Culture

MewVil’s Culture Night Belfast 2013

It’s the Saturday morning after Culture Night, my legs are killing me and I feel rather hung over despite not drinking any alcohol the night before. It’s a good complaint because it means I had a good night.

Culture Night is a night in Belfast where a host of galleries, studios, buildings, cultural organisations, shops, churches, restaurants and many more are open to the public to enjoy free performances, events and talks. Outdoor activities include a skate ramp, flash mob meditation, pro wrestling, music stages and many other varied and eclectic events.

The fifth Culture Night Belfast was bigger and better than ever with the dry mild weather putting the icing on top of a great evening out. I experienced Culture Night Belfast for the first time last year and I was blown away by the number and variety of events, the crowds and overall friendly and fun atmosphere. This year was no different except I was a little more organised having created a wish list of events that I wanted to check out. I am happy to say that I managed to visit and/or participate in most of my wish list.

My night started at what could be termed the centre of the night at Writer’s Square enjoying the sounds of the Big Fat Drum Circle headed by The Gathering Drum. As is the spirit of the night, the public were urged to participate with plenty of seats and instruments available. The cacophony of percussion instruments merged to create a pulsing rhythm that you cannot help but nod your head and tap your feet to.

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Next to the drum circle was Belfast Roller Derby’s Wheels of Derby where you could check out this fast paced sport and marvel at the speed and skill of the skaters. Great to watch, not sure I’d be any good on roller skates being a Grade A klutz!

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The beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral was open to all with events inside including showcases in the skills used to build the Cathedral, music, tours, organ recitals and a meditation flash mob on its steps.

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Talbot Street was beautifully decorated with light and dark blue ribbon stretching from the top of the buildings opposite St Anne’s down to the railings at the Cathedral. One of buildings, the Northern Ireland War Memorial hosted a night of 30s and 40s songs from the Swingabella group.

Behind St Anne’s Cathedral was Wheelwork’s Fruit & Veg Orchestra. Fruit and vegetables were linked by wires to laptops and when touched created a sound proving that anyone can make music from anything. Fantastic fun for kids and adults alike with an enthusiastic conductor providing encouragement. Yeah! Science! Yo!

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The events at Buoys Park in front of the University of Ulster was expanded this year not only to include the a temporary skate/BMX park from T13 showcasing some of the great talent we have in this area but also a music stage, various food trucks and a taster tent for the Belfast Festival occurring next month.

We wandered around in the search of some food next and there was plenty on offer from the aforementioned food trucks at Buoys Park, Tao in the University of Ulster, various restaurants, both sit in and take away, and food trucks at Coppi and Mourne Seafood Bar. We decided to check out the Food Fayre. This was the only disappointment of the night with only two trucks tucked away in Marquee Street, one selling the usual fare of burgers, chips, etc. and the other a Thai food truck. I am hoping next year they may have a dedicated space somewhere a little more central that will allow some of increasing number of specialist food trucks such as those from Coppi and Mourne Seafood and others less well known to cater to the hungry masses.

On our way to Hudson’s Yard we encountered the Beat Carnival’s parade, a loud energetic parade of urban street dancers, performers, graffiti artist on a truck, dragons and a giant flame spouting dragon powered by human hamsters in a giant wheel.

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At Hudson’s Yard one could view four pieces of Banksy’s work at Belfast’s smallest contemporary art gallery, Microdot. Hudson’s Yard was also the venue for the Culture Night Pop Shop hosted by the talented Leo Boyd.

Finally, on to my personal highlight of the night, the Hit the North Music Stage presented by Place & Seedhead Arts situated just outside Aether & Echo who kindly also provided sustenance in the form of burgers and beers on Lower Garfield Street without the need to go inside. We managed to catch JBR Project giving the crowd plenty of tunes to dance to. Then Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer took to the stage entertaining the crowd with his unique chap hop skills. Be warned though he is not always family friendly! Having missed his previous performances in Belfast I was stupendously excited at the prospect of finally seeing Mr B play for free outside on a mild evening with space to dance. And dance I did culminating in an almost holy rapture for Songs for Acid Edward.

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After that we had to concede defeat and go home exhausted and very happy. Not showing my age much!

Thank you Culture Night Belfast for organising and putting such an amazing night and also a big thank you to the marvellous volunteers, security and PSNI for ensuring people had an enjoyable and safe night out. For anyone who has not had the pleasure of attending Culture Night before please do so for 2014 as this is a great night out for everyone with plenty to do for kids big and small.

For anyone who does not live in Belfast, do not despair as Culture Night events are held around Northern Ireland on the same night with Armagh, Strabane, L’Derry and Holywood participating this year.

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