As April took hold, a new music walking tour began in Belfast. Led by Dolores Vischer of Creative Tours Belfast, a familiar face around Belfast’s music scene, the Belfast UNESCO City of Music walking Tour and Performance offers a taste of the city’s musical offerings with something for both visitors and locals. Launched in association with the Oh Yeah Music Centre earlier this month, and supported by Belfast City Council, these first outings also offer a musical performance at the end of an enjoyable afternoon.
The next tour takes place on Saturday 30th April, with a performance by Ferna, and further tours on 6th May and 3rd June during Women’s Work festival. With an invite to experience it ourselves, we joined a recent tour to preview it.
Congregating outside Belfast’s historic Ulster Hall, Dolores rattles through the venue’s history, discussing everything from Ruby Murray and her chart records to political rallies and a personal anecdote about storming the stage during The Stranglers in ’79. From here there are further stops over the next couple of hours, taking in the City Hall to venues, streets and churches around the city centre. Dolores, of course is well informed, shining a light on every genre she can, with each stop and tale woven in alongside Belfast’s political and social history. Dolores talks of the city’s hopes for our new UNESCO City of Music title, gained in November 2021 and celebrating the city’s rich musical heritage and recognising the importance of music to its future. Spaces like 2 Royal Avenue (a welcome coffee stop on the tour) highlight the much needed moves being made to support our current creative scene as we move forward.
By the time the tour weaves around to the Oh Yeah Centre, both locals and newcomers to the city alike will have learned a great deal from Dolores’ easy going pace. It’s where Dolores’ detail crosses into her personal stories that the tour comes to light. Her first hand experience of the punk scene and figures like Terri Hooley give life and genuine enthusiasm for the city’s musical history. Finally at the Oh Yeah Centre, the tour group is given a chance to take in the venue’s exhibitions before a short performance by an artist. Today it is Dublin’s now Belfast based Naoise Roo who delights with some stripped down versions of her often intense songs, while Leo Miyagee and Myles McCormack have previously performed.
Dolores commented: “Belfast has such a rich music heritage and so much talent, past and present, across all genres. From electronic to classical and punk; opera to folk and pop – and everything in between – music plays a significant and important role in the fabric of Belfast, making it a vibrant city to live in or visit. I always knew Belfast was a city of music, but it’s a great boost that the city has been awarded the coveted City of Music status by UNESCO. It’s like having a global quality stamp!”
Charlotte Dryden, Chief Executive of Oh Yeah, explained: “We’ve put together a really great music experience for people. On 5 dates in April, everyone booking the tour will get a two hour plus guided walk that takes in the iconic Ulster Hall, new venue 2 Royal Avenue, bars and clubs, historic venues, outdoor performance spaces and even a church – before visiting Oh Yeah to browse the music exhibition and then settle down to enjoy a half hour performance by a local musician, often someone who has completed the Oh Yeah’s Scratch my Progress talent development programme!” Dolores added: “The tour gives me a chance to share with others my passion for our city and its music, to show people some cool places, tell some stories about iconic music moments and local legends, and above all to make sure that the tour guests have a really great time.”
The ‘Belfast UNESCO City of Music Walking Tour and Performance’ – will take place in April each Saturday, plus Friday 22 April.
Each tour starts at 1pm outside the Ulster Hall and ends at 4pm at the Oh Yeah Music Centre. The introductory special package also includes a bonus drink – so get booking!
Tickets cost £20 and can be booked at: https://visitbelfast.ticketsolve.com/shows/873633417
The Belfast City of Music Walking Tour and Performance will continue during the rest of the year, with tours confirmed already for Friday 6 May and Friday 3 June (as part of Womens Work festival). Further details from https://www.creativetoursbelfast.com