From sublime scenery to big city buzz, Antrim hits the mark.
Explore Antrim’s fascinating history with castles that date back to the 13th century.
This castle first appears in the official English records in 1210 when the notorious King John laid siege to it and ultimately took control. These days it’s remarkably intact despite 750 years of continuous military occupation.
Dating back to the 16th century, the dramatic ruins of Dunluce Castle, located on the North Antrim coast, stand on a 100ft high basalt stack with a sea cave underneath.
Situated near Belfast and built in 1830 by Rev. John Cleland, the grand Stormont Castle now serves as the Belfast Headquarters of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Experience exceptional sporting entertainment from top class golf courses to Ireland’s oldest horse racing venue
A park of utter beauty, Barnett Demense was bequeathed to the people of Belfast by William Barnett, the breeder of the first Irish horse to win the Derby, upon his death in 1943. A fabulous spot for a stroll.
Check out Rathlin Island where you can find divers, grebes, shearwaters, petrels, swans, geese, ducks, waders, skuas, terns, auks, dippers and kingfishers.
Golfer’s looking to tee off while in Belfast are in for a treat as a number of top class clubs are within swinging distance of the city centre. Balmoral Golf Club is defined by its mature and classic design, Dunmurray Golf Club won the All Ireland Golf Club of the Year 2003, Malone Golf Club offers 27 scenic and challenging holes of golf, while the Royal Belfast Golf Club offers unrivalled views over Belfast Lough and the Antrim Plateau.
Experience the thunder of hooves at Ireland’s oldest horse racing venue in Lisburn City. Down Royal Racecourse dates back to 1685 and today hosts 12 race meetings per year.
Find out what Antrim has to offer underwater with some scuba diving at Belfast Lough and the North Antrim coast.
Dixon Park is over 130 acres of spectacular rolling parkland, including the world-renowned international Rose Garden and Japanese Garden.
Get up close to wild and wonderful animals, and find out if your kids have a head for heights
This lovely zoo contains over 160 species of animal, some of them rare and endangered. The beautiful setting next to Belfast Castle offers great views out over the city.
Find out if you’ve got a head for heights with this rope bridge that hangs over an 80ft chasm. No one’s ever fallen off, but some visitors are so scared they can’t face the return journey and have to be taken off the island by boat!
Watertop is a beautiful big sheep and cattle farm in the Glens of Antrim offering pony trekking, boating, fishing, scenic walks, shearing demonstrations and an assault course.
Culture and festivals
From horse fairs to hip film festivals, Antrim’s got it covered for culture
If there’s a city that knows how to throw a festival, it’s Belfast, and the people are doing it for a whole year with Celebrate Belfast 2006. As well as the Belfast Festival – Ireland’s largest arts festival with arts, jazz, blues, dance, classical and film – you can hang with film types at the internationally renowned Belfast Film Festival, or enjoy a rake of arty carry-on in off-beat locations at the hugely entertaining Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
Bushmills is the oldest legal whiskey distillery in the world and has been in business since 1608. You can visit the distillery, get a guided tour and, of course, indulge in a spot of whiskey tasting.
The streets of this seaside town get closed off to make way for the bustling annual sheep, pony and livestock sale. But it’s not just about the animals – a host of market stands line the pavements of this small village and foodies can gorge on unique sweet and savoury treats, as well as a host of local produce.
Eating, Drinking & Luxury
Head to Belfast for luxurious retreats and the finest restaurants in Antrim.
This multi-award-winning hotel is replete with turf fires and gaslights, an extensive range of intriguing bedrooms, an atmospheric restaurant, a turf-fired old kitchen and a grand Victorian bar.
Belfast is a flourishing culinary city with stacks of gastronomic delights created by a host of talented young chefs and critically acclaimed restaurateurs. Check out Belfast’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Michael Deane (tel: ++44 28 9033 1134); the more informal Deane’s Brasserie (tel: ++ 44 28 9056 0000); and Paul Rankin’s award-winning Cayenne (tel: ++ 44 28 9033 1532).
Malmaison (34-38 Victoria Street; tel: ++ 44 28 9022 0200) has been voted Condé Nast Hot New Hotel 2005, and is predictably luxurious and decadent with all the modern comforts you could possible hope for. Inspired by oriental opulence, Ten Square (10 Donegall Square South, tel: ++ 44 28 9024 1001) is innovative and stylish with low-level beds, warm rich furnishings and an utterly chic atmosphere.
Gay & Lesbian
Antrim’s gay scene may be centred around Belfast, but it’s nothing short of fabulous
Week-long series of events including parties, film, arts, entertainment, sports and debates.
A dressed-up club crowd keeps things glam on a Monday night.
An alternative gay club focusing on indie and alternative music.
One of Belfast’s biggest and best-known gay clubs.
Gay night every Thursday at this trendy bar, which is a modern version of a traditional Irish pub.
An award-winning gay complex featuring a spacious lounge bar and two clubrooms with DJs.
From elegant boutiques to bustling markets, Belfast’s got it all.
Indulge your stylish side at the gloriously trendy The Bureau (4 Wellington Place); seek out some Paul Costelloe threads at BT9 (45 Bradbury Place); satisfy your designer shoe fetish at Rojo (613 Lisburn Road); and enjoy the cream of the high street with branches of Gap, Miss Selfridge, French Connection, Karen Millen, Kookaï and Next.
Home to some of the hippest shops in Belfast, Lisburn Road has an easy, laid-back atmosphere and a bohemian European vibe.
Rumble through stalls filled with tumbling knick-knacks, or get there early on a Saturday and enjoy the award-winning farmer’s market with top quality organic fare.