Every night, far and wide, the Earth reveals its wildest side. The sounds of the fauna awaken together with the hominid letting go. Here, Northern Ireland revamps itself to offer you the best of both worlds.
From paddling the river under the moonshine to a burlesque show in a prohibition-styled public house, the land of the North has a plethora of nocturnal activities. Its natural wonders, singular venues and quirky adventures insure the experience of a lifetime.
If you fancy a night in the wilds under the Northern lights, yearn to uncover Norn Iron culture and eager to tick some boxes of your bucket list; then, the 20 following things to do in Ulster at night are for you.
#1 A Philanthropic Evening at The Playhouse
With 175 seats, this small theatre has an excellent reputation. Known for its benevolent character, the group of volunteers work hard to present edifying artistic projects and events. Several outreach programs are also set up with workshops and trainings. “Street talks” was created to facilitate intercommunity dialogues, develop bonds and maintain harmony through arts. Support them and go to one of their various night events.
If you believe in this project, but Londonderry is not part of your journey, you can make a donation by calling at +44 (0)28 7126 8027.
Address: 5-7 Artillery St, Londonderry
#2 Learn Some Wilderness Skills
With a national bush-craft master and knowledgeable daredevil such as Bear Grylls, surviving in nature has never been so captivating. Northern Ireland Survival School offers you to follow your heroes’ footsteps and spend a primitive evening in the woodlands. Swashbucklers will have the experience of a lifetime during this night out venture. Go back to basics, leave the technology and the modern world behind and enter Ballymena’s lush forest. Make a fire, build a shelter, set up traps, track wild animals and much more during this overnight thrilling activity.
#3 Have a Pint at Crown Liquor Saloon
Built in the 1880s, The Crown Liquor Saloon is the most acclaimed pub in Northern Ireland. The architecture, the design and the decoration of this authentic Victorian and Baroque waterhole are beyond words. The bar is elegantly detailed with tiles and huge barrels fit in the wall behind. The finely moulded ceilings and colourfully stained glass windows match the wooden doors of the private drinking spaces. The entire area is a work of art and certainly worth the visit. Stop for a beer or savour one of their chops or sausage specialities.
Address: 46 Great Victoria St, Belfast
#4 Mountain Biking After Twilight
Mountain biking in the dark does not seem appropriate. The powerful torches and the qualitative Vitus bicycles provided by Clearsky Adventure Center will change your mind. Hop on your two-wheelers and head to Castle Ward Estate. Keep an eye out for the fauna while having a craic on the trail.
Address: Castle Ward Estate, Strangford, Downpatrick
#5 Trad Session in the Oldest Thatched Bar in Ireland
The Crosskeys Inn dates back to 1654 and is the oldest thatched bar on the entire island. Awarded “Country Pub Of The Year 2017”, the pub is also famous for its traditional music nights. This particular locus is a rite of passage for folk musicians worthy of the name. Step back in time through pictures hanging on the walls, oil lamps dangling from the beams and the collection of antique objects dispatched all over the room. Storytelling and singing sessions occur the last Friday of each month. Charity events through quizzes and barbecues are held regularly, and eel suppers are also organised seasonally.
Address: 40 Grange Rd, Toomebridge
#6 A Journey to the Roaring Twenties at the Cabaret Supper Club
Dress up and travel back to the 1920s in the stylish and glamorous Cabaret Supper Club. Take great delight in fresh champagne, master cocktails and a toothsome multiple-course menu. Burlesque, jazz music, fire breathers, magicians and aerial acrobatics will enthral you through the night. If you are in the mood for amusement, prurience and gleam, this place is unerring.
Address: 44 Upper Arthur St, Belfast
#7 Experience the Aurora Borealis
Carrick-a-Rede and the Sperrin Mountains are two great spots to observe the enchanting and magical natural phenomenon. Bring your camping gear and sleep under the stars. The low level of light pollution make both places ideal locations to chase the Northern lights. Astronomy buffs can join the National Trust amateur team on special sky events.
Address: Carrick-a-Rede, National Trust, Whitepark Road, Ballintoy
Sperrin Mountains, Beaghmore Stone Circles, Cookstown
#8 See a Masterpiece at the Grand Opera House
Located in Belfast city centre, this majestic establishment nearly disappeared a few times due to 2nd World War travel restrictions and civil disturbances at the end of the 1960s. Saved from destruction by the Ulster Architectural Society, the edifice became the first-listed building in Northern Ireland. The Grand Opera House has brought all kinds of emotions to its audience since its opening, in 1895. Sit in the Victorian auditorium and entertain yourself with a theatrical or a musical chef-d’oeuvre.
Don’t forget to pre-order your interval drinks and Box Packages.
Address: 2-4 Great Victoria St, Belfast
Note: The Millennium Forum, in Derry, is also another eminent venue. Walk by the Peace Bridge after the show to enjoy the colourful lights.
#9 An Artistic Night at the MAC
With comedies, dance spectacles, talks, theatre, music and exhibitions, The Metropolitan Arts Centre is for those seeking a cultural and enlightening night. The craft hub also offers artistic and educative workshops for adults and children. “Special Events” and “Guest Hires” as “Lady Bunny Pig in a Wig” or “Hairspray” are other unique charming opportunities.
At day time, from sculpture to photography, all kinds of arts are presented in the gallery expo.
Address: The MAC, 10 Exchange Street West, Belfast
#10 Moonlight Kayak
Paddle at night and observe the timid wildlife appearing from the shores. Enjoy the sounds of the waters, the light of the moon and the peace of nature for three hours. Your activity will start at dusk so you can relish the stunning sunset. Follow the river to discover historical sites and cultural sceneries.
Address: Paddle the River Roe with CanoeNi, Smith’s Strand, Lisnaskea
Paddle the River Foyle with Far and Wild, St Columbs Park House, Limavady Rd, Londonderry
#11 Spend a Luxuriant night at The Old Inn
More of a hotel restaurant than a pub, this luxurious country escape is ideal for a romantic night. The dishes are all prepared with the freshest greens and meats from nearby sources. This extravagant yet classy establishment bedecks its white and golden carved ceiling with an opulent chandelier. Sophisticated velvet chairs and wooden tables will welcome you for an intimate and cosy dining experience.
Sleeping within the premises is possible. The bedrooms are also a reflection of the unconventional and hedonist setting.
Address: 15-25 Main St, Crawfordsburn, Bangor
#12 Catch a Show at Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre
The Market Place offers a vast range of pleasant distractions. The symphonic evenings are cultivated by Jazz, Blues and Pop Rock concerts. The movie scene shows screenings such as “Ida” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”. With “Egg and Spoon” or “Hatch”, kids also have dedicated interactive programs. Pantomimes, theatrical pieces and ballet performances are not to be missed either. During the day, craft-activities also occur in this modernist structure.
Address: 9 Market St, Armagh
#13 Star Trek Game of Thrones Sets
Stargaze while hiking through multiple Game of Throne locations. The light pollution is so low, not to say non-existent, that you will be able to see an innumerable amount of celestial bodies. If you are in luck, you might witness a meteor shower. If you are cold, a mug of hot chocolate will warm you up. TV series fans will retrace the steps of their favourite characters during the two-hour hike.
Address: Far and Wild, St Columbs Park House, Limavady Rd, Londonderry
#14 Dance All Night
Northern Ireland has a profusion of terrific hotspots. From the iconic “Limelight” on Ormeau Avenue to the gay “Kremlin” on Donegal Street and the eccentric “The Gypsy Lounge” on Dublin Road; Belfast is, of course, a big hub for many nightclubs.
The five other counties surrounding the capital city have nothing to be jealous about. Indeed, in Derry, music shows are on, at the Latin American “Sandino’s” and the jazzy “Benigan’s.” Newry hides the vibrant “Cobbles” when Cookstown has the popular “Time.”
#15 Go to a Sports Bar and Watch a Game
If you go to Northern Ireland and watch a game in a sports bar, you will have the time of your life. From Rugby Union to NFL to UEFA Champions League, the best of all sports is broadcasted through giant TV screens and the latest video projectors.
Supporters usually wear the colours of their team, and head to their favourite waterhole. Expect the bars to be busy during big matches.
Fealty’s Bar in Bangor, Grand Central Bar in Londonderry, Laverys in Belfast and Mc Aleer’s in Dungannon are brilliant locations to experience the frenetic and passionate meetings.
#16 Go to a Comedy Show
The Empire Laughs Back Comedy Club is the place to go in Belfast to have the craic of a lifetime. The comedy scene has been presenting the best of the stand-up shows since 1992. Choose to sit by the stage or stand by the bar. Order a fresh beer, a quick bite and be ready to laugh aloud.
When the hilarious shows are off, this surprising converted church hosts musical events such as SO:NI, Lee Scratch Perry and Idles.
Address: 40-42 Botanic Avenue, Belfast.
# 17 See a Hockey Game at the SSE Arena
Support the Belfast Giants at one of their home games. Buy your tickets to watch Elite Ice Hockey team games, the supreme level of ice hockey in the UK. Get into a thrilling emotional rollercoaster, stress up with the fans and join both their anger and happiness. Whistle and shout against the referee’s decisions. Singalong and clap your hands to the goal song and of course, have a pint. Cheers to a great night!
Address: 2 Queens Quay, Belfast
#18 Regress to Childhood
Spend your night playing fun games at the Odyssey Bowl. The space has a set of the latest arcades with top-notch videogames and 20 glowing bowling lanes. You can also ride a motorcycle, score a basket or play pool. Odyssey Bowl is suitable for adults and children of any age. If you are hungry, the downstairs restaurant serves burgers, sides and other meat options as well as alcoholic beverages and soft drinks.
Address: 2 Queens Quay, Belfast
#19 Live Music
With the alternative Voodoo, the avant-gardist Black Box or the dashing Bert’s Jazz Bar, Belfast is a focal point for emerging talents. However, the capital city is far from being an exclusive corner for uncovering first-class beats.
The Gweedore Bar, a rock scene in Derry, interconnects with the traditional Peadar O’Donnell’s so the audience can enjoy the best of both worlds. The comfy and classic Macken’s Bar, in Newcastle, offers folk nights with open mike when the Atlantic Lounge, in Portrush, plays eclectic sounds. Even the village of Ahoghill, in Ballymena, hides one of The Answer’s favourite setting, the Diamond Rock Club.
#20 Overnight Slow Adventure
The canoe trail will start where the Finn River, the Mourne River and the Foyle River meet, in Port Na Tri Namad. This 22km pathway will escort you to the 1890 Guildhall, the Foyle Valley Railway Museum and the 1779 Boom Hall and, will end nearby the sea at Culmore Point. You will stop at the old fishing station in Gribben Quay and help the chef slow cook the locally supplied seafood and greens. Have a beer and set up camp, learn the fundamentals of survival, and spend the night under the stars (or in a tent if you prefer).
Contact Inish Adventure for more info about the tour: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking For More Things to Do in Northern Ireland?
Participate in a Workshop
From blacksmithing in Martinstown to basket making in Portaferry, Craftcourses.com proposes a variety of workshops all over Northern Ireland.
Night Walking Tour
You can either self-guide your tour, book it or ask your new local pals to join.
Haunted Pub Crawl
Discover the earliest waterholes of the North and listen to your guide’s mysterious and gloomy tales.
Supernatural Ghost Tour
Equipped with an electromagnetic field sensor, the NIPRA (Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association) guide will escort you through the Titanic docks (forty feet below sea level) and the Pump House after dark.