For a modest sized city, Belfast is home to wealth of theatres venues that showcase an effervescent and eclectic mix of theatre productions from some of the UK and Ireland leading theatre companies as well as a host of comedy from world renowned acts such as Billy Connolly who has performed in recent years to a Belfast audience at the Waterfront Hall. Whether visiting Belfast for a short-term break or a vacation, it would be sacrilege to miss out on a performance staged every week of the year in this great city of entertainment and architectural splendour.
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As Northern Irelands premiere theatre, The Grand Opera House is a purveyor of world-class entertainment with its vibrant annual programme of opera, ballet, musicals and classic theatre, en par with both Theatre Royals, in London and Glasgow. Dating from 1895, The Grand Opera House is a much loved theatre venue by generations of people and has played host to the likes of James Johnston, Heather Harper, Kenneth Branagh and Van Morrison. In 1963, Luciano Pavarotti made his debut performance at this beautifully restored venue in a production of Madame Butterfly.
Owned by Belfast City Council, Belfasts other leading theatre, The Ulster Hall is one of the oldest buildings owned by the local government and was completed in 1862. The Mayor of Belfast at that time, Andrew Mulholland presented the Mulholland Organ to the people of Belfast, which remains in the Ulster Hall to this day, being one of the finest examples of original English organs. Featuring the minor hall and the larger Group Theatre, The Ulster Hall has welcomed a plethora of live acts including traditional and classic music, comedy and an eclectic mix of theatre performances from Shakespeare plays to pantomime and local community theatre.
A fairly recent addition to Belfasts vibrant entertainment scene is the impressive rotunda, The Waterfront Hall situated in one of the citys redeveloped docklands area. At night this colossal contemporary structure appears to float on the River Laggan on whose bank it straddles. Forming the showpiece of the Lanyon Place redevelopment scheme The Waterfront Hall features first class facilities for theatregoers or visitors to exhibitions, including a 4-star Hilton Hotel in the vicinity, two bars and an exclusive restaurant to satisfy every customers needs prior to taking in a performance. Featuring premium quality conference facilities, corporate catering, exhibition spaces and 16 meeting rooms, the Waterfront is also renowned as Northern Irelands foremost exhibition and conference spaces. Since its inception, the main auditorium has received performances from a host of leading entertainers including Patrick Kielty, Roy Chubby Brown, David Gray as well as showcasing leading theatre productions such as the Ratpack Musical and Jack and the Beanstalk, catering for everyones needs.
Whatever type of production you have a penchant for, whether it may be opera, pantomime, classical theatre or comedy, Belfast is undoubtedly one of Irelands leading theatre cities, offering the essential ingredients for a perfect theatre break.