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Overview

With its troubles fading into the background, Belfast is fast becoming a rival to Dublin for the title of cultural capital of Ireland. Music, theater and art are spilling out into the streets and once taboo topics are now the subject of jokes and satire. As the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Belfast is still an intensely political city, but the murals on the Falls Road are looking more and more like museum exhibits, and sectarian tensions are being replaced by a new spirit of optimism. With backing from the EU, the docks that built the Titanic have been redeveloped as swanky wharfside apartments and once-faded Victoria Square now ...

With its troubles fading into the background, Belfast is fast becoming a rival to Dublin for the title of cultural capital of Ireland. Music, theater and art are spilling out into the streets and once taboo topics are now the subject of jokes and satire. As the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Belfast is still an intensely political city, but the murals on the Falls Road are looking more and more like museum exhibits, and sectarian tensions are being replaced by a new spirit of optimism. With backing from the EU, the docks that built the Titanic have been redeveloped as swanky wharfside apartments and once-faded Victoria Square now gleams at the center of Europe’s largest urban-renewal project. With its castle, cathedral and grand civic buildings, Belfast feels every inch the capital city, and history, both recent and ancient, lives and breathes in the city’s excellent museums. Nevertheless, public feeling runs deep, and a gulf remains between Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Now Happening in Belfast

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to May and September to October. Summers are also popular but avoid the rally season around July 12.