Arts

Culture Night Belfast 2018: What's on and what not to miss

With Culture Night Belfast almost upon us, David Roy speaks to Culture Night manager Kerry Rooney about what to expect from the programme of the eclectic festival's 10th year

Orlaith & Mollie will be performing on the main stage at this year's Culture Night

CULTURE Night Belfast returns for its 10th year tomorrow, once again bringing a packed programme of free family-friendly arts and culture events to streets, public spaces and venues throughout the city centre.

From live music, dancing, poetry and pop-up theatre, to circus performers, urban sports daredevils, pro wrestling rumbles and street gameshows, there's a smorgasbord of wide-ranging happenings going on, plus plenty of food and drink to help sustain the thousands of punters expected to throng the Cathedral Quarter and beyond.

According to Culture Night manager Kerry Rooney, 'Culture Night X' is going to be the biggest and best ever version of this now well established festival.

"Every year it just gets bigger and better – and this is without a doubt our biggest line-up ever," says the man whose job is to make sure everything goes more or less according to plan on the night itself.

"We have some very exciting stuff lined up, including a tap dancing world record attempt at the Europa Hotel. It currently stands at 271 dancers, so we're going to have probably 400 tap dancers at the Europa – it will never be topped as it's that much hassle to organise!"

Music fans will most certainly be in their element this year, with a huge range of bands, acts and artists lined-up to soundtrack Culture Night X from the 1pm start right up until its 10pm curfew.

Belfast city centre's streets will host a variety of live music during Culture Night

"We have an enormous music programme this year," confirms Kerry. "It's our biggest ever: we're taking over every street, every street corner, every bar, car park – you name it, we're taking over for music.

"We have music all along Royal Avenue, where our main stage will have a full programme of top bands including Orlaith & Mollie, who we discovered busking about two years ago.

"We put them on our smaller stage and now they are the second-to-last act on the main stage. It's nice to have guys who have come up with us.

"Then we've also got the Ulster Orchestra inside St Anne's Cathedral [7pm – 8pm], Belfast Gospel Choir outside on Writer's Square [8pm – 9pm] and we've the cream of local bands, from singer-songwriters [ie Eilís, Talbot St Car Park, 6pm / Matty Rea, St Anne's Cathedral, 8pm] right up to the top brass [ie The Dreads, Bill Harris Hairdressing, 7pm and Girls Names, Voodoo, 9pm]."

Culture Night X will feature two live theatre shows from 4th Wall Theatre; James Joyce on the Ormeau Road (4pm, Boden Park Café, 327 Ormeau Road) is a compilation of Joyce’s classic work while The Reckoning (6.30pm, Waterstone’s, Fountain St) offers a rehearsed reading of a brand new play about playwright Christopher Marlowe.

And, as mentioned, live grappling with Pro Wrestling Ulster at St Anne's Square (6.30pm to 10pm) and BMX stunt displays at Buoys Park courtesy of Thunder Action Sports (5pm to 10pm) are also viable options for those navigating this multitude of events, perhaps with a little help from the all-new Culture Night app.

"It's a bit like a ghost train, you don't know what's going to jump out at you next – it could be anything," enthuses Kerry of Culture Night's annual city centre takeover.

"But this year we've got an app to try and make the festival a bit more accessible for people who want to pick and choose what they want to see.

"If music is your thing, you can go in and pull out all the music [events] via the app, and the same for spoken word, live art and so on. You can pick what you want to do and it will create a little map for your night and send you updates on the next thing to go to. It's a really cool app."

And, if you're looking for one absolutely not to be missed moment during Culture Night X, you'd best make sure you're in the vicinity of St Anne's Cathedral between 8pm and 10pm.

St Anne's Cathedral will host a selection of live music as well as a state of the art lightshow

"We have got a really special light show lined up for the front of the cathedral," reveals Kerry of the display, which will be repeated at regular intervals throughout the final two hours of the festival.

"We'll be using projection mapping to make the building come 'alive': the bricks fall off and you see inside. It will be a mindbending experience with music and stuff for our big finish at the end to blow people away."

:: For full details of all Culture Night X events and to download the new app, visit Culturenightbelfast.com

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