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Culture and heritage in Belfast

From big-hitters such as the Ulster Museum and Titanic Belfast, to a vibrant art scene with monthly late-night gallery openings, it's all going on for culture vultures in Belfast

Time Out in association with Tourism Ireland
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Along with such big attractions as the Ulster Museum, the MAC Metropolitan Arts Centre, Titanic Belfast, and a vibrant art scene that brings the first Thursdays of every month alive with late-night gallery openings, Belfast has some top culture and heritage attractions.

titanic exhibition

Titanic Discovery Tour

Titanic Belfast, with its nine absorbing spaces and exhibits that beautifully evoke the building, life and death of the eponymous liner and Belfast’s shipbuilding history, is a must-do on any visit. But equally enjoyable are a look around the elegant SS Nomadic, which ferried passengers to the liners, and the one-hour Discovery Tour. Architecture fans in particular will appreciate the tour around the glittering four-pronged façade of this beautiful building, offering insights into not only what the 3,000 3D aluminium shards that cover that façade represent, but also the myriad metaphors and symbolism inherent in both the building’s design and its surroundings.

Titanic Belfast

belfast city hall

Belfast City Hall

One of the pleasures of Belfast is the fact that it’s very easy to walk around, and while walking you’ll probably pass the grand Baroque revival City Hall a lot. Should your interest be piqued, you can do an excellent 45-minute free tour of the building, beginning in the jaw-droppingly impressive mixed marble lobby and rotunda. Knowledgeable guides give you lots of info about the building’s spaces and funtions, as well as the art and Titanic artefacts in it – and you’re free to take pics of everything. Nearby, the Linen Hall Library dates back to 1788 and is well worth a peek too.

Belfast City Hall

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belfast mural

A murals tour

Belfast’s troubled past is eloquently documented on the walls around the Shankill and Falls Roads, and a taxi tour with a knowledgeable local offers a chance to reflect on and understand a little of those troubles. Mixing history with folklore, poetry and song, drivers also include the hopeful paintings, taggings and graffiti of West Belfast’s 2km-long Peace Wall, and the fun non-political murals of the Cathedral Quarter, where Irish arts heroes from music, literature and art fight it out in the colour stakes with the hanging baskets of the Duke of York pub. If you just want to see thes works, and meet some of their makers, a walking tour of the area leaves from the Black Box every Sunday – or do your own using the map at Belfast Murals.

Touring Around Belfast

Black Box

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this adventurous, eclectic performance space always has something enjoyable to offer broadminded culture fans, from music, cabaret and theatre to spoken word, comedy and magic. Its main performance space is intimate and informal (think tables and chairs rather than raked rows), and the Green Room bar/café next door is a great place to chat to artistes and grab a slice of pizza with a pint – Friday happy hour offers pints of Guinness for just £2.80, and you can get a bottle of Heineken and a slice of pizza for £4 – or try one of the changing craft beers among its 13 taps.

Black Box Belfast

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