Clifton House Tour: Experience The Belfast Poor House

The history of Belfast begins at Clifton House. From the moment you step through our door you will be transported back in time to the Belfast Poor House – opened in 1774 – which provided sanctuary to thousands of people, from the young and old, to local citizens and passing sailors, throughout the years.

With our augmented reality, visitors can now fully immerse themselves in what life was like in the late eighteenth century. Staff and volunteers from Clifton House will share the history of this fantastic building and its people, while they come to life right before your eyes. See how the children learned in the nursery school, experience the ‘Black Hole’ – the punishment room for those who misbehaved. Feel and hear how it was to work in the first cotton mill of the town and how Belfast influenced the rest of the world.

Set up by the philanthropic merchants of the town, the Belfast Charitable Society and its home in Clifton House, has survived rebellions and revolutions, while looking after the welfare of the people of the city. Today, 270 years later, the Belfast Charitable Society continues to address disadvantage and support those in greatest need, through the proceeds from our tours.

Hit the North

On Sunday 30 April, Seedhead Arts (supported by Hennessy) are proud to bring the Hit the North Street Art Festival back for its 11th edition.

Hit the North brings some of the world’s finest artists to Belfast for a unique gathering on Union Street and Kent Street.

This year’s event will feature 50 local, national and international artists with an array of styles and techniques on show as onlookers watch the artwork develop throughout the day and with refreshments available from nearby Sunflower Bar.

Admission Free

Belfast Before Flood – Guided Tour- CANCELLED




Belfast Before Floodis a new location-activated audio walk that looks at present-day Belfast from the vantage point of 200 years in the future.

Throughout the festival you can download the audio walk to your smartphone and explore at your own time.

On Saturday 29th April, join the artists for a guided walk to experience the interactive audio-walk ‘Belfast Before Flood’ at the locations around Cathedral Quarter and hear some insight behind the production of this speculative fiction.

Please bring your phone smartphone and headphones to the guided tour.

Please download ‘Echoes’ app in advance of the guided tour (search ‘Echoes spatial audio’ in your app store).

Full information and download instructions here:

Produced by Una Lee and John D’Arcy.

CQ Bazaar

Admission Free

CQ Bazaar returns to Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival with a feast of delights in (where else?!) the Common Market.

An eclectic mix of DJs, Independent record labels, second-hand vinyl, Vintage clothes, antiques and Retro furniture. The best art, design and crafts.

Common Market Bar and food vendors are open during the market hours.

Come and treat your eyes, ears, mouth and pockets.

Brought to you by CQAF, Little Fox Events and CQ Bid.

Congregation by Ray Lee

Let a magical sphere take you on an outdoor sonic adventure to a secret location, guiding you by sound alone. Seemingly possessed of its own mind it guides you through familiar and unfamiliar terrain. Can you keep the sphere ‘happy’ by going in the right direction? In return the orb will lead you on a listening voyage to the mysterious final destination where you will encounter a meeting of the spheres, a chiming, pulsing web of electronic sound.

In Congregation the audience are invited in small groups to discrete locations in a city where they are given a silver sphere. They are instructed that the sphere will guide them to a location by emitting sounds, one sound for the correct direction and another for the wrong direction.

Dumbworld commissions Congregation for it’s Irish premiere as part of their Ambulatory Arts programme- a series of immersive artistic interventions experienced on foot across the city.

Generously hosted by The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Commissioned by Norwich and Norfolk Festival and Out There Festival Great Yarmouth with financial support from Without Walls, OCM, Oxford Brookes University and 101 Outdoor Arts, Newbury.

Booking essential here:

Price £5

Dates : Sat 6th May 11am & 3pm/ Sunday 7th May 1pm & 4pm

Congregation headlines Dumbworld’s Ambulatory Arts programme- a series of immersive artistic interventions experienced on foot across the city.

Commissioned by Norwich and Norfolk Festival and Out There Festival Great Yarmouth with financial support from Without Walls, OCM, Oxford Brookes University and 101 Outdoor Arts, Newbury.

Bricolage – Circusful (Gordon St.)

Bricolage brings together a selection of new works by some of Ireland’s freshest up and coming artists for an evening that promises to be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Part living, moving art installation, part aerial and circus performance –Bricolage is the brainchild of Belfast based aerialist Emmen Donnelly and will transform the warehouse space of Circusful into a dreamlike landscape inhabited by roving human creatures on the ground and in the air.

This re-imagined cabaret will feature Dublin based acrobats Anja Nicholson and Jonah McGreevy from Loosysmokes, renowned for their evocative site-specific work; Chloe Commins whose piece talks about growing up as a child of deaf parents; Sacha Krohnone of Ireland’s only aerial straps artists; local juggler extraordinaire Jacob Anderson and Monika Palova and Sean McIlraith with a duo performance on themes of female experiences and relationships, explored through duo aerial rope and the rarely seen art of hair hanging.

Bricolage is supported by Arts Council Ireland

Hero of Belfast: Mary Ann McCracken Walking Tour

Dates and Times
Friday, 5 May 2023, 14.00-16.30
Saturday, 6 May, 10.00-12.30

Meeting Point
Clifton House
2 North Queen Street
BT15 1ES

Please arrive 10-15 minutes before the start of the tour.

Onsite parking is available

Experience Mary Ann McCracken’s Belfast, as you walk in the footsteps of this remarkable abolitionist, philanthropist and social reformer. Mary Ann McCracken, who was born over 250 years ago, is intrinsically linked to the city of Belfast. She lived her fearless life championing causes, moving from place to place, always on a mission to make life better for those less fortunate than herself.

Hear too about her more radical nature. Her role in the work of the United Irishmen, the 1798 rebellion and beyond. How she was devoted to her older brother Henry Joy – hanged for his leading role in the rebellion.

This walking tour takes in the locations linked to her life, her endeavours and that of her family. You will be led by an experienced guide through the same streets she walked over 200 years before. This new walking tour starts at Clifton House, where Mary Ann’s thirst for philanthropic causes first began, and where her impact can still be seen today, and finishes near Belfast City Hall.

Booking link

Gift Voucher

If you would like to share the pleasure of OTL and CQAF events with family or a friend, simply buy a gift voucher here and the recipient will be sent a voucher code to enter when purchasing show tickets from our website.

It couldn’t be simpler, will bring much enjoyment and will contribute to the ongoing sustainability of the festival.

Supported By



The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch are annual festivals of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature which take place in January and May in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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