Culture Night Belfast

Galleries, historic buildings and more throw open their doors for magical cultural experience

Inspired by similar evenings in other major European cities such as Reykjavik, Copenhagen and Dublin, Belfast is to host its first ever Culture Night on September 25. Galleries, studios, historic buildings and workspaces are among the 96 organisations in the Cathedral Quarter that will be involved in this unique event.

Belfast's Cathedral Quarter will be totally transformed as public areas and streets are turned into performance spaces. Free performances, events, talks, tours and a whole range of interactive workshops will be taking place throughout the evening for members of the public to participate in and enjoy.

Establishments as diverse as St Anne's Cathedral, Historic Records and Monuments, the Merchant Hotel and the World Wildlife Foundation will be open to the public, while other venues will be providing live entertainment, workshops, food and drink. Revellers can also enjoy the famous Belfast Literary Tour and as well as a walking tour with local cultural legend Terri Hooley.

Other highlights include an opportunity to interact with leading professional theatre companies in the Potthouse Bar, a chance to take part in the Open House Festival's Chilli Fest, a marquee in Writer’s Square featuring top local and international music acts, a very special barbershop quartet in Lower Garfield Street and helium karaoke.

There will also be a special evening of comedy hosted by the MAC in the Ramada Encore hotel. Stormont Teacup will feature the unlikely comedy quartet of MLAs Alasdair McDonnell, Barry McElduff, Sammy Wilson and Basil McCrea, giving a snap shot of life behind the headlines at Stormont.

Speaking at the launch, held in the University of Ulster Building in Belfast, Culture Night manager Kresanna Aigner explained the diversity of events taking place on the evening.

'When we started to plan for Culture Night, I was thinking maybe it would be good to get around 50 organisations involved. The response though has been staggering. We have 96 arts, cultural and hospitality-based organisations taking part.

'There will literally be something for everyone: from walking tours to milk and cookies at the War Memorial, from readings for children to live music, from carnival workshops to dancing on the streets – it’s the Cathedral Quarter as you’ve never seen it before!'

Aigner added that part of Culture Night’s aim was to make arts and cultural organisations more accessible to the public. 'The Cathedral Quarter is widely recognised as the cultural and creative hub of Belfast and rightly so. Culture Night is a celebration of the sheer breadth of talent and creativity that our city produces – I would say on par with cities like Barcelona and Dublin.

'But we want culture night to also be about people coming in to the area and having the opportunity to try something new in a fun and inclusive environment. It will give people the opportunity to find out just what’s going on here as well as have a memorable evening.'

Welcoming the hosting of the first Culture Night in the city, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Naomi Long, said: 'Over the past decade, events such as these have been a fantastic tool for promoting the cultural diversity of cities all across Europe, offering residents and visitors alike the opportunity to experience the city from a fresh perspective.

'I think it is a great testament to the willingness of Belfast to embrace the concept of Culture Night that almost 90 organisations and venues will be throwing their doors open, showcasing what they have to offer to the widest possible audience.

'Events such as Culture Night are a vital component of our desire to see Belfast as a city without barriers: a city open for all to enjoy, a city of diversity, a city which recognises the importance of creativity in all its manifestations and in all our lives. I wish the venture well and look forward to it being developed in future years into a citywide event and a key date in our cultural calendar.'

Belfast's Culture Night is on Friday September 25, for more details check out www.culturenightbelfast.com