Culture Night: a very lively night out in Belfast

Friday was Culture Night in Belfast which means a very, very packed night of entertainment all over the city and all free too.

We took the opportunity to finish off some things that we didn’t manage to fit in to the Heritage Weekend earlier in the month. The easy way to include them turned out to be to go on one of the three Community Taster Tours. The listing for these was a little confusing in the booklet about the culture night but it turned out that there were three entirely different tours to choose from, each lasting three hours.

For our purposes the 4pm tour seemed best in that it included the Titanic pump house which we’d missed out on earlier and which normally has a very confusing car parking arrangement that seems best avoided. Surprisingly the tours weren’t anything like fully booked and we found ourselves on an open top bus that didn’t even have a dozen people on it.

Frankly the pump house was a major disappointment. Effectively it’s a small, very overpriced, cafe with one stand containing an assortment of Titanic gifts and a dozen or so panels about various aspects of the Titanic spaced around a very bare room. Next stop was the Engine Room Gallery which is nowhere near the Titanic area as you might expect but instead at Hollywood Arches.

From there we were off to what was supposed to be an Ulster Scots event at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road. Unfortunately the organisation fell apart at that point so we only saw the Lambeg drummer and didn’t see the highland dancing, the flute band nor the lone piper.

Finally, it was on to the Indian Community Centre where they were rather optimistic about the amount that could be included in the short time available. Thus we missed out on the henna and sari demonstration, Hindi class information, Indian dance and musical performance and we just about managed to fit in the Indian tea, food and snacks.

Although three hours seemed like an awfully long time for a bus tour round Belfast when we read about it in the brochure, in practice the time just flew in and really it needed to be around twice as long to do justice to everything but then that’s only to be expected of a taster tour. In fact, it was almost perfect as a taster and has highlighted a couple of places that we will be revisiting at the next opportunity.

By the time we got back, it was almost the perfect time to go on the tour round the offices of the Belfast Telegraph. No smell of fire and brimstone as you sort-of expect from seeing newspaper back-offices in movies but rather a very automated newspaper production factory. Sadly we didn’t get to see the presses running as they don’t kick off ’til a couple of hours after the tours finish but a very interesting tour nonetheless and the hour just flew in.

Both the little guys were running on empty by this point so we finished off with a brief look round some of the activities going on before heading home.

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