Culture vultures and bevvy behemoths unite: Belfast packs a punch of titanic proportions, both on and off the beaten track. A warm welcome and great craic’s guaranteed - there’s good reason Orbital named a song after the spirit of the people here, you know.
There are loads of opportunities to ramp up the class and celebrate in style (think fancy meals in Northern Whig, Champagne tasting, afternoon tea, spa days…), but the locals will also happily encourage you to let your hair down, whether that be running riot round a pitch playing Bubble Mayhen, or kicking as high as you can-can in a dance class.
Whilst Belfast has a rich history that’s ripe for exploring (you can take a black cab tour of the city and gawp at their pretty impressive murals), it can’t be denied that also you’re truly spoiled when it comes to Belfast’s bustling bar and restaurant scene. Host to a plethora of places to scoff yourself silly and sample a couple of wee glasses of Guinness (responsibly, of course, ahem); if it’s good enough for the Game of Thrones cast, it’s good enough for us. Don’t forget to check out the official tour whilst you’re here too, where the show’s fans can channel their inner Stark and explore set locations, including Giant’s Causeway and the Dark Hedges.
There’s a brilliant range of 80 activities to make your day just as memorable as your night, so choose wisely. Tickle your creativity taste buds and master your shaker skills playing mixologist at a cocktail workshop (mine’s a Mai Tai, please). Fancy something a bit more adrenaline-fuelled? Zorbing in a massive inflatable ball down a 300m hill in the Northern Irish countryside should do the trick.
For those looking for a good excuse to strut their stuff and warm up for the evening’s antics, Belfast has loads of classes to choose from, each with its own dedicated choreographer to help you nail those moves. Dust off your flares and do the Hustle with a 70s dance class, dig out your rara skirt and find yourself a cheerleader, or finally put your shameful previous Single Ladies routine attempts to rest - make like Queen B and put your hands up.
By night, Belfast’s abundance of pubs, bars and clubs come to life. Make sure you make the most of your time and get booked on to an official pub crawl; your local guide will take you round the best traditional pubs in the area and throw in some interesting facts that you may or may not remember (depending on how distracted you are by that dreamy accent, of course). Or you could always try a pedi-bus tour, where your own drinks can be brought on board and your guide also acts as DJ and karaoke mentor.
For a truly blushing bride-to-be, there’s no comparison to a scantily-clad Irishman serving up food, drink and games, and that’s just what the Butler in the Buff service is all about. As the world’s first and favourite naked butler company, these guys really know how to make sure you leave with some unforgettable memories.
Lastly, no hen is complete without dolling yourself up, cutting some shapes on the floor and singing your heart out with your pals – try Alibi in the Queens Quarter to secure guestlist entry and sashay the night away. Whilst you’re there, you can treat yourself to any tipple of your fancy; including gins, craft beers and cocktails (how will the cocktails you made at your workshop fair against the professional offerings?).