Belfast shows wow 370,000 patrons - helped by Texas, Keating, the Quo and Elbow

Ronan Keating takes to the stage at the Waterfront in June
Ronan Keating takes to the stage at the Waterfront in June Ronan Keating takes to the stage at the Waterfront in June

MORE than 370,000 patrons visited Belfast's world-class Waterfront Hall and Ulster venues last year for 320 live entertainment music, sport, comedy and theatre events.

The acts - including Texas, Status Quo, Ronan Keating, Jake Bugg, Tom Grennan, Sparks, Lord of the Dance, Elbow and many more - contributed to Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall Ltd, the organisation responsible for the iconic venues, seeing sales return to pre-pandemic levels.

And it comes as research commissioned by Fourth Pillar and supported by NI Screen and Department for Communities found that the music industry alone contributed £345 million to the north's economy in 2019 and created 6,500 jobs.

Julia Corkey, chief executive of ICC Belfast/Waterfront Hall/Ulster Hall, said: “The contribution of the arts to our economy and our communities cannot be under-estimated.

“The beauty of music, drama, comedy – whatever the preference may be – is that everyone is invited to participate.

“We take our role within Belfast’s rich heritage in the arts seriously, and as we already know, community cohesion and fellowship are vital to the success of our city.

“A city with a thriving cultural scene is a city in growth. As footfall descends on city centre venues, the knock-on effect is sustained revenue for the wider hospitality sector.

“We see our venues as a key part of this sector’s ongoing recovery, and we are committed to continuing to attract audiences by consistently providing world-class, memorable entertainment experiences.”

Charlie McCloskey, director of events and customer experience at the venues, said: “In a world that is becoming more digitally focused we take great satisfaction that the demand and appreciation for live events remains.

“We are providing the platform for Northern Ireland to experience international artists. Last year will be remembered as the big return but within that, it will be the memorable magic moments created by the acts we hosted.

“Our dedicated and talented team of event professionals, technicians, customer service and front of house thrive in the live event environment and are delighted to welcome audiences, in the hundreds of thousands, through the doors of the iconic Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall.”

Ulster Hall’s 2022 highlights included Hollywood actor and comedian Kevin Hart, Japanese-born American singer-songwriter Mitski, pop rock legends Deacon Blue and YouTube sensation Cavetown.

Waterfront Hall delivered the beloved Christmas pantomime 60 times over a 31-day period, and once again welcomed the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open bringing over 8,000 snooker fans to the city in October.

And programming for 2023 has been confirmed across both venues with highlights including Dinosaur World Live, Sam Ryder, Gabrielle and Frankie Boyle, as well as continuing to host The Ulster Orchestra seasonal concerts.