Boasting over 200 free events to over 30,000 attendees, the sixth year of Culture Night Belfast is drawing near with much of the focus being directed towards the city’s stunning Cathedral Quarter, an area which prides itself on being at the heart of cultural locality in the city. Set to take place on Friday, September 19, the annual showcase – which calls itself “the city’s biggest, most colourful and inclusive cultural celebration” – will bring the quarter and it’s many established and makeshift venues to life.
The annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which celebrated its fifteenth year in early May, brought the very best in art, music, comedy, literature and theatre together, attracting over 60,000 people to more than 150 events throughout the Cathedral Quarter including headliners Fuck Buttons, Martha Reeves, De La Soul and Tinariwen. Although the festival is less mainstream than others within Belfast, it is constantly evolving and revolutionising and is rightly considered to be one of the most charismatic arts festivals in the country.
As well as this, the city is thriving with venues such as the Oh Yeah! Music Centre, the Black Box and the MAC which attract a plethora of local and international acts from varying art forms, the most popular being music and theatre. What people may not realise if they aren’t originally from the Belfast area, however, is that Custom House Square actually makes up part of the Cathedral Quarter and, of course, this venue is home to the highly acclaimed annual Belsonic music festival with this year’s headliners including Biffy Clyro, Kodaline and Imagine Dragons.
Although attracting smaller acts, the bars within Cathedral Quarter such as The Harp Bar, the Dark Horse and the stunning Duke of York (renowned for the cobbled alleyway in which it’s located) are always effervescent and alive with traditional music and bright colours and people all binding together to create an unbeatable atmosphere that cannot be uttered into words – you just have to see it for yourself. Although all venues are perfectly accessible, events in the likes of the Black Box, the MAC and the Oh Yeah! may require some preparation, whereas you can easily drop into these smaller bars in passing and be lucky enough to gain an insight into Belfast’s thriving music scene on your way.
Despite the Cathedral Quarter covering a relatively small area, navigation is easy and it is saturated with some of the finest music venues, bars, restaurants within St. Anne’s Square and accommodation such as the Merchant and Malmaison hotels which are two of the most luxurious and highly renowned in the whole of Belfast. Additionally, aside from the most popular festivals mentioned previously, there is also the Open House Festival and the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival to name a few and, as a whole, the Cathedral Quarter is a wonderful space enriched with some of the finest talent, venues and historic landmarks the city has ever seen. Whether you’re interested in the music and the arts or the restaurants and nightlife, there is something for everyone to thoroughly immerse themselves in. Tiarna Armstrong
Photos by Jill Moffett