We all love that magical night in September, when for a handful of amazing hours, Culture Night Belfast gloriously transforms the spaces and places of our favourite city .
BUT why stop at one intense evening? As well as Culture Night, what about enjoying an leisurely programme of events throughout the week showcasing more of the best of Belfast?
Yes, we thought so too! And so Culture Night Belfast is about to go ďXTRAĒ with CNX Ė offering curious visitors and up-for-it locals an attractive array of opportunities over six days. CNX will offer up a programme of activities and adventures, performances and even a few surprises which neatly wrap around the big night itself, and offer a little something extra for everybody.
Staring on Monday 15 September, CNX will whet the appetite for Culture Night Belfast, and then offers the perfect non-chemical antidote to the dreaded Culture Night cold turkey comedown by giving everybody an excuse to make an extended weekend of it in Belfast, right up until Sunday 21 September. And we can absolutely guarantee that it hasn't been tested on animals - you will be our willing human guinea pigs!
In official blurb, CNX is a brand new element to the Culture Night Programme - there will even be a special pull out section in the brochure.
But really, we all know what CNX really means - six days to sample events and to window shop along the rich creative underbelly of the Belfast Streets, and all in a way that wonít spoil your appetite for the main event!
Where do I start?
What a curious few weeks these have been. Casting my mind back to the start of June, things felt so different. My job options were nonexistent and I was working a part time job that Iíve been in for over ten years, with no get out clause. So, jaded with the situation, I was close to packing it all in and leaving Northern Ireland for good. But sure, the World Cup was on the telly. That was at least something.
Maybe upon hearing this plea of self-pity, the universe heeded my call for change. Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time. Or perhaps I was just a jammy git. I saw the advertisement for this internship and sent my CV in on a whim. I have so many rejection letters and e-mails from prospective jobs and my haphazard literary career already, whatís one more to the pile? Yet here I am, writing a post on my first three weeks as a Culture Night intern. And through a combination of fear, hope, excitement and wonder along with the kindness of my new colleagues, I donít think Iíve ever been happier.
Since I found out about it back in 2011, Iíve always loved the idea of Culture Night. Swimming through an ocean of beautifully crafted events Ė music, art, theatre, film, dance and literary Ė around every corner of Belfastís Cathedral Quarter and beyond. Each more magical than the last and seeing venues lit up and breathing life into a city I love dearly Ė despite all its imperfections. In a perfect world Belfast would be like this every weekend, but until that day CN remains one of the most enjoyable and equally most important nights on Northern Irelandís calendar.
However, did I ever stop for a moment to think of the scale of this operation? The security? Closing off streets? Catering? Volunteers? Team leaders? Permits? Sponsorship? Licensing? Insurance? Logistical coordination of the actual events?! No, no I did not.
When Jillian [Thompson, Production Manager] handed me and my fellow intern Stephanie this huge tome of information containing every single minute detail of each site from CN13, on the first day, I went a little pale and wondered if I was in over my head.
As the days passed by I went from sourcing catering and street food vans to writing down all the incredible events already confirmed, waiting with immense anticipation to see what else is to come, getting to know my fellow intern Stephanie and rediscovering a coffee addiction I thought I beat years ago. The first two weeks have been deliberately slow but exciting. Though I guess it didnít sink in what we were actually trying to achieve, until one sunny afternoon over a week ago. Adam [Turkington, Programme Manager], Jillian, Stephanie and I were standing in Buoy Park, Belfast, beside St Anneís Cathedral, visualising how it will look on the night. With that burst of imagination it suddenly began to feel so real.
Typically of Northern Ireland, the first two weeks in July brought a slight lull with the Twelfth festivities. Yet there was still opportunity to food vendors, scout exciting new venues and approaching other potential acts and artists for the event.
Iíve been repeatedly told, and with good reason, when this blog post goes live and the #CNB14 website is officially online itís all guns blazing. And I may cry for air at times, but I couldnít be more proud and thankful to be part of it.
250+ events, 100+ venues and over 30,000 people in Cathedral Quarter and beyond - Culture Night is taking over Belfast on 19th September between 4-10pm.
"Best night ever! A surprise round every corner. Simply brilliant!"