Saturday, September 19, 2015

#CNB15 Culture Night Belfast ... expanded into the afternoon and up the quays into Belfast Harbour for free craic and entertainment

The third Friday in September marks Culture Night across the island of Ireland. Culture Night’s humble beginnings were in Dublin in 2006. Since then it was expanded enormously. A free celebration of creativity, culture and the arts … and lots of craic as roads are closed and good natured crowds spill off the pavements onto the streets.

Culture Night Belfast is well established and has been joined by sister carnivals in Armagh, Derry, Downpatrick, Holywood, Limavady, Lisburn and Omagh.

The Belfast merriment has expanded a little beyond its Cathedral Quarter roots and also stretched the definition of ‘night’ with many more afternoon activities squeezing into this year’s programme.

I spent the sunny afternoon in and around Belfast Harbour’s Clarendon Dock/City Quays where thousands of office workers were treated to the sound of the BeatnDrum Samba band over Friday lunchtime. A good deal noisier than the Tall Ships!

Some curious Intel staff even gazed down from their rooftop terrace … too far away to smell the blue cheese from Foodie Folk’s burgers

QUB civil engineering students together with school children had constructed a Meccano bridge across one section of the dock and were awaiting today's confirmation from Guinness World Record officials that it is the world’s largest Meccano construction.

Along the short waterfront walkway that now conveniently connects City Quays with the Big Fish – it’s just a couple of minutes on foot or bike – the Psychedelic Cyclo Taxi (a three wheeled pedal power machine!) zoomed up and down and photo-bombed its way into nearly every photo I took of the street artists who were brightening up the blue hoardings around a future building site.

Away from the drums, the more mellow sound of Réalta was a real treat.

There was even space for a mindfulness walk.

Captain Livesy and Nancy wandered about spreading their nautical magic mischief to unsuspecting kids and adults loitering around the Big Fish while Street Countdown’s consonants and vowels (complete with a Richard Whiteley shrine in Dictionary Corner) tested the vocabulary of passers-by with one eight letter word generating more tittering than normal. [Thank goodness Myleene Klass wasn’t playing.]

Across the road in Custom House Square, the Tesco Taste NI marquee had created the culinary version of the Ideal Home Exhibition with all the free samples and goodies going straight into your stomach rather than a carrier bag. More cocktail sausages than you could imagine as well as local suppliers’ breads, crisps, muesli, and startlingly coloured liquids from Maine Soft Drinks.

Further afield it was great to catch the I caught the end of Score Draw Music playing the soundtrack of an episode of locally-made Lily’s Driftwood Bay live in front of a packed audience of toddlers in the sweltering Black Box Green Room. Next door people were singing and dancing ... and I wandered around the early evening Cathedral Quarter, a DJ was playing outside Dawsons Music, 300 chairs were being set out for a drum circle, Film Hub NI had three sites showing archive film footage from Belfast, and hundreds of aspirations for Belfast in 2025 were being written down for the Message in a Bottle project.

More than 50,000 people in the city centre for a balmy afternoon and evening, with hundreds of events and artists and venues bringing the streets to life. Roll on CNB2016.

Disclaimer: Along with other bloggers, I agreed in advance to write about the Culture Night Belfast activities in and around Belfast Harbour. All opinions and photos are my own. 

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