The countdown to Culture Night 2012 has begun, with the programme for Belfast's 'most expansive, colourful and inclusive cultural celebration' launched this week at the Ramada Encore Hotel.
On Friday, September 21, cities across Ireland will be radically transformed into huge open air and indoor arts venues for an evening of colourful carnivalesque fun for all.
Now in it's fourth year, the Culture Night phenomenon has taken over Europe, with cities like Derry~Londonderry, Armagh and Dublin also putting on huge shows for free. Last year, over 180 organisations and individuals performed to over 20,000 people across Belfast.
'Last year it was wonderful to witness the evening unfold as the city centre became a vast, colourful canvas for families and individuals, locals and tourists, artists and audiences to participate and contribute to,' said Culture Night Belfast manager, Adam Turkington.
'Culture Night Belfast has really hit its stride this year and that's reflected in the unprecedented number of submissions and ideas we received from participants. The trick was getting them all into the programme, but I’m delighted to say we didn’t turn anybody away.'
The launch event itself offered a taster of this year’s eclectic line up in Belfast, with harpist Ursula Burns serenading guests on stilts and Milliez Rehab offering passers-by a unique blast of musical mayhem.
Speaking at the launch, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, described Culture Night Belfast as unmissable. 'It’s hard to believe that Culture Night has been going now for just four years, it’s already such an established event within Belfast’s annual cultural calendar.
'For one night only the city throws open its doors as the public is invited to sample dozens of free arts events and to celebrate the creativity and vibrancy of our city. An artistic showcase like Culture Night provides huge opportunities for participation, as well as a platform for local artists and arts organisations to engage with new audiences.'
Eye-catching highlights amongst the hundreds of events scheduled for Belfast include Transatlantic Diner (a one-off live link-up between local dining legends Blinkers and a New York diner) and the Belfast Film Festival's screening of the crowd-sourced Star Wars Uncut.
Forum for Alternative Belfast and NI Opera will transform the beautiful Tivoli Barber Shop with cacophonously cutthroat excerpts from Sweeney Todd. Elsewhere a Meditation Flash Mob will be on the loose and Street Countdown is set to induce irritable vowel syndrome in passing amateur wordsmiths.
Belfast Festival at Queen’s will be putting on a mini-festival, and loud, live Mariachi Horns won’t be too far behind. The musical line-up, meanwhile, boasts a range of acts including the soon-to-be-huge indie three-piece Girls Names.
The family-friendly fun for kids big and small also includes Belfast vs the Flying Saucers, Kids’ Space and the giant interactive Community Mural at Buoys Park for budding artists of all abilities, the Street Circus, Youth Circus and Street of Magic for your ongoing entertainment and delight.
Culture Night also welcomes the return of the literally banging and ever-essential Writer’s Square Drum Circle, introduces a hot air balloon workshop, and invites visitors to partake in the Dollybirds and Friends’ Garden Party with live painting and children’s workshops.
Pro Wrestling Ulster, boasting the finest and fiercest local grappling talent is on the street for one night only. And the centrepiece, sixties-inspired Love and Peace Parade will take place on Donegall Street throughout the evening to mark World Peace Day (which also falls on September 21).
If you have an idea or suggestion or want to find out more, visit the Culture Night Belfast website, Facebook page or Twitter account.