2 min

City Guide: Belfast

There's gay life and plenty to do in Northern Ireland's capital city

Credit: Courtesy of

Locals might sometimes look to London, Manchester, or Dublin, or fly off to Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin for larger gay and arts scenes, but there’s plenty of life in Belfast, too.

As in other smaller cities, you might find more solidarity and creative energy. The people of Belfast have lively clubs and pubs, many community organizations, plenty of arts and entertainment, films, plays, comedy or cabaret for those rainy days.

Belfast’s Pride parade will celebrate 26 years in 2016 — and they love to welcome visitors from abroad.

The Queen’s Quarter, named after Queen’s University, has a large student population, centered just above the Botanic Gardens. The Lyric Theatre, and the Ulster Museum are located nearby.

North of the campus, the Golden Mile between Belfast City Hall and Queen’s University, including Bradbury Place, Dublin Road, and Shaftesbury Square, is home to some of the city’s best bars and restaurants.

Lisburn Road, an extension of the Golden Mile, has more boutiques, wine bars, restaurants and coffee houses. Nearby the Grand Opera House, dating from 1904 on Great Victoria Street, hosts musicals, dramas and comedy performances. At Mandela Hall, at QUB on University Road, Taboo LGBT monthly club nights take place.

Queen’s Quarter is also home to the Crescent Arts Centre, the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s and the Queen’s Film Theatre arthouse cinema, where the annual Outburst Queer Arts Festival shows films in November. The Victoria Square Shopping Centre lies northeast of City Hall, between Queens Quarter and the Cathedral Quarter.

The Cathedral Quarter, taking its name from St Anne’s Cathedral, is another cultural district at city center, home to the annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in January, the Belfast Film Festival in April and the Belfast International Arts Festival in October. The district also encompasses what is sometimes called the “Queer Quarter”, home to several LGBT pubs, clubs and cafes, around where Union and Donegall Streets intersect.

The Outburst Queer Arts Festival explores and celebrates LGBT stories and experiences in Northern Ireland through the arts; supporting encouraging and inspiring local creativity, and bringing the best in international queer arts to Belfast each November.

Belfast Pride takes place over 10 days July-August 2016, a 26th anniversary celebration to include a festive Saturday afternoon parade. This past year the parade stepped off at noon from Custom House Square, and Pride Village entertainment took place at Writer’s Square on Donegall Street. Many other events pop up at clubs, pubs and on stages all over town.  

Foyle Pride in Derry/ Londonderry, and the Pride in Newry Parade & Festival are two more annual events each August in nearby towns.

This is an exceprt of our more in depth gay Belfast City Guide; and for the most up-to-date travel information, also see our Listings GuideEvents Guide and Activities Guide.