Northern Ireland’s most dynamic arts festival returns from the 2-12 May to transform Belfast’s city centre with a glittering riot of live music, comedy, spoken word and visual arts plus a host of other eclectic treats.
Adam Ant and Dexys , the iconic acts that brought you number one smashes Come on Eileen and Stand & Deliver will be joined in the CQAF programme by acts spanning the full colourful gamut of the musical spectrum, from folk to hip hop, bluegrass to jazz, and indie to afrobeat.
Highlights include (deep breath) The Fall, DJ Yoda, Amadou and Mariam, Lucy Rose, Mary Gauthier, British Sea Power, Julie Fowlis, The Neil Cowley Trio, Nathan Fake, Angel Olsen, Chuck Prophet, Valerie June, Bronagh Gallagher, Hiss Golden Messenger and Thee Oh Sees.
Elsewhere there’s a triumphant headlining homecoming for local musical heroes And So I Watch You From Afar, hot on the heels of their stunning third album All Hail Bright Futures. The festival’s 2011 showstopper John Grant has kept his promise return to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival on completion of his latest album, Pale Green Ghosts (already a five-star smash with the critics) and is set to kick off CQAF in supremely melodramatic style.
Godfather of indie and godlike genius Edwyn Collins also returns to the festival fold. Having delivered one of the gigs of the year at the Out to Lunch Festival in 2010, Collins looks set to repeat the trick in 2013 – this time in the Festival Marquee in Custom House Square.
Special mention must also go to this year’s CQAF Artist in residence Alana Henderson. A singer-songwriter-cellist with an enthrallingly distinctive sound, Henderson looks set to break big this year – catch her first at a variety of CQAF gigs throughout the festival.
Award-winning authors Will Self and Lucy Caldwell, much decorated Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, the BBC’s Gavin Esler and the remarkable octogenarian travel writer Dervla Murphy (whose latest book A Month by the Sea is the result of a month spent in Gaza) contribute to the wealth of words in the festival’s literature and spoken word programme. And words and the order in which they are put are very much the order of the day as CQAF plays host to the launch of Northern Ireland’s newest digital publisher, Whittrick Press, and a celebration of their first release, Sleepwalkers by Bernie McGill.
Leading the laughs is the elusive, enigmatic (and funnier than a whole season of Live at the Apollo reruns) Daniel Kitson, who festival organisers finally managed to track down after years on the trail, and without the aid of a private investigator. Richard Herring’s celebrated Talking Cock will be deftly steering clear of the obvious stand-up gags in the festival marquee, while old festival favourites Mark Thomas, Sean Hughes and Andrew Maxwell all make hugely welcome returns to CQAF. Local laugh merchant Martin Mor returns to his native Belfast, having cut his comedy teeth (but not his distinctive beard) as a gag writer for Frankie Boyle. The filthy, foxy and very funny Diane Spencer unleashes a stand-up routine that will spare absolutely nobody’s blushes and Abie Philbin Bowman a man who knows a thing or two about a great title is back with new show The IMF vs Jedward.
Adam Buxton’s BUG makes its long overdue Northern Ireland debut and Belfast’s favourite comedy son Roy Walker will be found entertaining a captive audience the Crumlin Road jail in what might be the most vibrant comedy line-up yet seen at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
Other highlights are the Faulty Towers dining experience (with Basil, Sybil and Manuel, while you eat!), Nick Drake, an Illustrated Lecture by legendary music producer Joe Boyd, The History of the Troubles (According to my Da) – which began as a CQAF production, the de-lovely CQAF institution that is Glitter and Sparkle, a CQAF film programme which includes the Cinemobile (a cinema in a truck no less) plus a dizzying programme of visual arts events in interesting spaces and places, curated by the acclaimed art collective Household.
All this and a healthy helping of exciting happenings, events, sights and surprises across the city’s Cathedral Quarter and beyond….
Book your tickets online at www.cqaf.com