Belfast is the new UNESCO City of Music.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

We’ve just been crowned the new UNESCO City of Music.

The title sees Belfast become the first city in Ireland (as well as joining Liverpool and Glasgow as the only UK cities) to be given the honour, which celebrates places with a rich musical heritage and thats place an importance on music in the future of the city.

The successful bid involved plans to grow the local music infrastructure, providing more professional support for musicians and music businesses, as well as plans for growing international initiatives. The bid also brought out a focus of telling Belfast’s story through music and to celebrate the changing times through building new international collaborations.

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.”

As a result of the title, Belfast will over the next few years “deliver a series of high profile music events, aim to build its infrastructure to further support music creators, and will see music woven into public spaces and places to ensure the power and benefits of music can be felt by all who live, work in or visit the city.”

This is great news for Belfast, with the local music scene already beginning to thrive with a new era of creatives and sound makers, as well as our amazing history of musicians, such as Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, who, after finding out the success of Belfast’s bid, 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.”

Fellow designated patron of Belfast as the City of Music, 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.”

Safe to say this is brilliant news for the city that deserves it’s time in the spotlight, and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for local musicians and music lovers.