NI’s cultural scene
NI’s cultural scene

A new dawn for NI’s cultural scene

Forget what you know about Northern Ireland....

Our wee country has come on leaps and bounds in the last decade or two.

And the proof is in the pudding. The pudding being our growing population

With fewer people moving abroad and migration on the rise since 2004, the Northern Irish population is set to pass the 2 million mark by 2040.

By global standards? Yes, we’re teeny weeny. We currently make up 27% of Ireland’s total population, 3% of the UK’s population, and we’ll always be a mere dot on a big ‘ole world map.

But today we have more people than ever (in the history of ever) roaming our streets, and we think that is reason enough to celebrate!

But first, let’s unpack the some of the reasons behind Northern Ireland’s growing population, shall we?

ccording to Lonely Planet, ‘there's plenty to pull visitors to the North: an exploding food scene, hip cities and the stunning Causeway Coast.’

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.


Art & Soul
Art & Soul


The whole world knows that Northern Ireland has a long history of music excellence, but we’re so much more than Van Morrison, Snow Patrol and the Undertones.

Today’s music scene today is bursting at the seams with phenomenal talent, with dozens of emerging artists breathing new life into old traditions and reaching a global audience across every genre.

If you want to dip a toe into our pool of home-grown talent, check out electrifying duo BICEP, who regularly headline Belfast’s flagship electronic festival, AVA, or our very own pop princess Fya Fox, who has more bangers in her locker than your local butcher. How about our prince of sad folk Ciaran Lavery or rock and roll band Unquiet Night?

It’s hardly surprising that
Belfast has joined Liverpool and Glasgow as a prestigious UNESCO City of Music.



Any fellow bookworms out there?

We’re over the moon that there’s a fresh crop of Northern Irish authors taken the literary world by storm. And the good news doesn’t stop there.

Male voices have long been celebrated in literature and poetry, and we’re delighted that the gender gap in this area is closing, with a wave of female writers finding their way into the long overdue spotlight.

Anna Burns, Jan Carson and Lucy Caldwell are winning awards left, right and centre, and our very own force of literary nature, Wendy Erskine, is set to release a highly anticipated new book later this year.

We’re cheering you on all the way, girls.


Big Screen
Big Screen

As for Northern Ireland’s silver screen? Well, we’re on a roll.

We’ve only gone and nabbed another Oscar. The impeccable ‘An Irish Goodbye’ recently took home the award for Best Live Action Short film. And rightly so.

The win, coming after Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ won ‘Best Original Screenplay,’ means Northern Ireland has won Oscars for two years in a row. And it doesn’t get much bigger than that, does it?

Following the legacy created by Game of Thrones (which you can now enjoy a studio tour of), the local TV sector is booming.

The Fall, Line of Duty, Derry Girls, Bloodlands and Blue Lights have cemented Northern Ireland’s position as a world-class filming location, and the big boys of the TV world (think Netflix and Paramount), have been knocking at our door ever since.

And we’re well placed to welcome them in. Studio Ulster, based at Belfast Harbour Studios, is a brand new £72m, large-scale studio complex integrating Virtual Production, Research & Development and Visual FX capabilities with traditional Film & TV production.

Right now, we’re the Hollywood of Europe.

And as for the future?

Well, the sky’s the limit.


Good Grub
Good Grub


Good food and lively nightlife are often key considerations when deciding where to live.

Thankfully, Northern Ireland has both by the bucketful, and we’ve got the world’s largest travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, to back us up. They recently named Northern Ireland as one of Europe’s must-visit destinations for food and drink!

Whether you’re looking for a Michelin starred meal, fresh and delicious street food, or a dining experience with a difference, Northern Ireland has got it all.

To find out about the pizza that got a perfect 10/10 from the world’s top foodie influencer, and the theatrical 6-course dining experience that’s got everyone talking, check out our blog on the renaissance of Northern Ireland's foodie scene


Good Guinness
Good Guinness


Our bars and clubs are just as good. Whether you’re after a casual pint, a classy cocktail or a big night on the tiles, there are cultural gems tucked away in every corner of the country.

You’ll find brilliant live music spilling out of every corner of Belfast’s trendy Cathedral Quarter. We’re talkin’ timeless jazz at Bert’s Jazz Bar, toe-tapping tunes in The Dirty Onion, and traditional folk bands seven nights a week at Fibber Magees.

But the action doesn’t stop outside the Big Smoke.

Take a trip up north to the seaside town of Portrush, which is consistently recognised one of the best Irish towns for nightlife, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. It’s home to Kelly’s, the largest nightclub complex in the country, and The Harbour Bar, a buzzing pub with world-class views and pints of Guinness to match.

Derry also punches well above its weight when it comes to nightlife. Famous for its live traditional music, Peadar O’Donnell’s a favourite among both locals and tourists, and thanks to its fantastic atmosphere and impressive selection of craft beers, the Blackbird made the list of the ‘Best Bars in the UK.’



Feeling nostalgic?

If you grew up in Northern Ireland, you’ll know that no matter which town or city you visit, you’re guaranteed a good night’s craic.

That’s because so much of Northern Irish culture is in the DNA of our people. The warmth, wit and raucous banter that just isn’t quite the same anywhere else in the world.

But we’re chuffed to bits that our wee country isn’t the same place it was thirty years ago and is now a fantastic and inclusive place for movers, shakers and relocators.

We can’t think of a better place to put down roots, and our cultural scene is only getting bigger and better. Have you heard about
Belfast 2024 yet?  

Sure, we’ll save that for the next blog.


These articles may interest you

Latest Articles

Our free monthly newsletter brings you the latest news from Northern Ireland