The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is set to rock into its 16th year as The Charlatans head-up the colourful line up of more than 150 events across Belfast.
From music to art to theatre to comedy, the festival which runs from April 30 - May 10 is planning a "no-holds-barred" fortnight of "scintillitating events" as it turns 16.
The programme which includes Wilko Johnson, The Stranglers, The Staves, Gaz Coombes, Val McDermid, Paul Muldoon, Paul Durcan, Martin Rowson, Ulrich Schnaus, Tracy Thorn, Andrew Maxwell and David O’Doherty to name a few, was launched in the Harp Bar in the heart of the Quarter.
The Charlatans are the headline act in the Custom House Square Festival Marquee, while Camille O’Sullivan plays St Anne’s Cathedral on the opening day of CQAF2016 in what organisers promise to be an "intimate and unforgettable affair".
Meanwhile Blues, Garage and Soul group Little Barrie who roll into town fresh from penning the theme tune to cable hit programme Better Call Saul will also take to the stage.
Sister act The Staves will also grace the stage at the festival while the legendary axe-man with the 50-yard stare Wilko Johnson makes good on a promise to return to the Festival following his recovery from serious illness last year.
Punk legends The Stranglers also take to the marquee stage as do Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy wherein the former Spiders from Mars legend and his watertight band play the early stomping classics of David Bowie.
Best-selling crime author Mark Billingham has teamed up with country stars My Darling Clementiine to produce a literary/music crossover gig called The Other Half.
Irish poetry giants of north and south - Paul Durcan and Paul Muldoon - join Val McDermid among the literature announcements, while award-winning political cartoonist Martin Rowson makes a rare visit to Belfast.
The comedy and spoken word programme boasts the likes of Bec Hill, Martin Mor and Festival favourite Lucy Porter plus a couple of iconic Edinburgh smash one-man shows in the form of Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope and Down and Out in Paris and London.
Irish comic stars David O’Doherty and Andrew Maxwell will also be headlining the festival marquee.
<< Full details of all festival shows click here >>
Festival Director Sean Kelly said: “We wanted to share our excitement with this year’s festival – undoubtedly one of our finest ever collections of literature, theatre, comedy and music events.
"Yet across the arts sector as a whole, optimism is in short supply. In fact, in 16 years, we’ve never known morale so low with so many arts organisations facing closure or on the brink of collapse.
"The benefits of a healthy arts sector are numerous and well documented yet the philosophy of Dickens’ Thomas Gradgrind appears to prevail in the corridors of Stormont and Westminster.
"In spite of this, we’ve managed to duck, weave and dig deep to deliver what we think is a killer programme. We’re thrilled to be able to continue to bring what we hope is a perfect festival blend of the classic, the new, the huge and the up-and-coming.
"There’s a difficult year ahead for the arts in Northern Ireland with little to celebrate, but hopefully the 16th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will be a welcoming port in the storm ahead.”
Roisin McDonough Chief Executive of the Arts Council said: "“For 15 years, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has maintained an air of enigmatic unpredictability and this year’s programme continues on in that same pioneering spirit.
"Always fresh and innovative it’s a tribute to the festival team that, despite pressures on arts funding, CQAF continues to grow, never failing to deliver on quality and diversity.”
Tickets will also be on sale from April 2 2015 by telephone or in person at the Visit Belfast Centre, and also from the Visit Belfast Desk at the International Airport.