Belfast, the largest city in Northern Ireland, is situated where the mouth of the River lagan empties into Belfast Lough, and its name in Irish Béal Feirste means "the mouth of the sandbar." Its dramatic surrounding scenery and convenient location attracts tourists and filmmakers alike - The hugely popular Game of Thrones is shot at the Titanic Studios in Belfast and the surrounding area.
The city embraces both British and Irish traditions and as a result has a thriving cultural and entertainment scene. In addition to the city's majestic Grand Opera House, which has hosted ballet, opera, and theater since 1896, Belfast has the Waterfront Hall, a state-of-the-art concert venue, and The Odyssey Arena, which incorporates a cinema multiplex, science and technology center, restaurants, bars and Ireland's largest indoor arena for musical and sporting events. The city’s Titanic Quarter is one of the world’s largest urban waterfront regeneration projects. This entertainment venue, museum and recreational complex is located on the site where the famous RMS Titanic was built and showcases Belfast’s industrial past when the city was a world leader in shipbuilding and in the linen industry.
Belfast is also home to the Lyric Theatre, which houses its own company and specializes in popular theater, music, and Irish and international productions. Additionally, each November, Queen's University Belfast hosts its own international arts festival, which is renowned as one of the world's major arts showcases.
Since Northern Ireland is only about 5,500 square miles (about the size of Connecticut), you'll never be more than one hour from the ocean. Dublin is only a train ride away to the south and The Giant’s Causeway is just to the north. You also have easy access to Scotland by ferry and its two airports make travel home to the States or throughout Europe relatively easy.
As you move inland, you'll find pastoral towns, beautiful mountains, winding rivers, lush forest parks and windswept moors. Within this magnificent, varied landscape, you'll find extensive opportunities for outdoor pursuits from cycling, backpacking and pony trekking to sailing and sea fishing.
One of the most popular thoroughfares in Belfast, the "Golden Mile," sits between the Queen's University campus and the city center. Full of color and vitality with its collection of theaters, cinemas, clubs, restaurants, bistros and shops, the Golden Mile is a favorite meeting ground for students and young adults.
Belfast is the seat of the devolved government and the legislative Northern Ireland Assembly which governs the affairs of Northern Ireland as part of the UK. Belfast carries a troubled and eventful history but today it serves as the driving force of the economic and cultural life of Northern Ireland, a unique part of the island of Ireland whose people are resilient, friendly and enthusiastic - with an sharp wit and big welcome.