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Staff Recommends

Best Restaurant: Excellent food and wine at Ginger (Bruce Street) which has a fresh & tasty menu and reasonable prices!

Best Shopping: Gilly G (591 Lisburn Road, Belfast) has the best in high fashion and exclusive labels.


Best Attraction
: Belfast Zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals and 140 species.


Best Kept Secret: Relax in the Rose Garden at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park

Start DateEnd DateEventVenue & distance from Jurys Inn Belfast
4 October11 October

Belfast Restaurant Week 2014

Belfast Restaurant Week is a tasty celebration of local food and culinary events in fabulous restaurants across the city.

Various venues

16 October1 NovemberUlster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's

Nothern Ireland's biggest international festival, the highlight of Belfast's arts and events calendar.

Various venues

Odyssey Arena

A venue for live music bands, IMAX theatre, cinema, ice hockey games and a variety of restaurants and bars. Take bus 600 or 100.

W5- WhoWhatWhereWhenWhy

Located at the Odyssey Arena. Bus 600 or 100.  Interactive discovery centre - ideal for all the family.
An amazing place to visit for adults and children alike! W5 is Ireland's first purpose-built interactive discovery centre and is located at the Odyssey complex in the heart of Belfast. The centre has amazing interactive exhibits, which offer fantastic fun for all the family.

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm, last admission 4pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm, last admission 5pm
Sunday 12pm - 6pm, last admission 5pm

Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Citybus 69. Open daily, admission free. Historical museum and art gallery.

Belfast Castle

Off Antrim Road, 3.5 miles north of city centre. Citybus 45-51. Admission free, historical atmosphere and beautiful gardens.

Belfast City Hall

Just a short walk from Jurys Inn and admission is free. Guided tours Monday to Saturday.

Belfast Zoo

Off Antrim Road, 3.5miles north of city centre. Citybus 45-51. Open daily April to September, 10am to 5pm; October to March, 10am to 2.30pm.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

At Cultra, seven miles east of Belfast, near Hollywood.

Dundonald Ice Bowl

111 Old Dundonald Road, five miles east of Belfast. Bus 21. Ice rink and bowling alley.

Queens University

University Road, Belfast. Citybus 70/71. Admission is free. A self-guided tour leaflet is available.

Waterfront Hall

Lanyon Place, a 10-minute walk from the hotel. A venue for concerts and conferences.

Belfast City Marathon

The Belfast city marathon route takes participants the length and breadth of Belfast. The cost of entry is £20. Visit the Belfast City Marathon website for more information on the next event.

Unsung Heroes of Belfast

If you’re interested in the history of the city, check out our infographic of Belfast Heroes

Belfast has a long and illustrious history, but one of the parts of its story that is perhaps best known is its association with the ill-fated ocean liner the Titanic. The iconic ship, which set sail from Southampton in April 1912, was constructed in Belfast - in the area now known as the Titanic QuarterIf you want to learn more about the ship and its amazing construction, heading to this part of Belfast is a real must. We’re going to give you some information about where you can go in the Titanic Quarter of Queen’s Quay and how to get from one attraction to the next.

Start point: Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast, which is the largest visitor experience dedicated to the ship in the world, is the obvious place to start. The six-floor building takes you through every stage of the liner’s history, from the initial concept and early construction stages, to its launch and fateful first voyage.

Perusing the exhibits about the building of the Titanic will set you up nicely for actually visiting the vast shipyards and docks where the process took place and allow you to put what you see here into context. There are also extensive galleries dedicated to the stories of the people onboard the Titanic when it set off on its maiden voyage.

One of the most fascinating parts of the centre is the room that takes you beneath the ocean to see the Titanic as it is now, resting hundreds of metres down on the bottom of the Atlantic.

You will also be able to stand in the spot where the Titanic once rested in its slipway, which boasts excellent views over Belfast and the rest of the docks. It’s a great place to soak up the sights and pause for thought before you move on.

Titanic Slipways

Leave Titanic Belfast and go for a walk along the restored slipways behind the building.

Having seen the slipways from Titanic Belfast, it’s worth actually heading outside and seeing them up close. This won’t take particularly long, but walking the length of the slipway will give you some idea of just how vast the liner was.

It’s also worth pointing out that a host of events and performances are held at the Titanic Slipways now, so if you’re travelling here during the warmer months of the year, it’s a good idea to check in case there is an open-air show you’d like to catch during your trip.

Harland & Wolff HQ and Drawing Offices

From the slipways, take the short walk along Queen’s Road to the former Harland and Wolff HQ and Drawing Offices - it will probably take about five minutes.

The Harland and Wolff HQ and Drawing Offices is where the Titanic’s story began, because this is where the great ship, along with its sister vessel, was designed. This was the hub of the Harland and Wolff shipbuilding empire when it was at its height in the early part of the 20th century.

It’s possible to tour this B+ listed heritage building thanks to the Titantic Foundation, which was awarded the building on a seven year lease back in 2012. The architecture is impressive and it’s well worth stepping inside to see these historic rooms.

Titanic’s Dock and Pump House

From the Harland and Wolff HQ, it’s just a short walk to the Dock and Pump House. It should take five to ten minutes.


The Titanic Dock and Pump House is another of the important Harland and Wolff’s sites in the Titanic Quarter and was where not only the Titanic, but also many of the other White Star Liners were constructed.

There’s an excellent visitor centre here where you can learn about how these huge ships were built and find out more about the varied equipment and engineering that went into producing them. The guided tours (which last around one hour) are especially worthwhile, as these lead you around every part of the dock and explain what happened where, as well as giving you an insight into what life was like for the workers.

A highlight of a visit to this attraction is seeing rare footage of the Titanic in the dry dock in 1912.

The Kit

The Kit is a piece of public art that you can pass by on your way out of the Titanic Quarter. Head south along Queen’s Road, back towards the city, and then take a short detour to the Belfast Harbour Marina on the Abercorn Basin.


The Kit is just one piece of public art that’s been created in memory of the Titanic and Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage. This particular sculpture is 13.5 m high and is made of scale replicas of the Titanic’s component parts. It’s essentially a huge bronze skeleton of the ship and it’s hard to miss.

Donegall Place
The walk to our final stop is very scenic, initially leading you along the banks of the river from the marina. Continue all the way down to Ann Street and then cross the river here. Follow Ann Street to the end, then take a left on to Arthur Street. At the bottom of Arthur Street, turn right on to Chichester Street and follow this until you can see the City Hall. It should take 20 to 25 minutes.

There are two Titanic-related sights here, the Titanic Memorial Garden and the Masts. The former was opened in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the sinking and, in addition to being a pretty garden, it is home to a memorial to all those who died in the tragedy. A nine-metre-long plinth showcases bronze plaques bearing the names of all of those who lost their lives.

The Masts, meanwhile, is a series of eight huge masts that line Donegall Place, with each representing a famous Belfast-made ship. As well as the Titanic, the SS Nomadic, the Olympic and the Brittanic are commemorated here.

Belfast’s murals are truly fascinating and certainly worth seeking out on a visit to the city. As well as being incredible examples of modern art, these murals say a lot about the political history of the city and Northern Ireland as a whole.

A bit about the murals


Before we talk you through a route to see the murals, it’s important to understand why they were painted in the first place. Across Northern Ireland there are thought to be around 2,000 murals, most with a political message.

The first of these were painted in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, when the Troubles were at their height. As a brief overview, this conflict was over whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK or join Ireland as a united country. The Unionists and Loyalists, who are predominantly from the Protestant community, want to remain part of the UK, while the Republicans and Irish Nationalists support a union with Ireland.

Although many of Belfast’s murals are politically motivated, there are some depicting other subjects, such as CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Titanic and Northern Irish footballer George Best.  

Starting point: Sandy Row


Sandy Row is in a predominantly Loyalist part of Belfast and there are several political murals along the street, although some of these have been replaced in recent years. In 2012, for example, one of the most famous Ulster Freedom Fighters murals was painted over and a portrait of William of Orange created in its place.

There are also several football-themed murals on this stretch of road, most notably a painting of George Best, with the Northern Irishman famously playing for Manchester United at the height of his career. There are other Manchester United-themed designs in the area to look out for, while if you fancy a detour to see more football murals, head on to Lisburn Road, which joins Sandy Row at its southern end.

Falls Road


The next place to head to is Falls Road, which is around a half-hour walk from Sandy Row. When you reach the south end of Sandy Row, turn right onto Donegal Road and follow this until it joins Falls Road.

This is where you can see a selection of Republican murals, as well as the International Peace Wall. This is a really interesting spot, as people have created artwork to voice their opinions about everything from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Spanish Civil War.

There are also pieces without a political slant on Falls Road, such as the mural depicting Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, one of Celtic FC’s greatest ever players. Head north along Falls Road, taking your time to enjoy the myriad of artworks it’s decorated with.

Cupar Way


It’s relatively straightforward to reach Cupar Way once you get to the northern end of Falls Road - shortly after you pass the Falls Leisure Centre on your left, you need to turn left onto N Howard Street. Follow this along until it joins Cupar Way - the walk should take around ten minutes.

Cupar Way is home to one of Belfast’s longest peace walls and features a varied collection of pieces, some of which have been made in 3D, combining sculpture and painting. Among the most famous panels along this street is the one commemorating the Battle of the Somme.

Shankill Road


At the end of Cupar Way, turn right onto Lanark Way and then right again onto Woodvale Road, which eventually merges with Shankhill Road. The walk shouldn’t take longer than around 15 minutes.

Shankill Road is where many of the most famous Loyalist murals can be found, with these often depicting slogans and symbols associated with the various Unionist groups that sprang up during the Troubles. As with the Republican areas, many of the overtly paramilitary murals and images are being painted over and replaced, but there is still plenty to see.

Newtownards Road


The final call on our tour of the Belfast murals is Newtownards Road, which is around a 45 minute walk from Shankhill Road. Continue following the street when Shankhill Road ends, as it turns into Peters Hill, North Street and then Bridge Street.

At the end of Bridge Street, turn left and head towards Ann Street, which will take you across the river. This road turns into Bridge End and then Newtownards Road. This is home to more Loyalist murals, but it’s worth stepping off the main street and into some of the side roads to see some of Belfast’s non-political murals.

Dee Street is a particularly good place to explore, as it has one of the most iconic Titanic murals on its corner. This is a poignant black and white image of Captain Smith standing between the cranes on the docks and looking out over the liner.

Dee Street is also home to one of the two CS Lewis murals that features a scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The other CS Lewis artwork can be found on Ballymacarrett Road, which is also off Newtownards Road.

CS Lewis is known the world over as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, but what fewer people are aware of is that he grew up in Belfast and had a strong affinity with his Irish background.

Dundela Flats


The Dundela Flats themselves are not a building from Lewis’s era, but they stand on what was once the Dundela Villas - the author’s birthplace in 1898. The houses of Lewis’s childhood were demolished in 1952 and now all that remains to allude to their literary connection is a blue plaque on the side of the wall.

You’ll find the flats in a small cul-de-sac just off of Dundela Avenue if you want to take a look.

Little Lea

Little Lea on Circular Road is where CS Lewis spent much of his childhood, and was the family home until 1930. They moved in here when Lewis was seven and, although he was sent to England for school just a few years later, the house was fondly remembered by him.

In fact, it was here that he penned his first stories, so it’s a wonderful place for any fans to visit. You do, however, need to bear in mind that the properties here are private residences, so you should respect the current owners and their privacy.

Campbell College

Campbell College was one of the schools CS Lewis attended in his younger years, in this case he spent just half a term here in 1910. He left school due to illness at this time, but despite only spending a few weeks as a boarder, he had fond memories of his English master Lewis Alden.

You can simply observe the college from outside - you’ll find it on Belmont Road - or you can get in touch with the institution before you visit to see if it’s possible to enter the grounds and buildings.

Linen Hall Library


Linen Hall Library will be of interest to CS Lewis fans for two reasons; firstly, it is home to a unique collection of books both by and about the author, and secondly, because from November 7th until December 24th 2013, it is hosting a special installation entitled CS Lewis: Through the Wardrobe Exhibition. This is a fantastic collection of illustrations of the Chronicles of Narnia by Dublin-based artist and illustrator Jonathan Barry.

Barry has depicted scenes from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Belmont Tower


Belmont Tower is situated on Belmont Church Road and isn’t too far from where the author spent his early years. The Gothic Victorian building is interesting in its own right, but what will draw CS Lewis fans here is the small exhibition dedicated to him.

What’s more, the venue also hosts lectures on the life and work of the author, so it’s worth checking if there are any of these talks scheduled during your trip to Belfast, as you can gain an interesting perspective on Lewis and his writing by attending one or more of these.

Holywood Road Library


When you visit Holywood Road Library, it’s not the library itself that you’ll be interested in, but the statue that stands outside. This sculpture is a fitting tribute to CS Lewis and his Narnia series, with the life-size likeness of Lewis depicted as Digory Kirke (the Narnia narrator).

As if that wasn’t enough of a hint to the writer’s best-known work, the statue is also stepping into a wardrobe. The piece was unveiled in 1998 to mark the centenary of the author’s birth and was created by sculptor Ross Wilson.

St Mark’s Church


Not far from Holywood Road Library is St Mark’s Church, which is also located on Holywood Road. This church was where CS Lewis was baptised and where he received his confirmation.

The entire Lewis family were regular church-goers and this was their local place of worship. Indeed, CS Lewis and his older brother Warren donated a stained-glass window designed by Michael Healy to the church in memory of their parents. As you can see, there are plenty of links to CS Lewis to be discovered in Belfast, despite the fact that the author moved to England at a relatively young age. The city is proud of its literary heritage and has done much to promote its association with the famous writer.

Indeed, there is much speculation about whether any sites or landmarks in Belfast - or elsewhere in Northern Ireland - inspired some of the locations that feature in Narnia. The mountains of County Down, Dunluce Castle in County Antrim and even the gas lamp posts in the grounds of Campbell College have been cited as possible inspirations for the author.

Belfast is a beautiful city to visit and whether it's your first time in the Northern Irish capital or your 100th time, there is still plenty to discover. One of the best ways to really appreciate a city is to find a vantage point that allows you to take in its skyline.

We've put together a few of the best places to get outstanding views of Belfast and the surrounding countryside - what's great about most of these suggestions is that they're also close to some of the city's top tourist attractions, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Cave Hill


Cave Hill towers over Belfast and is visible from almost everywhere in the city, so it's the obvious place to begin if you'd like to see Belfast spread out beneath you. There are several marked walks within the Cave Hill Country Park, although one of the best if you're after spectacular views is the Estate Trail.

This route leads you above Belfast Castle (which we'll come on to in a minute) and offers panoramic views of Belfast Lough and the city. It takes roughly one hour to complete, so is the perfect afternoon stroll.

Top nearby attraction: Belfast Castle Estate


The Belfast Castle Estate is next to Cave Hill and is well worth exploring if you're making the journey out of the city. The castle was constructed in the 19th century by the Marquis of Donegall and was gifted to the City of Belfast in 1934.

Nowadays it is a popular venue for weddings and conferences. You can stroll through its beautiful gardens or head inside to the Cellar Restaurant, which is open daily from 11:00 to 17:00, with a late service for dinner on Tuesday and Saturday.

Arc Brasserie restaurant

The Arc Brasserie restaurant is within the Belfast Waterfront Hall and stands alongside the River Lagan. This entertainment venue regularly hosts all kinds of performances and is popular for conferences. However, the reason we love the Arc Brasserie restaurant is its views. The windows in the dining room look out over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge and boast wonderful vistas down the river and across Belfast.

The food here is also excellent, with the restaurant open from 10:00 to 16:30 Monday to Friday, as well as serving dinner on performance nights until 20:00.

Top nearby attraction: Royal Ulster Rifles Museum


Just a ten-minute walk from the Belfast Waterfront Hall is the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum, a unique attraction that's worth exploring if you have the time. The museum looks at the history of the Royal Ulster Rifles regiment from 1793 through to 1968 and offers a fascinating insight into the military, as well as focusing on personal stories from the regiment itself.

Among the displays here are uniforms, medals, weapons and personal items that were owned by some of the men who served in the Royal Ulster Rifles. There's information about all the campaigns the regiment was involved with, including the Peninsular War against Napoleon, World War I and the Korean War.

Temple of the Winds

The Temple of the Winds is located in the grounds of Mount Stewart House - a National Trust property located approximately 15 miles outside of Belfast. It is an odd-looking octagonal building that was added to the estate in the late 18th century. From this part of the house's grounds, though, you will have breathtaking views across Strangford Lough, a large sea loch that is home to a wide variety of birdlife.

Top nearby attraction: Mount Stewart House


Mount Stewart House and its estate makes a wonderful day trip from Belfast, as there is so much to see around this stunning property. The neo-classical house is spectacular, but it is the gardens that attract the most attention.

There are many Mediterranean plants within the gardens, while the layout and design evokes images of Spain and Italy. In addition to the formal gardens, there is an area of more natural woodland and a lake, while Dodo Terrace is a favourite with children thanks to the unusual stone statues found here.

Lagan Weir


Lagan Weir is located on the river of the same name at the point where it meets the Farset River. It was constructed in 1994 and its purpose is to control the tidal flow on the river. Although it looks rather industrial during the day, at night when it is lit up it is a picturesque landmark to visit. As you walk across the footbridge you'll enjoy great views up and down the waterway.

It is close to what was once the hub of Belfast's shipbuilding industry - the Titanic was constructed just a short distance down the river. For the best views along Belfast Lough, head to the Lookout on the docks side of the weir. You can join boat trips from this point and it's also where you'll find the impressive Big Fish sculpture.

Top nearby attraction: Queen's Bridge


Queen's Bridge is one of eight river crossings on the Lagan and this particular structure was opened by Queen Victoria in 1849. Its Victorian design is plain to see, with the bridge having been built to replace the Long Bridge that stood here before.

If you’re thinking of visiting Belfast at the end of the month to experience the spectacle of the Belfast Tattoo, spend the day before the event uncovering some of Ulster’s history. The Tattoo will take place on September 27th and 28th and is a real feast for the senses with some of the best local musicians and performers taking to the stage in a two-hour show.

Of course, you’ll want to spend more than just a single evening in Belfast, so we’ve come up with a few suggestions of places to explore if you’d like to learn more about the heritage of the province of Ulster before you take your seats for the Belfast Tattoo.

 

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

How to get there: The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is around 15 minutes outside the city centre on the road to Bangor. You can take a train to the Cultra Halt station or take a bus that will drop you outside the museum entrance.

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is the perfect place to start, as it will take you back in time more than 100 years to a period when Ulster was very different. Spread over 170 acres, this living history museum features homes, schools, shops and farms, giving you an unrivalled insight into how people lived in years gone by.

You can wander between the buildings and chat to the guides who are dressed in period costumes and who practice a host of crafts that were the staple of life in Ulster in the past. Make sure you sample some home cooking at the farmhouse and take the time to learn a bit more about skills like sheep shearing and blacksmithing.

The Transport Museum is a separate gallery where you can find out all about the history of transport in Ireland, from the country’s rail network to its roads. You should leave at least an hour and a half to discover this museum, as well as a further two to three hours for the Folk Museum. Ideally, you’ll want to spend a whole day here.

 

Crumlin Road Gaol

How to get there: You’ll find Crumlin Road Gaol on Crumlin Road in the centre of the city. You can walk or take a bus to get there - the hop on, hop off bus tour of the city passes the attraction.

Crumlin Road Gaol is a fascinating attraction that will give you a glimpse of the darker side of Ulster’s history. This jail is a Grade A listed building and has an interesting past. It first opened its doors in 1845 and eventually closed in 1996. In those years it saw executions, held political prisoners and even women and children.

There are public tours of the facility every day of the week, with these typically lasting about one and a half hours. You’ll see some of its cells, the governor’s office and the hospital, as well as hear stories about the people who were held within its walls.

 

Ulster Museum

How to get there: You’ll find the Ulster Museum in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. This is around a 20 to 30 minute walk from the city centre, or a ten minute walk from the Botanic station if you’re travelling by train. Alternatively, take the bus that will drop you right outside the museum.

Ulster Museum is home to a wide array of exhibits covering everything from dinosaurs and ancient Egypt to natural history and artefacts from the South Pacific. However, there’s also plenty of information about Northern Ireland’s history here too.

If this is what you’re after, head for the History Department where you’ll find a range of exhibits covering the likes of coins and money that’s been used in Northern Ireland through the ages, fascinating artefacts that are centuries old, Irish artworks and photos from the late 19th century through to the present day. It’s a truly comprehensive look at history not only in Ulster, but Northern Ireland as a whole.

There’s also an entire collection dedicated to military history where you can see items dating from as far back as the 1600s, as well as modern pieces from as recently as 2000. You’ll want to set aside a couple of hours to discover even a fraction of what this museum has to offer. It’s also free to enter, so you can make multiple visits during your stay in Belfast if you decide that there are collections you’ve missed that you’d like to see.

 

Schomberg House

How to get there: Schomberg House is on Cregagh Road in the Castlereagh area of Belfast to the south of the city centre. It’s just under an hour’s walk from the main part of the city, although you can ask at the tourist information office to find out which bus service will drop you closest to the attraction.

Schomberg House is the headquarters of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. The Orange Order relocated here in 2001 and although there’s not loads to see in Schomberg House, its small museum does offer an interesting insight into this aspect of Northern Ireland’s past.

Its exhibits tell the story of the early days of the Orange Institution and even include what’s known as the Williamite Archive - a selection of artefacts that belonged to William III, Prince of Orange, with these dating back to the late 17th century. Other pieces on show include documents relating to the order and busts of some former Irish Unionist leaders.

Leave around one hour to see what’s on show - Schomberg House is staffed by volunteers and is open during standard office hours throughout the week.

November will see the start of Belfast Music Week, when the whole city will come alive with the sounds of all manner of musical genres, from classical and rock to folk and dance performances.

We’re going to give you the lowdown on some of Belfast’s top live music venues - we’ll also let you know if there are any Music Week events scheduled at these places, so you can get involved in the revelry if you’ll be in the city next week.

Ulster Hall

Where: Bedford Street, behind Belfast City Hall

Ulster Hall is one of Belfast’s grandest live music venues and it’s all set to play a prominent role in the forthcoming Music Week. Several performances of note will take place here over the course of the festival, including a show by Cara Dillon, a metal gig by Zombified and a performance by the Ulster Orchestra.

Even if you can’t make it for a performance here, it’s well worth a visit anyway as it’s got a rather illustrious history. The venue itself dates from 1862 and is a classic example of a Victorian music hall.

In its early years, the hall played host to a range of famous performers, including Charles Dickens, Ellen Terry and Lord Randolph Churchill. In more recent years it’s seen countless musicians take to the stage, and has held international boxing matches and a variety of lectures and theatre shows.

 

Limelight

Where: 17 Ormeau Avenue

Since it first opened in 1984, Limelight has grown considerably and is now actually a complex of three venues - The Limelight, Limelight 2 and Katy’s Bar. The venue has a strong history of showcasing local talent, with a focus on the indie, rock and metal genres. Limelight 2 is actually the original venue, while The Limelight used to be known as Spring & Airbrake. Some impressive names have played here over the years, including Oasis, The Streets and the Kaiser Chiefs.

As you can probably imagine, there are lots of gigs planned for the two Limelight bars during Belfast Music Week, with Satyricon, Lucy Spraggan, Sea Pinks and The Wonder Villains among the musicians who will be entertaining the crowds here.

 

The Belfast Empire

Where: 40 Botanic Avenue

The Belfast Empire is a truly unique venue, as it’s a converted 19th century church. This gives it incredible acoustics and the ambience is enhanced by the music hall theme that permeates the main performance area.

It first put on a show in 1987 and since then some pretty impressive names have stepped into the spotlight here, including Snow Patrol, Sigur Ros, Ash and Death in Vegas. What’s more, Empire also hosts a long-running comedy club, which has seen comedians including Michael McIntyre, Dara O’Briain and Lee Evans gracing its stage.

During Belfast Music Week, artists such as Soulshaker and Simon McBride will be performing at the venue, while it will also host themed evenings like Havana Nights.

 

Oh Yeah Music Centre

Where: 15-21 Gordon Street

The Oh Yeah Music Centre is much more than a performance venue, although it has hosted its fair share of exciting live gigs over the years. It’s actually a charity that aims to make music accessible to all - and as you’d expect it’s heavily involved in Belfast Music Week.

Since opening in its current home in 2007, the likes of Elbow, the Undertones, Iain Archer and Lisa Hannigan have all played shows here. The coming week will see more famous names take to the stage as part of the Northern Ireland Music Prize, with the event being hosted during Music Week.

Among the artists who will be performing live this year are The Bonnevilles, Girls Names and Anthony Toner. The shortlist for the 2013 award includes the aforementioned musicians, as well as Foy Vance, Two Door Cinema Club and Jetplane Landing, among others.

 

Belfast Waterfront

Where: 2 Lanyon Place

The Belfast Waterfront is a performance and arts centre, which means not everything that’s on show here is music related. However, its main auditorium does play host to some famous names every now and then - and this is certainly the case during Belfast Music Week.

One of the highlights of the festival is a show by Van Morrison, who will be appearing at Belfast Waterfront on Friday November 15th for a one-off concert that’s bound to wow the crowds.

Having opened in 1997, the Belfast Waterfront has put on a number of amazing gigs, including performances by Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, James Brown and Dolly Parton.

 

Odyssey Arena

Where: 2 Queens Quay

Odyssey is a truly world-class venue located in the heart of Belfast’s Titanic quarter. Having opened in 2000, it’s already built up quite a reputation for itself having hosted the MTV European Music Awards, as well as a number of high-profile concerts.

That’s all set to continue during Belfast Music Week, with the Stereophonics playing here on the opening day of the event. The Odyssey Arena is a huge venue, with an 11,000 capacity, which means it consistently attracts big-name stars.

Belfast Christmas Market opens its doors with a host of festive crafts, food stalls and entertainment on offer until December 21st.

The market is located right in front of Belfast City Hall and is a picturesque place to do a bit of Christmas shopping, spend time with friends and to generally get into the mood of the season.

We’ve put together a brief guide to some of the things you shouldn’t miss this year.

See the lights switched on

The opening of the Christmas market will coincide with Belfast’s festive light switch-on this year - something that’s not to be missed. Once darkness falls the streets will be illuminated with a host of seasonal displays.

Moving among the stalls with the twinkling fairylights all around will definitely get you in the mood for all the parties, present buying and family gatherings that are to come.

Grab a Gluhwein

Gluhwein (or mulled wine) is a staple of any visit to a Christmas market and you’ll find several stalls selling steaming mugs of the festive tipple in Belfast. There are also a host of other food vendors offering everything from bratwurst to crepes, so whether you’re in a sweet or savoury mood, you should find something that appeals to your taste buds.

For an extra injection of Christmas cheer, add a shot of amareto to your mulled wine - it’s delicious.

Take the kids to meet Santa

Father Christmas will also be putting in an appearance at this year’s market, with his snowy grotto somewhere that your little ones will certainly want to visit. There’s also going to be a post box within the market where you can send Santa a letter.

If you get yours in the post by December 18th, you can even expect to receive a reply - a wonderful way to bring some extra magic to the season for your little ones.

Pick up some presents

Of course, the main point of a Christmas market is for you to have the chance to buy some unusual gifts and there’s plenty of variety among Belfast’s stallholders. Everything from knitwear and handbags to wooden toys and pottery will be on offer this year, with lots more besides.

Enjoy wandering among the colourful stalls, chatting to the vendors about their products and finding the perfect gifts for all your family and friends.

Belfast Restaurant Week, which this year takes place from October 4th to 11th, has become a real highlight on foodies’ calendars. Every year more and more restaurants are taking part in the culinary extravaganza, offering amazing discounts on excellent food.

Now, many of these deals centre around lunch and dinner menus, but what if you’re looking for somewhere wonderful to start your day? We’ve picked out a couple of options if you need some inspiration for breakfast spots to visit during Belfast Restaurant Week.

Jazz Brunch - Posh Nosh

Posh Nosh is holding a special Jazz Brunch during the foodie festival, with the SS Nomadic providing the venue. This ship is docked in the Titanic Quarter, so this is a great place to head to if you want to do a spot of sightseeing in between your culinary adventures.

The Jazz Brunch will be a feast for the senses, with delicious breakfast and brunch specialities served up while you listen to some chilled out jazz music - a quirky and fantastic setting for your first meal of the day.

 

Coffee Brew Bar Masterclass - Canteen at the MAC

The Canteen at the MAC is hosting a must-visit event for anyone who needs a cup of coffee to start their day. During the Coffee Brew Bar Masterclass you’ll have the chance to sample various blends of coffee from around the world and can pick up tips from expert baristas about how to make the perfect brew to kick-start your morning.

If you get peckish, you can always order something from the venue’s delectable breakfast menu, which is on offer from 10am to 12pm every day.

 

Stables Coffee Shop

The Stables Coffee Shop in Lady Dixon Park is the perfect place to come to if you want to enjoy your breakfast in picturesque surroundings. You can dine here whether you visit during the festival or not, but throughout the event the establishment is running a special offer.

You can enjoy its scones served with cream and preserves, as well as a cup of tea or coffee for just £2.50 if you order before 11am. This might not be the healthiest breakfast option - but it’s certainly a tasty one - you can treat yourself if you’re on holiday.

The Belfast Mela Festival is all set to take over the city's Botanic Gardens on August 24th with a host of colourful and riotous performances. For keen gastronomes, however, the main attraction will be the World Food Market.

Culinary delights from around the globe will be available to try at the numerous stalls that line the streets and the Taste the World schedule involves a series of cooking demonstrations from top chefs. The following are a few of the highlights.

Learn to make sushi

The Japanese art of sushi making isn't something that's easy to master, but you can get a crash course at the Belfast Mela. Local restaurant Zen is sending some of its chefs to show people how it's done. Zen's sushi menu is extensive, featuring a mixture of seafood and vegetarian sushi options. Among the ingredients are surf clam, tuna, sweet water eel, asparagus and tofu. However, it's the fusion sushi that really stands out with its combination of flavours like tuna, chilli and creamy Japanese mayonnaise. Head to the Zen demonstration at 13:30 or 15:45 to pick up some tips.

Get a taste of Poland

Polish cuisine may not be the best known, but the Mela gives you the perfect opportunity to sample flavours from the nation. One speciality to look out for at the weekend is kielbasa - a type of sausage made using smoked meat - while dumplings (or pierogi) are another thing to try. These can be made with a variety of stuffings, including meat and vegetarian options.

Be blown away by Caribbean fare


Most of us know that Caribbean food tends to be on the spicy side, so give your taste buds an experience they won't forget by tucking into the likes of jerk chicken or pork - meat seasoned with a range of creole spices and grilled over a barbecue - or the meat patties that are a favourite in Jamaica. There's also going to be a demonstration of Caribbean cooking at 14:15, so don't miss this if you want to learn about how to bring this exotic style of cookery to your own kitchen. 

Tips for making the most of the Mela World Food Market

To get the most out of your trip to the World Food Market, take some time to look around all the vendors - there are over 20 set to appear this year - and decide what you really have to try. As a quick tip, the cooking demonstrations are an excellent option not only to learn some new recipes, but also because they offer free samples to everyone who attends - a great way to cut down on your spending at the festival.
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