We all know that Belfast’s bar scene is booming like never before. The latest slew of creative development taking place across the city has resulted in hundreds of bar and restaurant openings in the past couple of years, some of which have quickly gone on to receive rave reviews in national outlets like The Guardian.
However, while molecular cocktails and avant-garde dining are well and good, sometimes you just need a reliable pub to kick back and watch the footy in. Whether it’s the Premier League, Irish League, or Euro 2020 you’re watching, these are the very best bars and pubs in Belfast to do so in.
1. The Berliner
This newcomer on Lower Garfield Street has made a name for itself with its innovative small plates menu and its vast range of beer imports, but the sports viewing should definitely be enough to keep you sticking around. The Berliner offers live screenings of all the biggest Premier League, Champions League, and international games in HD, served up with some seriously addictive bar snacks including hot wings and short rib sliders. Just make sure to arrive early if you want to grab a seat.
2. The Empire
Located inside a converted church over on Botanic Avenue, The Empire takes its love for football to a whole other level. Whenever there’s a local team playing, the pull out their giant cinema-style screen across the entirety of the back wall, assuring that everyone in the building gets a good view of the action. The gorgeous original interiors and high ceilings give this buzzing bar an atmosphere that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other sports bars in the city. In the summer months, the action moves outside to their sprawling beer garden, which is equipped with a giant flatscreen so you can cheer your favourite team in the sun.
3. The Hudson
The hipster haven that is The Hudson garnered worldwide attention back in 2016 when the Thinking Drinkers named it the best bar in the world to watch the 2016 Euros in. If you’re looking for a go-to spot for the 2020 tournament, this is the place to do it. Northern Ireland may be at long odds of 250/1 with Betway to win Euro 2020, with Germany and Netherlands being the teams to beat if they are to have any chance of qualifying; however, win or lose, The Hudson is the perfect venue to watch Northern Ireland challenge these giants of European football. Make sure to get yourself to the bar for half-time, when they offer a range of discounted snacks and drinks.
4. Morning Star
The Morning Star is more than just a pub, it’s an institution. Founded all the way back in 1810, this has been the place for footy fans of all stripes to congregate in a safe and jubilant atmosphere since before they even televised football matches. You can catch all of the major fixtures on their multiple TVs, but the recent flurry of foodie awards received by this gastropub means that you’re best off booking a table if you plan to pay a visit in the evening. If you’re looking for a snack to get you through half-time, we’d recommend the black pudding scotch egg to set you up for the evening.
When it comes to finding a sports bar, sometimes quantity is the decisive factor. That’s certainly what you get with Lavery’s, a popular bar which was recently ranked one of the most hospitable bars in the city. It also claims to be Northern Ireland’s largest sports bar thanks to the whopping 28 LCD TV screens that continuously show fixtures from pretty much any league you can think of. If you’re waiting for kickoff, you can keep yourself entertained with one of Lavery’s 22 pool tables, which also makes this place the biggest pool bar in the city by a considerable margin. Head out to their sprawling roof terrace if it’s not too nippy.
6. The Fountain Tavern
The Fountain Tavern over on Fountain Street recently underwent a £1 million makeover, adding a touch of modernity to this local institution. Now you can find strategically-located screens in any corner of the vast bar area, all of which can be counted on to show the latest fixtures in crystal-clear detail on any day of the week. It may be a little pricier than most of the other sports bars in the city centre, but the atmosphere and quality you get for your money more than makes up for it.
There are a lot of exciting matches coming up over the next few months, as well as the Euros being just around the corner. Make sure to hit up these sports bars to get the best possible experience without actually being at the stadium.