No matter what you like to do in your spare time for recreation and leisure you won’t have to go far to find it – from events and attractions and world famous sporting activities, Northern Ireland has it all.
We have some of the coolest nightclubs, superb shopping and enough eateries to satisfy every taste and budget. There’s also no shortage of local and international artists and bands that stop by to perform at our fantastic venues. You’ll also find fascinating walking, bus and taxi tours, cultural escapes, scientific exhibitions and literary inspirations. After all, Belfast is the city that inspired the Chronicles of Narnia and Gulliver’s Travels.
Culture and Music
Our rich cultural heritage has produced many famous actors, singers, playwrights and poets celebrated by the growing number of festivals, events and activities that take place across the country each year. We have multi-cultural events such as the annual Belfast Mela, Northern Ireland’s largest festival of world cultural diversity. Outdoor summer music festivals such as Tennents Vital and Belsonic attract top performers and bands with over 50,000 festival goers returning each year to enjoy the sounds! We even have our own Ulster Orchestra performing a regular programme of lunchtime and evening events and our own Operatic Society.
For a small country, Northern Ireland has produced a superb number of legendary sports men and women athletes. The legacy of these athletes, sportsmen and women is a world class selection of sporting facilities across the country. Given that three of the best golfers in the world today hail from these parts, golf is well catered for with over a hundred courses within easy reach, including the Royal Portrush & Royal County Down which have both hosted both the Irish Open in recent years.
Italy’s famous cycling road race the Giro D’Italia has kicked off in Belfast adding a huge enthusiasm for cycling here, reflected in the growing number of cycle paths throughout the city. Northern Ireland also has its own home-grown popular road racing events taking place annually for cars - The Ulster Rally and for motorbikes - The North West 200 plus many other road and track events.
Football remains the number one participation and spectator sport – you’ll find local teams around the county as well as fan clubs catering to the bigger European clubs. The recently developed Windsor Park stadium is home to the Northern Ireland Football Team. and you may have seen and heard their followers during Euro 2016 in France.
Our resident ice hockey team the Belfast Giants play home games at the SSE Arena and the atmosphere at these matches is electric and well worth a visit.
Ulster Rugby play home games at the recently constructed Kingspan Stadium, based just outside Belfast City Centre. Most home matches are played on a Friday night and this modern stadium is well worth a visit to cheer on the local team.
Gaelic football and hurling are also popular activities that are promoted by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) which is an Irish and international amateur sporting and cultural organisation.
Keep Fit, Adventure and the Great Outdoors
If you want to keep fit and active we have a range of Leisure Centres and gyms across the country offering first class fitness and sporting facilities. Some of these are run by local councils such as the Better Group servicing Belfast and there are private facilities also available such as DW Fitness and David Lloyd Leisure. For the more adventurous, there is a thriving surfing scene on the North Coast as well as more daring pursuits such as skydiving or rock climbing available at lots of locations.
Shopping, Pubs and Clubs
We have a wide range of shopping facilities throughout Northern Ireland and our alongside the major high street stores in our capital city Belfast you will find two major shopping centres - Castle Court and Victoria Square. Both offer high street brands and high-end retailers along with fast food chains and restaurants; Victoria Square also has a state of the art multi-screen cinema. Belfast hosts a huge number of individual designer boutiques and unique markets as well as long established family owned businesses. The Lisburn Road is well worth a visit with its array of eclectic boutiques and fine cafes and restaurants. Whether you’re searching for the latest addition to your wardrobe or the latest must-have gadget, you’ll find it within easy walking distance.
Shops here are open seven days per week with late night shopping from Wednesday to Friday; during the Christmas period there is extended opening hours.