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Night of cultural wealth reaches out across Ireland's towns and cities

Culture Night takes place in towns and cities across Ireland tomorrow

FINAL preparations are underway for one of the biggest night's on the Irish cultural calendar.

Culture Night will kick off in towns and cities tomorrow with hundreds of events demonstrating a rich array of cultural wealth.

Belfast will see one of the largest collaboration of events - with more than 250 events - when the city opens its doors to the seventh Culture Night.

Last year's event attracted a record 55,000 people aged eight to 80 into the city centre to immerse themselves in the unique experience of dance, song and visual artistry.

Spaces and places across the city will be transformed for the packed programme which will include recitals, gigs, talks and tours - with more public spaces being utilised than ever before.

Due to the increasing number of events the programme will kick off early starting at 1pm tomorrow with the city-wide 'Belfast Salutes the Sun'.

It will see yoga teachers from all studios and centres in Belfast and beyond lead everyone in yoga sequence.

Events will then spread throughout the day across the Cathedral Quarter and beyond.

Among the highlights are The Big Fat Gay Wedding organised by Amnesty International, which takes place on the front steps of The Merchant Hotel and will include music from Féile Women's choir.

Hit The North with Becks returns to North Street promising to transform the thoroughfare in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, to a scene of quality street art.

There's also the Slow Bike Race along Academy Street where the snail-like cyclists race in four lanes, one metre wide along a 40 metre long racetrack. The last across the finish line is the winner.

Elsewhere and in Derry, there's a wide range of indoor and outdoor events to showcase the city's cultural talents and unique historical significance.

There's behind-the-scenes tours of The Playhouse, circus and comic workshops as well as exhibitions, jazz cabaret, museum visits and dancing.

Among the highlights in Downpatrick is live music, medieval stone carving and a walking tour of the Co Down town.

Nóirín McKinney from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said it promises to be a fantastic night.

"Culture Night is that one night of the year when the city opens its doors to everyone. Where people from all walks of life, young and old, regardless of background - leave their baggage at home and come together to share the kind of uplifting and energising experiences that only the arts can deliver.

"What Culture Night shows us, year after year, is that arts and cultural events provide the best ways to bring people closer together."

To find out more about events on Culture Night Belfast visit www.culturenightbelfast.com

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