CULTURE NIGHT CELEB SPOTTING 2019

This could be a one-off, or the first in an annual series like my Edinburgh Celeb Spotting blog.

Anyway, when I was out at Culture Night, I spotted some celebs out and about.

Mary Peters, walking along Union Street.

Claire Hanna, walking along Hill Street.

Eden Wilson, filming on the grounds of St Anne’s Cathedral. Good job I did spot her, otherwise I would have accidentally walked into shot and appeared on UTV Live.

Barra Best, walking along Donegall Street. I would have thanked him for the good weather, but we all know that Frank Mitchell arranged it.

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2019

Nothing says Summer is over and Winter is imminent quite like Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United on a Monday night. Fast forward four days, and we have the annual event which gives us something to look forward to as we try to convince ourselves that the Summer isn’t quite over yet.

Talking of Summer, we certainly got the weather for it. Nice and warm, decent daylight and most importantly, no rain. Although that was the weather all week leading into this, you had the fear it was going to unravel when we needed it most. I think Frank Mitchell must have had a word.

Culture Night in Belfast was a milestone this year, marking ten years since it started. This was the eleventh such event obviously, and I’ve been to nine of them, not a bad ratio.

I missed the first year and got tickets to an event in 2010 that was part of it. After the event in question, I wandered about and enjoyed myself, making a note to come back each year, which I’ve done.

Back then, i’d come home from work, have a bit to eat, and head straight out back into Belfast City Centre, usually arriving around 7pm.

Usually by then, things would be in full swing, so I decided from about 2015 onwards to take a half day and arrive a bit early, usually between 4pm and 5pm.

This year was no different, out of work at lunchtime, home, watch a bit of the Rugger, relax a bit, get showered and get ready to get cultured, arriving in Belfast City Centre just after 5pm.

Helpfully, there were programmes being handed out outside McDonalds if you wanted one, so you could see what was happening where.

I declined one at first, getting a dose of PTSD from Edinburgh, thinking that I was being handed a flyer, so I politely declined at first.

My first visit was to North Street, to have a look at the new mural on Garfield Street. The building work on that street meant it looked drab and was in need of something like that. The artwork is ok but it’s basically an advert for Tribeca and i’m not really that fussed on advertising murals, unless they’re done well and aren’t an in your face advert like the Derry Girls mural in Derry or the John Lydon mural in Bangor.

I then headed to Rosemary Street to see that the chess board was there again.

A major part of Culture Night in the past has been street art painted as part of Hit The North.

However, Hit The North was brought forward to May this year, meaning there would be no live street art painting as part of Culture Night.

The organisers of Hit The North announced the day before Culture Night that their event will only be taking place in May from now on. On the plus side, it’s only eight months away.

The National tried to plug that gap by hosting a Street Art even in their Beer Garden. It wasn’t really much of an event, two guys painting on a canvas for about 20-30 minutes and that was it.

A regular feature of Culture Night is Street Countdown, the TV show Countdown, but performed on the street. The one I popped along to see was won by someone selecting “Haribos” from the letters assembled.

That was in St Anne’s Square, where there is usually wrestling matches, but not this year.

I’m not really into WWE (although I am aware it is now called WWE and not WWF) but I enjoyed watching wrestling bouts at Culture Night.

There’s also usually a parade of something through North Street, but that was also missing this year.

Also changed this year was the Roller Derby, which was moved to an indoor venue at University Of Ulster.

It felt like it wasn’t as busy as it was in previous years, not as many people there.

The loss of a few mainstays meant that I found myself having to flick through the programme to see what else there was.

I called into University Of Ulster and it wasn’t as busy as it usually is.

I then returned to St Anne’s Square to catch up with Street Countdown, which had now gone (turns out it finished around 7.30pm) and the stage taken up with Flamenco Dancers, which I did enjoy watching.

There were a lot of venues that had showcases in previous years which weren’t involved this year.

It was a strange contradiction of a lot of things being on but not a long of things to do.

It did feel heavily commercialised this year. There was one group of performers whose outfit was plastered with the logo of an energy company. Meanwhile, a car showroom hired a projector to advertise on the exterior wall of a hotel.

I really hope we don’t end up being Edinburgh lite with posters plastered all over the venues and being unable to move due to Flyerers.

It was bearable in terms of fagbreaths. That’s not really something to celebrate or be proud of, there were still too many of them about.

It was disheartening to see the programme for the event encouraging people how to get rid of their cigarette butts instead of perhaps, telling them not to be a fucking tramp in the first place and just keep them in their pockets, considering it’s marketed as a family event.

To be honest, it felt a bit underwhelming, which was a bit sad, as it’s an event I’ve always looked to.

I left around 9pm, the earliest i’d ever left a Culture Night.

However, that was not the end of the weekend festivities.

For the first time, the Saturday would be designated as Culture Day. There was a market at St Anne’s Cathedral which interested me, so I popped along to that on the Saturday morning.

As we now hurtle towards Winter, i’m looking for travel inspiration to give me something to look forward to.

I had hoped to book a weekend in London over 12th July next year, so it was disappointing to check the prices on the day Easyjet released their flights that it was £150 just to get on the plane. That’s before I check in luggage and book a hotel.

Looks like I might be looking somewhere closer to home. Galway is the European Capital Of Culture in 2020, so I might head there that weekend.

Or I might go to Waterford again, to check out Waterford Walls.

Talking of Street Art, with Linfield having a free Saturday in a fortnight time, I might use that Saturday to do a day trip to check out Drogheda’s Street Art. I’m still trying to find out if Bridge Jam is on that weekend. It was on that weekend in 2018, so fingers crossed.

And finally, here’s somewhere you might not associate with Street Art …… Rochdale.

Rochdale Uprising is a Street Art festival organised by Nomad Clan, who are regular visitors to Belfast.

I’m heading to Manchester to see United play in early November, so i’m planning to take some time to visit Rochdale and it’s Street Art.

So that was Culture Night, it wasn’t awful, but it did feel a wee bit flat and a wee bit different.

The biggest difference is I won’t be out on my bike on the Sunday after to cover Hit The North.

But you know i’ll be back out to do it all again in September 2020.

Photo Album

Culture Night 2018

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2018

It’s an annual tradition in Belfast, but it’s hard to believe that Culture Night has only been around since 2009, meaning that this year’s event was the milestone tenth Culture Night. I’ve been to eight of them, not a bad ratio.

Another tradition, that it linked to Culture Night, is the booking of a half day from work for me. This is due to the fact I want to arrive in the City Centre between 4pm and 5pm, but I don’t want to go straight from work as it makes what is already a long day even longer.

I made the most of my half day by heading to North Street and that general area to have a look at some Street Art which is in progress as part of Hit The North, which runs alongside Culture Night.

That Street Art, a few hours further on, was my first port of call when I arrived in the City Centre for Culture Night.

That was, when I eventually arrived in the City Centre, as I had to jump off the bus at Havelock House and walk the rest due to the volume of traffic trying to get into the City Centre. It defeats the purpose of Translink marketing their services as a way to get to and from Culture Night when they can’t even get you into the City Centre.

Shortly after getting off the bus, the rain started to fall. This was not a great start. Thankfully, it was the only bit of rain all evening, keeping up another tradition of it being dry on Culture Night.

Being an eight time veteran of Culture Night, I know where to go in terms of what to see, which was handy, with a section of Royal Avenue still closed off due to the fire at Primark last month.

In truth, these diversions didn’t really affect me as I wouldn’t usually be around Royal Avenue on Culture Night.

My time was spent mostly in the Cathedral Quarter, checking out Street Art and venturing into University of Ulster, before a trip to the Oh Yeah Centre, then back to St Anne’s Square for some wrestling. Yes, you read that right.

Pro Wrestling Ulster set up a wrestling ring in the middle of St Anne’s Square and hosted matches. I went to see the first one. I don’t really know the names, so here goes ….

There was a guy wearing a lion mask and a guy whose character was that of a baddie. He punched a child’s balloon for crying out loud.

There was a third wrestler in this three way bout, and he was the eventual winner.

I was very happy with the photos of the wrestling I got, certainly ore interesting than the football ones I usually take.

Although, you don’t usually see clotheslines, chokeslams or flying kicks hen you watch football, apart from when you watch Crusaders play.

After that, it was more wandering about, making sure to take in Culture Night traditions such as Street Coundown and a bit of Cabaret, performed by Britney Spears.

Disclaimer, it might not have actually been Britney Spears.

The streets were busy, but not packed, which made it a lot easier getting around.

If you care, according to my Activity Tracker, I covered 34.37km on Friday.

There is one aspect of Culture Night which cannot be left uncommented on.

Usual drill, as with any outdoor event , the City Centre absolutely stank of fags and vapes. It was rancid, you literally could not move for it.

Absolute scummy tramps. I’ll repeat that. Anybody who smokes in public is a scummy tramp.

Imagine waking up one day and deciding to take up smoking because it will make you look cool, make you look sexy, and that nobody will ever laugh at you behind your back.

I’ve got a bit of bad news for you folks, I don’t know how to break it to you.

At least I can hold my nose, cover my mouth and swerve to avoid people. A child in a pram doesn’t have that luxury. There were people bringing their children to this event, and they still haven’t got the most basic decency or courtesy to others.

And yet, Belfast City Council will wheel out a few celebs for promo video with a trendy hashtag such as #yourbelfast

Too fucking right it’s my city, i’d love to get an opportunity to enjoy it, instead of having to hold my nose and cover my mouth as a form of self protection every time I leave the house.

Going to an outdoor concert. Going to a football match. Eating outside on a nice day. Going to a beer garden. Walking through the city centre. Queuing for a bus.

Just some of the things you can’t do in Belfast without having cigarette smoke blown into your face.

This has to stop. A total ban is the only answer. Fuck em. We are dealing with people who have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted to show consideration for others. Treat them with the same contempt they treat others.

Dogs aren’t allowed in beer gardens but smokers are. That’s the sign of a failed society. I know who i’d rather be in the company of.

If smokers faced the same level of vitriol as cyclists face, Belfast would be a far better city.

And yet, the fire at Primark is a handy excuse. Have you ever been to Belfast City Centre? It’s a truly grim experience.

Sandwich boards clogging up the footpaths, cigarette smoke and broken glass everywhere, getting pestered for bus tours and broadband.

No amount of selfies in a trendy Cathedral Quarter bar with somebody from Game Of Thrones will disguise the fact that Belfast City Centre is a rancid shithole.

If Culture Night is a showcase, what did the rancid smell on Friday say about the city?

Time to decide what type of Belfast you want to live in. Apathy will give you a shithole.

Let’s get that sorted for Culture Night 2019.

Photo Album

Culture Night Belfast 2017

Culture Night Belfast 2015

Culture Night Belfast 2014

Culture Night Belfast 2013

Culture Night Belfast 2012

2017 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

NORTH STREET (AND SURROUNDING AREAS) STREET ART SEPTEMBER 2016

Culture Night is one of the highlights of the year in Belfast. I may not have been able to attend the festivities last weekend, but that didn’t stop me getting to experience it.

One of the highlights of Culture Night is Street Art being painted live, incorporating the Hit The North Festival, where the northern parts of the City Centre become an art gallery, usually around, but not exclusively, North Street, Garfield Street and Donegall Street.

Returning from Liverpool on Monday, I had some spare time on my hands in the afternoon, so naturally, I got on my bike and headed to the City Centre to get some photos.

Too many people, too many cars, too many obstacles, and crap weather. It turned out to be a frustrating trip.

So, I decided to wait until Sunday morning and head out again when things were a bit quieter to go a bit snap happy.

There was one of the murals which has suffered some structural damage. What is should look like can be found here.

Enjoy.

Photo Album

See also

North Street Art September 2015

North Street Art September 2014

North Street Art September 2013

North Street Art September 2012

2015 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September began for me on the road to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, and get a 1-0 win on a lovely sunny day.

From the road to Fermanagh to the road to France. My next football match came two days later when I saw Northern Ireland take on Hungary in a Euro 2016 Qualifier, knowing that a win sound them to France.

They didn’t get the win they wanted, but a late draw kept them on course to qualify.

Inbetween those two football matches was some graffiti spotting around Belfast.

Two days after that, I was at The Odyssey, now renamed The SSE Arena, to see Florence and the Machine perform the first concert at the newly renovated venue.

Back to Irish League action the following Saturday, a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders, the less said about, the better.

The following Friday, was the highlight of the year in Belfast, Culture Night, and I was out with my camera snapping the action.

I recovered from Culture Night in time the following day to head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint.

The following day, I undertook a post Culture Night tradition by checking out the newly painted Street Art on North Street and the surrounding areas.

The final weekend of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield edge past Glenavon 4-3.

Like the previous weekend, I headed to North Street to get a look at the Street Art painted for Culture Night, as some pieces were still being worked on when I went down the previous week.

I also headed to City Quays Walk for the first time, to see some Street Art that had been painted there.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Street Art

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Culture Night

Culture Night Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

North Street Art Part 2

North Street Art Photo Album Volume 2

City Quays Walk Street Art

NORTH STREET (AND SURROUNDING AREAS) STREET ART – OCTOBER 2015

Ok, one last post relating to Culture Night, I promise. It was one month ago and I should probably let it go.

Street Art I missed in my previous blogs keep getting brought to my attention, so here is the last two pieces.

The first piece is by an artist called Irony, and appears on Berry Street, in the sidestreet as you walk from Tesco Metro to Mourne Seafood, if you know Belfast City Centre.

The second piece is by Friz and appears on William Street (to the side of Royal Aveneue, opposite Central Library), beside previous Culture Night pieces, which are also still there.

I think that’s every piece of Culture Night covered. Hope you enjoyed it.

Only eleven more months until Culture Night 2015, when i’ll be out with my camera in North Street again. Can’t wait.

North Street Art Part 1

North Street Art Part 2

NORTH STREET (AND SURROUNDING AREAS) ART – SEPTEMBER 2015, PART 2

Mopping up from last week, I headed to North Street, Donegall Street and Joy’s Entry to get photos of some of the Street Art as part of Culture Night that was still being finished last week.

I also headed to City Quays Walk to have a look at some Street Art that was also painted as part of Culture Night.

There is plenty of room in City Quays Walk for more Street Art, so i’ll be keeping an eye on that over the coming months to see if there are any new additions.

Photo Album

City Quays Walk Street Art Photo Album

See Also

North Street (And Surrounding Areas) Art Part 1

North Street Art September 2015 Photo Album

NORTH STREET (AND SURROUNDING AREA) ART – SEPTEMBER 2015

As much a tradition as Culture Night, is the aftermath of it, most notably, checking out the final result of the Street Art that gets painted on the night.

I headed over to Garfield Street to have a look, as well as North Street, and the upper end of North Street, as well as Donegall Street where Irish News is based, and then round to where Sunflower Bar is.

There were still some final touches being made to some pieces around Donegall Street, and there were bottle bins blocking any good photos of the piece at the back of Black Box, so i’ll have to make a second visit to get the photos I wanted.

Until then, enjoy.

Photo Album

See Also

North Street Art 2014

North Street Art 2014 Photo album

North Street Art 2013

North Street Art 2013 Photo Album

North Street Art 2012

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2015

The one ray of sunshine in the post summer comedown arrived in Belfast, as Culture Night 2015 took over the city. It’s hard to imagine a time before Culture Night, but it was only as recently as 2008, the event now becoming a circled red date in Belfast’s diary.

I decided to break my habit of previous years by taking a half day so I could be there between 4pm and 5pm. It turned out to be a good move as I managed to see the Street Art being painted from the very beginning, not that I actually missed out on much by arriving at 7pm as I had done in previous year, it felt like a more wholesome experience arriving there earlier.

My evening was spent mostly in North Street, Gordon Street, Cathedral Quarter and Smithfield, just walking around. Culture Night, like life sometimes, is a lot better when you just go with your instinct.

Of course, it wouldn’t Culture Night without taking in some Street Countdown.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad night. The only downside of it being over is that it’s the last big event of the Summer months. Still, you’re never more than 365 days away from the next one.

Photo Album

See Also

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2014 Photo Album

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2013 Photo Album

Culture Night 2012

Culture Night 2012 Photo Album