Press release embargoed until 12 oon on Friday 4th April Sinead and the Ulster Orchestra Lead a Packed Festival Programme

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Embargoed until 12 oon on Friday 4th April

Sinead and the Ulster Orchestra Lead a Packed Festival Programme
The 9th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival bursts back into action on Thursday May 1, 2008 with an ever more ambitious programme transforming the city centre once again with art, literature, music, comedy and theatre.
Festival Director Sean Kelly said:
“Belfast is justly proud of its new shopping centre, Victoria Square, but what really makes a city memorable are its people, and the arts and culture of a city. This year Belfast will have arts in abundance in May with our own ever-expanding arts festival in the city centre alongside the Festival of Fools and Belfast Children's Festival. There will be a host of terrific events for those living in, working or visiting the city.”
Over twenty venues come alive with arts activity during the festival which will feature 140 acts from all around the world.
Always eclectic, this year’s music programme features everyone from Liam Clancy, the man hailed by Bob Dylan as ‘the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life’ to the maverick genius of Mark E Smith and his band The Fall.
In a major coup, the Festival have secured the talent of Sinead O’Connor, some twenty years after her last performance in the city, in a special free concert with the Ulster Orchestra, to be broadcast live on BBC Radio Ulster.

Other musical thrills come in the form of Beatlegras who revisit the Beatles songbook Bluegrass style, American icon Jonathan Richman, accordion virtuoso Sharon Shannon, legendary singer-songwriter Luka Bloom and Canadian Roots superstars The Wailin’ Jennys.

Among those taking part this year are comedians Jerry Sadowitz, Simon Munnery, Andrew Maxwell, Brendon Burns, Andy Parsons and David McSavage who featured at the programme launch.
A wide-ranging programme of theatre includes a unique presentation of Spokesong and Pentecost by Stewart Parker in the old Northern Bank Building-which is the Lyric’s first offsite production. Edinburgh Fringe hit Wish I had a Sylvia Plath will be shown in OMAC, and the inspirational true story of imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi is told in The Lady of Burma.

A play celebrating the life of ‘America’s greatest ballad maker‘, Woody Guthrie in Woody Sez also features in the programme.

A strong literature line-up includes the feminist icon Germaine Greer discussing her latest book ‘Shakespeare’s Wife’. Belfast writer Patricia Craig gives an account of religion, family and growing up in Belfast and Donegal in the 1950s. Murat Kurnaz reads at the Irish launch of his best-selling book, and speaks about his time as a ‘war on terror’ detainee at Guantanamo. Booker Award nominee Colm Toibin and poet rapper Lemn Sissay complete the programme of literature.
Family events include Chucklevision writer Ian Billings doing stand up comedy for children and writer Murray Lachlan Young who famously secured a £1m record deal for his poetry from EMI.

Add in an entire weekend of Circus and Street Theatre, Visual Art, Sound and Vision and numerous tours, talks, debates and free events and Belfast is poised to enjoy a truly world class festival of arts and culture.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, the principal funder of the festival, said:
“The 2008 Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival lives up once again to its reputation as one of the most original and eclectic festivals in Northern Ireland.  It’s a great arts festival, always full of character, and one of the cornerstones of the arts-driven regeneration we’ve seen in this area of Belfast City in recent years.”
The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival runs from May 1-12, 2008. The full programme will be available from April 4 on
This year the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival redoubled its efforts to work in partnership with local businesses resulting in three new business relationships. Mazars are sponsoring Sinead O’Connor and the Ulster Orchestra, whilst Camerata Pacifica in St. Anne’s Cathedral is supported by St. Anne’s Square. CBS Outdoor are the sponsors of the Festival’s Comedy section.

Festival Director Sean Kelly said:
Business sponsorship has enabled the festival to continue to expand its offer and we’re delighted that three such prestigious companies have given such a strong vote of confidence in the work we do.”

Accommodation and Hospitality

The Festival’s Accommodation Partner is Express by Holiday Inn, which has a range of special offers available to festival audiences as does the Hastings Europa Hotel.

Botanic Inns will play a central role in the success of this year’s festival, by hosting events in McHughs, accommodating festival artists at Madison’s Hotel and operating the bar at the festival’s venue, the Festival Marquee in Custom House Square.

Festival Website and Booking Information
The festival is delighted to offer online booking thanks to Simply log on to, choose your events and pay by credit card or Switch through our secure payment system. You can choose to have your tickets posted to you or you can simply print off the details and bring your booking sheet to the venue. For postal bookings a charge of £1.50 will be applied per set of bookings, to cover post and packaging.
Tickets will also be on sale from today by telephone or in person at the Belfast Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place, Belfast – tel. 028 90246609, and also from the Belfast Welcome Centre Desk at the International Airport.
The festival website also offers full details of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival programme, daily news updates, digital photographs from festival events, competitions and special ticket promotions, details of Disability Access initiatives and Eat/Drink/Travel, which features details of the special restaurant and hotel discounts available to festival audiences.
If you would like further information on any of this year’s events, please email and visit

For further information and interview requests for all Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival events (*except Waterfront Hall), contact Anna Burns on telephone 028 90232403, mobile 07966439518 or email

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information on the Festival of Fools, log on to or contact Belfast Community Circus School on telephone 028 90236007.

  1. For 300dpi print quality images of all festival artists, log on to the Press Room on the festival website –

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