Belfast’s great year
UNESCO’S official recognition of Belfast as a City of Music is the best excuse to visit the city this year, which will be full of events, concerts and melodic journeys. And as if this were not enough, they are also commemorating the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Neus Duran | Periodista
It has been some years now since Belfast left behind its industrial, melancholic appearance with streets full of conflict, to reinvent itself as a city full of good artistic proposals and a very lively atmosphere. UNESCO’s recent declaration of the Northern Irish capital city as a City of Music means an unbeatable excuse to discover this city.
The title celebrates the city’s rich musical heritage and acknowledges its outstanding contribution to this genre. And with good reason, because as travellers will immediately discover, in Belfast it is virtually impossible to spend a few days without running into a concert of some description. The city is full of street performers and live music venues, ideal for enjoying small, intimate performances. It also hosts top category music festivals, with the large-scale tours by superstars making a stop here; over the next few months, for example, in Belfast Billie Eilish, Iron Maiden and Snoop Dogg will perform, amongst others.
Those interested in music will also love the ‘Oh Yeah Music Centre’, an enormous creative centre located in an old whisky warehouse, devoted to local musicians and always with an extensive agenda of recommendations. Another option is to join one of the guided walking tours, such as for example, the Traditional Music Route, which tours around different bars and venues on foot, where the most popular Irish melodies may be enjoyed.
Another reason the city to celebrate in 2022 is that it is the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The city has strong links with the transatlantic, as it was built in Belfast and it set sail from the city to undertake its tragic journey. Its footprint can be followed in theme pubs such as Robinson’s, devoted to the ship and with a collection of objects belonging to passengers and hotels such as Rayanne House, where they serve the original menus that were offered on the ship.
But without any doubt the real must that will fascinate those interested in the subject, is the Titanic Belfast, a museum that houses what is definitely the best and most complete world exhibition existing about the historic ship.
It is located in a spectacular six-storey building with fictional waves painted onto its façades, shaped as four enormous, shiny prows, the same height as the Titanic’s. Perfect replicas of the third, second and first class cabins are displayed, as well as the glamorous dining room for the most affluent passengers and the engine room. Visitors may also read the dramatic messages exchanged by telegraph with other ships when they asked for help and be amazed by the cameras that connect live with the remains of the Titanic lying under the cold Atlantic waters.
If you wish, you can have afternoon tea next to the ship’s famous staircase, while the personnel with uniforms from the era serve menus from the original journey and the music playing is the same as was heard on the trip.
Amongst giants and murals
Going beyond the museum and musical proposals, your city-break should also include a trip to the Giant’s Causeway, in Northern Ireland. It is a spectacular landscape with over 40,000 basalt columns in impossible shapes that merge with the greens and blues of the horizon, forming an unforgettable image.
The mural route is also very interesting, a testimony to the virulent armed conflict between Unionists and Republicans. There are over 2,000 murals and they are concentrated on the Shankill Road and Falls Road, two areas to the west of the city that can be visited either with a guide or without.
And of course, you cannot leave the city without having a delicious pint in historic pubs such as the Victorian-style The Crown Liquor Saloon, or at White’s Tavern, which dates back to 1630, no less.