Belfast is a popular place where many people come to immerse themselves in classic Irish culture.
The city exudes a special sense of humour, creativity, tradition and warmth that is much-loved across the globe. Whether you’re simply visiting or staying for the long-term, you’ll instantly feel like you’re at a home away from home!
But where are the best places you can go to enjoy this culture? If you want to find out ‘what the craic’ is around Belfast, check out the rest of this blog for our top places to experience traditional Irish culture.
What is Classic Irish Culture?
The culture of Ireland revolves around language, literature, music, art, folklore, cuisine and sport. In addition to all of these, there’s an unmistakable kindness in the community that safely secures the island of Ireland on the top of many people’s bucket lists.
While in some places, culture can become diluted by cosmopolitan advancements – in Belfast, the Irish culture still thrives – even today.
Let’s take a closer look at where you can experience these wonderful Irish traditions in and around Belfast:
For History: Ulster Museum
If you want to explore a treasure trove of the past and present, there are plenty of museums to choose from in Belfast.
Centrally located in the trendy Botanic area of the city, the Ulster Museum offers a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences. The museum tells the story of the people of the north of Ireland from earliest to current times – so you can enjoy a full revolutionary view of how the culture has progressed over the centuries.
With impressive galleries and interactive discovery zones that bring science, history and art to life – it is the perfect place for visitors of all ages. It is also free to enter, meaning you can boost your knowledge and spend worthwhile time at no cost!
For Pub Culture: The Crown Bar
The Crown Bar, traditionally known as ‘The Crown Liquor Saloon’, was originally a Victorian gin palace. Having been sympathetically restored by the National Trust, it remains an icon of the city, standing as Belfast’s most famous bar.
The atmosphere is not only made by the people that frequent this bar, but the ornate interiors that make it so special. Complete with period gas lighting, cosy snugs, brightly coloured tiles, carvings and glass as well as an antique bell system for alerting staff – this beautifully decorative bar will instantly make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
See if you can see the fairies, pineapples, fleurs-de-lis and clowns in and around the bar. It makes for a great spectacle when accompanied by a perfectly poured pint of Guinness for the ultimate Irish experience.
For Festivals: Culture Night
Historically, Culture Night has made its mark as one of Belfast’s largest free events. It is a cultural celebration that has previously attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre.
Culture Night is a highly-anticipated weekend that takes place every September. Its aim is to support, promote and enhance the local arts, culture, heritage and businesses of the Cathedral Quarter, and contribute to a vibrant, welcoming and sustainable city centre.
When visiting Belfast during this time – you can expect to see the very best of Irish culture and talent. From buskers scattered across popular spots in the city, to exclusive art exhibitions and performances, there is a wonderful blend on offer for all age ranges.
When you visit Culture Night, it will answer the question of ‘what is culture’ to the people of Belfast.
For Markets: St. George’s Market
St. George’s Market is the last surviving Victorian covered market in Belfast, which was originally built in three phases between 1890 and 1896.
Nowadays, it is used for weekly markets that are open to the public every Friday-Sunday. Over the years, the market has won local and national titles and awards for its fresh, local produce and great atmosphere.
Each day represents a different focus, and are as follows:
- Friday variety market: dating back to 1604, there are around 200 market stalls selling fruit, vegetables, antiques, books, clothes, hot food, cakes and buns, crafts and a large selection of fresh fish
- Saturday city food and craft market: offering local, continental and specialty foods as well as handmade crafts, flowers, plants, local photography, pottery, glass and metal work
- Sunday market, craft and antiques market: incorporating a unique mix of both the Friday and Saturday markets with emphasis on local arts and crafts, the Sunday gives more local craftspeople the opportunity to showcase their talents.
No matter what day you choose to go, you can enjoy an afternoon well-spent browsing through a selection of stalls and tasting your way through the exceptional local cuisine.
For Theatre: Grand Opera House
The Grand Opera House boasts the majestic Victorian main auditorium designed by renowned architect Frank Matcham, the intimate Baby Grand studio, a 100-seat theatre space, and three bars.
It has been noted as one of the most favoured venues by both locals and tourists, providing quality entertainment, unforgettable experiences and vital outreach programmes for over 100 years. To get a sense of the vibrant theatre scene in Belfast – pop by for an outstanding choice of drama, opera, dance, comedy, musicals, family shows and so much more.
For Sport: Kingspan Stadium
Lastly, we can’t compile a list of Irish culture without mentioning the superb sport of rugby, of which the local teams continue to impress in the industry year upon year.
Redeveloped in 2014, Kingspan Stadium is a state-of-the-art sporting arena with a capacity for 18,000 supporters. It is also known as Ravenhill Stadium, and is the home of Ulster Rugby.
To get a feel for the incredible atmosphere that comes with every Ulster Rugby match, make sure you visit Kingspan for a truly unforgettable experience.
International House Belfast is Northern Ireland‘s leading English language and teacher training organisation. If you wish to learn more about where you can experience traditional Irish culture, or want to enquire about learning English in Belfast – simply get in touch with us today.
No matter where you are in the UK and Ireland, the International House family can also help facilitate your language learning process through its other partner organisations in Galway, Manchester, Portsmouth and Bristol.