8 ways to enjoy the culture of buzzing Belfast
From its tallest hotel to contemporary culture... see a city on the rise
Belfast is an exciting city with a palpable buzz. It has been granted 'bucket list' status by Lonely Planet as the number one region to visit in 2018, thanks to Michelin-starred restaurants, hip neighbourhoods and a dedication to culture and the arts.
Here's eight way to enjoy the buzzing city:
1. Begin your cultural tour of the city at the beautiful new Grand Central Hotel, a legend reborn at the heart of Belfast's up-and-coming Linen Quarter.
The Grand Central is a modern reincarnation of a Victorian hotel of the same name that rose above Belfast city centre from 1893 to 1979. The contemporary design is inspired by Belfast's linen and maritime history, resulting in a spectacular hub with the stamp of local authenticity. Many of the luxurious bedrooms boast sweeping views of the city, the Antrim Plateau and the distant Mournes.
2. The tradition of mural painting has led to Belfast becoming a place where street art has flourished. Artists from around the globe have visited the city to make their mark, so take to the cobbles to marvel at their talents. The Street Art Walking Tour is devised and led by local creatives who have driven the scene in recent years. Enjoy the tour at a leisurely pace, as the guides introduce you to the ever-changing facades of the atmospheric Cathedral Quarter and divulge insights into the art and figures behind the images.
3. Once you have completed your tour, pay a visit to the nearby Belfast Exposed gallery. Founded by local photographers in 1983, Belfast Exposed has become Northern Ireland's principal gallery of contemporary photography. Browse through their archive of historical images and view exhibits showcasing the impressive work of local and international photographers. Belfast Exposed frequently hosts talks by highly respected Northern Irish and global artists, many of which have free admission, so view their listings before your trip to ensure you don't miss out.
4. A cultural exploration of Belfast wouldn't be complete without The Mac, one of Europe's leading art centres. Situated in an awe-inspiring building behind St Anne's Cathedral, the venue has been the recipient of numerous international accolades, both for its architecture and its bold and imaginative programme of exhibitions and events. The Mac houses three art galleries and two theatres, with a bursting schedule of shows, workshops and exhibits for you to experience.
5. After revelling in the artistic credentials of local talent, visit 2 Taps Wine Bar for some traditional tapas and fine wine. You can dine al fresco in the heated terrace surrounded by the buzz and bustle of the Cathedral Quarter. Choose from a range of tasty small plates including Portavogie scampi. Soak up the atmosphere of the vibrant restaurant as it fuses Northern Irish hospitality with the Spanish theme of meeting, relaxing, sharing food and chatting.
6. This Cathedral Quarter venue is a home for theatre, live music, literature, film, comedy, visual art, circus acts and all points in between. The multi-faceted Black Box is a cultural hub with a capacity to host any manner of events from small poetry readings to large gigs. The events listing ranges from free to ticketed. Check their website for more information on what’s coming up.
7. The AC Hotel by Marriot is located in the Titanic Quarter of the city centre. An urban retreat by the River Lagan, the brand new hotel is in a prime spot to explore Belfast on foot. Titanic Belfast, Belfast Waterfront and the shops at Victoria Square are all a short distance away. Check in to one of the contemporary guest bedrooms that feature thoughtful touches of luxury and prepare to immerse yourself in all that Belfast has to offer. You can also treat yourself to delicious gourmet dining in its Jean-Christophe Novelli restaurant.
8. Coco restaurant offers an array of experiences for the senses, with chic interiors, an eclectic mix of furniture, funky artwork and a mouth-watering menu. Head chef Jason More has experience in Michelin star kitchens and serves up impeccable dishes with ingredients that are simply the best of local produce. As you finish your meal, the opulent bar area welcomes you to savour a drink with the music creating a great vibe to continue your night.
9. Before returning to your luxurious bedroom at the Grand Central, experience new heights on the 23rd floor of the hotel for a panoramic view over Belfast's night lights from The Observatory lounge. Enjoy a drink from the unique viewpoint of the highest bar in Northern Ireland, relishing the culturally enlightening expedition you have enjoyed in the city below.