16.08.2023: In the second of a new series, Here, There and Everywhere, inspired by the report, UK Music takes a look at the Belfast Music Walking Tour, which highlights the rich history of music in the city, from classical to traditional Irish, jazz to punk, electronic to choral music – and everything in between.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown I studied for a Belfast Green Badge, a tour guiding qualification awarded by the UK Institute of Tourist Guiding. One course module required us to prepare and script a new walking tour of Belfast. I knew that a bid for UNESCO City of Music designation was being prepared. There was no hesitation at all about what mine would focus on – music. Shortly after, the Belfast Music Walking Tour was officially launched in April 2022.
I’m a great believer in the power of collaboration. Better to work with others where possible. The
tour is offered in association with the Belfast Oh Yeah Centre, where each tour ends, often with a half hour performance by a local rising star who has come through the Oh Yeah talent development programme. I liaise and collaborate with Visit Belfast and Tourism Northern Ireland to help promote my tour, which is now included in Tourism Northern Ireland’s Embrace a Giant Spirit collection of experiences for visitors. The Belfast City Council music team have also been supportive.
The tour takes visitors to a Victorian music hall, the city’s oldest church building, a new cultural space, a record shop, our oldest pub, open air performance sites and more. Most importantly, I have a speaker system and we play a soundtrack of local legends of the Belfast music scene, past and present, along the way. We have a lot of local Northern Ireland visitors, plus many from the rest of Ireland, the UK and further afield. Increasingly, I am getting more enquiries from international visitors planning their trip to Belfast.
I’m of an age where the first bands I went to see live in Belfast in the late 1970s were punk bands. Punk really meant more in Belfast back then when there was so little for young people to do, and it was one thing that brought together folk from all communities across the city. It deserves an important place in Belfast’s music heritage, especially with all the great emerging punk bands of today’s scene.
With a little persuasion I was encouraged to develop a new tour, the Belfast Punk Music Walking Tour in Spring 2024. A pilot run was popular, and The Lyric Theatre asked if I might offer further dates during the run of their Good Vibrations production, about the 1970s Belfast record shop and label of the same name set up by Terri Hooley. I ran the tour five times in May: feedback was good, and I love doing it, so I’ve added a series of dates to run the punk tour again. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”
Read more about Here, There and Everywhere, the report on music tourism, here.
Read more about how local governments can create music powerhouses here.Back to news