13th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Launches

One of Northern Ireland's best-loved arts festivals reaches its teens

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, one of Northern Ireland’s largest, most progressive and daring celebrations of all things art, is back for its 13th year on the trot.

CQAF, which runs from May 3 – 13 across Belfast’s historic arts quarter and beyond, hits its terrible teens with a rambunctious mix of stars, fringe acts, emerging artists and household names in music, comedy, literature, theatre and visual art to stimulate, edify and entertain.

CQAF began life in May 2000, attracting an audience of just over 5,000. The festival now regularly attracts over 60,000 people to over 150 events in over 30 Belfast venues. Addressing guests at the programme launch at the Dark Horse Tea Rooms, CQAF director Sean Kelly said:

'13 is always a milestone year and we're very excited to be entering our teens. Our programme is suitably celebratory in spite of the challenges facing the arts at this time. We're immensely proud of what has been achieved over those 13 years both in terms of the festival and the Cathedral Quarter in general.'

Reflecting on the festival’s 13th line-up, Kelly added, 'In providing 11 days of affordable events as brilliant and diverse as Dylan Moran, Death in Vegas and Alexei Sayle, the festival is playing a lead role in ensuring 2012 is a momentous year for the city.'

The fully revealed programme for CQAF 2012 delivers an eclectic and electrifying line-up. In music there is art rock visionary and Velvet Underground legend John Cale, southern hip-hop duo The Rubberbandits, African music diva Fatoumata Diawara and more.

La Faro, Rupture Dogs, Katy and the Carnival, the very legendary Henry McCullough and artist-in-residence Rachel Austin complete the line-up with the best in locally sourced music artists.

The CQAF comedy corner is stuffed to the oxters with carefully cultivated stand-up and 'the funny' found in an all new dazzling range of flavours, suitable for all tastes and dispositions.

Highlights include Ardal O'Hanlon, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer with his trusty Bonjolele and the furiously funny Mark Thomas, who will be reading from Extreme Rambling, a book about the activist comedian’s 750km stroll along the illegal Israeli Separation Barrier.

There’s a wealth of words to be spoken at CQAF 2012. The finest parliamentary sketch-writer of his generation, Simon Hoggart, makes a welcome return to the festival and the award-winning shows John Peel’s Shed and At Large: Dave Allen make their Northern Irish debuts. Belfast author Glenn Patterson will also be reading from his hotly-anticipated new novel The Mill for Grinding Old People Young.

A programme of challenging, groundbreaking and thought-provoking films will also be screened including Under African Skies, the acclaimed documentary of the controversial making of Paul Simon’s Gracelands album, and the mini-masterpiece Lawrence of Belgravia, tracing the fall and fall of the much misunderstood and little-heard genius that is Lawrence Hayward.

It is internationally-acclaimed street artist Conor Harrington’s turn to tackle the Black Box Gable Wall, a yearly challenge for some of the biggest international mural and graphic artists.

Throw in the traditional Glitter and Sparkle, an Olde Belfast Velo Jaunt, a Big Global Market and even Gerry Anderson keeping us In the Dark and you have the ingredients for a many-splendoured 13th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

Elsewhere, there will be workshops, exhibitions, family entertainment, performance, song, laughter and the odd heckle ringing throughout the four corners of the Cathedral Quarter and the Belfast streets beyond for the better half of May.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, the principal funder of the festival, said:

'The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has firmly established itself as a highlight of the annual cultural calendar and one of the cornerstones of the arts-driven regeneration we’ve seen in this area of the city in recent years. The 2012 programme will no doubt build on the festival’s loyal audience base, with an eclectic programme, full of some of the most talked about names on the local and international arts scene.'

Visit the CQAF website for a full list of acts and to book your tickets now.

13th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival