Central Belfast venues: The Ulster Hall

The historic heart of concert going Belfast.

The Ulster Hall is a major venue in the city, known to many its for political rallies. The hall is a monument to the Victorian city, gifted by those who benefited from the industrial revolution to those who toiled for it.

Similar civic halls sprouted in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, ultimately being crowned by the Albert Hall in London. The Ulster Hall was built, because of the rising cost of the smaller Theatre Royal in May St, to the lavish specification of Newry architect WJ Barre. Something of the lavishness of his projected idea was lost in the translation, and the Ulster Hall has always been caught between civic functionalism and opulence. 

Originally opened on May 12, 1862, the hall was one of the largest in the British Isles, capable of holding 250 performers and 2000 audience members. Dominated by the Mullholland organ, and home to the Ulster Orchestra as well as many visiting performers, the Ulster Hall housed dances for American GIs during the second world war, the hall being re-sprung and refloored at the cost of the USAF. Now owned by the city council, the Ulster Hall has survived many attempts to see it replaced, and continues to hold a warm place in the hearts of concert goers in the city.