The 22nd Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Is Back With A Bumper Programme Of Live Music, Comedy, Spoken Word, Theatre And Film

One of Northern Ireland’s most dynamic festivals – The 22nd Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival – is back, live and unleashed, from 28 April – 8 May. 

Nearly 150 events in a variety of venues across Belfast’s historic quarter and beyond in what will be the first fully live festival in over 2 years. 

From the Festival Marquee to an old supermarket, and from an array of churches and historic buildings to theatres, pubs and music spaces, and even the great outdoors, CQAF will animate the city centre with an 11 day celebration of live music, comedy, theatre, spoken word, literature, eclectic performance and street art.

Highlights of one of CQAF’s most extensive ever programmes include Soul II Soul, Echo and the Bunnymen (pictured above), Mogwai, Kae Tempest, Penguin Café, BC Camplight, Dani Larkin, Altered Images, Corduroy, Declan O’Rourke, John Cooper Clarke, Hollie McNish, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Greer, Roy Walker, Bell X1, John Shuttleworth, London African Gospel Choir present the Bob Marley Songbook, Teddy Thompson, David Keenan in conversation with Wendy Erskine, Black is the Colour of my Life (inspired by the life and music of Nina Simone), Lucy Porter, Aja performing the music of Steely Dan, Simon Armitage, Tadhg Hickey, Shaparak Khorsandi, Roddy Woomble, Explosion Sound System and GoGo Penguin.

A packed CQAF film programme includes premiers of Freakscene: The Dinosuar JR Story, St Vincent’s The Nowhere Inn, a screening of Bill Foryth’s mini-masterpiece Comfort and Joy, with an introduction from star of the movie Clare Grogan, Monty Python and the FOLEY Grail (the Monty Python classic as you’ve never seen it before), our first foray into the wonderful world of Bollywood with the classic The Heart Desires (Dil Chahta Hai), Keyboard Fantasies – a stunning documentary on the life and work of Glenn Coupland – electronic music auteur and queer icon, a screening of Roadrunner – the essential film about the much missed Anthony Bourdain and Wattstax, the little seen film of the original “black Woodstock”.

CQAF is also delighted to continue its association with Hit the North, Belfast’s internationally acclaimed street art festival, which will be illuminating the spaces between the venues. We also invite you to check out some of our more eclectic festival offerings, including the Belfast Whiskey Tour, a Traditional Bread Baking WorkshopDress up, Drink and Draw (EXACTLY as it sounds!), Skull Drawings with Duncan Ross, Shit Show Shambles – a Gameshow Extravaganza (again, EXACTLY as it sounds), Mark Ann McCracken’s Belfast – a Walking Tour that takes you in the footsteps of one of the city’s most remarkable historical figures.

The CQ Bazaar returns, with a feast of delights in – where else? – The Common Market. Acclaimed and visceral in equal measure, we present one-person theatre shows Bear and Mustard. We invite you a conversation with Jonathan Barnbrook, acclaimed graphic designer and musician, perhaps best known for that string of iconic late period Bowie album covers. The Lifeboat Press and Bad Betty Press join forces for an evening of Poetry at the Sunflower. Join The Tangerine for an evening of prose and poetry from contributors past and present, plus there’s an opportunity to catch newly commission performance art from the ever-challenging BBeyond.

Festival Director Sean Kelly said: “It’s been a turbulent couple of years, but we’re beyond delighted to be able to present our first fully live Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival since 2019. It’s also great to be able to expand the festival into some of the most interesting spaces available in the city centre – such as St Joseph’s Church in Sailortown, The Indian Community Centre, and 2 Royal Avenue, which some people might better know as the former Tesco. 

Of course we realise that Covid hasn’t gone away, and we’ll be exercising the appropriate safety precautions and encouraging patrons to do the same. But most importantly it feels good to be bringing great live events back to Belfast. 

More information can be found at cqaf.com 

 

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Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.