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Belfast’s 2022 culture guide: The definitive list of major events, exhibitions and shows to enjoy this summer

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Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Comedian Chris McGlade

Comedian Chris McGlade

An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

The Dark, Amaze at W5

The Dark, Amaze at W5

Power to the Young People, a new exhibition at Ulster Museum

Power to the Young People, a new exhibition at Ulster Museum

W5 becomes a child-free zone for four summer evenings

W5 becomes a child-free zone for four summer evenings

Katherine Dunleavy, National Partnership Coordinator at The Courtauld and Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, at Bloomsbury: A Collective which recently opened at the Ulster Museum

Katherine Dunleavy, National Partnership Coordinator at The Courtauld and Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, at Bloomsbury: A Collective which recently opened at the Ulster Museum

Brian Ballard, Coloured Roses’ Oil on Canvas, 77 x 62 cms, £5,000.00

Brian Ballard, Coloured Roses’ Oil on Canvas, 77 x 62 cms, £5,000.00

Billy Boy staged by Eastside Arts. Image credit: Ross Reaney

Billy Boy staged by Eastside Arts. Image credit: Ross Reaney

Ron Mueck Exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris, France on January 05, 2006. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Ron Mueck Exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris, France on January 05, 2006. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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Twin Peaks

Make summer 2022 a cultural one with events around Belfast. Compiled by Gillian Halliday and Áine Toner.

Chris McGlade

Forgiveness (18+)

The Mac, July 23, 7.30pm, £20

How do you forgive your father’s murderer? Only comedian Chris knows…

A fiercely powerful and critically acclaimed show about a brutally shocking story; Chris’ father was murdered in 2011.Inspiring uproarious laughter, tears of sincerity and standing ovations, Chris’ conscientious comedy and cutting-edge poetry makes for a truly unforgettable show. Please note: This show contains very strong language and a graphic description of murder.

Wool Works

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Craft NI Gallery, until August 5

Co Down textile expert professor Jane McCann is behind this innovative exhibition bringing together Welsh, Finnish and Northern Irish textile artists, who have been working together since 2001. Exhibiting artistsinclude Sue Shields, Mandy Nash, Lynda Shell, Elspeth Thomas and Alison Moger.

Above Us the Milky Way

Void Gallery, until August 27

This features work from artists Orna Kazimi, Kubra Khademi, Mario García Torres and Erkan Özgen. The title of the exhibition is taken from a novel by Fowzin Karimi that explores the complexities and the impact of war through memories, loss and notions of home. Many who are forced into exile face forced migration, and the burden of carrying the past into the present and future. The legacy of war, the repression of minorities and women, and the trauma that seeps through the generations forms the focal point of this exhibition.

The Planetary emergency and the politics of resistance

Queen’s University, July 19, 9am-1.30pm

The disruptive tactics used by movements like Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil deeply divide opinions on what qualifies as ‘responsible’, ‘appropriate’ and ‘acceptable’ forms of protest. Meanwhile, states are increasingly engaging in more repressive tactics to protect ‘business as usual’, by dissuading activists from engaging in disruptive actions and criminalising those who do. It is in this context that the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action (SECA) is encouraging academics, trade unionists and activists to join them in discussion to consider the theme: The Planetary Emergency and the Politics of Resistance. In exploring this timely and important topic, this half-day workshop will be guided by questions such as, how are we to effectively resist climate breakdown and ecological collapse in the absence of political leadership? And what strategies and tactics can social movements use to legitimately resist those in power who want to maintain the ecocidal status quo?

Game of Thrones tapestry

Ulster Museum, until September 25, free admission

It’s back… Winter is coming more quickly than expected with the return of the beautifully designed tapestry with key moments from the show. Of course much was filmed across Northern Ireland so queue up to spot your favourite moments along the 87-metre long woven and embroidered creation.

Commissioned just five years ago in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland and HBO, the hand-woven tapestry was created by staff and volunteers from local textile guilds, as well as an additional 1,000 hours of hand embroidered highlights.

‘You know nothing Jon Snow’ takes on new significance when you can see it right in front of your eyes.

Belfast Tradfest: Tá Bean in Éirinn

Cultúrlann Mc Adam Ó Fiaich, July 28, 7.30pm, £15

Taken from a line in the poem Mná na hÉireann written by Ulster poet Peadar Ó Doirnín (1700–1769), and perhaps more widely known as a song set to an air by Seán Ó Riada in 1969, this event is a celebration of some the finest female traditional musicians, singers and dancers in Ireland; west Kerry singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, TG4 Gradam Ceoil winner Angelina Carberry, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Síle Denvir, Edwina Guckian and Doireann Ní Ghlacáin.

Film Feels

Queen’s Film Theatre, until July 31

Curiosity is the theme of this year’s Film Feels season from the BFI Film Audience Network, made possible with National Lottery funding. CURIOUS was chosen as the theme for this celebration as it’s clear as we continue to recover from the worst of the pandemic that bringing people together to experience art collectively and learn more about the people and things around us, is more important than ever. Films that’ll be screening as part of the festival at QFT include science fiction classic Solyent Green (July 23) wherein overpopulation and lack of food threaten the very existence of the human race, and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of David Lynch’s classic, watch as Special Agents Chester Desmond and Dale Cooper unravel bizarre clues and mysterious disappearances in the peaceful town of Twin Peaks. Oh, and Labyrinth is on July 31 — your opportunity to see this classic movie.

The Mac, Pride Living Library

July 27, 11am-12pm, 12pm-1pm, 2pm-3pm, free admission but booking is essential

The Rainbow Project, in partnership with the MAC, is hosting a Living Library as part of Belfast’s Pride celebrations, where the books and stories that are borrowed are real people! This is a unique opportunity for the public to gain insight and knowledge of lived experiences of being LGBTQIA+ with a diverse range of ‘books’ available. To ‘read’ each book is 15 minutes. There will be eight ‘books’ to choose from.

Ron Mueck

The Mac, from July 29, free but booking advised

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Ron Mueck Exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris, France on January 05, 2006. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Ron Mueck Exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris, France on January 05, 2006. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Ron Mueck Exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris, France on January 05, 2006. (Photo by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The first exhibition of Mueck’s work in Ireland, this exhibition brings together seven of his key works including Dead Dad, 1997 and his monumental work In Bed, 2005. Ron Mueck was born to German parents in Melbourne, Australia, in 1958, and has since lived and worked in the UK. Having begun his career in the world of film and television, Mueck’s move into fine art was initiated by a collaboration with Paula Rego at the Hayward Gallery in 1996.

1922 – 1972 – 2022: Years of Chaos and Hope

Linen Hall Library, August 1-31, free admission

It feels every year is a historic one in Northern Ireland and 2022 is no different. Marking two poignant anniversaries in the history of Northern Ireland — as 1922 and 1972 were the two deadliest years of the 1920s troubles and the recent conflict. A century and 50 years on, the exhibition reflects on the conflicting identities, protests, backlash, arrests, evictions, expulsions, shootings, and bombs which contributed to the chaos of 1922 and 1972. Using material from its archive, this exhibition explores the troubled times through which the Linen Hall Library and its visitors endured. One to take your time visiting. On August 1, Dr Eamon Phoenix will give a keynote speech lecture. Guided tours of the exhibition will be available from August 10.

Adult only nights

W5, from July 21, £15

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W5 becomes a child-free zone for four summer evenings

W5 becomes a child-free zone for four summer evenings

W5 becomes a child-free zone for four summer evenings

No kids allowed for four very special summer nights as grown-ups are given the run of the science and discovery centre. Adults can let loose and unleash their inner child, as they explore the Reimagined W5, at a series of quirky themed events: House of Games (21 July); World of Illusion (28 July); Destination Animation (4 August); Music at the Centre (11 August). Additional add-on workshops and experiences will be available for selected events. Prebooking essential.

Matilda JR

The Mac, August 4-5, Various times, £5

Rebellion is nigh in Matilda JR., a gleefully witty ode to the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination. An amateur production produced by New Lodge Arts, Matilda has astonishing wit, intelligence... and special powers! Packed with high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs, Matilda JR. is a joyous girl power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.

Workshop

Queen’s University, July 25, 10am-3pm

During this four day, in person programme in the Graduate School, participants will have the opportunity to build on your employability skills. The programme will cover everything job-seekers need to consider when applying for jobs, from your CV, a strategy for competency-based questions, right through to carrying out an interview. Participants develop their online presence through LinkedIn as its popularity as a recruitment tool for employers continues to grow. There will also be an opportunity to complete the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire, which is used to determine differing strengths and types of personalities. Being aware of personal preferences is one step towards understanding yourself better and improving your relationships with others.

Power to the Young People

Ulster Museum, until September 25, free admission

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Power to the Young People, a new exhibition at Ulster Museum

Power to the Young People, a new exhibition at Ulster Museum

Power to the Young People, a new exhibition at Ulster Museum

A group of 16-25-year-olds have assembled objects that represent their opinions and experiences on relevant issues for young people now and into the future including LGBTQI+ Rights, Climate Justice and Arts and Wellbeing. The exhibition aims to make a statement about sustainability with a range of low impact materials and design techniques used in its design, many of which are a first for the Ulster Museum.

Eastside Arts Festival: Billy Boy

Cultúrlann Mc Adam Ó Fiaich, August 5, recommended for 18+, 3pm and 8pm, £12

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Billy Boy staged by Eastside Arts. Image credit: Ross Reaney

Billy Boy staged by Eastside Arts. Image credit: Ross Reaney

Billy Boy staged by Eastside Arts. Image credit: Ross Reaney

Billy Boy, by east Belfast writer Rosemary Jenkinson, was written in 2021 and inspired by interviews with young bonfire builders. Performed by the amazing young actor John Travers, Aaron is looking after the biggest and most controversial boney in the east and is determined to fight the council’s ruling. The problem is, if he gets into any more trouble, he might have to pack his bags...

An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

Golden Thread Gallery, until July 30, free admission

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An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

An Object of Vision Alexandra Lethbridge

Part of Belfast Photo Festival 2022, the exhibition charts the exclusion of women from historical narratives through a series of still lives and collages constructed to position women in the picture. This series asks: what is lost when the stories and perspectives of women are eliminated from history? The work sets out to respond to this by reconstructing and creating new alternative images. In this series by conceptual artist Alexandra Lethbridge, the images of women are fragmented, dislocated, but reassembled again.

Liú Lúnasa: Morning Yoga with Dunla

Cultúrlann Mc Adam Ó Fiaich, August 28, 8am, £5, pre-registration essential

This bilingual (Irish and English) class will explore different variations of structure, awareness, breathing and movement. Perfect for beginners and intermediate level. Everyone welcome. Yoga mats provided and there will be a light breakfast after the class.

Brian Ballard

ArtisAnn Gallery, until August 27, free admission

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Brian Ballard, Coloured Roses’ Oil on Canvas, 77 x 62 cms, £5,000.00

Brian Ballard, Coloured Roses’ Oil on Canvas, 77 x 62 cms, £5,000.00

Brian Ballard, Coloured Roses’ Oil on Canvas, 77 x 62 cms, £5,000.00

Born in Belfast, Brian trained firstly at the College of Art, Belfast and then Liverpool. Though still living in Belfast, the artist spends long periods of time living and working in his house on the island of Inishfree.

He prefers those moments when the sun has infused the landscape with colour.

Brian is interested in the contrasting colours and textures in simple subjects. Painting directly onto the canvas with vigorous brushstrokes, he uses bold slashes of rich colour with fluid paint in which the bristles always leave their mark of speed and pressure.

Slamfilíocht Liú Lúnasa

Cultúrlann Mc Adam Ó Fiaich, August 26, 5pm, £5, entrants must apply prior to event

Liú Lúnasa’s Poetry Slam is renowned as the only Irish language slam poetry competition and this year we are delighted welcome all entries to perform in the Cultúrlann. The first in-person Slam since 2019, Sinéad Ní Ullacháinn will host the event, which promises to be a fantastic night of poetry where you will be competing for a prize fund of £800. Get writing!

Bloomsbury: A Collective

Ulster Museum, until October 16, free admission

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Katherine Dunleavy, National Partnership Coordinator at The Courtauld and Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, at Bloomsbury: A Collective which recently opened at the Ulster Museum

Katherine Dunleavy, National Partnership Coordinator at The Courtauld and Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, at Bloomsbury: A Collective which recently opened at the Ulster Museum

Katherine Dunleavy, National Partnership Coordinator at The Courtauld and Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, at Bloomsbury: A Collective which recently opened at the Ulster Museum

If you want to move in literary circles this summer, opt for walking in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. The group of artistic friends was searching for new ways of thinking as the conservative Victorian era abated. The art created by the group would have a significant influence on the 20th century, as would their ideas and approaches to feminism, socialism and sexuality. The exhibition also shares work by the Omega workshop: designers who translated the Bloomsbury Group’s ethos into tangible objects.

The Dark

Amaze at W5, from July 29, £20

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The Dark, Amaze at W5

The Dark, Amaze at W5

The Dark, Amaze at W5

Thrill seekers looking for spinetingling summer (and braver than us) will appreciate W5’s first-of-its-kind scare attraction in its immersive events space. Visitors will descend into The Dark (gulp) and placed at the heart of the action for an adrenaline-pumping journey.

The premise is based on scientists at the Wellsian Corporation, who have been working to unlock the secrets of ‘The Vortex,’ an energy tunnel on the edge of reality. Ready to share their success with the world, 12 board the time pod and launch the vortex. But they end up in Victorian Belfast and need to find their way home… avoiding those hunting them…


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