What better way to enjoy the festive spirit than relax in a comfy chair before the glowing embers of an open fire with a glass of something warming in one of Belfast’s many welcoming bars. Whether it’s a shopping break or a night on the town, here’s ten suggestions for a cosy Christmas treat as the city encourages locals and visitors to #findyourbelfast as part of a major citywide campaign.
The whitewashed walls, low arches and quirkily uneven floor of this atmospheric pub in historic Bank Square have witnessed generations of Christmas revellers over the three centuries since it opened. Why not follow their example, sitting before the open fire enjoying a plate of homemade Irish strew and a pint of the black stuff listening to live traditional music. Christmas doesn’t get much better!
Transport yourself back to a New York Christmas in the Jazz Age in the sumptuous Art Deco décor of the Merchant Hotel’s fabulous jazz bar and let the sounds of superb live jazz music fill you with a festive glow. Exquisite cocktails, live jazz music (seven nights from 9pm and 12 noon to 2pm weekends) and fine wines are complemented by delicious brunch and all day dining menus at this Cathedral Quarter favourite. Specials for Christmas include turkey roulade with pork stuffing.
Renowned for its food and ambience, McHugh’s, down near Custom House Square, is housed in Belfast’s oldest building. Take a journey through the history of Belfast with the paintings and photos in the charming old bar. With its open fire and fascinating exhibits, it’s the ideal place to take a relaxing festive break. McHugh’s Christmas lunch and dinner menus are based on their ethos of traditional Irish cuisine with a modern twist.
Nestled in the corner of Blackstaff Square, around the corner from the Europa Hotel, this old fashioned bar will be hosting wonderful traditional music as always throughout the festive season. Sit by the open fire with a glass and listen to the sound of fiddles, pipes and the bodhráns for the best of Christmas craic. Try their traditional cabbage, bacon and champ with gravy or go seasonal with roast turkey, ham and all the trimmings. For the brave, they are hosting a mince piece eating competition on Sunday, Dec 18th at 8pm!
Go triangular this Christmas! You really couldn’t get quainter or cosier than this intimate haven of peace, just outside the Victoria Square shopping centre. With great gin, whiskey and beer selections, Belfast’s smallest pub should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Christmas should be about luxury, indulgence and fun. This sumptuously beautiful café/bar ticks all those boxes. Just around the corner from City Hall in Arthur Street, its delightfully rich and warm décor is made for the festive season. So, indulge yourself with a glass of champers or something special from their Christmas menu and let the good times roll.
Take a stroll along the cobbled alleyways of the Cathedral Quarter to this famous old pub and enjoy the special atmosphere created by its beautiful antique mirrors, as well as furniture and artefacts from some of the city’s most famous hotels and buildings from bygone times. By the way, this was where Snow Patrol had their first gig.
Nothing says Christmas like sipping a glass of mulled wine before an aromatic peat fire in a warm and friendly pub. Claimed to be the oldest tavern in Belfast, this 17th century pub is in Winecellar Entry, just off Rosemary Street. As well as their Christmas menu, why not try some of their renowned hearty traditional fare, like steak, mushroom and Guinness pie.
When the important business of Christmas shopping is finally over, rest your legs in this wonderful pub, hosted in a Victorian warehouse at the entrance to Victoria Square. It wasn’t always here though. The original venue, which was just around the corner, was a favourite of Charlie Chaplin during his Belfast visits and dated back to 1859. Still famous for its welcoming ambience, as well as fine ales, great whiskeys and delicious food (roast Antrim turkey, glazed ham and all the trimmings!), the man in red will be popping in for a brandy on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec 18th.
Near the Duke of York, this more recent addition to Belfast’s pub scene feels just as traditional. Housed in an ancient building, sensitively restored, you feel the warmth of the welcome as you enter. Traditional musicians play before a large open peat fire and the whiskey selection is as good as it gets!
We couldn’t leave out the prince of Belfast’s pubs. With its famous Italianate décor and intimate snugs, the Crown, on Great Victoria Street, is everyone’s favourite Christmas stopover. While you’re there, take advantage of their special three-course festive menu or festive buffet.
Find your own private corner of Belfast to while away the hours at www.visitbelfast.com/christmas.