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Belfast and Northern Ireland

Things to do in Belfast: A Student Guide to the Best Festivals and Events in the City

From art and food to culture and comedy, Belfast has a packed schedule of international festivals, celebrations and events for you to enjoy. Here is just a snapshot.

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Out to Lunch Festival

Out to lunch 

Music, comedy, spoken word and literature-based events kicking off at lunch time.

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New year

Dragon dancing and dim sum are the order of the day as Belfast’s City Hall is lit up for the festival.

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NI Science Festival

NI science festival

A talk by world-famous astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield opened this year’s event.

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Brilliant Corners: Belfast Jazz Festival

Belfast jazz festival

Live jazz and a BeanBag Cinema with jazz-inspired films.

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Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics


The annual festival of ideas and politics is packed with gigs, theatre, talks and art.

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St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day

Parades, parties and plenty of Guinness.

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Feile an Earraigh


Traditional music sessions, tours and comedy performances.

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Belfast Film Festival

Belfast Film festival

Film events and screening plus appearances from Hollywood greats like past honouree John Cusack.

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Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Cathedral Arts festival

Music, comedy, theatre, literature, art and a whole lot more.

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Festival of Fools

Festival of fools

The laugh-a-minute comedy festival now boasts discount food with a partner event, Festival of Food.

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Belfast City Marathon

Belfast Marathon

The annual May Bank Holiday race attracts over 17,000 runners from around the world.

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Belfast Craft Beer Festival

Belfast Craft Beer

The best Irish craft beer, cider makers and distillers showcasing their finest, over a massive two-day festival.

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Belfast Maritime Festival


A bumper-packed weekend full of maritime-themed family fun, food and frolics.

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Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher and The Script are just a few of the names headlining this year’s summer music festival.

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Belfast International Photo Festival

Belfast International Photo festival

One of the leading International Festivals of photography in the UK features guest talks, workshops and screenings.

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AVA Music Conference and Festival

AVA Music conference

An Audio Visual Arts Festival that celebrates electronic music and digital visual arts.

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Belfast Book Festival

Belfast book festival

Top authors and bright young writing talent unite for a varied selection of bookie events across the city.

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Fréd Festival of Cycling

Festival of cycling

Celebrate all things bicycle with workshops, exhibitions and social events.

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Belfast International ‘Titango’ Festival


Belfast's bi-annual tango festival features some of the world’s most famous tangueros.

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Belfast City Blues Festival

Blues fest

Live bands play the blues a selection of the city’s best music venues.

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Belfast Hills Heritage Festival

Hills heritage

From dance-fit fun on Divis Mountain to orienteering on Cave Hill, this fitness festival aims to promote the health benefits the Belfast Hills have to offer.

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McCracken Summer Festival

McCracken summer fest

This Irish language festival features events, language classes, singing workshops and concerts.

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Sunflower fest

International music acts play alongside local up-and-comers at this Hillsborough camping festival.

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Belfast Pride

Belfast pride

A range of events reflecting the strength and diversity of the LGBTQ community in Belfast.

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Open House Festival

Open House Festival

A hand-picked music and arts festival in Bangor.

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Eastside Arts Festival

Eastside arts

An annual summer festival that showcases the brilliant creative talent that lies within east Belfast.

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Woodstock Rhythm & Blues Festival


Music talent from all over the world come to Belfast for the annual music festival.

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Belfast Vital Festival

Martin Garrix, Steve Angello and Zara Larsson are among the first acts to be announced for this year’s music festival.

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Hilden Beer and Music Festival

Ireland's oldest independent brewery hosts a festival of music, complemented by local beers, ciders and spirits.

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Belfast Mela

Arts festival bringing together music, dance, arts and food from across the world.

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Culture Night

Belfast's largest, most exciting and inclusive cultural celebration features over 300 free events.

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European Heritage Open Days

Hundreds of heritage properties open their doors and host free events across Northern Ireland.

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Belfast City Half Marathon


Over 4,000 participants are expected to set off on their 13.1 mile.

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Belfast Comedy Festival

Belly laughs courtesy of local and international stand-up talent. ‌

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Belfast International Arts Festival

Formerly known as Belfast Festival at Queen’s, is the city’s longest running international arts event. ‌

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Cinemagic Festival

Preview and classic film screenings, competitions, Q&A’s and film and television workshops and masterclasses for young people. ‌

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Belfast Fashion Week

Ireland's leading bi-annual fashion event. ‌

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Halloween Metro Monster Mash

Spooky family fun culminating in an awesome fireworks display ‌

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Twilight Market

Pop-up restaurants, award-winning food producers and chef demonstrations with live music and comedy.

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Outburst Queer Arts Festival

An annual celebration of queer art and performance.

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Belfast Design Week

An industry-led festival featuring events and activities celebrating Northern Ireland’s design heritage and contemporary design scene.

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Sound of Belfast

A festival dedicated to all that is great about local music.

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C.S Lewis Festival

Celebrating the legacy of the Belfast-born writer with talks, lectures, exhibitions, workshops, theatre, poetry and spoken word events and film screenings.

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The Ladyboys of Bangkok

The UK’s top cabaret show comes to Belfast. Uncork the bubbles and dress to kill.

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Belfast Christmas Market

Festive stalls boasting food, souvenirs, hand-painted pottery and animal sculptures from across Europe.

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Photos © Northern Ireland Tourist Board 

Staff writer