Since opening over a century ago, Belfast’s Grand Opera House has withstood many challenges, including the Troubles and planned demolition, to become an iconic landmark. As Northern Ireland’s first listed building, the Art Nouveau theater has hosted many notable performers over the years, and the refurbished site continues to draw audiences today.
Designed by celebrated architect Frank Matcham in 1895, Belfast’s Grand Opera House has featured many top entertainers in its time, including Luciano Pavarotti. Saved from demolition by the Arts Council in the 70s, the refurbished theater continues to be a popular destination for arts and culture enthusiasts. Visitors can admire the building’s ornamental facade on a city walk, explore the Victorian interior on a backstage tour, or catch a show for a truly immersive experience.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The opera house is must-do for theater fans or architecture enthusiasts.
- The schedule includes family-friendly events as well as classic theater.
- With the exception of the upper balconies, the theater is wheelchair-accessible.
- The theater offers audio described, signed, and captioned performances.
How to Get There
Located next door to the famous Europa Hotel, the Grand Opera House is easily accessible from Great Victoria Street Train Station and the Europa Bus Centre. Paid parking is available on Grosvenor Road and behind the Europa Hotel, while Great Victoria Street offers limited free parking after 6:30pm and all day on Sundays. Glengall Streets has two disabled parking bays.
When to Get There
If you’re interested in the exterior architecture, avoid the matinee or evening crowds with a morning visit. The Christmas period typically brings family-friendly pantomimes and festive performances.
The Greatest Theatrical Architect
Once described as the UK’s “greatest theatrical architect,” Frank Matcham worked on over 100 buildings throughout the turn of the century, though many have since been destroyed. In addition to Belfast’s Grand Opera House, other remaining examples of his work include the London Coliseum and Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom, both still worthy of a visit.