City of Music
On 8 November 2021, Belfast became a UNESCO City of Music, celebrating the city’s rich musical heritage and recognising the importance of music to its future.
UNESCO's City of Music programme is part of the wider Creative Cities Network (link opens in new window).
Belfast is the third city in the UK to become a City of Music with Liverpool receiving it in 2016 and Glasgow in 2008. It is also the first city on the island of Ireland to receive the accolade. There are 59 Cities of Music forming part of the prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
We worked closely with the City of Music steering group on the bid submission.
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel are official Belfast Music patrons.
Music is woven into the DNA of Belfast. We have so many incredible bands and artists - and more every single year. I’ve watched in these last 25 years of relative peace the music scene grow and then thrive and now burst at the seams with fearless and limitless talent. Being designated as a UNESCO City of Music honours the gargantuan effort that the entire music scene has made to help raise Belfast up and out of the darkest of times.
Belfast Music patron, Gary Lightbody
Belfast is an alive, vibrant and a musically powerful city. Now is the time to celebrate those that are making a difference in music, in culture. As well as artists like Van Morrison, there is female empowered punk, new wave, Brit nominated EDM, jazz and an abundance of classical music that runs through the veins of this city and yet to the wider world, it is all unheard of, underground, eclipsed by its past, but still supplying a pulse and vibrancy that needs to be lauded for the future.
Belfast Music patron, Hannah Peel.
Belfast Music public consultation
We are currently consulting on our draft ‘Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast’. This is part of our ongoing process of public consultation and engagement. Your views will help us finalise the document.
You can read our draft strategy online:
To read more about the Music Matters public consultation and to take part, go to YourSay (link opens in a new window). The consultation closes on Monday 25 July 2022. To ask for the Music Matters equality screening report and rural impact assessment, email email@example.com
This draft strategy cascades from the ten-year cultural strategy - A City Imagining, which provides an overarching strategic approach for the city and brought together several areas including:
- events and festivals
'Music Matters – a roadmap' for Belfast is just one strand of work emanating from the ten-year cultural strategy.
Music Matters public consultation and online sessions
We're holding public consultation events in Belfast and online sessions about Music Matters.
For event dates and venues, go to Music Matters consultation events.
Music at 2 Royal Avenue
Our venue at 2 Royal Avenue delivers on the ambitions we set out in our UNESCO City of Music bid to transform vacant spaces into cultural spaces in our city. To find out what's on, go to 2 Royal Avenue.
Mix the City Belfast
Belfast showcases its diverse array of music on Mix the City, the British Council’s award-winning interactive mixing website.
Mix the City Belfast involved a collaboration of 95 artists, musicians and creators, curated by award-winning artist and composer Hannah Peel.
City of Music Steering Group
In 2019 a City of Music Steering Group was recruited through an open expression of interest process. An independent panel selected the group's members representing various music genres and backgrounds. We are grateful to the members for their hard work and dedication to this group. We will be renewing membership through another expression of interest process in December 2021.
Members of the City of Music Steering Group are listed in this table.
Belfast music past and present
From punk to proms, trad to rock legends and fantastic emerging new talent, Belfast’s music scene (past and present) is one that everyone can be proud of. We’re becoming the preferred prime location for one-off events and there’s an annual programme of music activities citywide.