Belfast Sports and Outdoor Activities
(Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK)
Sports of all kinds play an important part of life in Belfast, with several sizeable football stadiums appealing to spectators. An important stadium for the Gaelic Athletic Association, Casement Park lies on Andersontown Road, on the south-western outskirts of Belfast.
Dating back to 1953 and boasting a capacity of more than 32,000 spectators, Casement Park serves as the home ground of both the Antrim football and hurling teams, hosting a number of important Ulster football finals over the years. The Oval is another significant local stadium, sited just across from Victoria Park and separated by the Sydenham Bypass (A2). The Glentoran Football Club have been based at the Oval since 1892, with the current stands providing a maximum capacity of 10,000.
Football / Soccer
Tel: +44 (0)28 9024 2888
Football is a popular spectator sport in Belfast and there are regular football matches held at:
- Seaview, off Shore Road - the home ground of the Belfast Crusaders
- The Oval, off Redcliffe Parade - the home ground of Glentoran FC
- Solitude, in Cliftonville - the home ground of the Cliftonville FC
The restructuring of the Irish rugby union has created a competitive All-Ireland league to support an inter-provincial tournament. This success has led to Ulster's recent victory in the European Cup. Rugby has a large following in Belfast and there are regular matches held at the Malone Rugby Football Club at Gibson Park, off Woodstock Road, as well as at the nearby Ravenhill Stadium on Mount Merrion Avenue.
There are an increasing number of amateur cricket teams in Belfast and the surrounding area, although at present, cricket is still a minority sport here. The Stormont Cricket Ground resides within the Stormont Estate and is located to the far east of the city, close to the suburb of Kileen. Founded in 1949, the grounds can accommodate some 6,000 spectators and have hosted a number of important cricket tournaments in recent years.
Scuba diving is becoming increasingly popular and there are several surrounding dive spots of note, offering excellent facilities and scuba diving instruction. The Belfast Sub-Aqua Club meets on a regular basis at the Club House on North Queen Street, with training sessions being held at the Grove Wellbeing Centre on York Road.
Gaelic Football and Hurling in Belfast
The Gaelic Football Association was founded in 1884 and the early motivations were both sporting and cultural. They formalised the codes of the ancient games of Gaelic football, hurling and handball, in an attempt to revive and modernise them. This proved very successful and today it has become Ireland's largest amateur sports organisation, with more than 2,000 clubs nationwide.
In Gaelic football, players propel a soccer-size ball with their feet and hands, whereas in hurling a much smaller ball is hit and dribbled with a stick. Both games have teams of up to 15 players and last for two 35-minute periods. There are many minor matches and these are played from August to May in public parks in and around Belfast, usually at the weekend. Larger matches take place at the Roger Casement Park on Andersontown Road, with the hurling final being held during the summer.
Cycling / Millennium Way
The Millennium Way is a new cycle trail that connects the Whiteabbey area to Lisburn. Covering more than 30 km / 19 miles, the Millennium Way offers many scenic views and interesting features nearby the River Lagan, passing some of Belfast's most important landmarks en route.
There are a number of tenpin bowling alleys in Belfast. Most of these alleys are part of leisure complexes and many are open 24 hours a day. Admission depends on the day and time, although it's often cheaper to bowl before 18:00 on weekdays. Reliable choices include the Superbowl at Bedford Street and the Ice Bowl on Old Dundonald Road.
The Ulster Grand Prix is held each August at the small village of Dundrod, to the west of central Belfast. This famous motorcycle road race first took place in 1922 and has seen many famous riders competing over the years, including Joey Dunlop and Phillip McCallen - both winners on more than one occasion.
Address: Donegall Square, City Hall, Belfast, BT1 5GS, Northern Ireland, UK
First held in 1982, The Belfast Marathon is one of the city's most important and well-supported sports events, taking place every year on May Day. Attracting roughly 20,000 runners and an equally huge number of cheering spectators, the marathon starts from the City Hall at 09:30 and continues around the city centre, via Shankhill Road and Falls Road, finishing at Ormeau Park. Of note, many shorter races also take place at the same time.
Other Belfast sporting activities include:
- Cruising and sailing
- Fishing and angling
- Horse riding and show jumping
- Snooker / pool
- Tennis and squash