-1177Days -23Hours -58Minutes -57Seconds

The programme has been unveiled for one of the biggest celebrations in Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar.

Culture Night Belfast 2016, which takes place on Friday 16 September, is set to transform our city centre for the eighth year in a row.

Over 250 free family-friendly events will take place across the historic Cathedral Quarter and beyond in an evening of cultural exploration and adventure.

At a launch event, which took place at The Dark Horse tea rooms in the Cathedral Quarter, Culture Night organisers revealed a programme brimming with diversity that is set to showcase the city’s wealth of cultural output.

From dozens of street performances, theatre, live bands, talks and tours and the return of the traditional Culture Night big drum circle all the way through to pantomime horse racing, wrestling, street Countdown and a live Father Ted Podcast!

Other highlights in this year’s packed programme include the return of My Big Fat Gay Wedding, medieval sword fighting (in a carpark of course), a power ballad karaoke competition, the slow bike race and the raucous return of Belfast Rockets roller derby champions in Writer’s Square.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell, said of the 2016 event:

“Over the years, Culture Night Belfast has developed into one of the true highlights of our city’s annual calendar of events. It showcases both the breadth and depth of artistic talent and cultural activity which we have here in Belfast, serving up just a small sample of the sort of activity which takes place all across our city on a daily basis.

“Hopefully Culture Night will whet the appetite of many more people to explore this richness and diversity even further.”

Last year’s event attracted a record-breaking 65,000 people into the city centre to dive into the whirlwind experience that is Culture Night Belfast.

Culture Night Manager Adam Turkington said visitors this year could expect “something surprising and delightful around every corner”.

“People always promise ‘something for everyone’ The difference is that Culture Night can actually stand by those claims!

“Every year, people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities converge on the city centre to celebrate the diversity and variety of Culture Night. This year’s event promises to be even more exciting. I’m hugely proud of what we’ve achieved with Culture Night.

“The momentum continues to grow as Belfast’s artists, creative practitioners and businesses come together to offer an enticing snapshot of the quality and depth of cultural activity in our city! There’s so much happening on the 16 September that I invite everyone who’s curious or even unsure to come on down and join us.

“We promise you’ll have an unforgettable evening. And we promise that this year’s Culture Night will be better than ever!”

Paul McErlean, Chair of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, said:

“The Cathedral Quarter Trust is very proud to present Culture Night Belfast 2016 – the city’s light-hearted celebration of our creative culture.

“CNB16 will be another electrifying glimpse of what Belfast has to offer and a great opportunity to come together and to experience new things. But, importantly, it’s also an opportunity to show support for our creative and cultural sector, because behind all the buzz and good fun lie some key drivers of our local economy.

“Our creative industries and tourism and hospitality sectors depend on creativity, imagination and innovation for that uniquely Belfast spark that says who we are and invites the world to join in. Culture Night is an introduction. We need to support creativity and culture every day to ensure a thriving creative culture for the future.

Patricia Freedman, Director of Cathedral Quarter Trust, added:

“CNB16 will again be the culmination of a year’s work to weave hundreds of creative impulses into a sparkling mantle for the city centre – a feat of magic in itself. What happens next when artists, participants, businesses and audiences join forces on the night defies all expectations and is guaranteed to surprise, delight and inspire.

“People talk about Culture Night throughout the year for a good reason. It sustains us and gives us hope!

The central theme of this year’s Culture Night is “Breaking Bread”, with the emphasis on community and people sharing cultural experiences, space, food and time together. This summer, the social media Breaking Bread campaign brought strangers together to enjoy a meal in some of Belfast’s most interesting eateries for a prelude of what may be the most ambitious Culture Night project to date.

Organisers are planning to invite thousands to break bread together around a giant trestle table on Donegall Street, using only locally, ethically sourced produce! It promises to be Belfast’s biggest ever shared feast in the midst of the city’s biggest ever Culture Night!

Jenni Barkley of key Culture Night partners Belfast Harbour said:

“Culture Night has fast become one of the key highlights in Belfast’s events calendar and we are delighted to be part of it yet again as the primary sponsor. This year we have been directly involved in one of the main events, Breaking Bread, which is all about promoting and building communities around the sharing of food.

“We’re very excited to see lots of people come out to join us on Donegall Street for one of Belfast’s biggest shared lunches where they can meet new friends and soak up the amazing atmosphere Culture Night always provides.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development with principle funders Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Now in its 8th year, Culture Night is a huge celebration of the creativity of Belfast, when the people of the city and beyond come together to enjoy the hundreds of free arts events on offer with something unexpected around every corner.

“It’s also a fantastic platform for our artists and arts organisations to showcase their talents and reach out to new audiences. Don’t miss out on this imaginative, inspiring and exciting spectacle.”

For information on the full Culture Night Belfast programme, go to www.culturenightbelfast.com.