Today, Belfast is alive with an array of attractions, events and things to do, but the great atmosphere of the city is a credit to our heritage. Take a step back in time with a tour, walking trail or traditional music session to discover the many pieces of our city's rich tapestry.
Belfast has inspired a range of notable literary greats, including Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, and CS Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Discover their legacies across the city.
Linen Hall Library
Begin your exploration of our local literary heritage at Linen Hall Library, the oldest library in Belfast and home to numerous unique and historic collections. Inside the library, you will find the world's most comprehensive collection of Belfast printed books, a first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses and even the first printing of the American Declaration of Independence outside of America.
CS Lewis Square
Continue your literary journey and rediscover The Chronicles of Narnia with a walk through CS Lewis Square, a public space commemorating the Belfast-born Chronicles of Narnia creator, CS Lewis.
Featuring seven bronze sculptures from 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', including Aslan, The White Witch, Tumnus, The Beavers, The Robin and The Stone Table, it is a stunning display of public art.
Away A Wee Walk
Discover the inspiration behind Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels with a guided walking tour of Belfast's Cave Hill, led by Away A Wee Walk. Starting and finishing at Belfast Castle, this 3 mile hike will guide you along Cave Hill, with anecdotes, history and incredible views of the city.
Seamus Heaney Homeplace
Celebrate the words of Seamus Heaney in his hometown of Bellaghy, County Londonderry at the Seamus Heaney Homeplace. The centre is dedicated to the life and work of the poet, where you can explore his roots and discover never-before-seen artefacts.
Just as literature is one of Belfast's greatest exports, so too is its musical heritage, with bands and musicians such as Snow Patrol, Them, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and Gary Moore.
Take a musical trip down memory lane and visit The Ulster Hall, where Led Zeppelin took to the stage with Stairway to Heaven for the very first time. First opened in 1862, the 'Grand Dame of Bedford Street,' as she is affectionately known, is one of the oldest purpose-built concert halls in the UK and Ireland. This grand Victorian building has survived two World Wars and welcomed names as famous and diverse as Charles Dickens and Motorhead.
EastSide Visitor Centre
Visit EastSide Visitor Centre, just a short distance from the home of Van Morrison, and find information about his life and links to the city. The centre's interpretative panels and wall map reveal information on EastSide's famous faces, places and industries.
Belfast Traditional Music Trail
Discover Belfast's vibrant pub culture and take in some traditional music in pubs including The Dirty Onion, The Garrick and Kelly's Cellars. Or for a true taste of Belfast's musical heritage, book a spot on the Belfast Traditional Music Trail, where you will be led through cobbled streets by professional musicians, visiting a selection of pubs and experiencing traditional music in a unique way.
Turn your musical education into an interactive experience and learn traditional Irish dance, accompanied by live musicians, with Ceili Belfast. Suitable for all ages, fitness levels and skills, they will take you from learning basic steps to performing the most popular dances within 90 minutes! Music is provided by a live céilí band, and learners are helped along by experienced Irish dancers, who also show off their skills in a short display.
Titanic and Maritime Heritage
Belfast has a wealth of maritime heritage, with its shipbuilding boom dating back to the 19th century, when Harland and Wolff was at the forefront of a thriving shipbuilding industry.
Titanic Belfast tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.
The self-guided Titanic Experience extends over nine interpretive and interactive galleries, which explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of RMS Titanic, as well as the city and people who made her.
Take a self-guided walking trail starting at Belfast City Hall, where you will uncover the story of the Titanic. Using a detailed map, uncover the story of the Titanic and explore key locations in Belfast's maritime heritage. It's the perfect way to explore the area for yourself and enjoy a walk around the city.
Titanic Memorial Garden
The Titanic Memorial Garden was offically opened on 15 April 2012, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. Surrounded by flowers and foliage in a range of whites, silvers, blues and greens, the garden's memorial plinth supports fifteen bronze plaques which list, in alphabetical order, the names of 1,512 people who perished on RMS Titanic.
The last remaining White Star Line vessel, SS Nomadic, has been restored to her original glory and is back home in historic Hamilton Dock, near Titanic Belfast. Come on board and experience over 100 years of authentic maritime and social history.
Rayanne House Titanic Private Dining
Step back in time and eat as if you were on board the Titanic in this exclusive private dining restaurant. Rayanne House is the only exclusively private dining restaurant in the Belfast area, with the choice of a fine dining menu or the internationally renowned Titanic Tasting Menu.
The Titanic Menu is a unique recreation of the last menu served in the first class restaurant on board the iconic ship. The menu is as sumptuous as you'd expect, with nine lavish courses boasting delights from the Edwardian era.
Northern Ireland's Christian heritage can be traced back as far as the 5th century. A visit to the stunning Belfast Cathedral, where you can take a self-guided audio tour, is a great starting point to your explorations. Then follow the Christian Heritage Trail around the city, which includes 36 key sites such as St Peters Cathedral (1866), First Presbyterian Church (1783), the Quaker Meeting House (1895) and St Malachy's Church (1840).
Of course, one of the most significant aspects of Northern Ireland's Christian heritage is that of Saint Patrick. County Armagh is a major destination on the St Patrick's Trail, and is home to two St Patrick's Cathedrals; whilst Downpatrick, County Down, is home to St Patrick's gravestone.
Just beyond Belfast, the Ards and North Down Christian Heritage Trail features a number of key sites that played an important role in the spread of Christianity, not only locally and in Ireland but throughout Europe too. Sites include Bangor Abbey (founded in 558), First Bangor Presbyterian Church (1831), Grey Abbey (1193), North Down Museum and Nendrum - Northern Ireland's finest surviving example of an early Christian monastery (founded in 5th century).
Belfast's Irish heritage can be enjoyed through a range of events and activities, with a number of organisations dedicated to preserving Irish traditions including the Irish language, Irish music and the culture surrounding it.
Get a taste of Irish culture as it really is, alive and catering for everyone. Experience music, drama, talks and workshops along with films and exhibitions. Without a doubt, the building is a hive of activity, with Irish culture at its best. Enjoy live Irish music sessions, bodhran lessons and a weekly traditional music trail.
Discover Irish arts and culture at Cultúrlann, with theatre, music, visual arts, poetry and workshops. As an arts centre, it is at the heart of a vibrant cultural community. Cultúrlann also houses a café and restaurant, book and gift shop and a tourist information point. The dramatic curved extension includes the Gerard Dillon art gallery, a must see for art lovers.
During the month of August, head to Ireland's largest community festival, August Féile which celebrates the best of local Irish culture. The festival is jam-packed with events including: music concerts, debates and discussions, exhibitions, international food fairs, children's events, literary events, community events, walks and tours, sports, dramas, something for everyone at every age.
Ulster Scots Heritage
Ulster and Scotland are just 13 miles apart and share a long history. Educate yourself in the history of these links, or discover your own Ulster-Scots roots.
Discover Ulster Scots Centre
The Discover Ulster Scots Centre should always be your first port of call for uncovering this fascinating history. The centre is packed with stories, from the arrival of Edward Bruce (younger brother of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland) in 1315 and the beginning of Ireland and Scotland's shared history; to Ulster Scots' links with the rest of the world, including the 250,000 Ulster Scots who left Ulster in the 18th century in search of a better life in the New World. If you're hunting for your Ulster-Scots roots, be sure to take advantage of the free genealogy service.
In every city, public art creates a tapestry of its vibrant history and culture, and Belfast is no exception. Each piece of the city's public art tells a story of significant moments that have shaped Belfast's rich past, from the Beacon of Hope, a symbol of the transformation of the city, to The Masts on Donegall Place which are a gentle nod to Belfast's maritime heritage. A rise in street art has emerged across the city, painting a more modern picture of life in Belfast, a lot of which can be viewed around the Cathedral Quarter, from the most significant artworks to more obscure hidden gems.
A city’s heritage begins with its people, so what better way to discover a city than to trace it back to the individuals who contributed to the history of Belfast? Looking around the city, you'll spot numerous blue plaques which have been erected by the Ulster History Circle to celebrate notable individuals. These include Lord Kelvin, the physicist famous for devising the 'Kelvin Scale' for temperature; Sir Charles Lanyon, the architect behind some of Belfast's most famous buildings; and authors Louis MacNeice and CS Lewis, to name but a few.
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is a great place to discover your own connections to local history by browsing the records of historical, social and cultural importance.