Get set for bigger than ever Belfast Culture Night

Performers Blu Hydrangea and Cherrie Ontop with Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister at the launch of Culture Night Belfast
Performers Blu Hydrangea and Cherrie Ontop with Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister at the launch of Culture Night Belfast

Over 100,000 people are expected at over 300 events across the width and breadth of Belfast city centre as part of Culture Night Belfast on Friday September 22.

Now in its ninth year, Culture Night Belfast is themed this year on “cultural biodiversity”. Accordingly, it was revealed that Culture Night wouldn’t only be hosting more free events, experiences and happenings than ever before, but that its traditional boundaries would be expanding across the city in all directions, with a programme of events extending as far as the iconic Big Fish, Belfast City Hall, Banks Square and Belfast Harbour.

Last year’s event attracted a record-breaking 85,000 people to the city centre to dive into the whirlwind experience that is Culture Night Belfast. Organisers revealed that they expected this year’s Culture Night to break to break the magical “six figure” mark.

Culture Night’s Kerry Rooney said this year was set to “exceed all expectations”.

“From the doors of Belfast City Hall to the doors of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, this year’s Culture Night will bring the entire city to life. With over 300 free live events our programme offers something for everyone to enjoy from visual art to opera, roller derby to wrestling.”

The 300 plus family-friendly events at this year’s cultural extravaganza begins with Flow Yoga Studios at City Hall leading Belfast in a Salute to the Sun and includes a Mob and Street Party on Fountain Street, Outdoor Twister, Street Countdown, The Big Belfast Choir, “singalonga” Bowie and Queen, Pro Wrestling Ulster Live, Campervan of Dreams, Medieval Swordsmanship Demonstrations, Palette Party at Bullitt, American Football, Roller Derby, Lithuanian Folk Dance, Argentine Tango, Artisan Market at Folktown, Magical Mystical Moving Statues, AfroCarib Urban Fest, Queering the Streets, Belfast Ukulele Jam, Choral Evensong at the Cathedral, Féile Women’s Singing Group, Fred Festival Slow Bike Race, Thrash Metal with Plastic Swords, Drag Queen Storytime, Science Magic, Electronic Ireland Street Party, Sunflower Crufts, Street of Magic and Quire Belfast plus live music, tours, talks and experiences in every space, place and corner of the city centre.

Paul McErlean, chair of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, said: “The Cathedral Quarter Trust is very proud to present Culture Night Belfast 2017 – even bigger and better than ever. Every year we offer an electrifying glimpse of what Belfast has to offer and a great opportunity to come together and to experience new things. But Culture Night is also a gateway through which we experience the creative and cultural wealth of our city as a whole. It shines a light on the vitality of our cultural, tourism and hospitality sectors. These are all essential drivers of our local economy and offer up that unique ‘Belfast’ effect that people respond so positively to.

Culture Night is an amazing exemplar for the creative industries as a whole. We need to support creativity and culture every day to ensure a thriving creative culture for the future.”

Noirin McKinney, director of arts development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“As principle funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Culture Night through National Lottery funding. A special thanks must go to the artists and the arts organisations that make Culture Night what it is, that give it its distinction, its energy, and without whom there would be no Culture Night. We are delighted to see Culture Night expanding this year so that more people, from all parts of the city, will have the opportunity to get involved.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, councillor Nuala McAllister, said: “Anyone who has attended Culture Night will testify to the vibrancy of the evening and the startlingly positive impact it has on our city centre, proving the vast potential we have as a city for real change and growth and to be regarded as a genuine capital of culture and a must see visitor destination. It is a wonderful visitor attraction, boosting our evening economy and perhaps most importantly, it makes the arts and culture of the city accessible and visible to many people who may not have previously been exposed to them.

“Through the summer, Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council have been engaging with thousands of citizens across the region in our bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023. Culture Night – which, of course also takes place in Derry/Londonderry, is a wonderful platform, both nationally and internationally, to showcase our own city’s diverse and remarkable cultural heritage and is a centrepiece of our bid. This event also shows just how fortunate we are when it comes to the quality and quantity of our artistic and cultural assets – something truly worth celebrating.”

Jenni Barkley of key Culture Night partners Belfast Harbour said: “Culture Night is without doubt one of the jewels in Belfast’s events calendar crown. Once again we are delighted to be supporting Culture Night Belfast - we’ve been privileged and proud to have had a hand in helping it grow year on year to the point where it’s now set to break the six figure attendee mark. Like Belfast Harbour, Culture Night is most definitely a permanent and iconic symbol of what makes our city so unique. So we’re also delighted to be playing host to a range of family friendly Culture Night activities at the Harbour.”

Culture Night Belfast 2017 takes place on Friday September 22, from 1pm to 10pm. All events are free and everybody is welcome. For full programme details go to www.culturenightbelfast.com.