Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session

Live Traditional Music in Belfast

Updated On: June 09, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Belfast is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking for great bars and live music. The city boasts a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where tourists and locals can walk into a bar or pub and instantly feel connected to the other patrons.

Live traditional music in Belfast is easy to find, but with such a large amount of choice, it can be hard to decide which pubs to visit. To help you determine what bar will provide you with the best evening in the city, we’ve examined 15 of our favourite pubs that offer live traditional music in Belfast.

This article explores the 15 best bars hosting live traditional music in Belfast. Scroll down to read through the blog, or click on one of the highlighted sections below to jump ahead!

Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Belfast is a lively city.

What is Traditional Irish Music?

Traditional Irish music is very culturally significant. It often highlights events or people in Irish history and the culture of the people in Ireland. It is a vibrant and timeless musical genre deeply rooted in Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.

At its core, traditional Irish music encompasses various instrumental and vocal traditions passed down through generations. Characterised by lively melodies and a strong emphasis on improvisation, it is known for its ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia and connect listeners to the country’s rural past.

The key instruments in this genre include the fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and bodhrán drum, which, when played together, create a distinctive, harmonious, and instantly recognisable sound. With its spirited rhythms and heartfelt storytelling, traditional Irish music remains a beloved and enduring aspect of Irish culture at home and worldwide.

Where and When Can You See Live Traditional Music in Belfast?

If you know where to look, you can find live traditional Irish music every day of the week in Belfast in various pubs and bars. This article will tell you all you need to know to ensure you see as much live traditional Irish music as your heart desires.

Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | The most popular day for live traditional music is Sunday.

What is the Best Day to Watch Live Traditional Music in Belfast?

Sunday! Ten featured bars offer live traditional Irish music on a Sunday afternoon or evening. An Irish music session is a great way to end the week and unwind, but if you are busy prepping your Sunday roast, you may also have great luck catching a Saturday show, as six of our featured pubs have live traditional music on Saturdays.

What is the Best Way to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast?

  • Check Social Media—Bars and pubs across Belfast often change the acts they feature and may even host one-off performances. It’s always a good idea to check out their social media pages to ensure you don’t miss out!
  • Ask Locals for Recommendations – Belfast locals are known to be friendly and happy to have a quick chat. Try asking someone about their favourite bar or pub for live traditional music in Belfast; they may have some interesting recommendations to add to your itinerary!
  • Read This Guide! – We’ve gathered performance information for 15 of the most renowned bars across Belfast City. If you’re searching for live traditional music in Belfast, this article will leave you spoiled for choice!

Where Can You See Live Traditional Music in Belfast Today?

The timetable below is a helpful guide breaking down which bars feature live traditional music each day of the week. Some even have live music every night! Check it out:

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A timetable showing which bars offer live traditional music each day

15 Bars Offering Live Traditional Music in Belfast:

1. The Deer’s Head – Friday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A video exploring The Deer’s Head

The Deer’s Head is a traditional bar with an in-house craft brewery visible through glass walls inside. Sit in one of their comfortable booths and call for a drink with the click of a switch. This cosy pub has an extensive range of craft beers and ales on tap, and the selection changes with the seasons. If craft beer isn’t your thing, you can still find a larger one that suits you. The Deer’s Head has an exciting calendar of live events, including a Ukulele jam night every Wednesday from 7 pm and their new Folk Night on Thursdays from 8 pm.

  • Place: Located at 1-3 Lower Garfield St, Belfast, the pub is in the heart of Belfast’s former brewery hub. It is centrally located just a short walk from the City Hall.
  • Food and Drink: The Deer’s Head serves classic pub food, from burgers and pies to fish and chips.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12–10 pm
  • Tuesday – 12–11 pm
  • Wednesday – 12 pm–12 am
  • Thursday – 12 pm–12 am
  • Friday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 12–11 pm
  • Session Times: Friday (5 pm)

2. The Dirty Onion – Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | The Dirty Onion Instagram feed

In a rustic 300-year-old building, the charming bar, The Dirty Onion, is in a former warehouse. This cosy bar offers drinks, entertainment, and quality rotisserie chicken in their upstairs restaurant. This modern bar hosts live music every night of the week, including several traditional music sessions. They even host a bodhran drum lesson and music session on Tuesday nights 8 pm-10 pm (you don’t have to bring your bodhran).

  • Place: 3 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LA, Located in Belfast’s stunning cathedral quarter, a short walk from the city’s centre.
  • Food and Drink: The Dirty Onion also has a rotisserie chicken restaurant called Yardbird above the bar, which hosts live music and delicious food.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12–11 pm
  •  Tuesday – 12–11 pm
  • Wednesday – 12–11 pm
  • Thursday – 12–11 pm
  • Friday – 12–11 pm
  • Saturday – 12–11 pm
  • Sunday – 12–11 pm
  • Session Times: Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (5:30 pm), Sunday (6:30 pm)

3. The Duke of York – Sunday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A video guide to the best bars in Belfast

The Duke of York is located on one of the most iconic streets in Belfast. This pub is chock full of brewerania bric-a-brac. This treasure trove of brewing history memorabilia is also the home of fantastic pints and traditional music. No matter how often you go to this pub, you will always spot something new on the walls, doors, or even the ceiling.

  • Place: 7-11 Commercial Ct, Belfast. Nestled amongst many fine pubs in the cathedral quarter.
  • Food and Drink: The Duke of York, Belfast, does not serve food.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 11:30 am–11 pm
  • Tuesday – 11:30 am–11 pm
  • Wednesday – 11:30 am–11 pm
  • Thursday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Friday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 12–9 pm
  • Session Times: Sunday (5 pm)

4. The Errigle Inn – Tuesday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | The Errigle Inn’s Instagram feed

Offering friendly service in a comforting traditional dark-wood pub environment, the Errigle Inn is the perfect place to eat, drink, and enjoy some pub atmosphere and Irish music.

  • Place: 312-320 Ormeau Rd, Ormeau, Belfast A short trip out of the city centre on Ormeau Road surrounded by other friendly pubs, café, and restaurants.
  • Food and Drink: Food is served in the pub and the in-house restaurant. The pub classics, including vegetarian and vegan options, are available.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12:30 pm–12 am
  • Tuesday – 12:30 pm–12 am
  • Wednesday – 12:30 pm–12 am
  • Thursday – 12:30 pm–12 am
  • Friday – 12:30 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 10 am–1 am
  • Sunday  10 am–12 am
  • Session Times: Tuesday (10 pm)

5. Fibber Magees – Everyday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A video tour of Fibber Magees and their live traditional music

Every day is a good day to listen to traditional music in Fibber Magees. This place is as traditional as it gets and filled with Irish charm.

  • Place: 38-42 Great Victoria St, Belfast
  • Food and Drink: Fibbers serves lunch and dinner seven days a week and offers a selection of great pub grub.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Tuesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Wednesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Thursday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Friday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Saturday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Sunday – 12:30 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Monday – Wednesday (9:30 pm) Thursday (10:30 pm) Friday (5 pm & 10:30 pm) Saturday (3 pm, 5 pm, & 10:30 pm) Sunday (9:30 pm).

6. Granny Annies – Friday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Photos from Granny Annies

This cosy, quirky bar in Belfast’s city centre might make you feel like your granny has turned her living room into a bar. Filled with trinkets, carpets, and lamps, Granny Annie’s is a casual place to dine, drink, and watch live music. The large venue is excellent for big groups and has several lovely seating areas, including outdoor space.

  • Place: 81 Chichester St, Belfast BT1 4JE. This city centre bar is right across from Victoria Square shopping centre, a great place to relax after a long shopping day.
  • Food and Drink: Granny Annie’s has a varied food and cocktail menu.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12–11 pm
  • Tuesday – 12–11 pm
  • Wednesday – 12–11 pm
  • Thursday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Friday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 12–11 pm
  • Session Times: Friday 12 pm

7. The John Hewitt – Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday

The John Hewitt Bar - Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A photo from John Hewitt’s Instagram feed

The John Hewitt is Belfast’s only pub run by a charity, in this case, The Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, which helps to raise money for that organisation and others to do their excellent work. This unique venue has an extensive menu of delicious food, local craft beers and ales, and a calendar full of live music, including traditional Irish acts.

  • Place: 51 Donegall St, Belfast, in Belfast’s bustling Cathedral Quarter.
  • Food and Drink:
  • Opening Hours:
  •  Monday to Friday – 11:30 am to 1 am.
  • Saturday – 12 Noon to 1 am.
  • Sunday – 7 pm to 12 Midnight
  • Session Times: Wednesday (9:30 pm), Saturday (4 pm), Sunday (4 pm)

8. Kelly’s Cellars – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday

Where & When to find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 14 of the Best Bars to catch a session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A photo from Kelly’s Cellars’ Instagram feed

If you fancy a trip to Belfast’s oldest traditional bar, Kelly’s Cellars offers a warm atmosphere, original architectural features, pints and a bowl of Irish stew. Kelly’s Cellars is a bustling old pub with traditional and eclectic design and fireplaces to warm yourself if the Northern Irish weather isn’t ideal. Live music is played 6 nights a week at Kelly’s, with a quiet night on Mondays, and traditional music is played live 3 nights a week.

  • Place: 30-32 Bank St, Belfast. Right in the heart of Belfast city centre, Kelly’s is a great place to stop for a pint during a day out.
  • Food and Drink: Their website states that Kelly’s isn’t a restaurant but one of the places in Belfast where you can grab a bowl of Irish stew. They also offer a pizza menu from Thursday to Sunday.
  • Opening Hours:
  •  Monday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Tuesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Wednesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Thursday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Friday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Saturday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Sunday – 1 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Tuesday (7:30 pm), Wednesday (7:30 pm), Thursday (8:30 pm), Sunday (4 pm)
Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Belfast locals are known to be friendly and welcoming.

9. Maddens – Everyday

Maddens was one of the first bars in Belfast to host traditional music sessions and is a perfect venue for a relaxed pint by the fire. Their second floor is the place to see some fantastic Irish music played live in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. They are known for a great pint of Guinness, so if you are searching for a pint of the black stuff, Maddens is an excellent bet.

  • Place: 74 Berry St, Belfast. Off the beaten track but not far from the high street, this is a gem not to be missed.
  • Food and Drink: No, Maddens don’t serve food.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Tuesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Wednesday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Thursday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Friday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Saturday – 11:30 am–1 am
  • Sunday – 1 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Monday-Thursday (8 pm), Friday & Saturday (5 pm), Sunday (9 pm)

10. McHugh’s – Saturday & Sunday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | The McHughs Bar and Restaurant in Belfast city centre

Housed in the oldest surviving building in Belfast, you will find McHugh’s, nestled between The Big Fish and The Albert Memorial Clock; this traditional pub is charming. Serving excellent quality pints and food, McHugh’s is a great place to relax and enjoy some live traditional music in Belfast. Arriving earlier on Sunday, you may also see an Irish music school that plays from 1 pm. If you get hungry, you can also try an Irish boxty, a traditional Irish dish consisting of a potato pancake that McHugh’s is known for.

Where & When to find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 14 of the Best Bars to catch a session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A photo from McHughs’ Instagram feed
  • Place: 29-31 Queen’s Square, towards the river and between two iconic Belfast landmarks you can see on the way.
  • Food and Drink: Besides their iconic potato boxty, McHugh’s offers a varied menu of pub classics, from Carbonara to Steak.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Tuesday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Wednesday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Thursday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Friday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 1–11 pm
  • Session Times: Saturday (3 pm) Sunday (5 pm)

11. The Points – It Varies!

Situated on the bustling Dublin road, The Point is a one-stop shop for all the elements of the traditional Irish pub experience. This beautifully decorated dark wood pub has a dark and warm atmosphere that will make you feel at home surrounded by the sounds and sights of Irish music and dance. Their menu has bundles of Irish classics, including Irish stew, a full selection of whiskeys, expertly poured Guinness, and much more. The points host a group of dancers who regularly perform on a permanent stage. The point dancers will give you an experience of the dances that accompany the live music.

Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A video showcasing The Points Dancers
  • Place: 44 Dublin Rd, Belfast. Joining a host of exciting bars and pubs on the busy Dublin road, The Points is a must.
  • Food and Drink: The Points only serves stew but does so daily.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Tuesday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Wednesday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Thursday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Friday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 2 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 2 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Check their Facebook page for details as they change regularly.

12. The Reporter Bar – Thursday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Photos from The Reporter Bar

This bar is filled with the news press history of Belfast and is the perfect place to enjoy local craft beer and traditional music; they also have a weekly pub quiz, which is always worth a go.

Location: Union St, Belfast BT1 2JF, inside The Maverick.

Opening Hours:

  • Monday-Thursday 4 pm – 1 am
  • Friday-Sunday 2 pm – 1 am

Session Times: Thursday 9:30 pm

Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Traditional Irish music features instruments like the harp and fiddle.

13. The Second Fiddle – Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday

The Second Fiddle is a contemporary Irish bar focused on traditional Irish music and culture. It hosts various events, such as cider festivals and Jameson experiences, and is home to some events on the Belfast Trad Fest route. This lively venue will surely provide you with all the Irish music and pints your heart desires.

  • Place: 42 Waring St, Belfast.
  • Food and Drink: No, The Second Fiddle does not serve food.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – Closed
  • Tuesday – Closed
  • Wednesday – Closed
  • Thursday – 5 pm–12 am
  • Friday – 5 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 5 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 5 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Thursday (6:30 pm)* Friday (5 pm) Saturday (7:30 pm) Sunday (6 pm)

*hours recently updated

14. The Sunflower Public House – Wednesday & Sunday

Where & When to find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 14 of the Best Bars to catch a session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A photo from Sunflower Public House’s Instagram feed

There has been a public house on the corner of Kent Street and Union Street for 100 years; since 2012, it has been The Sunflower. This iconic Belfast bar has bars on the windows and door as a relic of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Even though they are no longer needed, these decorative bars are essential to the city’s social history. Beyond the doors and windows, you will find a classic corner pub where friendly staff, comfortable seats, and great live music will greet you.

  • Place: 65 Union St, Belfast. It’s just a short walk from the cathedral quarter and well worth the walk.
  • Food and Drink: Pizza is available here Thursday – Sunday (5 pm-10 pm)
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12 pm–12 am
  • Tuesday – 12 pm–12 am
  • Wednesday – 12 pm–12 am
  • Thursday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Friday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Saturday – 12 pm–1 am
  • Sunday – 1 pm–12 am
  • Session Times: Wednesday (8 pm) Sunday (7 pm)

15. White’s Tavern – Sunday

Live Traditional Music in Belfast
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Photos from White’s Tavern’s Instagram feed

Belfast’s first tavern license was presented to the Whites Tavern building in 1630, and this place has been serving people drinks ever since. From the moment you step in the door at White’s, you will be met with its incredible atmosphere, which is boosted by a peat-burning fire. This charming pub will be a feast for the senses, filled with bar memorabilia, including some old-timey reviews in frames. If you fancy a bit of fresh air, White’s Garden is always outside a modern addition with a contemporary finish.

  • Place: 2-4 Winecellar Entry, Belfast. This cosy pub is hidden in a little entryway, but it’s much easier to spot if you look out for White’s Garden.
  • Food and Drink: White’s Tavern serves classic pub food, including Irish classics such as stew and ham hock. Their menu also offers seafood that fits their roots, such as oyster rooms. If you don’t fancy seafood, you can also find wood-fired pizzas.
  • Opening Hours:
  • Monday – 12–11 pm
  • Tuesday – 12–11 pm
  • Wednesday – 12–11 pm
  • Thursday – 12–11 pm
  • Friday – 12–11 pm
  • Saturday – 12–11 pm
  • Sunday – 12–11 pm
  • Session Times: Sunday Between 7 pm and 9 pm
Where & When to find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 14 of the Best Bars to catch a session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A photo from White’s Tavern’s Instagram feed

Festivals with Live Traditional Music in Belfast

Ulster Fleadh

The Ulster Fleadh in Belfast is a celebration of traditional Irish music that holds a special place in the hearts of musicians and enthusiasts. This annual event serves as a vibrant hub for preserving and promoting Irish musical heritage in the Ulster region.

What distinguishes the Ulster Fleadh is its rich history and the live traditional music that reverberates through the streets of Belfast during the festival. Musicians from Ulster and beyond gather to showcase their talent, creating an electrifying atmosphere that envelops the city.

The live traditional music at the Ulster Fleadh is a testament to the enduring allure of Irish culture. It is a genre deeply rooted in history and tradition, passed down through generations as an oral tradition. When experienced in the bustling streets of Belfast during the festival, it becomes a living, breathing entity that connects people to their heritage and roots.

Audiences can expect to be captivated by the infectious rhythms and heartfelt storytelling that are hallmarks of this musical tradition. Moreover, the Fleadh provides a platform for seasoned musicians and budding talents, ensuring that the legacy of live traditional music in Belfast continues to thrive and evolve.

Live Traditional Music in Belfast | A video from Ulster Fleadh 2018

Culture Night

The Culture Night festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland, celebrates the city’s rich heritage, with live traditional music as a centrepiece. This annual event draws locals and tourists to the streets of Belfast City to experience some of the best Northern Ireland has to offer.

Traditional Irish instruments such as fiddles, bodhráns, and tin whistles take centre stage at the festival’s heart. Accomplished musicians and up-and-coming artists, often dressed in traditional attire, fill the air with beautiful melodies that create a welcoming and fun atmosphere.

The festival’s commitment to showcasing live traditional music underscores the importance of preserving and celebrating Northern Ireland’s cultural heritage.

Belfast TradFest

The annual Belfast TradFest celebrates Ireland’s rich musical heritage by captivating visitors and those who happily call the city home. Set against the backdrop of Belfast’s historic landmarks, this festival transforms the city into a lively hub of culture through live traditional music.

The stages come alive with performances that span the spectrum of traditional Irish music, from haunting sean-nós singing to the exuberant reels of lively jigs and hornpipes. This inclusivity pays homage to the roots of Irish music and provides a dynamic display that engages audiences of all ages.

Although many visitors attend Belfast TradFest for the live traditional music, the festival also offers workshops, masterclasses, and interactive experiences. Additionally, impromptu music sessions are standard and bring the sounds of traditional Irish music to the city’s streets.

Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session
Live Traditional Music in Belfast | Bars and pubs are great places to experience Irish culture.

Many Places Offer Live Traditional Music in Belfast

The vibrant city of Belfast offers a treasure trove of experiences for enthusiasts seeking the heartbeat of traditional Irish music. From the cosy interiors of historic pubs to the lively atmospheres of contemporary bars, the city’s establishments serve as dynamic stages where live conventional music comes to life.

The echoes of fiddles, the pulse of bodhráns, and the lilting melodies of traditional songs create a symphony that resonates with the spirit of Belfast. These venues not only showcase the exceptional talents of local musicians but also embody the warmth and friendliness for which Irish hospitality is renowned.

For those eager to immerse themselves in the authentic sounds of Ireland, these 15 bars and pubs are gateways to an enriching cultural experience of the city’s enduring musical legacy through live traditional music in Belfast.

Some things never change, but unfortunately, bar music schedules do. If you notice any of the information in this article becoming outdated, please leave a comment and let us know! 

Want more Belfast bar recommendations? Check out our articles on Craft Beer in Belfast, Gin Serves in Belfast, Cocktails in Belfast, and more! Our suggestions come from the locals who know the city and its pubs like the back of their hand.

2 commments on “Where & When to Find Live Traditional Music in Belfast: 15 of the Best Bars to Catch a Session

  1. This is a great sight is it possible for people in the audience to join in any of these sessions with a song or play with the groups ?

    1. Hi Julie
      I think it would depend on the group and situation but they are definitely worth checking out 🙂

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