Belfast City Centre has been awarded the coveted Purple Flag – a national accreditation that recognises Northern Ireland’s capital as a great place to enjoy a night out. In the same way that the blue flag is awarded to outstanding coastlines, purple flags indicate towns and cities with a well-run night-time economy.
The city’s three Business Improvement Districts, Belfast One, Destination CQ and Linen Quarter BID, provided funding for the 12-month application process, including research, customer feedback and external assessments.
Key partners from across the city drove the project – including Belfast Chamber, Hospitality Ulster, PSNI, Translink, Belfast City Council, Department for Infrastructure, Department for Communities, SOS Bus NI, Visit Belfast and Value Cabs.
Belfast City Centre Management were commissioned to put forward the application that focussed on the five core standards of Purple Flag which are well-being, movement, appeal, place and policy.
Chris McCracken, Managing Director of the Linen Quarter, commented: “This award champions Belfast’s diverse and vibrant night-time economy, with a clean and safe environment, great restaurants, bars and clubs, good transport links and a unique sense of place. Winning the award shows what different partners can do when they come together to achieve a common goal.”
Gareth Neill, Manager at Destination Cathedral Quarter said “Belfast has more to offer than ever before. Our richly developed cultural scene including the MAC, Black Box, Oh Yeah Music Centre, Grand Opera House, and Ulster Hall, showcases an outstanding year-round program of events. Securing Purple Flag is a wonderful achievement and cause for celebration by the whole city.”
Clare Maguire, Managing Director at Belfast One, said “Receiving Purple Flag accreditation for Belfast will no doubt go some way to reassuring visitors that we are committed to ensuring that they can come and paint the town purple safely in our thriving bars, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and premier retail stores! This collaboration is just one example of how positive partnerships can achieve great recognition as we collectively strive to make Belfast the number one destination for a safe evening out.”
In November the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) conducted an independent assessment of the City.
Sarah Walker, Purple Flag Programme Manager at ATCM said “We are delighted that Belfast has been awarded purple-flag status. Our independent report highlights a number of key strengths for the City; from the quality of its restaurants, bars and venues to the character of its public realm, Belfast successfully weaves its physical and social heritage with a contemporary offer.”
A Steering Group created by the three BIDs carried out a self-assessment to review the night-time offer and the many services that underpin the management of a safe and enjoyable evening economy. Following the award, the Steering Group will be meeting with the City Council and other stakeholders to discuss lessons from the assessment, along with key initiatives required to further support and grow Belfast’s night-time economy.
To celebrate the award the three BIDs will be funding a high-profile marketing campaign, dubbed “Alive after Five”, which will highlight Belfast’s vibrant evening offer to a wider audience.