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Belfast music

  • Belfast Region Music Board

    Our music strategy, Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast, sets out governance recommendations for Belfast Music. The first step is to set up a Belfast Region Music Board, to bring to life the UNESCO City of Music designation. 

    The board will help to embed music in all communities across the city to make music a sustainable career option for creators and people who support them.

    Our expression of interest for applications to join the music board closed on Monday 6 February 2023. The following Board Members have been appointed:

    • Abbie Triggs, Director of Operations and Business Development On Music Ltd
    • Aisling Agnew, Professional Flautist / Concert Manager
    • Alice Lewis, National Director at Live Music Now
    • Anthony Toner, Freelance Singer-Songwriter
    • Ben Magee, Director of New Champion Management
    • Bethany Simpson, Concerts Manager Belfast Music Society
    • Boyd Sleater, Co-Founder of Free the Night, Coordinator of NI Humanists
    • Brian Coney, Editor / Writer / Musicians / PR Representation / The Thin Air
    • Cheylene Murphy, Freelance Musician
    • Claire Kieran, Oifigeach Imeachtaí at An Droichead
    • Glenn Millar, Musician, podcast host and author of Made to Parade
    • Jenny Kirkwood, Music Therapist, British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT)
    • Joe Dougan, Director, TSW Management / The Limelight / Shine / Belsonic
    • John D’Arcy, Digital Media Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast
    • Joseph Ricketts, Artist Manager at Nxgen Music Group
    • Maurane Ramon, Client and Communications Manager at Thrive
    • Miceál Mullen, Communications Officer for European Music Council
    • Naoise Roo Callan, Festival Development and Coordinator for NI Mental Health Arts Festival
    • Paul Connolly, Musician / Workshop Facilitator / Lecturer
    • Paula McColl, Creative Producer at Moving on Music
    • Peter McVeigh, Lecturer in Music and Course Co-Ordinator at SERC, Singer-Songwriter
    • Rebekah Lutton, Singer-Songwriter
    • Ron Stitt, Musician, Member of Marching Band
    • Rory McConnell, Editor, Music Arts and Events at BBC Northern Ireland
  • 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 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.


    This 3-minute, 32-second video explains what becoming a UNESCO City of Music means for the city and how we plan to use our UNESCO status. It also includes messages from our two Belfast Music patrons, Gary Lightbody and Hannah Peel.

  • Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast

    Our music strategy, Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast, started from the ten-year cultural strategy - A City Imagining, and brought together several areas including:

    • tourism
    • culture
    • heritage
    • arts
    • events and festivals

    'Music Matters – a roadmap' for Belfast is one strand of work to arise from the ten-year cultural strategy. You can read our strategy online.

    Read Music Matters – a roadmap for Belfast

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pipeline Investment Fund for grassroots music venues

    Grassroots music venues in Belfast were eligible to apply to Pipeline Investment Fund (PIF). Applications closed on 25 August 2023.


  • 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.

  • 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.

Contact us

028 9050 0543

Tourism, culture and arts, 4th floor, 9 Adelaide, 9-21 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8DJ

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