Belvoir Forest Park
I love to walk… when it’s dry. Belvoir Forest offers up a great escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life just 3 miles outside the city centre. With various arrowed walks you can discover the ice house, Norman motte and 14th Century graveyard amongst the arboretum and ancient oaks. Along the tow path I like to grab a spot of lunch or a coffee at the Lock Keepers Inn and wonder of the toil of the Industry Barge that has just recently been restored to its former glory, or pop into the historic Lock Keeper’s cottage for a glimpse into the past. The Barge will to be open to the general public soon but is currently available for private group tours, contact Lagan Valley Regional Park for details.
The Belfast Food Tour
Whether you’re a local on the discovery for quality grub or a tourist wanting to get a flavour of the city you need to take this tour. I took this tour on a typical Northern Irish summer’s day – possibly the wettest day of the year but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Starting with a tour of various stalls at St Georges Market you will then be taken around the streets of Belfast discovering all the culinary delights Northern Ireland producers have to offer all washed down with locally brewed beers and ciders. Caroline, the foodie tour guide, is a superb host and will endeavor to cater to all dietary requirements. With plenty of food and drink en route to your final watering hole, a fabulous restaurant in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, I would advise leaving the car at home! Book a tour here.
The Sunflower Public House is situated behind Belfast Central Library on Union Street. This is my fovourite spot to hear talented local musicians. The pub still retains the door cage from the 80s but painted green, adorned with hanging baskets and surrounded by colourful street art it’s a welcoming entrance to the friendly atmosphere inside. The Sunflower offer a varied weekly schedule of trad sessions, folk and gypsy jazz as well hosting one off gigs and album launches. But it’s not just music and great beers they have to offer, they open their doors for various club and festival events such as language classes, poetry readings, business networking and comedy nights. Ask the lovely bar staff to recommend you a beer when you’re there, you’ll not be disappointed.
Going to the theatre is one of my favourite pastimes. The Lyric is the only full-time producing theatre in Northern Ireland creating a varied programme of local productions throughout the year. I’ve been to lots of local shows from comedy to drama that have lit up the main stage and intimate plays in the smaller studio theatre. If you like to bag a bargain you can take a chance on their Standby Sunday tickets when a limited number of tickets become available 2 hours before certain shows for only £10. The Lyric Café/Bar is a beautiful setting for a tasty brunch, lunch or pre-show platter overlooking the river. Alongside the scenery you can admire Colin Davidson’s wonderful portraits of a few local contributors to the arts.
If you love vintage you’ll love this place. My favourite vintage shop The Yellow Submarine is situated on Botanic Avenue. Every nook and cranny is filled with curiosities and old timey music will greet you at the door. Not only will you be faced with rails of clothing and stacks of vinyl from every decade back to the 50s but you’ll be transported back in time in the rooms filled with 60s and 70s furniture. I’ve had some great vintage finds here and could easily spend all day rummaging through the retro memorabilia. One Sunday a month pop into the Empire Music Hall just a few doors down for the Eclectic Emporium, a pop-up shop offering the best in unique hand crafted design, collectibles and authentic vintage.