The United Kingdom is officially confirmed as the host country for Eurovision 2023. Since then, cities all across the country have put themselves forward to host the event. One such candidate is the city of Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland.
At the end of July, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) member Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston declared her intentions of putting Belfast forward as host city. Her political party uploaded a statement to its website in which she outlined the reasons why Northern Ireland’s capital deserves the opportunity.
A contest held in Belfast would be the first ever Eurovision held in Northern Ireland and the first to be held anywhere on the Emerald Isle since 1997.
Before a decision is made, we are taking a look at the candidates for host city. Now, our focus shifts away from Great Britain to the Northern Irish capital. Without further ado, here are 10 interesting facts about Belfast…
10 Facts about Belfast: Eurovision 2023 host city bid
1. The Titanic was built here
Arguably the fact most people will know about Belfast is that the Titanic was built here. The story of the ship is known worldwide, with the ship ultimately sinking on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The ship was built in Belfast, at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard — the world’s largest shipyard at the time — with construction commencing in 1909. Visitors to Belfast can visit the Titanic Belfast to explore the history of the ill-fated vessel.
2. Belfast is home to HBO’s Game of Thrones studios
By the time Eurovision 2023 rolls around, approximately 4 years will have passed since the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Fans of the series will be interested to know that its studios were based in Belfast, with some filming taking place here. Visitors can also see some other filming locations around Northern Ireland, as well as taking a walking tour around the capital to learn more.
3. C.S. Lewis is from Belfast
Author C.S. Lewis is one of the famous faces associated with Belfast. The writer is best known for his work on The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven novels which have sold over 100 million copies. Three of the novels have also been adapted for film in the 21st century. It is also said that the area surrounding Belfast inspired much of the fictional Narnia world. C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898 and you can even visit C.S. Lewis Square in Belfast to see characters from the Narnia series in sculpture form.
4. Belfast was once known for its linen industry
In the 19th century, Belfast earned the nickname Linenopolis. This was due to the booming linen industry in the city. Back then, men would come to the city to work in the shipyards, with women and children predominantly working in the linen industry. Nowadays, only one linen warehouse is still standing in Belfast, with many destroyed during the Troubles in the latter part of the 20th century.
5. Belfast has its own leaning tower
We all know about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, located in last year’s host country of Italy. We also pointed out a similarly leaning structure in Bristol, another city which has expressed its interest in hosting Eurovision 2023. However, Belfast has its own answer to this phenomenon. The Albert Memorial Clock in Queen’s Square is slightly leaning, due to being built on soft, muddy ground. While it may not lean at quite a dramatic angle as its Italian sister, this is one landmark worth seeing if Eurovision 2023 is hosted in Belfast.
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6. Belfast dates back to the Iron Age
The history of Belfast goes back thousands of years, dating back to the Iron Age as a settlement. Not far from the city is the Giant’s Ring — a structure dating back 5,000 years. The hills surrounding Belfast contain evidence of Bronze and Iron Age habitation, though the town was only a relatively insignificant settlement until the 17th century. History buffs will love spending Eurovision week in Belfast, seeing structures such as the Belfast Castle.
7. Actor Liam Neeson comes from near here
Liam Neeson is a household name around the world. The famous actor was born in Ballymena, not far from Belfast. Neeson would also go on to make his stage debut at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre. Some of Neeson’s most famous works include Schindler’s List, Love Actually and the Taken trilogy. Neeson also lended his voice to the character of Aslan in the Narnia films, which we already covered in this list.
8. See Samson and Goliath in Belfast
You can see Samson and Goliath in Belfast. No, we aren’t talking about the Biblical figures. The Samson and Goliath in question are cranes which form a distinct part of Belfast’s skyline. The two cranes are the two largest completely free-standing cranes in the world, at 106 and 96 metres high respectively. Relative newcomers to the scene, the cranes weren’t around when the Titanic was built. They were constructed in 1969 and 1974 and are regarded as an iconic part of Belfast’s history. Harland and Wolff entered administration in 2019 but the cranes remain standing as a symbol of the city.
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9. The symbol of Belfast is the seahorse
A nod to Belfast’s rich links to the maritime world, the seahorse has become synonymous with Belfast. You will not only find one on the city’s coat of arms, there are actually two seahorses on there, showcasing the importance of this symbol. There are also multiple statues of seahorses in Belfast, including one that is eight metres tall! Those with an interest in the city’s maritime history can explore a number of sea statues which celebrate it.
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10. There is a light guiding my way
Yet another connection to Belfast’s maritime past is the Great Light, located on Belfast’s Maritime Mile. This light contains the largest lenses ever made, used as a lighthouse. As such, it also cast some of the strongest lighthouse beams anywhere in the world. It is around 130 years old, weighs 10 tonnes and is 7 metres tall. Nina Kraljic would be proud!
What do you think of Belfast? Would you like to see Eurovision head to Northern Ireland? Let us know in the comments below. You can also vote in our poll for your choice of host city.