Skip to main content

Two of Belfast's biggest outdoor music events have generated over £30m for the NI economy

Date: 04 Apr 2024

Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy with Belsonic

The 2023 editions of Belsonic Festival at Belfast’s Ormeau Park, and Emerge Music Festival at Boucher Road Playing Fields, generated additional economic activity amounting to £30.8 million and created almost 6,000 paid employment opportunities, according to an independent report.

Together, these two privately held and funded events attracted over 200,000 paid attendees, with substantial numbers of customers travelling to the events, and some coming from as far away as Australia, USA and mainland Europe.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, said: “Belfast has been a city of music for hundreds of years – and currently we’re the only UNESCO city of music on the island of Ireland – so it’s fantastic to see events like Belsonic and Emerge as well as other home grown internationally renowned festivals such as Féile an Phobail, Belfast International, CQAF and East Side Arts Festivals making such strong contributions both to our city experience and our economy. Joe Dougan, Director, TSW Management, The Limelight / Shine / Belsonic, along with fellow Belfast Music board members, has been contributing his expertise to our ‘Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast’.

A spokesperson said: "Chris Carey, Chief Economist at LIVE, the trade body for the UK Live Music Industry, and consultant to Sony Music, Spotify, and London's O2 Arena, conducted the study alongside live entertainment consultant Tim Chambers, who has occupied senior roles at Live Nation, the world’s biggest concert promoter, Ticketmaster, TicketWeb at the UK Academy music venues group.

"Belsonic, which was established in 2008 and has steadily grown to occupy the position as Northern Ireland’s largest live music event, generated £20.4 million pounds of additional economic activity in 2023, owing to sold out headline shows from international artists such as Lizzo, Tom Jones, Lionel Richie, George Ezra, David Guetta & Florence & The Machine. The annual event returns to Ormeau Park in June 2024, with headliners such as Take That, Sting, Shania Twain, Becky Hill & Limp Bizkit.

"Emerge Music Festival launched in 2022 and has quickly established itself as Ireland’s largest electronic music festival. The 2023 edition featured over 50 acts, both local and international, across four stages and two days. Headliners Carl Cox, Bicep, Camelphat and Charlotte deWitte played to sold out audiences, paving the way for a substantial expansion for the 2024 event, scheduled for August 24/25."

Festival Director Alan Simms, also of The Limelight Belfast, CHSQ, Shine and many other live music companies in the city, said: “These economic impact figures are startling, and clearly indicative of the broader and hugely positive economic benefit to Belfast and beyond. Hospitality businesses, private transport, public services & many other key areas of the local economy benefit on show nights, and the local tourism industry & hotel occupancy always see a strong boost, not to mention the thousands of staff and local suppliers employed at these and our other events. We are delighted to see our events contribute to the local economy in such a substantial fashion both with the large summer events and the many other concerts and event we produce throughout the rest of the year.

Economy Minister Conor Murphy added: "Events such as Belsonic and Emerge are considerable economic drivers providing a much- needed boost for our local tourism and hospitality industry. Employing thousands of people each year, they also engender a feel-good factor and a sense of pride that shouldn’t be underestimated.”

"That roadmap is all about building on our UNESCO City of Music designation, placing music at the heart of the city to make Belfast an even better place to live, work and visit – and supporting our musicians, our music infrastructure, our neighbourhoods and maximising Belfast’s vast music potential. Belsonic and Emerge have also engaged positively with elected members, residents and other stakeholders to enhance their offering. Music is such a key part of our cultural identity and expression, so it’s great to hear that there’s substantial growth planned for Emerge this year, during Belfast 2024, our city’s biggest ever cultural and creative celebration.”

For more information, go to

Read aloud icon Read aloud