A new mayor and an evening of adventure for all: Culture Night Belfast 2011
Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile with Terri Hooley
An evening of exploration, action and adventure for all ages was the unanimous verdict on Culture Night Belfast 2011 at the colourful programme launch at the Premier Inn last week.
At the launch, guests got a sneak preview of some of the thrilling events and activities on offer for the third Culture Night Belfast, which will take place across the city centre and beyond on Friday 23 September. Organisers revealed a packed programme and promised a beguiling evening of gigs, games, choirs, comedy, debates, dancing, poetry, exhibitions, theatre, street performers, taster tours and workshops plus the first ever Culture Night Parade.
Organisers of the city’s landmark cultural date have delivered a bespoke, interactive evening of entertainment and discovery for all the family throughout the historic Cathedral Quarter. Many more venues in other parts of the city are also taking part in a bid to make Culture Night 2011 the most memorable yet. Last year, over 15,000 people attended Culture Night Belfast’s 100 events. This year, organisers have planned over 160 activities and events, taking place in almost 100 venues. Organisations of all kinds, from churches to galleries, pubs to libraries, newspaper offices to barber shops are set to take part alongside artists and performers of all stripes in a much expanded line up.
Culture Night Belfast Manager Adam Turkington was warmly applauded at the launch as he announced a programme with a strong urban, community and interactive theme. Speaking at the launch Adam invited people to immerse themselves in the “full Culture Night experience”. He added:
“I’m delighted to say that there’s far too many activities of all kinds to single out individually. For us, Culture Night Belfast is a shared and joined-up experience, where you don’t quite know what you expect and there’s a surprise at every turn, on every street and in every building or space. People can come down and immerse themselves in an accessible evening of fun and adventure for kids and adults alike. We have a huge array of creative talent and vibrancy about our city. Culture Night Belfast is a huge and inclusive showcase of the very best of what we as a cultural capital have to offer.”
One of the signature highlights of this year’s Culture Night Belfast will be the first ever colourful Culture Night Parade which will form a centrepiece of the evening’s proceedings. Terri Hooley, godfather of NI punk and newly elected mayor of the Cathedral Quarter was sworn in during the launch of Culture Night Belfast and will head the evening’s festivities in an open top cavalcade.
Local icon Terri Hooley won by just a few hundred votes to beat off stiff competition from early outsider and Cathedral Quarter favourite Kathy Young. A gracious Mr Hooley thanked his supporters at the launch and was fulsome in his praise of both Kathy and fellow contender, playwright Martin Lynch.
Nelson McCausland, Minister for Social Development described Culture Night Belfast as a “must attend” event in the city’s burgeoning cultural calendar.
“Following its success in recent years, Culture Night has become ‘a must attend’ event in Belfast’s social calendar. Event organisers have worked extremely hard in bringing about this free, accessible and family based arts and culture event to Belfast. I have no doubt that the open house style activities which will be hosted throughout the evening, will be attractive to both new and existing audiences. Culture Night offers something for everyone.”
Mr McCausland added:
“I recognise the enormous contribution that event organisers in partnership with local businesses, have made to make this event successful. I am thankful to the contribution Culture Night and all the other arts organisations that have made and are continuing to make to the economic regeneration of the Laganside area. I would like to wish Culture Night every success for their event this year.”
Further highlights in a dizzying evening of highs include the Secret Urban Garden, a Musical Evening at St Anne’s Cathedral, a Street of Magic, Caravan Jam, Horrible Histories, Belfast Telegraph Tours, The Quare Big Egg, Comedy Soup, Story Sessions, Belfast Literary Taster Tours, Circus Snacks for Adults, Burlesque Tasters, Armagh Pipers, Kids Square, The Barber of Seville at Tivoli’s Barber, Crafty Convoy, Kids Gigs with Katy and the Carnival, St George’s Choristers, the Quare Big Egg and Art Cart Rap.
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland described Culture Night Belfast as “unmissable”. She added:
“Culture Night is fast becoming an unmissable annual event in the Belfast calendar. It’s a perfect match for public funding from the Arts Council as it helps us increase access to the arts for everyone in a unique way. By opening their doors and inviting the public to dozens of free events and performances, our arts organisations are making a significant contribution to the cultural tourism offering in Belfast and at a time when our economy needs it most”.
Now in its third year, Culture Night Belfast 2011 will run in tandem with 27 other similar events across Ireland on the evening of 23 September, making it part of a genuinely island-wide phenomenon. Inspired by its remarkable success over the past two years, Culture Night Belfast is formally joined for the first time by other regions in the north, including Strabane and Derry.
Director of Marketing & Events for Northern Ireland Tourist Board Susie McCullough said:
“Events like Culture Night reflect the diversity and culture of Northern Ireland and help generate a genuine ‘feel good’ factor for everyone to enjoy. Whether in urban Belfast or in rural towns and villages cultural events have a unique and direct impact on civic pride, reputation and the ability of Northern Ireland to deliver a competitive advantage for tourism. With visitors looking for more authentic and hands-on tourism experiences, Culture Night animates our destination and the entertaining programme of events on offer will provide both the visitor and locals alike with a truly memorable experience.”
Before handing over his civic chain of office to Terri Hooley in the mock mayoral ceremony which closed the launch, the real Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Niall Ó Donnghaile praised Culture Night organisers for an impressively inclusive evening of events.
“In just three years, Culture Night Belfast has become widely celebrated as an evening that all communities, visitors and people of all ages and all backgrounds can participate in. It is wonderful to see how many city centre spaces and places offer cultural highlights.
“It is also great to see that – inspired by the success of Belfast – there are now a number of other Culture Nights taking place across the north on 23 September this year. It’s also encouraging to have 28 other Culture Nights following on across the island simultaneously that evening and that Belfast is so strongly and impressively represented. I congratulate the Culture Night Belfast team for organising a genuinely exciting and inclusive programme. I firmly believe that not only will we be hosting one of the best Culture Nights in Ireland on 23 September, but we will also be putting on an evening to remember in Belfast for everyone.”