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Music / November 8, 2021

Belfast awarded UNESCO City of Music status

Rory Mckeever via Unsplash
Music / November 8, 2021

Belfast awarded UNESCO City of Music status

Words: Dylan Murphy

The title awarded recognises the city’s rich musical heritage and the importance of music to its future.

Today, it’s been revealed that Belfast has been granted UNESCO City of Music Status. It becomes the first city in Ireland to receive the award and only the third in the UK after Liverpool and Glasgow, joining an exclusive club of 59 cities of music world wide.

Having supported the delivery of the Belfast bid for UNESCO status, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel have been appointed official Belfast Music patrons.

Speaking on the news, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, said “We are thrilled and honoured that Belfast has been bestowed the prestigious UNESCO City of Music title and to have Gary Lightbody and Hannah Peel on board as official patrons. This is wonderful news for Belfast! 

“Belfast is proud of its music culture. Creativity and resilience are in the very fabric of our city and our people. Last April, we launched a 10 year cultural strategy which will see a ‘year of culture’ in 2024. The UNESCO accolade is the perfect way to kickstart these plans, much of which revolves around music.”

The status means in the next few years Belfast will deliver a series of high profile music events and improve its infrastructure to support creatives, with live music being blended into public spaces.

Following the announcement, Gary Lightbody, said “Music is woven into the DNA of Belfast. We have so many incredible bands and artists – and more every single year. I’ve watched in these last 25 years of relative peace the music scene grow and then thrive and now burst at the seams with fearless and limitless talent.

“I would put Belfast now, without bias (or at least with as little bias as possible) at the level of one of the great music cities in Europe. We have all fought hard for our culture to thrive and the results are so plain to see. Belfast’s heart beats fervidly with music. Being designated as a UNESCO City of Music honours the gargantuan effort that the entire music scene has made to help raise Belfast up and out of the darkest of times.”

Musician Hannah Peel said, “Belfast is an alive, vibrant and a musically powerful city. Now is the time to celebrate those that are making a difference in music, in culture. As well as artists like Van Morrison, there is female empowered punk, new wave, Brit nominated EDM, jazz and an abundance of classical music that runs through the veins of this city and yet to the wider world, it is all unheard of, underground, eclipsed by its past, but still supplying a pulse and vibrancy that needs to be lauded for the future.”

Elsewhere on District: RIP The Facebook events page 2007-2021.