20th Dec 2018 in Arts

 If you’ve a few quid burning a hole in your pocket, you will soon find a place to spend it in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, whether it’s a cocktail, a souvenir, a delicious meal or a piece of art.

But if you’re watching the pennies, there are plenty of things to do in CQ Belfast that don’t cost a thing. Here are five of our favourites.


Belfast Central Library

This stunning Victorian library recently celebrated its 130th birthday with a series of free events and the fun continues, with loads of events happening throughout the Christmas period. But if you happen to be reading this article at a later date, the library’s books, IT facilities and music is free to browse and enjoy, and it has a number of really excellent permanent collections. These include the Fine Books Collection, The Heritage Books Collection, Patent Collection and Newspaper Collections. The library holds a copy of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin Of Species!

Address: Royal Avenue, BT1 1EA

Tel: 028 9050 9150

Web: https://www.librariesni.org.uk/Libraries/Pages/Belfast-Central-Library.aspx

Normal opening hours:

Monday: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Tuesday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Wednesday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Thursday: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Friday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 4:30pm
Sunday: Closed on Sunday

Belfast Central Library Cathedral Quarter


The NI War Memorial

The Northern Ireland War Memorial is an accredited museum in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Its displays and exhibits tell the story of Northern Ireland’s role in the Second World War, how industries contributed to the war effort, the Belfast Blitz in 1941 and the impact of the American presence 1941-44.

The fallen are remembered in a magnificent stained glass window and a granite plinth containing Books of Remembrance. The museum offers a range of family events, as well as workshops and talks for primary schools and community groups.

Address: 21 Talbot Street, BT1 2LD
Tel: 028 9032 0392

Web: niwarmemorial.org

Normal opening hours:

Monday- Friday from 10am to 4:30pm

Northern Ireland War Memorial Belfast
Pic: Peter O’Hara Photography


The Oh Yeah Centre – NI Music Exhibition

The much-loved local music lifeline states that its mission is to “open doors to music” and one way they do this brilliantly is with their fabulous NI Music exhibition. You can visit it every day of the week bar Sunday and it’s totally free.

An expertly curated collection of music memorabilia and a comprehensive Northern Ireland music history lesson rolled into one, not only does this mini museum look fantastic but it is packed with information.

Feast your eyes on specially donated instruments and items that belonged to Gary Moore; take a pic in front of a Cyprus Avenue sign from Van Morrison’s early days in Belfast, and learn about the rise to fame of Snow Patrol, Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones and many more.

While you’re there, read up on the amazing work that the Oh Yeah Centre does to support NI’s local grassroots music scene, including their Volume Control talent mentoring project, providing affordable studio space, supporting local music enterprises, mentoring schemes, community outreach, older people’s projects and loads more besides.

Address: 15-21 Gordon St, BT1 2LG

Tel: 028 9031 0845

Web: ohyeahbelfast.com

Normal exhibition opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 10am – 5pm

Saturday: 12 – 5pm

Pic: The Patchwork Quill



Super family-friendly, but the MAC really does have something for all ages. It has three galleries with exhibitions that are free and open to the public. Keep an eye on the website for up to date details on what current exhibitions are on – or just turn up and be surprised by what you find!

You can always stand on the ground floor and look up at the artwork that has been there from the start – The Permanent Present. One of its most recognisable visual aspects, this multicoloured stranded piece of art was commissioned by The MAC and The Thomas Devlin Fund. It aims to reflect the hopes and dreams of Northern Ireland’s young people, as well as making a statement on the futility of violence.

There is also a quiet play room on the ground floor for young ones on the ground floor with toys, drawing materials and comfy seats for parents and guardians to relax while the kids have fun. On the first floor, there is a little mini-library/reading nook. Most people like to curl up there with a coffee – but a purchase isn’t obligatory!

Address: 10 Exchange St West, Belfast, BT1 2NJ.

Tel: 028 9023 5053

Web: themaclive.com

Normal opening hours:

Open 7 days a week, from 10am to 6pm.


Belfast Exposed

Belfast Exposed is Northern Ireland’s premier contemporary photography organisation, commissioning, publishing and showing work by artists and photographers from Northern Ireland and across the world.

They have three galleries, where you can browse works from up-and-coming local artists as well as world-class practitioners and photographers. During Gallery opening hours, you can also browse their extensive bookshop.

There is also a Reading Room available for study and research, with access to books and reference materials, and a selection of almost 2,000 images from the Gallery’s archive has been digitised and made available for browsing on an iMac. A smaller selection is accessible online.

Address: 23 Donegall St, BT1 2FF

Tel: 028 9023 0965

Web: belfastexposed.org

Normal opening hours:

Tuesday to Saturday: 11am – 5pm

Belfast Exposed Photography Gallery Belfast

What’s your favourite thing to do for free in the Cathedral Quarter Belfast? Let us know over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or drop us a line to features@cathedralquarterbelfast.com 

For more CQ Belfast inspiration, check out our events guide – and get in touch if you have an event in the Cathedral Quarter that you’d like us to promote.

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