Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2015

Programme for Belfast's most eclectic arts festival launches, featuring The Stranglers, poet Paul Muldoon, comedian David O'Doherty and more – book your tickets now

The programme for the 16th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has been unveiled, with over 150 events taking place in venues right across Belfast’s city centre from April 30 - May 10.

Organisers are planning a no-holds-barred near-fortnight of scintillating events to mark the festival's coming-of-age 16th birthday. Rock survivors The Charlatans are announced as headliners at the Custom House Square Festival Marquee, while chanteuse extraordinaire Camille O’Sullivan plays St Anne’s Cathedral on the opening day in what promises to be an intimate and unforgettable affair.

Celebrated sister act The Staves are also coming to the festival on the back of their truly great, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) produced, new album If I Was, and the legendary axe-man with the 50-yard stare, Wilko Johnson, makes good on a promise to return to the festival following his recovery from serious illness last year. 

Punk legends The Stranglers, meanwhile, will take to the marquee stage, with supergrass main man Gaz Coombes – currently riding a wave of critical appreciation for this new album Matador – also features.

Irish poetry giants of North and South, Paul Durcan and Paul Muldoon, join the undisputed Queen of the psychological thriller, Val McDermid, amongst the literature announcements, while award-winning political cartoonist Martin Rowson makes a rare visit to Belfast.

The comedy and spoken word programme boasts the like of Bec Hill, Martin Mor and festival favourite Lucy Porter, plus a couple of iconic Edinburgh smash one-man shows in the form of Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope and Down and Out in Paris and LondonIrish comic stars David O’Doherty and Andrew Maxwell will also be headlining the festival marquee.

Festival Director Sean Kelly said: 'We wanted to share our excitement with this year’s festival – undoubtedly one of our finest ever collections of literature, theatre, comedy and music events. Yet across the arts sector as a whole, optimism is in short supply. In fact, in 16 years, we’ve never known morale so low with so many arts organisations facing closure or on the brink of collapse.

'The benefits of a healthy arts sector are numerous and well documented yet the philosophy of Dickens’ Thomas Gradgrind appears to prevail in the corridors of Stormont and Westminster. In spite of this, we’ve managed to duck, weave and dig deep to deliver what we think is a killer programme.

'We’re thrilled to be able to continue to bring what we hope is a perfect festival blend of the classic, the new, the huge and the up-and-coming. There’s a difficult year ahead for the arts in Northern Ireland with little to celebrate, but hopefully the 16th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will be a welcoming port in the storm ahead.'

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'For 15 years, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has maintained an air of enigmatic unpredictability and this year’s programme continues on in that same pioneering spirit. Always fresh and innovative, it’s a tribute to the festival team that, despite pressures on arts funding, CQAF continues to grow, never failing to deliver on quality and diversity.'

The 16 Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival runs from April 30 to May 10. Visit the festival webite for full event listings and booking links.