Arts and culture

A hub of creativity

Belfast has art and culture as its heart and soul. After all, Northern Ireland has produced some of the world’s most famous poets, musicians and writers, from Oscar Wilde to Van Morrison.

Our indie arts venues, historical theatres and world-renowned gig venues provide amazing spaces to nurture creativity and express individuality.

Experience history

Belfast is bursting with museums that explore the diverse history and life of this region.

Wonder what the past looked like for people in Northern Ireland? Step back 100 years at Ulster Folk and Transport Museum open air village; shiver as you explore the ghosts of prisoners at the historic Crumlin Road Gaol, or relive the fateful maiden voyage of the world’s most famous ship at the Titanic Museum.

Near campus, you’ll find The Ulster Museum, a must-visit for art lovers, history buffs and science aficionados alike. Don’t miss the annual NI Science Festival takeover, when you can explore the exhibits by night.

Wonder walls

Belfast has a storied history of street art and graffiti with colourful murals framing the city.

Turn any corner in the vibrant Cathedral Quarter and you’ll find curated wall spaces and al fresco urban galleries, many featuring world-famous artists, such as Australian Sam ‘Smug’ Bates.

Meanwhile, a tour of the political murals in West Belfast offers a fascinating and moving look at the city’s troubled history. You can even leave your own mark on the city by signing the peace walls.  

A city of storytellers

Belfast’s literary heritage runs deep.

The city’s landscapes and landmarks were immortalised in Narnia by Belfast-born author C.S Lewis, while Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney worked at Queen’s, where his legacy is celebrated at the Seamus Heaney Centre.

The city’s thriving literature scene features literary events, readings and festivals including the legendary Write Night club; The Lifeboat poetry night; regular book launches at indie-crime specialist book shop No Alibis and literary talks at the Linen Hall Library.

Indie art venues

From the eclectic programme of visual art, theatre and dance at The MAC to the live music, poetry and comedy at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast embraces artistic expression in all its forms.

Gallery spaces include the artist-led collective at PS Squared; the Golden Thread Gallery, which occupies a former linen mill and the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, one of Belfast’s most exciting visual arts spaces, right on campus.

Stand-out stand-up

Known throughout the world for our dry sense of humour, comedy is rooted in our literature, poetry, theatre and even our street banter, and the city has embraced a vibrant native stand-up scene.

Top comedy venues include The Black Box and the Pavilion, with acts ranging from Fringe-royalty to underground emerging comedy talent.  Head to the weekly comedy night at The Empire for raucous audience participation or to the Accidental Theatre for subversive improv. 

World-class theatre

The Lyric Theatre is home to Northern Ireland’s finest actors and playwrights; while the Grade II listed Ulster Hall’s roster reads like a who’s who of music, comedy and literary heavyweights. Everyone from Charles Dickens to Muse have graced the stage and it was here that Led Zeppelin debuted Stairway to Heaven in 1971.

Just around the corner is The Grand Opera House, probably the best surviving example of oriental style architecture in the UK. Here, you’re as likely to get tickets to Wagner as you are to see Wicked, with ballet, panto and stage musicals among the big-ticket shows on offer.

On the big screen

From multiscreen omniplexes to independent cinemas such as the Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast is a film-lovers paradise. Grab a beanbag and kick back with a film in the Cathedral Quarter; hit the rooftop cinema at the Treehouse to catch a movie under the stars or enjoy one of the many pop-up cinema events happening around the city.

Alternatively, rent a bike to explore Belfast’s burgeoning film industry at Titanic Studios, made famous as a Game of Thrones filming location.

Explore the city

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