As a city Belfast is experiencing a modern-day Renaissance that has infiltrated every aspect of Northern Ireland’s capital including its social scene that is jam-packed from cafes and restaurants to pubs, clubs, venues, and exhibitions.

With plenty to inspire independent spirits, take our advice and dive straight into Belfast’s social scene by joining us at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and checking out our insider insights:

  • Pubs and bars
  • Venues
  • Markets

Pubs and Bars

  • McHughs Bar

    Queens Square

    Cathedral Quarter

    Dating back to 1791, this is Belfast’s oldest surviving building. A traditional bar and host venue for live bands across diverse genres from traditional to rock music. A proud tradition of great home- cooked food, great drink and craic across three floors that include a 100-seater restaurant.

  • Duke of York

    Commercial Court

    Cathedral Quarter

    Tucked into a narrow-cobbled alleyway in Belfast’s historic Half Bap area, the Duke firmly rebukes modernity and fads for a traditional Belfast welcome of craic, music, and humour. Don’t miss the street art and memorabilia that celebrate Belfast’s great characters in the courtyard outside and the adjoining streets. Live music is part of the DNA

  • Dark Horse

    Hill Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    Superb décor and special atmosphere with beautiful antiques, bevelled mirrors, furniture, and
    artefacts from Belfast’s past. Coffee house and bar within the narrow-cobbled alleyway in the
    Half Bap area of Cathedral square. Live music most evenings.

  • The Harp Bar

    Hill Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    A place to talk and a place to listen. Incorporating the Dunville & Swinging Diddy Lounge, the bar
    is decorated in plush red velvet fabrics and antique furnishings resonant with Victorian Belfast.
    Walls and cabinets feature rare memorabilia inspired by the building’s origins as a bonded
    warehouse – the headquarters of The Old Bushmills Distillery Company.

  • Sunflower Bar

    Union Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    Synonymous with live music, a simple corner pub free of gimmicks located on a site where a
    public house has stood for over 100 years. Instantly recognisable by the security cage on its front
    door that is a relic from 1980s Belfast. A melting pot of Belfast’s city centre life where all are
    welcome. Hearty bowls of stew and wheaten bread served on the weekends.

  • American Bar

    Dock Street

    Titanic Quarter (Sailortown)

    Dating back to the 1860s the pub is located on Belfast’s dockside also known as Sailortown. In the
    past the area would have had links to the Americas through shipping, trade, and emigration.
    Since 2016 the pub is alive with impromptu music sessions, poetry, and gigs over two floors.
    Inside, the walls are adorned with Sailortown and American paraphernalia.

  • The Northern Whig

    Bridge Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    Luxury, comfort, and glamour that will immediately put you at ease. An extensive bar menu
    listing specialist cocktails including expertly mixed Cathedral Quarter Cocktails. First established
    in 1819, visitors enjoy a cosmopolitan menu influenced by the best of Belfastian and global
    dishes.

  • John Hewitt Pub

    Donegall Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    A special and singular pub that is owned by the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre. Named
    after John Hewitt who was a Belfast poet, socialist and Freeman of Belfast, the pub serves up
    food, drinks, and live music.

  • Boundary Brewing

    Newtownards Road

    East Belfast

    Not quite a bar or a pub! BUT, if you are a craft beer lover, check this spot out to see if a tap
    room session is on. Independent cooperative brewery based on the site of a former linen
    spinning mill specialising in modern American and traditional Belgian beers.

Venues

  • Black Box

    Hill Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    Innovative and alternative live music, theatre, literature, comedy, film, and visual art performances in a Grade II 19th-century listed building. A charity and not for profit organisation with all generated income supporting the arts and programmes for adults with learning difficulties. The Green Room serves craft beers, with light bites, coffees, and desserts.

  • Voodoo

    11A Fountain Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    Lively, vivid red venue for alternative live music and club nights, plus Deep South- inspired food.
    Split over two floors, downstairs houses an intimate bar while upstairs is a club and music venue
    where anything goes from hiphop to DnB, hard rock to blue grass and comedy.

  • Oh Yeah Music Centre

    Gordon Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    A dedicated music hub that was constituted in 2007 with a vision for music as a catalyst for
    change and regeneration in Northern Ireland. A leading light in Belfast’s music scene, Oh Yeah is
    a dedicated social enterprise offering affordable rehearsal space, a live venue, music exhibition,
    recording studio, a song-writing room and café to local and rising artists.

  • The MAC

    Exchange Street West

    Cathedral Quarter

    A cultural hub with a dynamic programme of exhibitions, theatre performances, experimental
    works visual art, theatre, dance, and family workshops. A beacon for the ongoing regeneration of
    Belfast and an award-winning venue. The MAC café bar serves lunch, brunch coffee and treats.

  • Ulster Sports Club

    98 High Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    A fixture in Belfast City since 1926, the Ulster Sports Club was established strictly as a nonpolitical
    and non-sectarian institution for promoting social activities for individuals interested in
    sports and first-class entertainment. Music is front and centre with a packed programme of
    bands and DJ both in the lounge and upstairs.

  • The Telegraph Building

    Library Street

    Cathedral Quarter

    A 19th century warehouse that once served as the Belfast Telegraph’s printing press has been
    transformed into a venue puts that focuses on live music and energetic DJs.

  • Limelight

    Ormeau Avenue

    A no-frills nightclub and live music venue that has staged rock and indie greats since the 1980s.
    Ingrained in Belfast’s heritage, Limelight is also home to Katy’s Bar and an outdoor terrace called
    The Rock Garden.

Markets

Belfast’s diverse indoor and outdoor markets of all sizes inject a lively buzz into the city’s social scene. St Georges’s market (highlighted below) occupies a special place in the hearts of Belfastians.

  • St George’s Market

    Gordon Street

    Built between 1890 and 1896, St George’s is a weekend destination market that is ingrained in Belfast’s social scene. Live music by leading and rising performers takes place every weekend. Soak up the electric atmosphere by mingling with locals and chatting to stall holders.

    • Friday variety market: around 248 market stalls selling everything from fish and vegetable to antiques
    • Saturday city food, craft, and garden market: the BEST of Belfast’s artisan food and crafts.
    • Saturday food, craft, and antique market: with Belfast’s craft and art producers taking centre stage