Helen's Belfast Top 5 / by geraldine kane

If I had to choose, and it's not easy to choose, I would pick...

ST.GEORGE'S MARKET sketch by G

St.George's Market: the best place for local deli food and unique craft. My personal highlights include brownies and tea from SD Bells (Belfast Tea Merchant), falafel on flat bread with extra tzatziki, the beautiful large fruit and veg displays (natch!), the wool, the scenes of Belfast sewn on linen by Deborah Toner, vintage jewellery stalls and second hand nik naks. But, mainly, it just has a really nice atmosphere for a weekend walkabout. Check out St. George's Market's Facebook page for a better idea of what you can find there!

The Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens: A beautifully renovated space with an unusual mix of classic and modern architecture. After looking around at the varied exhibitions showcasing historical items along with more contemporary Art and Design, a wee stroll in the Botanic Gardens is good for the soul, as long as it's not raining. If so, head straight for the Palm House! There's an interesting exhibition on at the moment that I'd like to see, Art of the Troubles. It's a look at Northern Ireland's troubled history through the eyes of artists and is getting very positive reviews! On until 7th September 2014 

THE CATHEDRAL QUARTER sketch by G

The Cathedral Quarter: Kind of cheating as there are a ton of places I like there! :/  This area has plenty of stylish, interesting bars and restaurants, perfect any time of the day. 

Bars: The Duke Of York, The Spaniard, Muriel's (locally distilled Shortcross Gin served there!), Dirty Onion

Food: Mourne Seafood Bar, Ox, Coppi, and many more

Other: Established Coffee, The Mac Arts Venue, The Merchant Hotel for swanky cocktails or Afternoon Tea

The Titanic Building: A great shining structure that's textured surface and vast size can't help but impress (Why no sketch of this one G !?! ). It also has lovely waterside walkways,  part of the Belfast to Holywood walking route, and great views of the iconic yellow Harland and Wolff cranes. Inside you can find out more about the local building of the famous ship and other Titanic stories, join workshops and find some local souvenirs from the gift shop.  

City Hall: Beautiful architecture, inside and out. It's possible to join a free tour of the City Hall and I was amazed by the decor inside, it's really worth a visit.  On nice summer sunny days , you can find lots of people eating their lunch in the gardens of the Hall. Films are sometimes shown on the big screen there too, such a novelty to relax in the grass and watch along with other people. In winter, the International Christmas market is a popular attraction to get you in the Christmas spirit, and the pancakes always smell delicious. The most impressive thing about Belfast's City Hall, however, is the night view. The elegant architecture is beautifully highlighted by some subtle strategic lighting.

THE ULSTER MUSEUM sketch by G

So, that's my Belfast recommended! The beauty of Belfast is that it's such a small city and each of these areas can be reached on (sensibly shod) foot in one day. 

I could have written a much longer piece and included a lot of more of the many exciting, independent ventures that are popping up all over the city but I restrained myself.

Belfast is an exciting place right now and I love it! Don't forget to stop and look around now and then, who knows what you might find.      

H