Belfast on a Budget: Cultural Fun that Won’t Break the Bank

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By Manita Dosanjh

Here are our top picks of festivals in Belfast this Autumn…

1. Fleadh Feirste

Fleadh Feirste – or The Gaeltacht Quarter Festival to those of us who or are more challenged in speaking Gaelic – is a celebration of Irish Language and traditional Irish culture in Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter. Fleadh Feirste is a highlight for many Irish locals, where local Irish speaking artistic talent can be showcased in celebration of Irish tradition.

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The festival is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the spirit of the Gaelacht Quarter with musical performances from The Bonny Men & Aodh Mac Ruairí, Irish Cinema, lectures and the ‘Cothaigh Annual dinner and lecture’ (Cothaigh comes from the Irish word meaning ‘to nourish’). If you’re feeling brave there is also a chance to learn a little Gaelic.

Fleadh Feirste takes place over the last weekend on November every year, to find out more visit the website.

2. Belfast Restaurant Week

The perfect time to visit Belfast – whether you’re a foodie or just on a tight budget – Belfast Restaurant Week promises great events and some even better discounts. Participating restaurants all over the city will be running culinary competitions and offering unique dishes at a reduced price to festival goers. You can enjoy two courses at the Harlem for just £11.95 (usually one main course will set you back around £9) or combine your love of food with all things cultural at the Cultural Food Tour on the 5th October.

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The tour kicks off with cichetti (Italian nibbles) at the very quaint Coppi  – a Venice inspired Italian restaurant in the heart on Belfast’s cultural centre – right through to the more traditional Duke of York. The tour will also take you through some of the oldest parts of the city adding a touch of history to the foodie fun.

The King’s Head is definitely a place to be seen over the week as its hosting several events, and if simply attending isn’t enough for you, you can make yourself part of the festival by entering a recipe into the King’s Head Cooking Competition where your culinary flair will be judged by experts. For more budget food fun you could also purchase a ticket to the Spanish Food Evening where £25 will buy you six courses. Each dish is accompanied by a specially selected wine and the venue’s wine supplier will also be on hand to offer his expert opinion on all of your wine questions.

The festival takes place from 5th – 12th October, for more information you can go to Belfast’s Official Visitor Website.

3. Ulster Bank Festival at Queens

Have you ever been to an Arts festival that promises to teach you about the mathematical wonders hiding behind the comedy of The Simpsons? Would we lie to you? Bestselling author Simon Singh will be presenting a talk entitled ‘The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Genius’ on 18th October as part of Belfast’s biggest annual Arts Festival.

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And if that hasn’t got you hooked, one of the many events taking place over the ten days definitely will.  With over 60,000 visitors last year, the festival has now become one of the largest of its kind across Europe and it’s perfect for budget travellers. Last year, there were around 80 free events so a cultural experience needn’t cost you a penny.

There is a fantastic range of things to check out – from classical music to experimental art – all of which are listed on the website.

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