Belfast awarded City of Music status by Unesco

Belfast has been awarded City of Music status by UNESCO, celebrating the city’s rich musical heritage.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 10:56 pm
Northern Irish singer, songwriter, guitarist and lead singer of Snowpatrol Gary Lightbody. Photo by Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Belfast is only the third city in the UK to become a City of Music with Liverpool receiving it in 2016 and Glasgow in 2008.

Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel have been appointed official Belfast Music patrons.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Kate Nicholl, said: “We are thrilled and honoured that Belfast has been bestowed the prestigious Unesco City of Music title and to have Gary Lightbody and Hannah Peel on board as official patrons.

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“Belfast is proud of its music culture. Creativity and resilience are in the very fabric of our city and our people.”

Over the next few years the city will deliver a series of high profile music events and aim to build its infrastructure to further support music creators.

Lightbody, said: “Music is woven into the DNA of Belfast. We have so many incredible bands and artists – and more every single year. I’ve watched in these last 25 years of relative peace the music scene grow and then thrive and now burst at the seams with fearless and limitless talent.

“I would put Belfast now, without bias at the level of one of the great music cities in Europe. Belfast’s heart beats fervidly with music.

“Being designated as a Unesco City of Music honours the gargantuan effort that the entire music scene has made to help raise Belfast up and out of the darkest of times.”

Peel said: “Belfast is an alive, vibrant and a musically powerful city.

“Now is the time to celebrate those that are making a difference in music, in culture.

“As well as artists like Van Morrison, there is female empowered punk, new wave, Brit nominated EDM, jazz and an abundance of classical music that runs through the veins of this city and yet to the wider world, it is all unheard of, underground, eclipsed by its past, but still supplying a pulse and vibrancy that needs to be lauded for the future.”

James Bridge, chief executive and secretary-general, UK National Commission for Unesco, said: “Throughout its history, the city has nurtured diverse music scenes and acts, from harpists to counter-culture punks, to rock, ravers and outstanding traditional music.

“There is more and more talent emerging. Belfast is now part of the UK Unesco Creative Cities family and represents the UK music scene globally, along with Liverpool and Glasgow, the two other UK Creative Cities of Music.”