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Events and Festivals

Celebrate good times

In Belfast, we always find an occasion to party.

Our vibrant, cosmopolitan buzz can be experienced through the city’s jam-packed programme of annual events and festivals. Whether it’s culture, cuisine, comedy or music, we've plenty to celebrate.

Highlights include: Belfast Mela, Northern Ireland's biggest annual celebration of cultural diversity, and Belfast Pride, a colourful, award-winning LGBTQ+ festival that’s the biggest of its kind on the island of Ireland.  

Where diversity meets creativity

Belfast’s cultural diversity is exemplified by Queen’s campus community, home to staff and students from over 80 countries.

Whether it’s dragon dancing and dim sum making for Chinese New Year or a dramatic display of sequins, feathers and face paint for Brazilian carnival, the cosmopolitan energy of our campus is best appreciated through our varied, inclusive events.

The best music festivals

From boutique festivals such as Sound of Belfast to family-friendly affairs like the Hilden Beer and Music Festival and global-headliner gigs like Vital and Belsonic.

Belfast’s music festival scene is as eclectic as it is exciting.

You can experience live jazz and a themed beanbag cinema at the Belfast Jazz Festival, enjoy three days of blues music at the Belfast City Blues Festival; or belt out traditional Irish folk at the McCracken Summer Festival.

Belfast is bursting with clubs, pubs and music, and has a packed schedule of festivals and events including Belsonic and Belfast Vital close to the university (Complete University Guide 2024).

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St.Patricks day
Events worth coming for

Tourists around the world love our St Patrick’s Day parade, our festive German-style Christmas market and our infamous Monster Mash Halloween celebrations (fancy dress is encouraged, FYI).

Hollywood stars are among the influx of visitors to the Belfast Film Festival; while 17,000 runners from around the globe come for the Belfast City Marathon.

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C.S. Lewis Square
Celebrating heritage

The Belfast Maritime Festival is a bumper-packed weekend full of maritime-themed family fun, food and frolics.

While the C.S Lewis Festival celebrates the legacy of the Belfast-born writer with talks, lectures, exhibitions, workshops, theatre, poetry and spoken word events and film screenings.

(Image: Courtesy of Bradley Quinn)

Where great minds discuss ideas

Expand your knowledge and transform your mind with engaging, educational events that put a quirky spin on learning.

Chat with Nasa astronauts at the NI Science Festival; hear best-selling authors in conversation at the Out to Lunch Festival or challenge thought leaders from the worlds of politics and art at the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics.

More of a movie buff? Take in a director Q&A or film masterclass at the annual Cinemagic Festival, or celebrate Northern Ireland’s design heritage with industry creatives at Belfast Design Week.

Arts festival signage
Arts in the heart of the city

Enjoy trad music sessions, tours and comedy performances at Feile an Earraigh; see music, comedy, theatre, literature, art and a whole lot more besides at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

Enjoy a laugh-a-minute (and great food) at the Festival of Fools comedy festival, and sister-fest Festival of Food. Foodies will also love the Twilight Market, a showcase of pop-up restaurants, award-winning food producers and chef demonstrations with live music and comedy.

Elsewhere, the Open House Festival and Eastside Arts Festivals showcase the brilliant creative talent in Bangor and East Belfast, respectively; while the Belfast International Arts Festival is the city’s longest running international arts event. ‌

Giro opening
Niche and unique festivals

From reading to cycling and dance, whatever your passion, chances are we have a festival for it.

The Belfast International Photo Festival features guest talks, workshops and screenings from the UK’s top photographers, while the AVA Music Conference and Festival celebrates electronic music and digital visual arts.

The Belfast Hills Heritage Festival has everything from dance-fit fun on Divis Mountain to orienteering on Cave Hill. Once you have worked up a thirst, enjoy the best Irish craft beer and cider that the massive two-day Belfast Craft Beer Festival.