The Ulster Hall reopened its doors on Friday night hosting a sold-out performance by the Ulster Orchestra, who have once again taken up residence in this stunning venue of historical and cultural significance after two years of renovation.
The hall has had a huge makeover in both appearance and attitude, with a total cost of £7.43 million. The restoration included:
- internal redecoration
- new removable downstairs seating
- new roof and floors
- installation of new high-specification sound, heating, lighting and air-conditioning systems
- refurbished artist dressing rooms which will double up as education suites for schools and community groups
- upgraded toilet facilities.
Built in 1862 and purchased by the council in 1902, the Ulster Hall is one of Belfast’s oldest buildings and has played host to famous names such as Charles Dickens, Henry Irving, Randolph Churchill, Billy Connolly, the Rolling Stones, Christy Moore, Enrico Caruso, The Who, U2, Motörhead, AC/DC, Coldplay and Pink Floyd. It was the venue where Led Zeppelin first played ‘Stairway to Heaven’ live on on 5 March 1971.
As well as music many political events and rallies have taken place at the Hall.
Rock ‘n’ Roll
“Ulster Hall Free Fringe celebrates the return of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated rock venue with over 30 free events programmed by trans to celebrate Belfast`s alternative culture.”
Events at the Hall will be programmed by both the Ulster Hall and the Waterfront, with the Fringe [pdf] events throughout March celebrating its return. Part of this celebration included a very special night on Monday 9th March: Lowly Knights, Kowalski, Cashier No.9, Panama Kings, Iain Archer, Lafaro, Foy Vance, Fighting With Wire, Jetplane Landing, Divine Comedy, Duke Special, Ash, Therapy? as well as a surprise appearance by Gary Lightbody and Nathan Connelly from Snow Patrol – all on the one stage. Stuart Bailie has a recap of the evening, and AU Mag have a review.
“Ulster Hall Free Fringe is part of Anti: Belfast`s contribution to Portrait of a Nation – the biggest youth project of its kind in the UK. Anti, conceived and run through the trans programme, showcases twelve iconic Belfast ‘subjects’ – people and places – from local bands to people and venues from that Culture, that have served to influence, shape and inspire our lives.”
Along the corridor is an exhibition of paintings of Belfast by J.W. Carey, originally commissioned in 1902.
The new Ulster Hall is to be a venue for all; less exclusivity, but rather, within the reach of those who want it, whether for hosting grass-roots events – such as the NI Music Meetup this evening at 6-8pm which is open to all those involved, or interested in getting involved in the music scene/industry/making music/being a part of the music – classical orchestral arrangements, comedy, talks, conferences, panels, rock, metal, indie. Or hire the Hall for your own event.
For all the photographers, a photowalk is being organised at midday/2.30pm (depending on which sources you read) Saturday 14th March. All doors will be opened. Photograph everything.
For info on all events see the website.