Belfast Events and Festivals

(Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK)

As the principal city in Northern Ireland, Belfast manages to boast an admirable festivals scene, with something for everyone most months. Local events kick off in February, with the arrival of the Belfast Castlereagh Verbal Arts Festival, followed in March by the extremely popular St. Patrick's Day Parade, when local ale flows and thousands gather to watch the procession, often wearing something green.

April is when the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival takes place, being followed by the Marathon and Lord Mayor's Show in May. The summer season is understandably the busiest time in the city, with Opera in the Park, the Family Fun Day, the World Championships of Irish Music, Belfast Pride and Woodfest all being particular highlights in July.

There are even more things to do and enjoy in August, including the Belfast Choral and Organ Music concerts at St. Anne's Cathedral, the Carnival Parade, the Summer Fun Day at Dunville Park and countless open-air gigs. In September, Proms in the Park at Donegall Square is one event to look out for in particular.

National Public Holidays in Belfast

  • 1st January - New Year's Day
  • 17th March - St. Patrick's Day
  • Late March or early April - Good Friday / Easter Monday
  • First Monday in May - May Day
  • First Monday in June
  • First Monday in August
  • Last Monday in October - Autumn Bank Holiday
  • 25th December - Christmas Day
  • 26th December - Boxing Day / St. Stephen's Day

(If Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the next weekday becomes a public holiday).

Belfast Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015


  • New Year's Eve / Day - there are celebrations throughout Belfast to welcome in the New Year


  • Belfast Castlereagh Verbal Arts Festival - mid-February, lasting around two weeks, this exciting arts fest is free and includes poetry, writers, music and drama


  • St. Patrick's Day Parade - mid-March, general festivities and events take place throughout the city and celebrations include carnivals, parties, music events and parades
  • Belfast Film Festival - late March, the city's most important film fest lasts around nine days and is held at various venues around the city centre


  • Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival - late April / early May, lasting around ten days, this features entertainment, performers, music, comedy, food, art and literature


  • Belfast Marathon - early May, this large and popular sporting events attracts large numbers of both runners and cheering spectators
  • Lord Mayor's Show - mid-May, this event includes a carnival parade through the centre of Belfast, which starts at the Carrickfergus Gasworks Museum
  • Race for Life - mid-May, a 5 km / 3 mile women's walk in aid of Cancer Research, starting at Ormeau Park


  • Sonorities Festival - mid-June, held at the Queen's University School of Music, this popular music fest includes famous pianists and musicians


  • Orange Marches - early July, Orange Marches take place throughout Belfast for the first two weeks of July
  • Rose Week Festival - mid-July, this free event is held at the International Rose Garden at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, where there are thousands of roses in bloom
  • Opera in the Park - mid-July, with free admission, live music takes place in the spectacular Botanic Gardens
  • Summer Health Walk / Belfast Castle Walk - late July, a summer walk in the castle estate
  • Family Fun Day - late July, with many attractions for children, including face painting, bouncy castles and lots of fun activities
  • Exotica Garden Walk - late July, held at Mount Steward, examining many unusual plant specimens from around the world
  • World Championships of Irish Music - late July / early August, this important music festival is held at the Francis McPeake School of Music
  • Belfast Pride - late July / early August, many events, gay marches, parades, receptions and bus tours take place throughout the city
  • New Lodge Festival - late July, with many lively festivities, including musical and sports events, held at various venues around the New Lodge area
  • Woodfest - late July / early August, with carpentry demonstrations at the Ulster American Folk Park


  • West Belfast Community Festival (Feile an Phobail) - mid-August, this popular community event attracts thousands of participants each year
  • Belfast Choral and Organ Music - early August, held at the city's impressive St. Anne's Cathedral, including choral and pipe-organ music
  • Children's Summer Festival - early August, many fun activities and events are held at the Island Arts Centre in Lagan Valley Island
  • Carnival Parade - early August, this carnival starts at Conway Street and finishes in the centrally located Falls Park
  • Belfast Park Fun - early August, many festivities and activities are held at Fall Park, organised by the West Belfast Festival
  • Country Capers - early August, with children's entertainment, obstacle races, face painting and other lively activities taking place at Ardress House
  • Belfast Summer Fun Day - early August, with numerous activities for children aged between five and 12 years old at Dunville Park
  • Belfast and Furious - early August, includes large car trade stands, stunt shows, marquees and hundreds of sporty cars
  • Local and Family History Fair - mid-August, held at the Central Hall, including many exhibitions and displays
  • Belfast Street Parties - mid-August, street parties and festivals are held throughout the local communities
  • Band Performance - mid-August, the start of the summer brass bands, held in the grounds of the City Hall
  • Crescent Cabaret - mid-August, live music events held at the Crescent Arts Centre in University Road
  • Summer of Love - late August, musical events at the stunning Grand Opera House
  • River 'Rock' Music Revolution - late August, held at Lagan Valley Island, with many major performers
  • Traditional Irish Evening - late August, an evening of traditional music and dance, held in the beautiful surroundings of the Crom Estate, on the outskirts of Belfast
  • Ballyclare Ladies Hockey Tournament - late August, this important sporting event takes place at Ballyclare Rugby Club
  • Band Performances - late August, brass bands play in the central Castle Place
  • Badminton Bonanza - late August, the popular sports badminton tournament is held at the Valley Leisure Centre
  • Newtownabbey Shoreline Festival - late August, suitable for all of the family, held at Jordanstown Loughshore Park


  • Belfast Ideal Home Exhibition - mid-September, the busy exhibition features many stalls offering useful household information and the latest gadgets
  • Havana Ché - early September, with Latin dance exhibitions, live music and Latin DJs at the grand Odyssey Pavilion
  • Mela Festival - early September, the Botanic Gardens are host to dances, children's activities, market stalls, arts displays, charity events, and general festivities
  • Jazz in the Garden - early September, this afternoon jazz event takes place in Mount Stewart
  • Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival - early September, held at the Ulster American Folk Park
  • World Cup Football - mid-September, qualifying matches to place at the Windsor Park Stadium as the football seasons gets underway in Belfast
  • Belfast Youth Opera - mid-September, operatic performances take place in the prestigious Grand Opera House
  • Proms in the Park - mid-September, this spectacular concert is held in the vast Donegall Square and attracts large crowds
  • The All Ireland Corporate Games Belfast - late September, this major annual multi-sport festival includes many team events, including soccer, golf, dragon boat racing, running, athletics and hockey
  • Garden Gourmet - late September, held at the Botanic Gardens, with many culinary demonstrations, music, children's entertainment and food stalls
  • Errigle Inn Invitational Basketball Tournament - late September, at the Queen's University Physical Education Centre
  • Belfast Classic Golf Challenge - late September, an annual favourite for Irish golfers, held at Shandon Park, Malone Golf Club and Dunmurry Golf Club


  • Indoor International Horse Show - early December, this important horse event is held at the Odyssey Arena
  • Pantomime Season - December to January, traditional pantomimes performed at theatres in Belfast and throughout Ireland
  • Christmas - December 24th to 25th, Christian celebrations include going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve
  • St. Stephen's Day - December 26th, a number of charity events take place in the city