Belfast Telegraph

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival set to celebrate 18th year in Belfast - we find out the highlights

Belfast's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 'comes of age' this week as the annual event prepares to celebrate its 18th year.

Running from Thursday, April 27 - Sunday, May 7, over 150 events are set to take place across 30 venues in the city centre.

This year's music line-up includes Divine Comedy, Booker T Jones, Cara Dillon, Duke Special, and Dana Masters, while comedy acts taking part this year include Rich Hall, Richard Herring and Tony Law.

With a host of film and theatre also on offer, CQAF Director Sean Kelly said he believes this year has the strongest programme of events yet.

"We come of age this year and it's a big milestone for us," he added.

"We've been slowly building the festival up since it's inception and I think we've reached a point now where we are one of the most exciting festivals across Ireland."

He continued: "The diversity of acts this year is astonishing and the amount of goodwill that we received when we approached artists about coming to Belfast has been really positive.

"And also we were just lucky in terms of some artists' schedules - the stars just seemed to align this year.

Speaking about the festival's highlights for 2017, Sean admitted he is still amazed at the names they have booked to perform.

"We have artists that I have been trying to secure for every one of the 18 years we have been doing this," he said. "People like Roger McGough who is probably one of the foremost living poets in the world today.

"We've also got heroes from the 1960s like Booker T Jones, and heroes from the 1970s and 1980s like Kevin Rowland from Dexy's Midnight Runner.

"And right up to our finest local talent in people like Duke Special, Cara Dilllion and Dana Masters.

"So we have got the best local, national and international artists all coming together for a great 11 day celebration in Belfast and I can't wait."

With the arts sector often facing uncertainty when it comes to funding, Sean said his team are more determined than ever to showcase the best in music, comedy and theatre, adding the city as a whole is always very receptive to these types of events.

"We like to present our events in a friendly and informal way," he added. "Sometimes the arts can seem quite intimidating, they can be quite off putting and the ticket prices can be quite prohibitive.

"But we have worked hard to remove all the barriers that exist to the arts and create an event that people genuinely want to go to and will meet other like minded people at - and most importantly be engaged and have fun.

For information on CQAF events visit www.cqaf.com.

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