The Odyssey Complex

Updated On: September 21, 2020

odyssey belfast

The Odyssey Complex is a sports and entertainment cylindrical shaped and a huge sporting arena on the eastern side of the river at the edge of the Titanic Quarter. The complex features a hands-on science centre, W5; the 10,800 seat SSE Arena, home to the Belfast Giants ice hockey team. The complex was constructed in 1992 and came into fruition in June 1998. The Odyssey Complex was opened in December 2000, after that, an extension opened in March and May 2001. The complex consists of a multipurpose arena, science centre and shopping centre, and the shopping centre houses a movie theatre and bowling alley, alongside a selection of restaurants.

Odyssey Complex History:

The Millennium Commission donated 50% of the project of Odyssey Complex by a £45 million as part of the Landmark Project for Northern Ireland with matched funding from the Department of Education Northern Ireland, the Sheridan Group and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland. The project was led by the Ulster Museum that wanted to develop a science centre and they decided to cooperate with Peter Christian who wished to develop an IMAX complex. The name Odyssey stands for the ‘journey of discovery’.

The Odyssey Complex project cost £120 million to establish, and the arena opened in 2000 and W5 on 31 March 2001 with the Pavilion opening a few months later.

odyssey pavillion ardfern
The Odyssey Pavillion (Source: ardfern)

Facilities in the Odyssey Complex:

The Odyssey Pavilion:

The Odyssey Pavilion is rented by Odyssey Property Company. This section of the Odyssey is unique in that visitors have the use of various bars, restaurants, a cinema and ten pin bowling, all under the one roof and as well as the W5, a science exhibition centre.

SSE Arena:

It’s an indoor multipurpose arena with an audience capacity of up to 10,800 that has attracted many international performers. The SSE Arena is the biggest indoor arena in Northern Ireland and it hosts concerts and sporting events, such as the Belfast Giants games, and it also hosts family shows, theatre shows, comedy, exhibitions and conferences. It was announced that the arena would undergo a £3 million refurbishment on 25 June 2015 and become the SSE Arena. The place hosted many events like World Wrestling Entertainment live events including RAW and SmackDown. WWE visits the Odyssey at least once a year, as well as Tennis Legends, Arenacross, and The Irish Indoor Athletics Championships. Also World champion boxer Carl Frampton has fought at the Odyssey several times, the arena also hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2011 and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2015. Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Metallica, The Who, and Depeche Mode have all performed here at the arena.

The Boston Bruins were the first NHL team to visit Ireland and play at the Arena. The arena has become popular and successful through Northern Ireland with more than 9 million attendees since opening in December 2000. Since the arena was opened, it worked hard to become the key venue and fixture on major European and World tours.

odyssey by the sea
A view of the Odyssey from the other side of the Lagan (Albert Bridge)

Restaurants in the SSE Arena:

It’s a place of a wide selection of food and drinks outlets, once the arena is opened you will find many choices, great service and great places to eat in. In the arena, there are about 13 concessions outlets that serve with many selections like beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks, as well as hot food and sweet snacks. Each area has been given a specific colour for example Blue Outlets serve a range of hot food and drinks and Green Outlets serve drinks and light snacks like crisps, and ice cream.

Other Things You Can Do in The SSE Arena:

Staying in a Suite for a Night:

You can own a suite for one-night weather with friends, family or entertaining clients you can enjoy a night like no other and make it a special occasion.

Heineken Lounge:

It’s located in the south stand of the Arena and spans for 270 square meters. It has its own entrance and you will be greeted with its amazing view, accent lighting, lounge-style seating and an exclusive bar.  The Heineken Lounge makes it a perfect place for any events whether it is a corporate meeting, private celebration or your special day.

West Lounge:

If you want to have a special memory then the best place is the West Lounge, where it provides a luxurious evening of hospitality with quality live entertainment and enjoying the panoramic view of the stage from your private balcony.

Odyssey Cinemas

It is considered the largest cinema complex in Northern Ireland, with 8 Fully Digital screens, offering panoramic views of the Belfast skyline and riverfront.

the odyssey belfast
The Odyssey Belfast (Source: William Murphy)


W5 stands for “Who, What, Where, When, Why”. Dr Sally Montgomery, the Ulster Museum’s Project Director, developed the W5 with the exhibitions being designed by Hands On Inc, Florida USA and Ontario Science Centre, Canada. W5 have almost 250 interactive exhibits, along with 6 themed exhibitions, in 3500 sq meters of exhibition space, workshop space and lecture room.

W5 is a great visitor attraction, educational centre and corporate facility, and its target is to grow the number of visitors by attracting the visitors with educational and enjoyable exhibits, exhibitions and events delivered with excellent customer service. It was owned by the National Museums Northern Ireland until 31 March 2012. In 2013, W5 opened ‘Climbit’ which is the biggest Luckey Climber in Europe where small children can climb up twelve meters in total safety.

Renovations in the Odyssey Complex:

It started in October 2009 when the Odyssey Trust tried to obtain planning permission for a £100m extension plan. The planning included 800 residential units, two hotels, a promenade, shops, additional leisure facilities and a multi-storey car park. Another planning permission was obtained on 29 November 2013 and an extension was created to include hotels, shops and apartments, providing around 1,000 new jobs.

The last renovation was in October 2017, the plan was made to transform the Complex in a £10m refurbishment. The planning includes a new entrance to the Odyssey Pavilion, upgrade of Public Realm and reconfiguration of existing retail units. Phase two will include more visitor access and use of the central open space.


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