One of the country’s premier live music bars, the Empire is one of Belfast’s best loved drinking establishments. Outdoor beer garden, pub-grub menu, big-screen sports, comedy and live music.
The Empire Bar is one of Belfast’s best loved drinking holes, with its cinema style big screen for all the major sports events, well-loved pub grub menu and vintage wall displays. Traditional without being contrived, the bar attracts people from all walks of life, from lecture dodging students to the after work set, old regulars to the passing tourists, all there for a bit of local colour.
A private walled outdoors area caters is complete with heaters for the winter and widescreen TV so you don’t have to miss a minute of the big match, while a full programme of evening entertainment is available, ALL of it free. Sunday night sees live music from the Ken Haddock Band, one of Ireland’s longest running weekly residencies, while Thursday night brings a live blues club to the city continuing the tradition long-established by the legendary Rab McCullough. Friday and Saturday nights have some of the best local artists and bands playing, and as always, it’s free admission.
The spectacular Belfast Empire Music Hall has become established as one of the finest small/medium size venues on the island, thanks in no small part to its beginnings as a Victorian era church – both visually impressive and acoustically sound. Over the years the Music Hall would attract artists of all forms and from all over the world – from Sigur Rós who played their debut Irish date as a support band in 2000 to local heroes Snow Patrol, who played a packed out show just weeks before Run turned them into global hyperstars. Brian Kennedy played the opening night, setting the scene for any amount of distinguished songwriters, from Westlife’s Brian McFadden through to firebrand Billy Bragg, from REM’s Peter Buck to Country and Western legend Nanci Griffith.
It’s had a reputation for some of the great cult bands of the last 20 years, from Death in Vegas, to Lambchop, from the Frames to Broken Social Scene. It’s not just the international stars that have played and loved the Empire – Ash, the Divine Comedy, the Answer and Duke Special have all played here before moving on to bigger and bolder arenas. Irish Folk and traditional stars from Donal Lunny to The Gloaming, from The Fureys to Lankum, from Aslan to Damien Dempsey, they’ve all been on the Empire stage.
It’s a tradition that continues, with the likes of General Fiasco and Two Door Cinema Club cutting their teeth at the regular local band showcases. And in just the last couple of years the calibre of artists is unwaning – Richard Thompson, Mark Lanegan, Lloyd Cole, Edwyn Collins, Stereolab, The Wedding Present, Wheatus, Idles, Lee Scratch Perry, and so it continues.
And if music isn’t your thing there’s always the consistently popular Empire Laughs Back Comedy Club. Well known for providing a launch-pad for Patrick Kielty, laughter fans can catch the best of the local, national and international touring comedy circuit. Famously in the past the show’s roster has included Ardal O’Hanlon, Dara O’Briain, Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre and many, many more.
The famed Belfast ‘craic’ is on display, courtesy of your resident hosts including Colin Murphy and Paddy McDonnell, be early and dare yourself to sit up front…..It’s not for the faint of heart.
Basement Weekly Line-up:
- Sunday Ken Haddock Band 9pm
- Monday The Big Empire Quiz Night 9pm
- Tuesday Comedy Club After-Club live music with Conor Scott 11pm
- Thursday Blues with The Chris Taplin Band 10.30pm
- Friday Live Music 5.30pm / 10pm
- Saturday Live Music 10.30pm
Top Reasons To Visit
- Live music and sport
- Comedy Club and quiz nights
- Heated walled beer garden
- Pleasuredome 80s tribute nights
- Free WiFi