posted on April 20th, 2017

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Returns

Northern Ireland’s most dynamic arts festival hits its landmark birthday with all the bravado and naïve swagger of a typical 18 year old. Yes, the Cathedral Quarter Arts FestivalBelfast returns from the 27 April – 7 May to transform Belfast’s city centre with an exuberant riot of live music, comedy, spoken word and visual arts plus a host of other eclectic, electric tidbits.

The full programme for The 18th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival was unveiled at the world famous Duke of York pub in the heart of the quarter. Launch guests were amongst the first to discover a festival programme with over 150 events across 30 venues – an electrifying mix of the big and the brash, the up and coming and the weird and wonderful.

Music headliners include Booker T Jones, The Handsome Family, Divine Comedy, Sugarhill Gang, Kevin Rowland, Cara Dillon, Robert Cray, Breathe – The Pink Floyd Experience, Dana Masters, Interskalactic, Chip Taylor, Kíla, Brix and the Extricated, The Parrots, Madison Violet, Duke Special and Ulaid, Ryan McMullan, The Comet is Coming, Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen, Tir na Nog, Wreckless Eric, Josienne Clark and Ben Walker, Christine Bovill singing Edith Piaf, Harlow Fair, and introducing our festival artist in residence, the sublimely talented Rosie Carney.

The CQAF comedy line-up is stronger than ever, featuring the likes of Tony Law, Rich Hall, Sofie Hagan, Jeremy Hardy, Bridget Christie, Kieran Hodgson and Richard Herring. Elsewhere in the programme, the highlights include former Spider from Mars Woody Woodmansey talking about his turbulent, exciting years as one of Bowie’s most famous backing band, glorious verse from legends Roger McGough and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Food writer “a girl named” Jack Monroe and  a red hot theatre programme including Prime Cut’s award-winning Scorch, the Irish premiere of Omnibus Theatre’s acclaimed “Peru 2” production Mule and Splodar Theatre’s delicious Joycean homage Young Stephen. The film programme includes the first NI screening of Lost in France – the celebrated documentary on the startling rise of Scotland’s indie music scene of the 90s, Bang! – the tale of Bert Berns – the most famous 60s songwriter that you’ve never heard of, and folk horror mayhem with SingalongaWickerman!

Speaking at the launch, Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival continues to invigorate the cultural life of Belfast city centre through its highly creative programme of music, theatre, literature, comedy, visual arts and talks.  It also provides an important platform for showcasing local artists alongside world-class national and international performers and brings people and communities closer together through a shared enjoyment of the arts.”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston, commented:

“The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival can truly be described as one of the jewels in our cultural crown, having grown from its relatively modest roots to one of our most vibrant and best loved arts events. It also is one of the most accessible festivals of its kind, especially in relation to its policy of keeping ticket prices as low as possible, using the widest range of venues and staging a wide variety of events to suit all tastes.”

Festival director Sean Kelly said he was thrilled to be able to offer audiences such an impressive array of quality, affordable acts: “To say we’ve hit our 18th birthday seems slightly surreal! And to be still putting on a festival that not only grows its audience with each passing programme, but upholds the joyous, progressive spirit of the quarter from which it takes its name, is a thrill and a privilege for us! I think we’ve delivered the goods once again with this programme which has some of my favourite musical heroes, including the mighty Kevin Rowland as well as Booker T Jones,, Robert Cray, the Handsome Family, Divine Comedy and Cara Dillon. I invite people to check out the programme and I guarantee them that there’ll be plenty to whet their appetite!”

To see the full line-up and to buy tickets go to