Image of a couple playing a guitar and a fiddle. The text beside them reads 'Northern Ireland: A Thriving Cultural Scene'
Northern Ireland - A Thriving Cultural Scene
Living In Northern Ireland

Move to Northern Ireland: for its vibrant food & culture

Think you know Northern Ireland? Think again!

Forget what you know about Northern Ireland - over the last decade, our country has changed dramatically. In fact, The Lonely Planet has branded Northern Ireland, 'an exploding food scene, hip cities and the stunning Causeway Coast: there's plenty to pull visitors to the North,' which might explain why more people than ever are choosing to move here, drawn to the region’s unique lifestyle, compact size and excellent quality of life.

Northern Ireland is going through a period of regeneration with independent brands and visionaries, pouring soul into every part of the region. From culinary paradise to a booming film sector, Northern Ireland is a vibrant location that has plenty to offer.

A member of our diaspora, John Harkin moved back to Northern Ireland to set up his Tech business in the North-West. “It’s a marvelous environment to live and bring up your children in. The facilities, countryside, the sea – it’s just second to none… It’s a vibrant environment going through exciting change.”

Thriving Arts & Music Scene

Anyone who has ever been to Northern Ireland will recall that our country is steeped in culture and history – and there really is something for everyone. If you have fond memories of listening to Cool FM while cruising through country hills, you’ll be thrilled to know that Northern Ireland’s music scene is still thriving. In 2021, Belfast earned the prestigious title of UNESCO City of Music It joins Liverpool and Glasgow – the only two other UK cities to receive the highly coveted award. UNESCO status recognises the city’s rich musical heritage, and the importance music has on its future. Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel have been appointed as the city’s music patrons.

Not only a success in the charts with the likes of than Van Morrison and The Undertones, if undiscovered hits are more up your street, then Northern Ireland offers a dynamic independent music scene. Derry musician SOAK represented Northern Ireland at the UK Independent Venue week 2022 – a festival that celebrates the spirit of independence and the culture of live music.

For book lovers - in literature, the gender gap is closing. Male voices have always been celebrated in literature and poetry, but now – for the first time ever – female voices are just as popular as their male counterparts. Belfast-born Anna Burns has received great success with her third novel Milkman, winning the 2018 Booker Prize, the 2019 Orwell Prize for political fiction, and the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award. Local author Jan Carson also recently returned with her second novel, ‘The Rapture' at the start of January. This story, set in Northern Ireland in 1993, is posited as a dark supernatural mystery and has been highly anticipated following the critical acclaim of her 2014 novel ‘Malcolm Orange Disappears’.

There are no shortages of delight in Northern Ireland’s silver screen either. Following the legacy created by Game of Thrones (which you can now enjoy a studio tour of), the local film sector is booming. Two of the biggest dramas Line of Duty and Bloodlands aired on television screens in 2021 – both filmed in Northern Ireland. The popular BBC drama Hope Street is also filmed in the picturesque seaside town of Donaghadee. Sir Kenneth Branagh’s cinematic masterpiece Belfast brought the city to the big screen, wowed critics and boomed at the box office, winning Branagh an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The 2022 short ‘An Irish Goodbye’ set in Northern Ireland has also added to this success, winning the 2023 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.

Encouragingly, Northern Ireland continues to prioritise art and culture over the coming years. A new five-year blueprint has been developed for NI’s art and cultural organisations sector. The initiative aims to build long-term financial strength within the sector, so the arts continue to flourish.

Bustling Social Scene

For many, a thriving nightlife is a key consideration when relocating. Northern Ireland is famed for its lively pubs and vibrant nightclub scene, both in its capital city and its smaller coastal towns too. Portrush was named as one of the top 15 best Irish towns for nightlife in 2020. Unsurprisingly, Belfast’s Kelly’s Cellars and Derry’s Blackbird were named among the best bars in the UK. If you want some more inspiration, discover The Telegraph’s 10 must-visit pubs in Northern Ireland.

Devine Dining

Discovering the best places to eat is at the top of many people’s to-do-list when moving to a new place. Thankfully, Northern Ireland is a smorgasbord of excellent restaurants; from fine dining to trendy street food, the city is a foodie’s dream. Belfast is driven by a plethora of local, independent restaurants and bars opposed to major national brands, making it a cuisine capital ripe for the tasting.

Local residents now have a choice of three Michelin-star restaurants, Ox on Oxford Street, Muddler’s Club in the Cathedral Quarter and Eipic on Howard Street. While a further four establishments throughout NI have a Bib Gourmand status, Home Restaurant, Deanes at Queens, Nobel and Wine and Brine.

You can find more recommendations for the best places to eat and drink in Belfast here.

A Place for Everyone

Inclusivity was never something Belfast was known for - until now. The country has come a long way in celebrating diversity. Belfast City Council is now looking into creating an LGBTQ+ hub that will promote Belfast as a ‘city for all.’ Belfast bursts into spectacular rainbow colours every August for the annual Belfast Pride Parade to celebrate Pride Day. Over 50,000 people attend Belfast’s Pride parade making it one of the UK’s biggest pride celebrations.

The city also hosts multiple events and programmes throughout the year. The Outburst Queer Arts Festival weaves together theatre, film, music, visual art and discussions, offering the best in queer talent. Multiple LGBTQI+ venues like Kremlin, Libertine and Maverick Bar offer a host of events throughout the week.

Northern Ireland is a fantastic destination for movers, shakers and relocators. The region is a cultural tapestry boasting a thriving arts & entertainment scene, lively pubs, and delectable cuisine – all wrapped up in a warm, inclusive environment. It’s a thriving social hub with competitive prices and a rich cultural scene, making NI an enviable location to live. If you’re thinking of moving and putting down roots, look no further than Northern Ireland.

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