The period between Christmas and New Year’s can be a tad lack luster. Whilst some people are on a yo-yo work schedule, I am lucky to be off until 2017 rings in. It would be very easy to spend the time in my pjs, vegging out on Christmas chocolates and enjoying a continuous movie marathon, however I wanted to escape the sofa to explore somewhere I haven’t been before.
Yesterday I met my parents, sister and the tiny human to do the tour of Belfast City Hall. Whilst Belfast was given city status in 1888, the City Hall didn’t open its doors until August 1906. As you enter this iconic building, it his hard not to be impressed by the black and white marble floor, not to mention the gigantic and stunningly decorated Christmas tree which extends over two floors.
After we put our names down at reception for the 2pm tour, we had a bit of time to kill, which worked out perfectly as the City Hall was hosting a wedding and we got to see the stunning bridal party arrive before the tour began. As the time to meet our tour group arrived, we were welcomed by our guide, Cindy, who then escorted us up the Grand Staircase.
As we gathered at the Rotunda at the top of the stairs, Cindy was exceptionally engaging and informative as she explained the origins of the stunning marble used in the decor, the mural of Belfast by John Luke and the main dome, which provides the landmark with its very prominent exterior aesthetic.
From here we were lucky to explore the Council Chamber, where the Council sits on the first working day of the month. From the history of the portraits on the wall to the Lord Mayor’s chair, where everyone was provided the chance to pose for the photographs, this was incredibly informative and it was great to enjoy this peek into the settings of local politics.
Other highlights of the tour including the robing room, which showcases the exquisitely crafted robes worn by the Lord Mayor and the High Sheriff of Belfast, the reception and banqueting halls and the magnificent Great Hall, which is the location for a number of charity and gala events in Belfast, including the Ulster Tatler Awards.
As the tour ended and we passed the numerous portraits of Belfast Lord Mayors, it was hard not to be impressed by the rich, diverse and interesting history of Belfast as showcased in Belfast City Hall. The tour was exceptionally informative and fascinating, our tour guide Cindy was a brilliant narrator of this history as she knew her stuff and was also dedicated to ensuring everyone got the most of their experience. The tour, which is free of charge, is the perfect way to see behind the scenes of one of Belfast’s best known and loved landmarks and if you haven’t had the chance to enjoy it yet, I thoroughly recommend a visit under the dome of Belfast City Hall.