Belfast’s biggest evening in the city’s cultural calendar is back on Friday 21st September and it’s set to be bigger than ever. The annual Culture Night Belfast is kicking off this month with over 230 different free events happening across the city-centre in one night.
Celebrating its 10th birthday, the festival has tonnes of activities planned, with venues including St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast City Hall, Royal Avenue, Rosemary Street and The Big Fish sculpture all involved.
But with so much to see and do, Culture Night Belfast can seem a bit overwhelming – so we’ve cherry picked our highlights for each zone of the festival, giving you an idea of some of the most exciting events and activities going on this year…
City Hall Area
One of the busiest zones on Culture Night Belfast, the City Hall area is putting on a brilliant show for 2018 with lullaby sessions for babies, house music, art exhibitions, and dance performances plus Spanish lessons for kids, plenty of Irish dancing for you to get involved with and lots of family friendly events.
Tap World Record Attempt
Teamed up with Bank of Ireland UK, Culture Night are attempting the world record for the largest ever tap-dancing lesson at The Europa Hotel. Go along to witness a world record in the making or take your tap shoes to get involved. Visit the Culture Night website to sign up.
18:00 – 19:30; The Europa Hotel, Great Victoria St BT2 7AP
Yoga at the City Hall
Take part in a free yoga event on the lawn of one of Belfast’s most beautiful civic buildings, moving, breathing and flowing with the city around you.
13:00 – 14:00; City Hall, Donegall Square BT1 5GS
Sensory Food Journey
Get your family knowledge on food production up to scratch with Learning SPACE’s sensory food journey, discovering where our food comes from and how it gets from field to plate. First come, first served sessions lasting 30 minutes, with each sessions holding 6 children.
12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00; Learning SPACE, 11a Foundation Centre BT1 6ET
Bank Square Area
Head to Bank Square for a plethora of musical entertainment with live acts across four venues.
We’ll definitely be heading down to catch…
Poets, DJ, Hip Hop and Rap
Tattoo parlour Sink the Ink is hosting an eclectic spoken arts evening with poetry, hiphop and rap plus a DJ set and some fabulous street performers.
19:00-22:00; Sink the Ink, 44 Castle St BT1 1HB
An Evening with the Octopus
Get set for an eclectic night at Folk Town as you embark on an Evening with Electric Octopus with live music, live art and good vibes. All that’s required is an open mind and a creative side at this wacky event where you can create music, paint, sing or any other creative expression you fancy to take your mind on a weird and wonderful adventure.
21:00-22:00; Folk Town, Bank St , BT1 1GG
Roots & Culture Night
Enjoy the sounds of Jamaica in the streets of Belfast, as Explosion’s custom build rig brings high quality music to your ears. Expect everything from classic 70’s roots through to recent UK productions as the sunshine music of the Caribbean diaspora takes over Berry Street.
15:00-23:00; Berry St / Royal Av BT1 1SX
Time to Start Groovin’!
Fans of the late, great Aretha Franklin should get down to Folk Town to enjoy an 8-piece band of top local musicians coming together to play under Chic’s very own Ralph Rolle. They’ll be playing groovin’ classics of the Queen of Soul and Stevie Wonder.
18:00-19:00; Folk Town, Bank St BT1 1GG
Rosemary Street Area
For a cultural buzz, head to the Rosemary Street area, where live music, interactive art, a discussion from the Belfast Feminist Network and some stimulating family activities will be provoking visitors to think about where culture comes from and how we use it.
Set your brains in action by heading to…
Belfast Traditional Music Trail
Get a taste of Northern Ireland’s traditional music and language at White’s Tavern with centuries of folk traditional from An Droichead.
17:00-22:00; White’s Tavern, 2-4 Winecellar Entry BT1 1QN
Ethnic Exchange: coffee, chat & culture
Break down social barriers at Costa Coffee and DARE to Lead Change’s ethnic exchange. Talking to strangers is encouraged.
16:00-21:00; Costa Coffee, 18-22 Castle Pl BT1 1GB
Pop Art in Popular Culture
Catch local artists John Kerr and Glenn Matthews displaying their work at Artcetera Studios all night for a visual feast of colour and ‘warholesque’ art taking inspiration from the worlds of music, film and sports.
13:00-22:00; Artcetera Studios, 43 Rosemary St BT1 1QF
Get slimy and slippy with some serious Clay Play at PS2. This is the opportunity to discover your inner potter on the 21st September – everyone’s invited to get creative with clay and try making some small cups and big vases – or just play around with the wet stuff.
19:00-21:30; PS2 Spencer House, 69-71 Royal Av BT1 1FE
Victoria Square Area
Loads of live music, from traditional to a bootlegger knees up with beer, cocktails and burgers, plus brass bands, choral performances and favourite Broadway songs will be filling Victoria Square – but make sure you take some time out to enjoy quieter activities including yarn-making, an immersive poetry experience and some good old political discussion.
Belfast’s Lush are hosting an immersive poetry experience where local poets will be pairing their words with one of the shop’s in-store perfumes, giving customers the chance to smell the scents while the work is being read. All based around the festival’s ‘Love’ theme, the event aims to be multi-sensory.
12:00-17:00; Lush 27-29 Castle Ln BT1 5DB
Whose Culture is it Anyway?
Head to the Bullitt Hotel for a quick fire political and cultural discussion on Belfast’s top issues.
18:00 – 19:00; Bullitt Hotel, 40a Church Lane BT1 4QN
Don’t worry if you can’t knit – Belfast’s Stitch and Bitch are helping visitors to Café Nero on Ann St create an army of scary yarn monsters with out lifting a knitting needle. And the best bit? You can take your monster home.
14:00-19:00; Café Nero, Ann St BT1 4GE
The Big Fish Area
An eclectic mix of events are set to happen over at Belfast’s iconic Big Fish statue, including art installations, interactive workshops, dance performances and some weird and wonderful pop-up theatre.
Swim down to check out…
Games Night with the Irish Video Game Orchestra
Fans of classic videos games should head to Riddel’s Warehouse from 7pm to hear their favourite iconic game music played by a live orchestra.
19:00 – 20:30; Riddel’s Warehouse 108 A2 BT1 3LA
The Big Fish Dance Stage
The Big Fish Dance Stage is set to be bouncing all night with performances from 4:30pm from some of Belfast’s best dance troupes. Look out for a Chinese dance workshop, Argentinian tango performance, swing dances, reels and jigs and some fabulously Spanish flamenco dancers.
16:30 – 22:00; Donegall Quay BT1 3NG
Take a walk along Belfast’s newest waterfront promenade with some wacky (and unexpected) visitors to keep your company.
15:00-19:00; Donegall Quay BT1 3N
Hill Street Area
Alternative arts reign supreme over in the Hill Street Area with eclectic events including print workshops, live drawing, interactive comedy, shadow theatre and wacky films across venues including a Gordon Street stage, the Oh Yeah Music Centre, The National, and Black Box.
We recommend checking out…
Jamie Does Protest
Enjoy some out-there art as painter Jamie Harper performs a live drawing session at Black box. Based around the theme of protest and iconic protest images from around the world, drawings will be projected on a big screen.
18:00-22:00; Black Box 18-22 Hill St BT1 2LA
Circus Bites Cabaret
Pick up some circus skills at Belfast Circus School, whatever your age. The Youth Circus, Adult Circus hobbyists and even a few professional artists will be on hand to help you clown act along in the Hill Street Area.
18:00-22:00; 23-25 Gordon St BT1 2LG
Live @ 39
Enjoy the best in local live music across two stages inside and outside 38 Gordon Street, continuing until late.
18:00-1:00; 39 Gordon St BT1 2LH
The Cathedral Area
Head to the Cathedral and the surrounding area for a night of opposites – from wrestling, to harp playing and monastic chanting to rapping.
Experience the Magic with Ulster Orchestra
St Anne’s Cathedral will be hosting Ulster Orchestra and world-renowned mezzo-soprano Margaret Bridge for a two hour performance of music rom Debussy, Mussorgsky and Falla – prepare for unsettling springs, thundering tunes and plenty of drama from this sensational concert.
19:00-20:00; St Anne’s Cathedral, Donegall St BT1 2HB
Enjoy some grown-up pantomime theatre in St Anne’s Square as Pro Wrestling Ulster brings its Hard Hitting, High Flying Live Show back to Belfast for a night of jam-packed action. With matches taking place every half hour from 6pm, stay until the end to find out who will raise the CNB Title Belt championship.
18:30-22:00; St Anne’s Square BT1 2LS
Feel shivers in your spine amidst some late-night monastic chanting at St Anne’s Cathedral. This ancient choral performance is set to be hauntingly and spiritually beautiful and a can’t-miss Culture Night highlight.
21:00-21:15; St Anne’s Cathedral, Donegall St BT1 2HB
Writer’s Square Area
Belfast’s Writer’s Square is set to be alit all night, with street performers bringing fire, fury and a little bit of magic to the area. Plus catch plenty of live music (including a ukulele jam, the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra and Belfast’s community gospel choir) and some fascinating art exhibitions in the surrounding area.
Get your Skates On!
Roll towards Belfast’s Roller Derby for some speedy demonstrations and activities on skates.
18:00-21:00; Writer’s Square BT1 1ZZ
Lighting up a Generation
Experience a spectacle of sound and vision as Culture Night installs a ‘projection map’ in a groundbreaking, never seen before spectacle. Catch three incredible animations bringing light and magic to the square with the help of some live performers.
20:00-22:00; Writer’s Square BT1 1ZZ
Extinguishers at the ready!
Watch some world-class street performers in this unusual piece of theatre on Writer’s Square. A Granny has taken to her death-bed in the streets of Belfast to shame the family that never came to visit her and to judge them all in her last will and testament. See if you can charm Granny and get yourself into her will with this interactive artwork that lasts for five hours.
17:00-22:00; Writer’s Square BT1 1ZZ
Royal Avenue Area
Debenhams on Royal Avenue are hosting a number of fashion-focused events, celebrating some of the world’s most famous fashion houses. Meanwhile, live music is the go-to cultural event for the rest of Royal Avenue, with rockabilly at Belfast Tea and Coffee Co. from 7:30pm, Alt-Rock and Dream-Pop at MMODE and discos mixed with ginger beards at Dawsons Stage.
Must-see highlights include…
Aliza Reger – Designer at Debenhams Meets Belfast Fashion Week’s Cathy Martin
Head to Castle Court Debenhams for an insider sneak peek at the fashion world as lingerie designer Aliza Reger discusses her fashion empire with Cathy Martin.
18:00-19:00; CastleCourt Debenhams, Royal Av BT1 1DD
Get dancing to some samba grooves between 6pm and 8pm, as the Chidambaram Samba Band brings a bit of sunshine to Castle Court.
18:00-20:00; Castle Court, Royal Av BT1 1DD
Union Street Area
Just eight events are happening in the Union Street Area – but quantity doesn’t mimic quality. Check out the theatre performances at Sunflower Public House for some small-scale drama spectacles or enjoy the best of NI’s local music talent lighting up the mike over at The Bear and The Doll.
Sharpen up your local music knowledge with a visit to Blaklist & The Bear and The Doll where some of NI’s hottest bands will be taking to the stage. Headliners include Joseph Leighton – one of the country’s finest jazz musicians to emerge on the Irish scene.
16:00-22:00; Blaklist & The Bear and The Doll, 10-30 Library St BT1 2JD
HOMORAMA: Culture Night Block Party
Celebrate Belfast’s Queer Culture with the mammoth line-up at Maverick of the city’s best queer talent on an outdoor stage.
15:00-22:00; The Maverick, 1 Union Street BT1 2JK
What’s New at Culture Night Belfast?
For the first time, Culture Night Belfast will now include food! Culture Bites markets will be setting up in five of the festival zones, offering the city’s best local street food and fabulous flavours from around the world…
Along with all the incredible restaurants and bars around Belfast, you’ll be able to visit a number of street food markets across the festival. The five areas are:
Open between 1pm and 8pm, there’s a host of different cuisines up for offers, including Hog Roast baps from The Wild Hog Roast, authentic Belgian fries cooked in beef dripping with sauce from Crispy Frites, mouthwatering ciabatta steaks and local chicken breasts and fresh, home cooked gluten free, vegetarian and vegan food from Hoppin’ Goblin and Fin Mc Veg. Plus, delectable deserts including mini donuts from Dinky Donuts and sweet and savoury crepes from The Crepe Makers.
The Big Fish
Enjoy dinky donuts, Fionnbobs’ tasty Mexican street food and Sizzle n BBQ steak burgers cooked over a charcoal BBQ from 3pm until 10pm.
Pick up some fresh vegetarian food from Belfalafel, enjoy pizza in a cone from Pizza Cone Eat Ah, nibble on Tapitas’ paella, sweet potato fries and tapas or indulge in artisan street food from The Hatch. Plus, they’ll be coffee, meaty options, restaurant dishes with a twist from Baker Street Mini Kitchen, gourmet burgers and Dutch pancakes (all 3pm-10pm).
Over in Writers Square, feast on gourmet burgers, fish and chips, woodfired pizza, crepes and Yahi Café homemade sausage rolls along with hot Irish seafood from Chowder Up! Seafood (all 3pm to 10pm).
Finally, down on Royal Avenue, you’ll find Armagh-made hot dogs, steak sandwiches and chicken wings from Street Dogs Street Food, wood fired pizzas, Maegden gourmet grilled cheese, Wolf & Devour burgers and Linen Hill Street Kitchen’s porchetta, scampi and lamb burgers served with beef dripping chips.
All events at Culture Night Belfast are free, but some may require booking. Visit the Culture Night Belfast website for more information on individual events. For a full list of all the happenings on the night, read the Culture Night brochure here.
We’re looking forward to seeing the best the city has to offer during Culture Night Belfast, and we can can’t wait to be part of the thriving culture it showcases!
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