Music Venues in Belfast

Music Venues in Belfast

As venues go, Belfast really has it all. If you like the biggest and best acts from across the pond, the Odyssey arena is your best bet, while if you prefer smaller, more intimate performances from bands that are as yet unknown but are future headliners, then the Limelight is the one for you. Either way, Belfast provides something for all, here is Singing Lessons Belfast's guide to the best of them.

Limelight Belfast originally opened in 1984 and has grown over the years to incorporate two venues, Limelight and Limelight 2, while quenching your thirst with Katy's Bar. The venue is far from your typical branded arena, with a penchant for booking performances from new artists who go on to make it big. Legend has it that Oasis performed in 1994, and received a phone call during their set informing them of their début album's number one position. You only have to look at the list of past acts to cement the venue's status as a prime location for new and upcoming artists. From Biffy Clyro to Blur, and the Libertines to Moby, you are sure to be in store for a great performance, whatever night you decide to go. The venue mainly plays host to the alternative side of the indie rock sound, so if you are into a more electronically-influenced, or metallic sound then you will probably find a better suit elsewhere. But if you fancy catching a big-name band on a mid-sized stage, then look no further than Limelight.

Queen's Students' Union, Mandela Hall is one of Belfast's most popular live music venues, hosting a wide variety of acts, from the more mainstream to the more niche. Being a student's union, you might be worried about it being all young people, but this is certainly not the case. The venue attracts plenty of older acts and musical legends such as Slash and Steve Vai, so the patrons tend to be a diverse bunch. The venue is described as comfortable, with a lower and upper standing area, depending on your preference, while the drinks prices are some of the lowest around, providing you with constant hydration throughout a potentially intense show. The size of the venue appears small enough to cater to more intimate, newer bands while being large enough to house some bigger names and the bigger crowds that they draw in. The place is not to everyone's tastes, but if your taste is of a good mix of acts, a good sized venue, and great drinks deals, you will definitely want to check it out. 

The Odyssey Arena is a stark contrast to what has come before, it is frankly huge, and the calibre of acts it therefore attracts becomes exponentially bigger and more mainstream. The capacity is around 15,000 and its alternate function as a sports venue gives away the sheer size of the stage. The performers that have graced the stage include Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Girls Aloud, as well as Blink 182 and the Who. These are artists who are clearly at the top of the musical pyramid, and so the Odyssey is the prime place in Belfast to see the biggest bands. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as the biggest performers are sure to put on quite a show, ensuring you have a night to remember. This £120 million venue opened in 2000, and so has had plenty of time to accumulate a stellar list of past performers, and has since gained a reputation as the best place to see your favourite big-name acts. If you want to give the new bands a miss for a night, see the Odyssey box office for the latest chart-topping bill.

Ulster Hall is a listed building in central Belfast that was originally built in 1859. As a result, the venue is an architectural delight, and watching your favourite band in such a beautiful building is an experience not to be missed. With the opening of other, larger venues, Ulster Hall was thought to be in danger of becoming obsolete. However, this was certainly not the case, with residents knowing the atmosphere of Ulster Hall was irreplaceable and ensuring it remains hugely popular. With a capacity of almost 2,000, the venue is not exactly small, but it is intimate enough to put on a top-quality performance. Being a site of such historical interest, with Charles Dickens conducting readings in the past, the list of performances should be enough to excite, and they undoubtedly do. The venue was the first venue at which Led Zeppelin performed Stairway to Heaven live, and if that wasn't enough, rock titans AC/DC performed there, along with Irish blues master Rory Gallagher. More recently, the Vaccines and Red Hot Chili Peppers have graced the stage, proving the venue has still got it even today. So if architecture enhances your musical enjoyment, but you still enjoy seeing the biggest acts the UK has to offer, head down to Ulster Hall.

Apollo Arts are a Belfast based company that provides acting, performance and drama training to individuals of all ages and abilities. With many of their trainees going to work in the Creative Arts Industry across the UK it is an ideal theatre group for you, or your children, to join to help you develop on the stage.

If you found this article useful, you might also want to read about Music Shops in Belfast.

Photography: Astrobobo

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