Belfast has reinvented itself as a hotbed of first-rate clubbing and culture – and this St Patrick’s Day its compact city centre will be bouncing to the beats
For many first-time visitors to Belfast, it’s hard to imagine that in the 1970s, steel gates effectively shut off the city centre every evening around 6pm. But thanks to peace, investment, regeneration and the tourism generated by Titanic Belfast and Game of Thrones, the city has changed incalculably for the better in the intervening 40 years. Even while traders and residents oppose a proposed £400m redevelopment of its historic Cathedral Quarter (a healthy reminder that not all regeneration is good regeneration), the city grows by the week, while retaining a compact charm and intimate character.
It’s at night that you get the full sense of how Belfast has emerged from conflict to become a safe, popular short-break city and one of the world’s top tourist destinations.