentation), music in The Fountain Bar, Write Fight and even an appearance from Peppa Pig in Waterstones! Or start your whole CNB14 experience as far as Victoria Street with an evening of Poetry and Prose from the superb people at The Open University.
No Culture Night is ever the same. Year by year there’s new arts collectives & organisations, shops, buildings, bars, cafes and restaurants which alter the whole dynamic of the area, how it’s used and how it’s imagined. Be sure to embrace all of it, you won’t be disappointed!
Here’s a secret the powers of the world don’t want you to know. Ready? Gather closely and be very quiet. Did you know that the third Friday in September is International Take a Half Day from Work. Seriously, how brilliant is that?! Imagine all the wonderful things you can do with taking a half day from work...
You can take the dog for a walk, pick the kids up from school on time, read a book, write a book, kiss a cook! Go to the pub, go to the park, fly a kite, ride a bike, the list goes on and it doesn’t even have to rhyme.
If you happen to be in Belfast or a bus or even plane journey away you can always use that half day to come to Culture Night. I know what you’re thinking, what an amazing coincidence. It’s almost like we’ve just made it up...
Imagine; it’s 12.30pm on Friday September 19th. You’ve got that Friday feeling or whatever the kids are calling it these days, lunch is on your mind, maybe even an early pint. You recline back feeling proud knowing you’ve put a shift in, staying that extra hour or two on the Wednesday or Thursday and you have Culture Night pinned on your calender anyway. Well, why not tell the boss you’re leaving early? Hell, bring him or her along for the trip, why not make it a staff do!
As you’ll know by now, there are so many brilliant events starting before Culture Night officially kicks off! At 3pm the wonderful people at Belfast City Tours are providing a Free Boat Cruise at Donegall Quay with loads of fun surprises we aren’t allowed to tell you about. Head Music and Young At Art will be electrifying CastleCourt with events taking place all day from 12-6pm! It will also give you the chance to explore more alternative CNB venues such as the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (opened to the public from 1pm with talks and activities) or the Red Barn Gallery opened from 10am.
Wait, you’re right, what about dinner for you and the kids? Well don’t worry about that because we’ve got you covered with sixteen...SIXTEEN street food vendors plus the possibly thousands of other restaurants populating Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter these days. Not forgetting everything which will be starting at 4pm sharp the whole family can enjoy. The city will be buzzing all day in anticipation! Join in and get involved!
Guys, we can do this. Come one, come all and let’s make Friday a half day!
If you know me you’ve probably heard this story before, so I apologise for boring you all once again. However, for everyone else who hasn’t I’m here to tell you why the arts matter to me. And bore you also...
When I’m not doing this internship and I find those few precious hours to myself, I write stories, for children mostly. I know, I know, you’re right I should probably go and find a real job but stay with me for a moment.
A couple years ago I was setting up for the first ever public reading. I don’t know how the organisers got me to agree to it. Ignore the fact I’m a horrendous public speaker, but who would want to come see an unknown, self-published children’s author ramble on about a book they’ve never heard of? Somehow it went better than I expected. One thing I’ve learnt about writing over the last five years is it’s never half as terrible as it probably is swirling around in your head.
Anyway, one day, months I got the most amazing e-mail from a little girl who attended the event telling me how much she loved my story, that it was one of her favourite books. I responded with sheer delight, truly blown away by such kind words. Yet the best part was to come when the girl’s mother sent me a second e-mail telling me her daughter made her create a birthday cake out of my book’s title character, and sent me photo evidence.
Success is defined by a lot of things. I might not become a best-selling author but because I wrote a book, one girl decided, alongside all the Harry Potters, Katniss Everdeens, Cats in the Hat, Artemis Fowls of the world that my Amelia Black was worthy of being listed in such prestigious company. It was the first time in my life I’ve felt like something I created mattered.
So one week from today, at Culture Night, when you’re moved by a piece of poetry in a cafe, or blown away by that incredible boom of a giant drum circle, or inspired by the girls of the Roller Derby, or when you’re playing about on a pop up piano or just smiling in delight at the sight a big red rocket, remember all of these feelings and reactions are as important as the people who spent the countless hours invoking them.
Look I’ll stop the whimsy and be reasonably serious for a moment...
We all know this country isn’t perfect. Some of the problems we have are so petty and mind-boggling it conjures genuine anger at how insignificant they can seem to the most reasonable of minds. And sometimes it’s easy to forget in light of all those things how much the arts matter in this country – even when they aren’t being threatened by unfathomable cuts. They exist to enrich our lives and to awaken our souls. They shouldn’t ever exist to make us feel inferior or excluded. Heaven forbid, it’s about having fun!
So don’t let our unfortunate ‘powers that be’ cut away at it further. On September 19th 2014 in this beautiful city let them know how much all this matters, let them know what we’re all capable of when we collide in this celebration of everything good about Northern Ireland. And when the clock strikes 10pm and the sounds of Tusk are finished ringing through the city, let the whole world know of all the beauty and wonder that transpired, scream it as loud and proud into the stars.
Once you do, trust me, marvellous things are going to happen.
One of my favourite things since starting this internship is walking to work every morning. Partly to keep fit, mostly because I’m skint. I take pretty much the same route to get into the centre of town, but as soon as I’m over the Albert Bridge and pass The Waterfront Hall, my path to the office take on various forms. Sometimes I walk through the Victoria Centre, other times I stroll pass Bittle’s Bar on Upper Church Lane. After that it’s a combination of side streets, entries and quiet roads through the Cathedral Quarter.
If you happen to do a similar walk, next time just look up at the buildings. Forever changing, Belfast’s contorted urban jungle is a bizarre mix of Art Deco ruins, Victorian and Georgian restorations, crisp modern architecture and everything in between.
I’m not a student of the field but it baffles me walking past some structures why they bother to create all these “exciting new property and office developments,” when they aren’t using the structures already there. Yes a lot of red tape is involved, yes health, safety and risk assessments must come into it, but it breaks the heart to see buildings go unused. It breaks my heart further to see them used in the wrong ways.
Think this is why I’m drawn to the arts or more specifically to Culture Night in general. There are people out there who use these spaces in the most incredible ways; who see a derelict building and imagine a theatre, or go down a painfully grey street or entryway and devilishly envisage a weird, wonderful gallery of street art.
I mean it could be worse, just look at the botched job of beautiful historic buildings in this Guardian article and you realise Belfast maybe doesn’t have it so bad but we do still have a lot of catching up to do in the grand scheme of things.
It also begs the bigger question for our own Cathedral Quarter, and even the grander commercial area of Belfast City Centre, of what the future holds for our high streets? With increases in online shopping, there should be more proactive support for people to set up interesting new businesses around the area.
In the last couple of years Belfast’s bar and restaurant scene has attempted to animate areas which were all but dead previously, the same should be encouraged with our independent retailers.
So the next time an old bank is set for refurbishment, demand better than a Tesco! This is a creative city full of colour and imagination; it deserves more interesting shop fronts, theatres, gig venues, art galleries, museums, independent cinemas, libraries for all communities, across all walks of life.
Imagine bigger, imagine better.
Culture Night Belfast, the city’s most colourful and inclusive celebration is back again for its sixth year! Last year over 40,000 people took to the streets of our city for an odyssey of art, music, poetry, dance, film, theatre and everything in between the whole family can enjoy. This year we intend to not only go bigger but also expect our footfall to rise once more.
Because of this, the need for keen and enthusiastic people, with a passion for promoting the cultural and artistic beauty this city has to offer, has never been greater. We’re looking for volunteers to not only take part in the biggest night of the year but to help us deliver something special that all of Belfast can be proud of and will be remembered for a long time after.
Also, for the first time ever, we will be looking for additional volunteers to help out during our CNX events from Tuesday September 16th to Sunday September 21st.
We’re looking for volunteers to who will happily engage with the public on Culture Night, providing a safe, friendly atmosphere as well as oversee questionnaires to make sure future Culture Night events are the best they can be.
If interested, please fill out our online volunteer form and come along to one of our briefing sessions held at 6pm on the 8th and 10th September 2014 in our offices at the Cathedral Quarter Management Workspace on 109-113 Royal Avenue.
Help us make this city grow…
CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT THE VOLUNTEER FORM
Calling all culturally-curious community groups. Have you or your group considered taking part in Culture Night Belfast in this or previous years, but didn’t know where to begin?
Well – begin right here! This year, organisers of Culture Night Belfast are offering bespoke tours for first time groups. Building on the huge success of previous Culture Night Companion Tours, which won over hundreds of new CNB Converts, they will return on the night of 19 September, with the aim of drawing more new audiences into the sheer communal thrill of Culture Night Belfast.
It couldn’t be simpler for you or your group: Organisations or groups eager to sample some choice Culture Night events and experiences will be taken on the tours, especially designed to best showcase a dazzling array of events and activities taking place throughout the night.
These specifically tailored tours will benefit groups who are interested in finding out what Culture Night is all about first hand, and offers a welcoming “way in” to the often daunting full-on programme of Culture Night Belfast.
Experienced guides will work with community leaders to ensure that the tours offered will chime exactly with the needs and interests of any particular group and a comprehensive Culture Night Belfast experience is guaranteed for all intrepid tour teams.
The Tours depart from the University of Ulster, York Street entrance on 19 September, from 5pm or 7pm and last for approximately 90mins. Free transport to and from the city centre is available for groups. The only thing that’s missing then, is you..
If you’re interested in your group taking part in a Culture Night Companion Tour, please contact email@example.com or on 07749 103 626.
After a month in the office, the first thing you notice is time is never on your side – it’s an obvious observation I know, but an observation nonetheless. It’s August 11th 2014, a rainy Monday morning and we’re all chasing the last of an already impressive submissions list as the first wave of deadlines loom...
I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but looking at all that’s been submitted so far – red tape, logistical headaches and production niggles aside – you can’t help but be in awe of the creativity and craft involved in this city of ours. The diversity is simply endless.
I mean, there’s going to be a 16ft high red rocket overlooking Writer’s Square! A group of people will be splashing the roads with a sea of rainbow crossings before darkness descends and we finish with a dance with fire in Cathedral Gardens. Umbrellas will hang from above with tales of lost dreams while turning around you’ll see a shadow puppet show taking in the bridge linking the University of Ulster’s art colleges together.
Just seeing that previous paragraph written down sounds completely bonkers, but seeing it executed on the night is going to be something truly magical. From my perspective, seeing the hard work involved in bringing all this together from the artists and everybody in the office has only made me love what Culture Night is trying to achieve even more. Just don’t ask us to name another project, the puns flow faster than water…
It’s time to get back to it. The final programme is coming very soon, I think everyone who’s been to Culture Night before is going to love it, and everyone else who are coming for the first time will love it even more.
Culture Night Belfast is proud to unveil its latest partnership, one that we hope will literally bear fruit (and veg) in a very good cause….
Root Soup is a social enterprise which grows and prepares vegetables to make soups and breads, directly involving people who have learning disabilities and people who are homeless working together to learn and grow. A “field to fork” initiative, Root Soup offers training and employment opportunities across the food chain in areas such as growing, preparation and catering. Their greater aim is to enhance the relationship between people with disabilities, people who are homeless and the rest of our society, using the simple act of growing fresh healthy produce together as a catalyst.
This chimed SO much with CNB2014’s theme of organic growth, not to mention our slogan “Feed Me”, that Culture Night has joined forces with Root Soup to present the shiny, new and 100 per cent sustainable “Culture Night Allotment” initiative.
The plan is simple: Culture Night has co-opted a number of vegetable and fruit beds and polytunnels at Root Soup’s rather stunning Vista Allotment in Dundonald (which we visited last week – see fab pics below!).
These will offer up a delicious and dizzying variety of potential produce such as runner beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, courgettes, leeks, peas, carrots, onions, beetroots, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and apples.
We’re now asking local organisations, venues, businesses and individuals – be they regular participants in Culture Night, or newcomers - to sponsor a bed of produce. A sponsored bed-in if you like. Each sponsor will get naming rights on whichever vegetable or fruit bed takes their fancy – from Apples to Zucchinis (that’s Americanese for courgettes!). Root Soup and Culture Night will then track the progress of your sponsored produce through a photo diary, and then finally, the produce will be harvested, prepared and used to train, feed and nurture those most in need.
Like a certain royal, the only decision participants have to make now is, which fruit or veg speaks to them most?
For further information and a full list of fruit and veg sponsorship options please contact firstname.lastname@example.org quoting “Culture Night Allotment”.
We all love that magical night in September, when for a handful of amazing hours, Culture Night Belfast gloriously transforms the spaces and places of our favourite city .
BUT why stop at one intense evening? As well as Culture Night, what about enjoying an leisurely programme of events throughout the week showcasing more of the best of Belfast?
Yes, we thought so too! And so Culture Night Belfast is about to go “XTRA” with CNX – offering curious visitors and up-for-it locals an attractive array of opportunities over six days. CNX will offer up a programme of activities and adventures, performances and even a few surprises which neatly wrap around the big night itself, and offer a little something extra for everybody.
Staring on Monday 15 September, CNX will whet the appetite for Culture Night Belfast, and then offers the perfect non-chemical antidote to the dreaded Culture Night cold turkey comedown by giving everybody an excuse to make an extended weekend of it in Belfast, right up until Sunday 21 September. And we can absolutely guarantee that it hasn't been tested on animals - you will be our willing human guinea pigs!
In official blurb, CNX is a brand new element to the Culture Night Programme - there will even be a special pull out section in the brochure.
But really, we all know what CNX really means - six days to sample events and to window shop along the rich creative underbelly of the Belfast Streets, and all in a way that won’t spoil your appetite for the main event!
Where do I start?
What a curious few weeks these have been. Casting my mind back to the start of June, things felt so different. My job options were nonexistent and I was working a part time job that I’ve been in for over ten years, with no get out clause. So, jaded with the situation, I was close to packing it all in and leaving Northern Ireland for good. But sure, the World Cup was on the telly. That was at least something.
Maybe upon hearing this plea of self-pity, the universe heeded my call for change. Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time. Or perhaps I was just a jammy git. I saw the advertisement for this internship and sent my CV in on a whim. I have so many rejection letters and e-mails from prospective jobs and my haphazard literary career already, what’s one more to the pile? Yet here I am, writing a post on my first three weeks as a Culture Night intern. And through a combination of fear, hope, excitement and wonder along with the kindness of my new colleagues, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.
Since I found out about it back in 2011, I’ve always loved the idea of Culture Night. Swimming through an ocean of beautifully crafted events – music, art, theatre, film, dance and literary – around every corner of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and beyond. Each more magical than the last and seeing venues lit up and breathing life into a city I love dearly – despite all its imperfections. In a perfect world Belfast would be like this every weekend, but until that day CN remains one of the most enjoyable and equally most important nights on Northern Ireland’s calendar.
However, did I ever stop for a moment to think of the scale of this operation? The security? Closing off streets? Catering? Volunteers? Team leaders? Permits? Sponsorship? Licensing? Insurance? Logistical coordination of the actual events?! No, no I did not.
When Jillian [Thompson, Production Manager] handed me and my fellow intern Stephanie this huge tome of information containing every single minute detail of each site from CN13, on the first day, I went a little pale and wondered if I was in over my head.
As the days passed by I went from sourcing catering and street food vans to writing down all the incredible events already confirmed, waiting with immense anticipation to see what else is to come, getting to know my fellow intern Stephanie and rediscovering a coffee addiction I thought I beat years ago. The first two weeks have been deliberately slow but exciting. Though I guess it didn’t sink in what we were actually trying to achieve, until one sunny afternoon over a week ago. Adam [Turkington, Programme Manager], Jillian, Stephanie and I were standing in Buoy Park, Belfast, beside St Anne’s Cathedral, visualising how it will look on the night. With that burst of imagination it suddenly began to feel so real.
Typically of Northern Ireland, the first two weeks in July brought a slight lull with the Twelfth festivities. Yet there was still opportunity to food vendors, scout exciting new venues and approaching other potential acts and artists for the event.
I’ve been repeatedly told, and with good reason, when this blog post goes live and the #CNB14 website is officially online it’s all guns blazing. And I may cry for air at times, but I couldn’t be more proud and thankful to be part of it.