12th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Listen to a podcast with festival director Sean Kelly and get booking your tickets now

Amidst election intrigue and talk of royal weddings, the altogether more exciting 12th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival programme has been unveiled - and CultureNorthernIreland have secured the first word from Festival Director, Sean Kelly, in the podcast to the left.

The 2011 CQAF programme reveals a wealth of musical acts, comedy stars, theatrical productions, film screenings, art exhibitions, talks and more. But it could all have been so different, had funding cuts to the arts taken place on the scale expected before the recent Draft Budget announcements.

Sean Kelly and Isobel Anderson










Commenting before the programme launch, Kelly was thankful that this year's festival had been spared the axe. 'The current squeeze on public funding could have jeopardised the structure and integrity of this year's festival, but we harnessed a tremendous amount of good will to pull together, in our view, a quite breathtaking array of artists.

'Headliners such as The Human League catch the eye of course,' Kelly continued, 'but we would like to especially thank the local artists and suppliers who have lent their support. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many, the scene is now set for a massive celebration of the arts in May that will make Belfast the envy of many cities throughout the UK and Ireland.'

To help ensure the survival of the festival in 2012, a special fund-raising performance of The Rare Oul' Times will take place in the Grand Opera House during the festival. Written by and starring Ken McElroy, all proceeds from this much-travelled play about Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan will go towards next year’s event.

And what of the imminent royal nuptials? As Kate and Wills tie the knot, those that want a slightly more ironic alternative to that brand of entertainment should get their own royal gladrags on and make their way to the Festival Marquee for the Right Royal Variety Show on Friday, April 29.

Jim Brown and Alan McKee










Other notable names appearing at the 12th CQAF include comedian Russell Kane, author John Boyne and poet Michael Longley, punk stalwarts Gang of Four and irish indie group BellX1. There are also film screenings and exhibitions on everything from Beat writer, William Burroughs to songwriting legend, Bob Dylan.

As guest speaker at the launch event, Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery was enthused by another exciting line up of events: 'Another year and another amazing line-up for one of Belfast’s most acclaimed, exhilarating and inclusive arts festivals. It is testimony to the ingenuity and dedication of the festival team, who since 1999 have been delivering a festival programme that punches well above its weight.'

The 12th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival runs from Apri 18 to May 8. Full programme information is now available from the CQAF website