Weekly City Spotlight: Belfast

Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and is also the country’s capital. Located in the east of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a population of 286,000 (2011 census) with the Belfast Metropolitan Area having close to 600,000 people living there. In fact, Belfast is ranked the 17th largest city in the UK by population.

The city was once home to the Irish linen industry, rope making, tobacco production and the world famous Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders that constructed the White Star trio RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and RMS Britannic. Today, Belfast is a fantastic location for the whole family, there’s something for everyone. There’s shopping, fine dining and tours plus much more to keep even the pickiest visitors busy.

Historic Belfast

The name ‘Belfast’ comes from the Gaelic ‘Beal Feirste’ (‘mouth of the sandy ford’). The history of the city dates back to the 17th century and started to grow during the plantation of Ulster when charters were granted to develop land in the province. A Royal Charter was granted in 1613 giving Belfast ‘town’ status where it continued to thrive thanks to its location adjacent to Belfast Lough. It soon became a port for wool, grain and food exported to and from Ireland. By the end of the 17th Century other industries had also begun to develop in the town including linen, rope making and tobacco production.

Then there was the introduction of the Harland & Wolff shipyard in 1862 who built the famous RMS Titanic in 1912 amongst other spectacular ships. The shipyard was one of the largest and most productive in the world employing a vast number of the workforce in Belfast. Queen Victoria granted Belfast city status in 1888.

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Additional information on Belfast can be found on the Visit Belfast website.

Famous Faces

A number of famous faces have originated from, or are connected to, Belfast. Just some are listed below:

George Best, football player, Ballon D’or winner

Alex Higgins, snooker player

Eamonn Holmes, broadcaster

Gerry Adams, politician


Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety of sports such as football, Gaelic games, rugby, cricket, and ice hockey. The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day.


Titanic Belfast

The head of the slipway where the Titanic was built is now occupied by the gleaming, angular edifice of Titanic Belfast, an all-singing all-dancing multimedia extravaganza that charts the history of Belfast and the creation of the world’s most famous ocean liner. Since opening in April 2012, the centenary of the ship’s sinking, it has rapidly become Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, outstripping even the Giant’s Causeway.

City Hall

The Industrial Revolution transformed Belfast in the 19th century, and its rapid rise to muck-and-brass prosperity is manifested in the extravagance of City Hall. Built in classical Renaissance style in fine, white Portland stone, it was completed in 1906 and paid for from the profits of the gas supply company. An intriguing attraction and a definite must-see when visiting Belfast.