It’s where an impromptu drink turns into a spontaneous pub crawl, rebounding through charming cobbled alleyways. Where cool, laidback bars froth with folk-soul beats behind stunning period facades.
Whether you’re looking for a high-energy music gig, a cosy trad-pub, rooftop cocktails or to dominate the dancefloor into the wee small hours, your nights out in Belfast will create a lifetime of memories.
We call them ‘old man’ pubs because they are housed in traditional buildings and they take their beer seriously, but Belfast’s pub scene is anything but stuffy.
From the iconic 200-year-old Crown Bar to the easy vibe of Stranmillis’ ‘neighbourhood bar’ the Jeggy Nettle, via the new breed of bars in the city’s revamped Cathedral Quarter, such as the Thirsty Goat, The National and the Dirty Onion - housed in an old whiskey warehouse - Belfast’s pub scene blends live music, craft ale, student-friendly prices and good ‘craic’.
The locals love a chat but the venues themselves tell stories, too, so pull up a chair and get comfy. Discover the island’s largest whiskey collection at the Duke of York (birthplace of Snow Patrol and home of summertime drinking in Belfast ©) or sample the great Guinness and trad sessions at The Sunflower or at The Points, just a stone’s throw from campus.
Unlike most other regions in the UK, pubs in Northern Ireland can serve until 1am (instead of 11pm), creating a seamless flow between the bar and club scene.
So, whether it’s multi-room party paradise Filthy McNasty’s (Tuesdays and Thursdays are student night), industrial-cool al fresco haunt The Perch (on the top floor of a redbrick former mill in the Linen Quarter) or the largest rooftop bar and garden in Ireland (with gob-smacking panoramic views) at Babel, you can immerse yourself in fun-loving crowds and live DJ sets ‘til late.
Northern Irish people have music in their veins.
You’ll find live music every night of the week, with Belfast’s flourishing music scene supporting up-and-comers at arts venues such as Black Box, Oh Yeah! and Voodoo, as well as welcoming world-class acts to big-ticket venues including the SSE Arena, Waterfront and the Ulster Hall.
Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Strokes and Blur have all played to the thronging student crowd in infamous music venue The Limelight. Did you know Oasis were on stage here when they first learned Definitely Maybe had reached number one?
Queen’s has a rich musical heritage:
U2 performed here long before they were selling out stadiums, as did home-grown talents Divine Comedy and Ash, while Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac first fell in love with music on the dancefloor at our Student’s Union.
These days, the city’s students pulse to the beat of pop, rock, grime, hip-hop, bass and techno in the infamous Speakeasy, while acts performing on-campus at the Whitla Hall and Elmwood Hall run the gamut from chart-topping rappers to classical favourites, such as The Ulster Orchestra. Just off-campus, in the student-packed Holylands, discover new music in the unpretentious underground indie enclave, The Menagerie.
After dark, hidden Belfast comes alive:
17th century pub White’s Tavern transforms into a late-night club while an unassuming alleyway opposite the City Hall conceals the entrance to split-floor dance venue Thompson’s Garage. In the Cathedral Quarter, you can party in the five-star velvet underground maze that is Ollie’s, while the party never stops in the unofficial gay quarter around the Kremlin, with Boombox and Maverick also catering to the LGBTQ+ crowd.
From ironic bingo nights at the Ulster Sports Club to K-pop club nights on campus, Belfast is abuzz with kooky events that will ensure nights out are never normal again.
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