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Culture Next Conference

Belfast, Northern Ireland
September 13-15, 2023
About Culture Next

Culture Next is an informal, friendly and relaxed network dedicated to mutual support and collaboration between European cities currently or formerly in candidacies for the European Capital of Culture title. 

Five years after its founding in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Culture Next involves 29 cities on the continent. In 2021 the network received a grant from the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission to scale-up Culture Next and improve its capacity to work with more European cities.

About our Member Cities
Our members are cities or organizations representing various cities: former and future title holders, cities which continued their cultural programmes even without being selected as ECoCs and cities which intend to do this.
Many of our members represent cities which are current candidates, interested in developing European connection and sustainable cultural programmes which can be implemented independently of the jury decision.
About the Conference

We invite everyone to save the dates September 13-15, 2023, for the 10th Culture Next Conference, which will be organized in partnership with USI – Urban Scale Interventions, with the support of Belfast City Council, Visit Belfast, Tourism NI, and Belfast Starburst.

The Culture Next conferences are essential moments within the network because it is at these meetings that the cities that have been or are candidates for the title of European Capital of Culture can meet in an informal moment, share their processes, exchange ideas and create new projects and partnerships.

Building on the experiences, processes and collaborations established during the ECoC bid, we support all cities, awarded or not, to implement culture-led local development programmes and policies. We are committed to deliver a sustainable impact and meaningful legacy of the ECoC programme.

This will be the second Culture Next conference of 2023. At the network’s meeting in June, around 50 people from 30 cities (current or former candidates for European Capital of Culture) met in Elefsina, Greece, one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture.

Registration Open Until August 18, Midnight

The Culture Next Conference is dedicated to: 

  • Cities that are full or observing members of Culture Next. 
  • Cities that are not members of Culture Next, but have been candidates or are preparing or reflecting on a potential candidature for the title of European Capital of Culture may also participate. 

Participation conditions

Full members and observing members: participation in the conference is free of charge. Other financial benefits apply, such as travel support, accommodation, and meals.  

Non-members: the participation of cities that are not part of Culture Next is subject to the payment of a fee of 250,00€ per person. This fee includes participation in all conference activities, as well as meals on the 14h and 15h of September. Traveling and accommodation costs should be paid by the participants. 

Non-member cities should fill in the registration form and, after doing so, send an email to asking for an invoice for 250,00€ per person. Please send the data for the invoice (name; address; fiscal number; email address).

The Conference Agenda
The conference per se takes place on September 14th (Thursday) and 15th (Friday).
However, a gathering moment is planned for the evening of September 13th (Wednesday),
so that we get to spend more time together. During our time together we will be
exploring the potential of ‘Meanwhile Culture’ with a particular focus on evaluation
and ‘The 18th SDG’.
Welcome to the 10th Culture Next Conference!

Within the conference, we will address the following main topics: 

The Culture Next Mobility Programme
Culture Next Working Groups
Guide for cities on SDGs 
Evaluation and Impact of Culture on Cities

September 13

The day will be reserved for the board and executive team meeting but we invite everyone to join us from 5pm for a welcome gathering.

16h15 - 17h00: Optional Tour of City Hall
Address: Belfast City Hall, BT1 5GS map

For those wishing to join us on an informal tour of City Hall before the reception drinks, please meet at reception. The
tour will last around 30-45 minutes

17h00 - 18h00: Reception Drinks at City Hall
Address: Belfast City Hall, BT1 5GS map

A Welcome from the Deputy Lord Mayor and Civic Reception in the Rotunda at City Hall. For those of you not joining the optional tour, the venue is a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

18h00 - 20h00: Cities with Rivers
Address: Ahoy Belfast, BT1 3NG map

Join us on a Boat Trip along the Lagan River for some Wine Tasting and Local Cheese. All those attending the City Hall reception will travel together to the Lagan. All others are invited to join us directly at the boat.

20h00 - late: Trad and Trademarket
Address: Trademarket, BT2 7HB map

A visit to Belfast's newest outdoor market followed by a trip to local pubs for some pints and Irish Trad music.

*Please note all food and drink bought at Trademarket will be at the expense of attendees.

September 14

Throughout the day, we will have open discussions on the ongoing projects within the network, as well as workshops, keynote speeches, pitches and... of course, time for some walks around the city and getting to experience the famous Pub Crawl of Belfast! 

*Note: Please remember that we will be going to the beach for a stroll and sea swim later in the day so bring your swimming gear and towel with you in the morning - if you’re willing to take the plunge!

08h30 - 09h00: Transfer to Banana Block
Address: Banana Block, BT4 1HE map

Attendees are asked to make their own way to Banana Block. The Glider Service G1 stops at Custom House Square ( map ) which is a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Please buy a ticket at the machine (approx. £2) and take the G1 to Connswater ( map ). It should only take about 10 minutes. The Glider is a purple bus-tram hybrid so you shouldn't miss it!

09h00 - 09h30: Arrivals and Coffee

09h30 - 10h00: Banana Block & Culture Next Hellos

Words from the Belfast USI hosts and the Culture Next
management team including presentation of the meeting’s
agenda and objectives, and a round of hellos from the cities.

10h00 - 11h30: Culture Next Updates & City Pitches
Updates and discussions on internal projects and network development. We will also hear 10 pitches of 5 minutes each from partners wishing to present projects they are developing or plan to develop in the future and are interested in finding international partners.

*Please note if you wish to present during this slot please register your interest here.

11h30 - 12h00: Coffee Break

12h00 - 13h00: Cristina Farinha: Skin in the Game of Culture

A keynote speech from our guest Cristina Farina on engaging stakeholders through culture and the SDGs. Cristina Farinha is a renowned freelance policy expert, lecturer, and researcher specialising in heritage, culture, and the creative industries sector. Her interests lie in strengthening the role of culture and creativity in governance and development, promoting international cooperation and mobility, and building capacity, advocacy, and entrepreneurship within the sector.

13h00 - 14h00: Bodega Lunch

14h00 - 14h30: People of Portview

A walk and talk with Gareth Neill of Portview Trade Centre on the past, present, and future of one of Belfast’s most cherished spinning mills.

14h30 - 16h00: The 18th SDG: Polyloop x CN Showcase

A showcase of the work undertaken by Polyloop in collaboration with Culture Next regarding best practice evaluation and SDG alignment with some creative workshopping and platform onboarding.

16h00 - 16h30: Coffee Break and Traybakes

16h30 - 17h00: Day 1 Reflections

17h00 - 19h30: The Big CN Sea Swim
Address: Helen’s Bay, BT20 9AS map

An opportunity to dip your toe in the Irish Sea after a long day of conference activity - we promise it's not that cold! We will be taking a private bus to the beach which will pick us up from Banana Block and return us to the hotel for a quick freshen up. The bus will then wait on all attendees and return to Banana Block for our Korean BBQ Supper Club.

*Note: Don’t forget to bring your swimming gear and towel!

19h30 - 21h30: Korean BBQ Supper Club
Address: Banana Block, BT4 1HE map

Join us at Banana Block for our fan favourite Korean BBQ
Supper Club curated by local pop-up Gogi.

21h30 - late: The CN House Party and Karaoke

Later in the evening we will be treated to a dj-set and karaoke night from our in-house musician Conleth Forde… so grab yourself a drink and the mic!

September 15

We will continue in the morning to work on the projects of the network and in the afternoon, we will visit other representative places of the city.

08h45 - 09h00: Stroll to No. 2 Royal Avenue
Address: 2 Royal Avenue, BT1 1DA map

For those of you recovering from ‘the night before’, you will be glad to know that our wonderful venue for Friday is just a short walk from the hotel in the city centre.

09h00 - 09h30: Arrivals and Coffee

09h30 - 10h00: Belfast City Council Welcome

Words from our Belfast City Council hosts.

10h00 - 10h30: Belfast 2024 Showcase

Belfast 2024 is an ambitious cultural celebration led by Belfast City Council for our city. It will present a wide-ranging programme of creative local projects, events and city initiatives in 2024 - made by the people of Belfast for the people of Belfast. Hear all about it from Erika Clark and Lesley-Ann O’Donnell from the Senior Culture Team who will be spearheading what promises to be an incredible year.

10h30 - 11h30: Culture Next Network Plan

Updates and discussions on membership, internal communications, upcoming conferences, and the Culture Next mobility programme from Bruno Inácio, Ștefan Teișanu, and Andras Farkas.

11h30 - 12h30: Thematic Working Groups

Some light discussion and workshopping with Andras Farkas around our thematic working groups.

12h30 - 13h15: Yallaa Lunch

13h15 - 14h30: Belfast Stories
Address: 92 Royal Avenue, BT1 2GU map

A visit to one of Belfast’s finest Art Deco buildings soon to be an iconic culture and film venue for the people of Belfast and our visitors that want to know more about our story.

14h30 - 16h00: Conference Reflections
Address: 2 Royal Avenue, BT1 1DA map

16h00 - 16h30: Coffee Break

16h30 - 18h00: Cities with Street Art

A telling of the story around Belfast’s history of murals and its thriving street art scene.

18h00 - late: Port City Pub Crawl
Address: The American Bar, BT5 1LF map

For those of you still with us, join us along the Lagan for some dinner and drinks at the American bar followed by the famous Belfast Pub Crawl.

Useful information

The participants will be accommodated at the Ramada Hotel.

The organization, will ensure the following: 

  • For full members: accommodation for 2 people on the nights of the 13th and 14th of September.
  • For observing members and non-members: cities should make their own reservations directly with the hotel, by contacting them at with the customer reference CULTURE NEXT. This gives you access to a special rate that you can use to book your rooms directly. There is no obligation to stay at this hotel, but we recommend and we encourage it. 

Extra nights (for all): please book it directly with the hotel.

Getting from the airport to the Hotel
Hotel Info: Ramada by Wyndham Belfast City Centre (20 Talbot St, Belfast BT1 2LD, 028 9026 1800)

From Belfast City Airport (George Best) (BHD):
Belfast City Airport is located 4.8km from the Ramada by Wyndam hotel in Belfast City Centre and is easily accessible by public transport or a taxi. The Translink Airport Express 600 Bus Service (timetable here and is approx. £2.50 one way or £4.00 return) runs every 20 minutes and is located just outside the terminal. Your bus journey will take around 15 minutes. The Hotel is then a short 15 minute walk from the Europa Bus Centre (Glengall Street) where your bus will arrive. If you wish to take a taxi instead please refer to the taxi details in the next section.

From Belfast International Airport (BFS):
Belfast International Airport is located 28km from the Ramada by Wyndam hotel in Belfast City Centre and is easily accessible by public transport or a taxi. The Translink Airport Express 300 Bus Service (timetable here and is approx. £8.00 one way and £12.50 return) runs every 20 minutes and is located just outside the terminal. Your bus journey will take around 40 minutes. The Hotel is then a short 15 minute walk from the Europa Bus Centre (Glengall Street) where your bus will arrive. If you wish to take a taxi instead please refer to the taxi details in the next section.

From Dublin Airport (DUB):
Dublin Airport is located 160km from the Ramada by Wyndam hotel in Belfast City Centre and is easily accessible by public transport. There are two bus companies that operate from Dublin International airport to the city of Belfast; there is the Aircoach connection or the Translink Goldline bus both located just outside the terminal. The Aircoach 705X departs from the airport every hour 24/7 (timetable here ). The bus trip takes around 2 hours and an adult one-way ticket costs €17. Your other bus option is to take the Translink bus line X1 (timetable here ); this also operates 24/7 and takes just under 2 hours to get to Belfast city with an adult one-way costing €15. The Hotel is then a short 15 minute walk from the Europa Bus Centre (Glengall Street) where both buses will arrive.

Taxis in Belfast
Fonacabs: 028 9033 3333
Valuecabs: 028 9080 9080
Eastside Taxis: 028 9073 2211
*Alternatively feel free to use Uber through your mobile device.

Point of Contact
Should you require any assistance please contact:

Dean Black, Conference Coordinator | M: +447738614362

If you wish to make any Culture Next related enquiries contact:

Ștefan Teișanu, CN Secretary General | M: +40746 177 441

*Note: There will be a whatsapp group created for all attendees.

VERY IMPORTANT: You will need a PASSPORT to enter Northern Ireland. This information is valid whether you enter through any of the airports in Belgas (Northern Ireland) or through the Republic of Ireland (e.g. via Dublin).
You can find up-to-date information on how to get to Belfast at this link.

Other useful links: 

  1. Things To See & Do:
  2. Places To Eat & Drink:
  3. Ideas and Inspiration:
  4. Sustainable Belfast:
  5. What’s On: (this is continually updated by our digital team)
  6. Essential Information:
  7. Brochures and Downloads (including the City Guide and City Map):
  8. Delegate Special Offers:
Any current or former ECoC candidate city is eligible for participation, no matter if they were or not previously engaged with the Culture Next network. What matters is your interest to be engaged from now on.

Please use the form below to register for the Elefsina Conference before May 14th at midnight. 

Culture Next Membership Status
Full member cityObserving member cityNon a member city
Contact phone / email
Motivation to join the Elefsina Conference (less than 100 words)