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Accommodation

Belfast Welcome Centre

Whatever kind of accommodation you are after, you should

make your first port of call the one-stop visitor information

centre, the Belfast Welcome Centre at 47 Donegall Place (tel:

028 9024 6609 or visit www.gotobelfast.com). They can advise

and book on your behalf.

Hotel Tips

Check online for special offers, such as weekend rates and

combined dinner and room rates (most hotels have their own

websites). Unlike many other countries, hotels in Northern

Ireland do include breakfast in their rates.

Many hotels cater to the budget market. Belfast’s famous bed

and breakfasts offer a friendly and modestly priced alternative

to hotels and all the facilities you need. Belfast also has several

modern, well-equipped hostels, largely around the city centre

and Queen’s Quarter, where you can stay for a small fee in a

dormitory room (they have single and double rooms too). The

Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College student

complex offers great value accommodation during the summer

(enquire at the Belfast Welcome Centre) and self-catering

options are also worth exploring.

Tours

There are many great value tours of Belfast, ranging from

bus and boat, to foot and black taxi. For a full list and more

information on all tours contact the Belfast Welcome Centre,

47 Donegall Square (tel: 028 9024 6609 or visit

www.gotobelfast.com). Here is just a small selection:

Behind the Scenes Tours

Get beneath the skin of some of Belfast’s most iconic buildings

(for free or very little), such as St Anne’s Cathedral, the Grand

Opera House, Belfast Waterfront Hall and the Linen Hall Library.

Literary Walking Tours

Discover locations and writers associated with Belfast’s thriving

literary scene, past and present, ending with a free pint of

Guinness at the Kitchen Bar, all for just £5, every Monday

evening at 5pm.

Historical Pub Tours

Leaving on Thursday at 7pm and Saturday at 4pm from the

Crown Dining Room, upstairs from the famous Crown Liquor

Saloon in Great Victoria Street, this is the best introduction to

Belfast’s atmospheric traditional pubs you could want. The

two-hour tour takes in at least six pubs. There is a £1 reduction

per person for groups of 12 or more. Groups can also arrange

specially tailored tours at other times too, subject to availability.

Call 028 9268 3665 or visit www.belfastpubtours.com for more

information. Tours are from May to October inclusive.

Walking Tours

Easy-to-follow self-guided tour brochures of the Queen’s

Quarter, Gaeltacht Quarter and Cathedral Quarter are available

at the Belfast Welcome Centre. You can also enjoy expert

guided tours of Historic Belfast, which take you from the 17th

century to the present day, and the Blackstaff Way tour of

Belfast’s historic locations.

Paddywagon Tours

Run by the owners of the Belfast Palace Hostel, these excellent

value three and six-day tours of Ireland leave from Belfast, and

stay at hostels throughout Ireland. They also organise tours of

Belfast. Call Belfast (Paddy’s) Palace Hostel on 028 9033 3367

or visit www.paddywagontours.com.

Belfast Safari

A not-for-profit organisation, Belfast Safaris was set up to

give visitors a unique insight into local Belfast communities.

For instance, their Meet the People tour includes a chance to

chat with locals about life in Belfast. You can also follow in the

footsteps of ‘Belfast Boy’ George Best, track Belfast’s famous

maritime history and much more. Call 028 9031 0610 or visit

www.belfastsafaris.com for details.

Political Tours

Explore the political history of west Belfast on tours led by

Republican ex-prisoners. If booked ahead large group tours

and tours of the Shankill area by Loyalist ex-prisoners can be

arranged. Pre-booking essential for all tours. Contact Coiste

(10 Beechmount Avenue, tel: 028 9020 0770. Web: www.coiste.

ie/politicaltours) for details.

Student Tips

When you want to find out the best places to go with the least

expensive prices, ask a student. That’s what we did. So here

are some suggestions from students at Queen’s University.

There are a multitude of attractions

in Belfast which are free or very

reasonable, from groundbreaking arts

centres and museums to atmospheric

buildings that radiate history and

even castles with spectacular hilltop

locations. They are also easy to get

to, many, especially in the city centre,

are accessible by foot, others are

just a short bus ride away. You

should also check the various

Quarter guides which are

available at the Belfast

Welcome Centre.

Sightseeing

Theatre

Old Museum Arts Centre (OMAC)

7 College Square North, tel: 028 9023 3332.

www.oldmuseumartscentre.org. Cutting-edge drama, comedy and

arts-related events that won’t cost a fortune.

Whiterock Theatre

Whiterock Road, tel: 028 9020 2222

The home of Dubbeljoint, the theatre company that spawned

‘Stones in his Pockets’ and which helped pioneer Belfast’s famous

community theatre.

Music

An Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich

216 Falls Road, tel: 028 9096 4180. Web: www.culturlann.com.

Great traditional Irish music sessions on Friday evenings and

Saturday lunchtimes take place in the café/restaurant here.

Auntie Annie’s Porterhouse

44 Dublin Road, tel: 028 9032 5968. Web: www.the-limelight.co.uk

Often has free acoustic music in the downstairs bar. Good value

local and visiting rock bands too.

Black Box

18 – 22 Hill St, tel: 028 9024 4400. Web: www.blackboxbelfast.com

This dedicated performance space in the Cathedral Quarter

presents all kinds of live music plus comedy, drama and more at

prices that won’t break the bank.

Errigle Inn

312 – 320 Ormeau Road, tel: 028 9064 1410

Web: www.errigle.com

This multi-faceted pub is home to the Real Music Club, one of the

most important promoters of acoustic music in Northern Ireland,

having worked with everyone from Roger McGuinn and Steve Earle

to Janis Ian. A great place to see local talent too. Check out their

website on www.realmusicclub.com

The Front Page

110 Donegall Street, tel: 028 9032 4924

Web: www.thefrontpagebar.com.

A hub of alternative music and homegrown talent.

Katy Daly’s

17 Ormeau Avenue, tel: 028 9032 5968

Web: www.the-limelight.co.uk

Free live music and good cheap pub grub at lunchtime.

Kelly’s Cellars

30-32 Bank St, tel: 028 9024 6058. Web: www.kellyscellars.com

There are free Irish traditional sessions each day of the week

except Mondays at the oldest continually run pub in Belfast.

Sessions start at 9.30pm weekdays and between 5pm and 6pm

weekends.

The Limelight

17 Ormeau Avenue, tel: 028 9032 5942

Web: www.the-limelight.co.uk

One of Belfast’s top venues for upcoming bands, the Limelight has

hosted Oasis and the Manic Street Preachers in the past and has

good value club nights. Connected to it is the popular Spring and

Airbrake which features quality acts covering everything from rock

to acoustic.

John Hewitt

51 Donegall Street, tel: 028 9023 3768

Web: www.thejohnhewitt.com

Mostly free live music, including jazz, folk, traditional and blues, six

nights a week.

Lavery’s Gin Palace

Bradbury Place, tel: 028 9087 1106. Web: www.laverysbelfast.com

Punk, indie and dance nights.

Maddens Bar

74 Berry Street, tel: 028 9024 4114

Famous for Irish music session downstairs on Monday, Tuesday

and Saturday nights and upstairs on Friday evenings.

M-Club

23 Bradbury Place, tel: 028 9023 3131. Web: www.mclub.co.uk

You can join the biggest party in Belfast either at dance nights or

their Groovytrain 70s tribute night. Free admission for over-18s.

Milk

10 – 14 Tomb Street, tel: 028 9027 8876. Web: www.clubmilk.com

Admission can be as little as £5 for nights of R&B, Hip Hop, Funky

House and more at one of Belfast’s top dance clubs.

In 2007 the prestigious ‘Lonely Planet’ travel guide

listed Belfast as one of its top ten ‘Cities on the Rise’.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now taking

advantage of the many low-cost direct flights to Belfast

from the UK, Europe and even the US and Canada.

When they get here they find a city transformed by

millions of pounds of investment in visitor attractions,

clubs, pubs, restaurants and hotels. They find

something else too. A city where you don’t need to

break the budget to have the time of your life.

A true ‘People’s City’, Belfast grew quickly, from an

oversized village in the 18th century to a thriving city of

450,000 by the time RMS Titanic was launched in 1911.

In that time, it had become one of the world’s leading

ports, one of its greatest shipbuilders and was famous

for its linen, tobacco and rope-making industries. Much

of Belfast’s most impressive architecture dates from

these vibrant Victorian and Edwardian eras. The ready

wit and warmth for which Belfast people are famous

is one of the city’s most distinct features and a great

attraction for visitors today.

Welcome to

Belfast

This guide will help you enjoy Belfast

to the utmost without stretching your

budget, whether it’s getting around,

finding good value accommodation,

sightseeing, enjoying our thriving arts,

cultural and entertainment scenes,

shopping, eating or drinking.

We hope this guide will add to your

enjoyment of Belfast.

Mynt

2-16 Dunbar Street, tel: 028 9023 4520. Web: www.myntbelfast.com.

Award-winning gay bar has packed club nights with free admission

for early arrivals.

Queen’s University Students Union Building

79 University Road, tel: 028 9097 1062. Web: www.qubsu-ents.com.

Queen’s University is itself a great source of low-cost entertainment.

Their famous Shine Dance Club is on the first Saturday of the month

in their Student Union building. There are free or inexpensive nights

at the two bars right through the week, including DJ sounds, quizzes,

live music and top comedy.

Rosetta

73 Rosetta Rd, tel: 028 9064 9297

Acoustic music and rock downstairs in the pleasant public bar of this

south Belfast pub with tribute and Goth bands in the purpose-built

music venue upstairs.

Rotterdam Bar

52-54 Pilot St, tel: 028 9074 6021. Web: www.rotterdambar.com

A live music bar of the year, this historic pub presents fabulous free

sessions of all kinds of music, including blues and Irish traditional

music.

Stiff Kitten

1 Bankmore Square, off Dublin Road, tel: 028 9023 8700.

Web: www.thestiffkitten.com

Free DJ’s at their bar at this popular bar/nightclub.

Markets

St George’s Market

May Street and Oxford Street, tel: 028 9043 5704

There are great bargains at the Friday Variety Market (6am – 1pm) at

the historic St George’s Market, near the waterfront, with over 200

stalls selling books, clothes, antiques, bric-a-brac etc as well as

various foods. Get there early for bargains!

The award-winning St George’s Market has many stalls selling

superb locally produced food, including cheeses, organic meats and

fish and seafood, at reasonable prices at the Friday Variety Market

(6am to 1pm) and Saturday Food and Garden Market (9am to 3pm).

Smithfield Market

West Street and Winetavern Street, tel: 028 9032 3248

Opposite CastleCourt shopping centre, this covered market contains

many fascinating and good value shops.

Book Shops

Bookfinders Café

47 University Road, tel: 028 9032 8269

Down the road from Queen’s this atmospheric second hand

bookshop/café has a good choice of Irish interest books (as well

as poetry readings on the last Friday in the month). Good hearty

homemade food as well.

Harry Hall’s Bookshop

39 Gresham Street, tel: 028 9043 8474

Northern Ireland’s most famous second hand bookshop has a great

range of books.

No Alibis

83 Botanic Avenue, tel: 028 9031 9607. Web: www.noalibis.com

A favourite of local authors such as Colin Bateman, Northern

Ireland’s only specialist crime bookshop hosts loads of special

events, including book signings, readings and jazz and folk

performances.

Belfast Literary Guide

From CS Lewis and Anthony Trollope to Seamus Heaney and Samuel

Beckett, Belfast has connections to many great writers, poets and

playwrights. Literary Belfast, available free from the Belfast Welcome

Centre, is the definitive guide to Belfast’s fascinating literary

landscape.

Record Shops

Backbeat

Haymarket Arcade, off Royal Avenue, tel: 028 9033 3131

A centre for alternative, indie and dance music, Backbeat sell second

hand records, while many local bands release records through them.

Hector’s House

5 North St, tel: 028 9023 4040

Rare and collectible records. Good for roots music.

Phoenix Records

Royal Avenue, tel: 028 9023 9308

Run by the legendary Terri Hooley (founder of the Undertones), this

has everything from country to punk.

Clothes

Fresh Garbage

24 Rosemary Street, tel: 028 9024 2350

A Mecca for Goths, hippies, punks and other with all kinds of wellpriced

alternative clothes, posters, T-shirts and jewellery.

Liberty Blue

19-21 Lombard Street, tel: 028 9043 7745

Funky and affordable independent boutique with great range of

dresses. Some vintage clothes and jewellery too.

Oxfam Fair Trade Shop

16, Rosemary Street, tel: 028 9024 7168

Ethical shopping on a budget with great gift ideas.

Rusty Zip

28 Botanic Ave, tel: 9024 9700

A great place to find unusual clothes, with lots of second hand retro

clothes and an emphasis on 70s fashion.

Tip

Lot of High Street shops offer student discounts, usually 10 per cent,

if you present a valid student card.

PRINTED ON 100% RECYCLED POST CONSUMER WASTE

Belfast Welcome Centre

For up to the minute information or to book

your accommodation online, visit our website

on www.gotobelfast.com or call the Belfast

Welcome Centre on +44(0)28 9024 6609.

Here you will find great offers on all types

of accommodation, travel, transport and

restaurants.

This guide is one of a series of publications

produced by the Tourism Development Unit at

Belfast City Council to detail the best of Belfast’s

cultural, entertainment and tourist pursuits. For

more information visit:

www.gotobelfast.com

Copyright and Disclaimer

This publication is the copyright of

Belfast City Council and is believed to

be accurate at time of print. We cannot

guarantee accuracy and accept no

responsibility for any errors.

www.belfastcity.gov.uk/tourism

BCC 2002

St Anne’s Cathedral

Food

Student areas, such as Botanic Avenue and Bradbury Place, are

filled with good value restaurants. Try Maggie Mays for filling meals

at under a fiver, the famous Ulster Fry at The Other Place (before

11am) and Belfast’s best, and most famous, traditional fish and

chips, Longs in the city centre. The Bonateee Bar in the Queen’s

Student’s Union Building has good value food, such as pizzas. There

are authentic Chinese restaurants in Donegall Pass too. Belfast’s

bakeries are famous for delicious, filling buns, Belfast Baps, soda,

potato bread and wheaten breads and much more.

Internet access

Revelations (tel: 028 9032 0337. Web: www.revelations.co.uk) in

Shaftesbury Square are good value. Great milkshakes too! Other

internet cafés include Surf City Café, 207 Woodstock Rd, tel: 028

9046 1717 and No Geeks, CastleCourt Shopping Centre; Royal

Avenue, tel: 028 9031 9607. You can also surf at the Belfast

Welcome Centre, the one-stop visitor information centre at 47

Donegall Place, across from City Hall.

Festivals

Belfast has a packed calendar of cultural events and festivals

throughout the year, most of which are free to the public. Here is just

a small selection. Check the Belfast Welcome Centre at 47 Donegall

Place, tel: 028 9024 6609, or visit www.gotobelfast.com for up-todate

information.

January

Out to Lunch

A recent addition, this offshoot of the acclaimed Cathedral Quarter

Arts Festival, offers superb theatre, comedy, music and talks with

lunch for just a fiver. Irresistible.

February

The Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival

Belfast celebrates the art of songwriting with a series of superb

concerts from top American and Irish artists at reasonable prices

plus fascinating free talks.

March

St Patrick’s Day Carnival

Celebrate Ireland’s patron saint with a colourful carnival winding

through the streets of Belfast, ending with free live music at Custom

House Square.

April

Titanic – Made in Belfast

The world’s biggest and best Titanic Festival brings exhibitions,

tours, film shows, talks and more to the city where the world’s most

famous ship was designed, built and launched. Most events are free.

Belfast Ulster Scots Festival

A celebration of the unique Ulster Scots culture that has been

so influential in Northern Irish life includes dance, music, history,

literature, food and song at venues throughout Belfast.

April/May

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Out to Lunch’s big brother has the finest alternative arts performers

in the world at venues around Belfast’s cultural heartland. All events

are reasonably priced, some free.

May

The Lord Mayor’s Parade

A free carnival procession through the city celebrates the end of the

Lord Mayor’s term.

June

Belfast Maritime Festival

A chance to see some of the world’s most spectacular tall ships and

enjoy some great events down by the docks.

June/July

Opera in the Gardens

Enjoy world-class opera and live music for free at the lovely Botanic

Gardens.

July

Orangefest

There are street entertainers, kid’s’ events, dancing and drumming

displays and lots more to accompany the largest Orange Order

parade in Northern Ireland through the city on July 12th. Ends at

Barnett Demesne in south Belfast.

August

Féile an Phobail (West Belfast Festival)

Many reasonably priced, and some free, events from drama and

comedy to international food fairs and political discussions at

Europe’s largest community-led festival.

September

Proms in the Park

Tickets for this popular relay of the BBC Proms plus live music are

free but book as early as you can.

Open House

Fantastic roots music from the US and Ireland at venues throughout

the Cathedral Quarter. Some free, all good value. Talks and

workshops too.

October/November

Belfast Festival at Queen’s

There are lots of fascinating events which won’t cost the earth at

venues throughout Belfast at one of Europe’s biggest arts festivals.

December

Christmas

The festive season comes to Belfast with carol singing, lantern

processions, the traditional switching on of the Christmas lights by a

visiting celebrity and much more.

CS Lewis Festival

The author of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’, CS Lewis, was born and

brought up in east Belfast and this popular festival celebrates his

work with tours, workshops, screenings and much more.

New Year’s Eve

The Belfast year ends with a spectacular free outdoor concert.

ON A BUDGET

T H E G U I D E


Transport

Belfast is such a compact

city to get around that

you can reach many of

its attractions on foot. If

you want to stray a little

further, especially to

Belfast’s beautiful parks,

then cycling on dedicated

cycle lanes is an option.

(see The Great Outdoors

for details).

Grand Opera House

BBC Building

Linen Hall Library

Begin at the Classical Renaissance City Hall, in Donegall Square at

the heart of Belfast. Though it will be closed for refurbishment for

a period from September 2007, its grounds contain many famous

statues and monuments.

World-famous Collections

To get a real feel for local culture, walk across Donegall Square (the

entrance is in adjoining Fountain Street) to the Linen Hall Library (tel:

028 9032 1707, www.linenhall.com). This historic building contains the

internationally renowned Northern Ireland Political and Irish Studies

collections while fans of Narnia can access their special CS Lewis

collection (only members can actually borrow books here though).

They also have regular free exhibitions and a relaxing café. A free

public tour is available at 11.30am on Wednesdays and at other times

by arrangement.

A Day at the Opera

Around the corner in Great Victoria Street, is one of Belfast’s most

famous entertainment venues, the twin-domed 19th century Grand

Opera House, where Luciano Pavarotti made his UK debut. For a

small fee you can take a public tour of this beautiful building on

Saturdays between 11am and 2pm, which includes coffee and a

Danish pastry at their all-day restaurant. Call the Box Office on 028

9024 1919 to book. Just across the road, you must not miss one of

the world’s most beautiful Victorian gin palaces, the Crown Liquor

Saloon, preserved by the National Trust, where you can sample a

plate of Irish stew.

Go to Church

Nearby in Alfred Street is St Malachy’s Church, famous for its fanvaulted

ceiling which looks like an upside down wedding cake. From

here it’s a short walk to 18a Ormeau Avenue where a piece of Belfast

history, the redbrick Ormeau Baths washhouse (tel: 028 9032 1402.

Web: www.ormeaubaths.co.uk) has been converted to one of the

city’s premier public art galleries, with free exhibitions of leading

contemporary Irish and international artists. You’ll need to book ahead

for a free behind-the-screen tour of BBC Northern Ireland’s Ormeau

Avenue headquarters, with special access to areas like the BBC

Newsline studio floor and BBC NI newsroom. Call 028 9033 8000

for details of how to apply. Tour times are 12pm and 3pm Mondays

and 12pm Tuesdays. This is one of the Hard Hat Tours (free brochure

available from the Belfast Welcome Centre), which include lots of

fascinating, mostly free, tours of special Belfast buildings, many of

which are not usually open to the public. Take your pick of enthralling

artists’ workshops, traditional tea and coffee companies, a boutique

beer brewery and many more of Belfast’s most interesting buildings.

Searching for the Past

The Central Library in Royal Avenue (tel: 028 9050 9150) has

some excellent Irish studies collections and you can hit the net on

conveniently placed computers on all floors. Visitor cannot borrow

books but knowledgeable staff are happy to advise on local history

and there’s a newspaper archive dating back centuries (access from

Library Street, tel: 028 9050 9117) to delve into. The Central Library

is open until 8pm Monday to Thursday and you can book a tour on

these evenings at reception.

St George’s Church

A chapel is believed to have stood on the site which St George’s

Church now occupies in High Street as far back as the 13th century,

when Belfast was just a crossing place on the River Farset. The

magnificent St George’s itself was designed by John Bowden and

completed in 1816. Its impressive portico was transported by canal

from the house of the eccentric Earl Bishop of Derry. You can visit

between 10am and 3pm Monday to Fridays (check for service times

on the noticeboard outside) and between 10am and 1pm Saturday.

The main service on Sunday is at 11am. Call 028 9023 1275 for more

information.

Live@5

Belfast City Council’s More Time campaign has brought an enticing

series of great value early evening deals to restaurants, pubs, shops,

beauty salons and other venues. One of these is Live@5 which brings

all kinds of free live music (jazz, folk, acoustic etc) with special deal

prices to some of our most atmospheric bars. Check the More Time

booklet and Whatabout guide, both available at the Belfast Welcome

Centre or downloadable from www.gotobelfast.com

City Centre

Going Public

Belfast has an inexpensive and efficient public transport

system and there are a number of ways to make it even

cheaper. The Metro bus service, operated by Translink, will

take you to virtually all locations in the city and its suburbs

for surprisingly little outlay. Smartlink cards and travel cards

all help you save money and can be bought and topped up

at the Metro Kiosk in Donegall Square West (by City Hall) or

in shops displaying a ‘Smartlink Agent’ sign. A Metro Day

ticket can be purchased on board any Metro service and

allows you to travel on any Metro route throughout the day

(starting after 10am), while travel cards can be purchased

for a week or a month. You can buy Smartlink passes for

both Metro and Ulsterbus (which will take you throughout

Northern Ireland) which offer substantial savings if you are

planning more than a few journeys and make travelling by

bus much easier. Translink also run regular promotional

fares, so check out their website for the latest offers. For

information on Translink services contact 028 9066 6630 or

visit www.translink.co.uk

Cabbing with the locals

The black cabs of Belfast are now almost as famous around

the world as those of London (where many of them began

life) but for a very different reason. Thanks to the unique

shared-fare system of the West Belfast Taxi Association

(WBTA), you can travel from the city centre to the end of the

Falls Road for just over a pound, enjoying a real insight into

local life at the same time. WBTA offers transport to north

Belfast and seven areas in west Belfast, with inexpensive

adult fares for all their routes. The cabs start from Castle

Junction in the city centre (where WBTA have their offices)

but you can hail or leave a cab anywhere along the route,

which includes many places of interest. Just remember that

if the driver holds up two fingers to you it’s not a rare lapse

in Belfast hospitality, he’s telling you there are two places

inside. West Belfast Taxi Association (Castle Junction, tel:

028 9031 5777. Web: www.wbta.net). Tel: 028 9032 8775

Sharing the Shankill

A shared cab service is also run by the North Belfast Mutual

Association, 400 Shankill Road, which leaves from North

Street and Bridge Street and which will whisk you down the

Shankill Road with its famous political murals. For a small

fee their taxis will also take you on various other routes in

Belfast. Call 028 9032 8775 for more information.

Angels and Artists

Start your tour of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, one of the most

historic parts of the city, with the building it takes its name from, the

neo-Romanesque St Anne’s Cathedral, which features a beautiful

tympanum of mosaic angels and a baptistry ceiling composed of over

150,000 pieces of glass. Call 028 9032 8332 to request a free evening

tour. Further along Donegall Street, Belfast Exposed at Exchange

Place (028 9023 0965) hosts free contemporary photography

exhibitions and also allows access to its digital archive of over

250,000 images of Belfast. Around the corner in Waring Street, Cotton

Court is the home of Craft NI, where you can see the work of talented

crafts designers at the Vision Studio. In the same building you can

also visit the ground floor gallery of the Belfast Print Workshop (tel:

028 9023 0323. Web: www.belfastprintworkshop.org.uk) which has

free exhibitions of leading artists working in the print media.

War Stories

At 5 Waring Street, the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum (tel: 028 9023

2086) tells the story of the regiment from the reign of George III

onwards and has replicas of the three Victoria Crosses won by the

regiment on display. The World War Two Exhibition (tel: 028 9032

0392) at 9-13 Waring Street explores the role of Northern Ireland and

its people in the Second World War. It covers many aspects, from

the devastating Belfast Blitz that cost over 1,000 lives to accounts of

Belfast soldiers overseas and features medals, uniforms, newspapers

and posters. Entrance to both museums is free.

Training for the Big Top

If you’re up for something completely different why not drop in at the

Belfast Community Circus School between 7.30pm and 9.30pm on

a Wednesday evening. For just a small fee you can learn a variety of

circus skills, including acrobatics, juggling and stiltwalking. Beginners

welcome. Belfast Community Circus School, 23 – 25 Gordon Street,

tel: 028 9023 6007

Palm House, Botanic Gardens

South Belfast

The Art of Fun

At the bottom of University Road is one of Belfast’s most vibrant art

centres, the Crescent Arts Centre (2-4 University Road, tel: 028 9023

5245. Web: www.crescentarts.org) which is always worth checking

for all kinds of reasonably priced musical and artistic events and

workshops. Based there for over ten years is the groundbreaking

Fenderesky Gallery, which regularly features leading Irish artists such

as David Crone, Ciaran Lennon and Feilim Egan. A few minutes walk

up the road brings you to Queen’s University, where you can tour

Charles Lanyon’s distinguished building, beginning at the Visitor

Centre, making sure you take in the Naughton Gallery (tel: 028 9097

3580. Web: www.naughtongallery.org), which features classic Irish

paintings, by artists such as William Conor and Paul Henry, from

Queen’s extensive collection as well as touring exhibitions. For all

kinds of fascinating free literary events from poetry readings and book

launches to lectures and talks around Queen’s, make sure you check

out the Seamus Heaney Centre of Poetry (tel: 028 9097 1070, www.

qub.ac.uk/heaneycentre).

Steamy Tours

You can arrange special free tours of the colourful Palm House, which

houses a spectacular range of tropical and temperate plants, and the

steamy Tropical Ravine, both buildings dating from the 19th century,

at the Botanic Gardens, a short walk from Queen’s University. Call 028

9031 4762. Not too far away, there’s another Hard Hat Tour attraction

waiting at the Lawrence Street Workshops at 1a Lawrence Street.

Call 028 9023 4993 to arrange a free tour of this old stables courtyard

which is now home to a community of some of Belfast’s most talented

artists and crafts people, with their work on display at an impressive

showroom.

Tracing Your Roots

If you’re interested in local history or tracing your family roots (see

the Tracing Your Family Roots brochure, available from the Belfast

Welcome Centre) a trip to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

(PRONI) is a must. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable and there is

no cost. It’s located just off the Malone Road at 66 Balmoral Avenue

(tel: 028 9025 5921. Web: www.proni.gov.uk). For a small fee the

Ulster Historical Foundation (Unit 7, Cotton Court, Waring Street) in

the Cathedral Quarter will offer preliminary advice on your search for

ancestors and allow access to their extensive database. If you want to

commission a full report, their research team will agree a budget with

you and conduct a search on your behalf. Call 028 9033 2288 or visit

www.ancestryireland.com for more information.

Balluan Stone

C S Lewis statue, Hollywood Arches

Pump House

Shankill

and

North

Belfast

Policing Down the Years

Check out displays of uniforms, equipment and weapons relating

to the history of policing in Northern Ireland from the 1800’s to the

present day at the Police Museum at 65 Knock Road, at the Police

Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) headquarters. It’s free but call 028

9065 0222 first to arrange a visit.

The Origins of Narnia

The author of the famous ‘Chronicles of Narnia’, CS Lewis, was

born and brought up in east Belfast. He was baptised at St Mark’s

Church on the Holywood Road by his formidable grandfather, the

Rev Thomas Hamilton, in 1899. In 1935 ‘Jack’, as he was known,

and brother Warnie, presented the magnificent stained glass

Lewis window to the church in memory of their parents. The lion

doorhandle from the old rectory, a possible inspiration for Aslan, is

still in the church grounds.

East Belfast

Titanic Quarter

On the old Harland and Wolff shipyard on Queen’s Island, where

RMS Titanic and many other great ships were built, a magnificent

new mixed-use development is being built, called Titanic Quarter.

The area includes the Drawing Rooms where Titanic and her sister

ships were designed, the slipways from which she was launched

and the Thompson Dry Dock where her superstructure was added,

all of which will be part of a major tourist attraction. Tours are

available of the Thompson Dry Dock, as well as the Thompson

Pump House (which controlled the water in the dry dock) and

adjacent Alexandra Graving Dock. Call the Northern Ireland Science

Park on 028 9073 7813 for more information. The last surviving ship

with a Titanic connection, the Nomadic is currently being restored

at dry dock in Belfast and will become an important Titanic Quarter

attraction. Built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line, the

ship, which once ferried passengers from Cherbourg port to Titanic,

had been partially restored by volunteers after being returned from

France, where she last worked as a floating restaurant in Paris.

You can also find Samson and Goliath, the two great yellow cranes

which dominate the Belfast skyline on Queen’s Island. There

are several tours, including those by the Lagan Boat Company

and Belfast City Sightseeing, which take you to the heart of the

Titanic legend. Nearby, the Odyssey Pavilion has many attractions,

including tenpin bowling, an Imax cinema, a state-of-the-art cinema

complex and the award-winning W5 discovery centre. The adjacent

Odyssey Arena is a venue for major rock concerts, the Belfast

Giants ice hockey team and entertainment spectaculars.

Queen’s University

Thompson Graving Dock

Clifton House spinning wheel

Samson Crane, Harland & Wolff

Sinclair Seaman’s Church

Cave Hill

Signed in Blood

The Rev Henry Montgomery, who founded the Shankill Road Mission on

the Shankill Road, is reputed to have signed the famous Solemn League

and Covenant, which protested against the Home Rule Bill of 1912, in his

own blood.

The Shamrock Church

When you see the distinctively shaped St Matthew’s Church in Woodvale

Road, just off the Shankill Road, for yourself you’ll understand how it

got its nickname. The ancient Ballaun stone which is set on a pedestal

outside the church, is thought to date from Druid times and was

discovered at the nearby Shankill Graveyard (see below).

The Shankill Graveyard

This was the Belfast City Cemetery until 1866 and during the Great

Plague mass burials took place here. Its oldest existing gravestone goes

back to 1685 but the site has been used for burials for much longer than

that, possibly as early as the 6th century when Belfast’s first church is

believed to have stood near here.

Political Murals

Just past the Rex Bar is one of the most famous murals of the Shankill

Road, Edward Carson signing the 1912 Solemn League and Covenant at

City Hall. Further up the road, a mural depicts James Buchanan, one of

the nine US presidents believed to be of Ulster Scots descent.

Eternal Flame

Also on the Shankill Road, the tranquil Shankill Memorial Gardens recalls

those who died in the two world wars.

Belfast’s Berlin Wall

The peace line at Cupar Way, which separates the Falls and the Shankill

districts, is the oldest in Europe. Taxi and bus tours frequently stop here.

Best View of Belfast

About a 25-minute bus ride from the city centre is the Scottish Baronialstyle

Belfast Castle, towering above the city on Cave Hill (tel: 028 9077

6925. Web: www.belfastcastle.co.uk), where you can stroll the beautiful

grounds, plan your tour of nearby Cave Hill Country Park at their Cave

Hill Visitor Centre, enjoy a superb meal and take a pre-booked free tour.

Radicals and Sailors

One of the oldest and most elegant buildings in Belfast, Clifton House

at 2 North Queen Street was opened in the 1770s as the Belfast Poor

House to house the poor, sick and destitute of the city. Its fascinating

history is connected to one of the world’s oldest newspapers, the Belfast

News Letter, and the local leader of the United Irishmen rebellion. Find

out more by ringing 028 9089 7534 to arrange a free tour. One of the

world’s most unusual nautically themed churches, Sinclair Seamen’s,

can be found just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre at Corporation

Square. Designed by Charles Lanyon, the architect of Queen’s University,

its pulpit is shaped like a ship’s prow, its bell is from the ill-fated HMS

Hood and even the collection plates are shaped like lifeboats! It’s open

Wednesday afternoons between 2pm and 4.30pm but you can prearrange

a free group tour at other times by calling 028 9071 5997.

Cathedrals and Crafts

A great area to get to know local people, everyone in west Belfast

seems to have time and it’s easy to get into conversation. Start

your tour at the beautiful French-style St Peter’s Cathedral (Peter’s

Square, tel: 028 9032 7573), easy to find due to its two great towers

with rising spires. Built in 1866, it was the first Catholic church in

Belfast to be designed in the Gothic style. Entrance is through a

side door and you can pick up a brochure on the Cathedral inside.

Further up the Falls Road, Conway Mill (5 – 7 Conway Street,

tel: 028 9024 9323. Web: www.conwaymill.org) was the first flax

spinning mill in west Belfast and is now an important hub of local

community arts. The atmospheric building is home to the Space

Gallery on the third floor (lift available), with work from international

artists and its 22 resident artists and craft producers on show. Free

tours of the building can be arranged if you ring first.

West Belfast

The Hub of West Belfast

Another Hard Hat Tour possibility is Clonard Church and Monastery

(1 Clonard Gardens, tel: Tel: 028 9044 5950. Web: www.clonard.

com). The beautiful French Gothic-style church, with its striking

Rose Window and magnificent organ, and the adjacent monastery

are situated on the peace line between the Shankill Road and Falls

Road. The church is open seven days a week from 6am to 8pm

(10pm on Thursdays). Private tours of the crypt and monastery can

be arranged. Call 028 9044 5950 for more information.

A short black taxi trip up the Falls Road is the cultural hub of west

Belfast, An Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich (216 Falls Road. tel: 028

9096 4180. Web: www.culturlann.com), an Irish language book and

gift shop and home to all kinds of cultural activities, either free or

reasonably priced. Good-value food is available at its café.

St Peter’s Cathedral

Falls Road Mural

The Great Outdoors

Few cities in Europe boast as many parks,

forests and open spaces as Belfast and

whatever way you choose to enjoy them, it

won’t break the budget.

Pedal Power

Cycling is gaining popularity fast with visitors to Belfast. If

you’ve got the energy it’s the best way to get around our

beautiful parks, especially Clement Wilson Park, Barnett

Demesne and Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park which

are off the Lagan Towpath (part of the National Cycle

Network). Why not take a picnic (made up of good-value

and delicious local food from St George’s Market on Friday

and Saturday or Sawers deli in College Street) with you.

Bike hire is available at Life Cycles, 36-37 Smithfield

Market (tel: 028 9043 9959 or visit www.lifecycles.co.uk)

with daily and weekly rates. You can also hire bikes at

McConvey Cycles (183 Ormeau Road, tel: 028 9033 0322

or visit www.rentabikebelfast.com) who are just yards from

the National Cycle Network. Copies of the ‘Belfast by Bike’

cycling map, along with lots more information on cycling in

the city, are available at the Belfast Welcome Centre.

Take a Hike

Apart from Belfast’s parks and forests (see below) the

spectacular hills and mountains which frame the city offer

wonderful walks. The Belfast Hills Partnership advises

on a range of enjoyable walks, such as those through the

200 acres of woodland and open grassland of beautiful

Colin Glen Forest Park, and has produced a walking map

and guide. For more information call the Belfast Hills

Partnership on 028 9060 3466 or visit www.belfasthills.org

A Walk in the Park

From the Botanic Gardens in the Queen’s Quarter to

the heights of Cave Hill Country Park, none of Belfast’s

parks is more than a 30-minute bus ride from the heart of

Belfast. You’ll get an idea of how best to enjoy them from

brochures such as ‘A Guide to the Wildlife of Belfast’ and

‘A Walk in the Park’, available free at the Belfast Welcome

Centre. From International Rose Week at Sir Thomas and

Lady Dixon Park to balmy summer weekend afternoons of

free entertainment in many different parks, there are lots

of events to enjoy through the year. Get a copy of ‘What’s

on in Parks’ from Belfast City Council Parks Department

(call 028 9027 0467 or visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/

parksandopenspaces).

Leisure Centres

Belfast City Council runs leisure centres throughout

Belfast, offering a range of leisure and sporting activities at

very reasonable prices. Call 028 9032 0202 or visit

www.belfastcity.gov.uk/leisurecentres for more information.

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