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Six Of The Best Music Experiences In Northern Ireland

By James Fenton

March 22, 2019 at 12:17pm



From Snow Patrol to Van Morrison, Ash to Two Door Cinema Club, Northern Ireland has a long and storied musical history.

Just a short drive up the road from Dublin, you’ll be able to experience a vast array of famous venues which have kickstarted the careers of some of Northern Ireland’s most famous names. As well as that, there are a number of tours on offer which will tell you exactly how the stars started their journeys and the people that helped them on their way.

Check out a selection of the best experiences on offer in Northern Ireland’s vibrant music scene.

1. Limelight, Belfast

One of Northern Ireland’s most famous live music venues that has hosted the likes of Oasis, Manic Street Preachers and Arctic Monkeys over the years.

Split into four spaces (Limelight 1, Limelight 2, Katy’s Bar and The Rock Garden), the venue is known for its regular packed gigs and its themed club nights and is a long-established staple of Belfast’s music scene.

Located on Ormeau Avenue in the city, Limelight has to be sampled to get a true taste of Belfast’s famed music culture. More information can be found here.


2. The Oh Yeah Music Centre

Oh Yeah serves the dual purpose of providing a performance space for Northern Ireland’s budding musicians as well as offering an insight into the rich musical heritage of the region for visitors.

Fans can explore the history of music in Northern Ireland with one of the highlights being a bus tour which takes in Ulster Hall, the Maritime Hotel (where Van Morrison made his debut) and the former haunts of the likes of Gary Moore and James Galway.

The Oh Yeah Music Centre is a genuine bucket list item for fans of Irish music and culture. More information can be found here.  

3. Belfast Trad Trail

Experience the city with a spring in your step.

Two professional musicians lead the way as participants are taken on a tour around some of Belfast’s most well-known bars.

Starting at the famous Dirty Onion, the tour will take you down cobbled alleyways, passing landmarks along the way before wrapping up in McHugh’s where the craic and ceol will continue.  

The trail lasts about two and a half hours with a total walking time of around 900 metres. More information here.

4. Harbour Bar, Portrush

The picturesque town of Portrush isn’t short of an attraction or two but once the sun goes down, The Harbour Bar is the place to visit for the music aficionados out there.

Forming part of the Ramore collection of bars and restaurants on the waterfront, The Harbour is one of the oldest bars on the north coast and is worth a trip for the quality of its Guinness alone.

Aside from that, there’s live music and entertainment seven nights a week and with the upstairs gin bar offering a huge selection of gins and spirits, there’s plenty of choice to tickle your tastebuds as you dance the night away.

More information can be found here.

5. Peadar O'Donnells and Gweedore Bar - Derry

A go-to spot for music lovers in Derry and the locals can’t be wrong, can they?

Peadar O’Donnell’s takes pride of place on Waterloo Street in the city and is home to nightly performances and impromptu traditional music sessions put on by locals and visitors alike.

For those with more contemporary tastes, the attached Gweedore Bar is famous for pop and rock music which are sure to get even the most reserved of visitors onto the dancefloor.

A must-visit for any music lover passing through Derry. More information can be found here.

6. Van Morrison Trail - Into The Mystic

In any discussion about Northern Ireland’s most famous and influential musicians, Van Morrison’s is a name that will crop up again and again.

The man known as the Belfast Lion was born in the city in 1945 and fans can get a first-hand look into his life and career with this self-guided trail that takes in his childhood haunts that are often referenced in his music.

With a map available to download here, you’ll find out all about the places and people that shaped one of Ireland’s most remarkable music careers.

READ NEXT: Six Epic Hikes In Northern Ireland

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Discover Northern Ireland prides itself on inspiring people to visit & explore Northern Ireland. With so many exciting things to see and do, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to creating the perfect itinerary for you and your friends. From world-class events and award-winning food and stunning scenery, you’ll want to make sure Northern Ireland is top of your travel bucket list.


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