St George’s Market In Belfast: It’s History, Where To Eat + What To See

st george's market belfast
Photo left: Google Maps. Right: Ariya J (Shutterstock)

The historic St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions.

Perfect for those interested in history, foodies and shoppers looking for local gifts, this award-winning Victorian market is well worth nipping into!

Visitors to St George’s Market can wrap their mouth around a tasty Belfast Bap, an Ulster Fry-up or a sweet treat while browsing the antiques, crafts and fresh produce stalls. 

Below, you’ll find everything from the opening hours for St George’s Market to its history and where to grab the best food.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting St George’s Market in Belfast

visiting St George’s Market
Photo via Google Maps

Although a visit to St George’s Market in Belfast is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location    

Located within a historic covered market hall, St George’s Market is located on east Bridge Street near the River Lagan and opposite Waterfront Hall. It’s a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral Quarter, a 20-minute walk from Ormeau Park and a 25-minute walk from Titanic Belfast.

2. Opening hours + parking

The opening hours for St George’s Market are: Friday 6am to 3pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm  and Sunday 10am to 4pm. The Nearest parking is at Lanyon Place Car Park and costs from £2.50 Per hour (prices may change).

3. What to expect    

St George’s Market has 250 traders selling their wares every weekend. It has something for everyone, from a tasty snack and a cuppa to artisan crafts, paintings, souvenirs and antiques. There’s live music and a great atmosphere. Fresh produce is a highlight of this traditional market along with fresh fish, flowers and homemade cakes. 

A speedy history of St George’s Market  

st george's market belfast
Photo left: Google Maps. Right: Ariya J (Shutterstock)

Built between 1890 and 1896, St George’s Market is a Victorian market hall with a partial glass roof. However, there has been a Friday market on this site since 1604. Originally it was an open market with a slaughterhouse and meat market. 

St George’s is the last remaining Victorian covered market in Belfast. The current building was commissioned by Belfast Corporation (City Council) and was built in three phases over six years. It replaced a smaller structure which occupied the site pre-1890. 

The present building

The present red brick and sandstone building was designed by J.C. Bretling who also built the new Albert Bridge. This fine landmark has Roman-style arches with Latin and Irish inscriptions.

Over the main entrance arch is the Belfast Coat of Arms and the city’s Latin motto Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus meaning “what shall we give in return for so much?”. The hall opened to the public on 20 June 1890. 

20th century

Belfast was heavily bombed during WW2 and the market hall was used as an emergency mortuary. Catholic and Protestant funeral services were held in the hall. 

By the 1980s, there was pressure to close the market due to maintenance costs and a failure to meet health and hygiene standards. The Heritage Lottery Fund came to the rescue and renovations costing £3.5 million were completed. The market reopened in 1999.

Present day

St George’s Market has won many local and national awards for its stalls and ambience. In 2019, it was named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market by the NABMA Great British Market Awards. 

As well as being a weekend market, the building often hosts special market days and events. It is used for Christmas parties, concerts, fashion shoots, food festivals and many other events. 

6 things to check out at St George’s Market

what to do at St George’s Market belfast
Photos via St George’s Market Belfast on Facebook

One of the reasons that a visit to St George’s Market is one of the most popular things to do in Belfast is due to the variety of stuff on offer.

You’ll find everything from food (coffee beans, cakes, hot food and more) to arts and crafts on offer here.

1. The Food   

On Saturdays, St George’s Market focuses on local delicacies, continental and speciality foods from all over the world. Pick up coffee beans, local meat and seafood, cheese, homemade cakes and organic produce.

Local stalls do a roaring trade in soft Belfast baps filled with hot and cold fillings. Order a hearty cooked breakfast (ask for an Ulster Fry) or just a cup of tea/coffee and a cake. There’s also Fish and Chips, a Subway and the Market Bar and Grill. 

2. The Arts and crafts 

The Sunday Market has more emphasis on local arts and crafts. See artisans demonstrating their skills and selling handmade jewelry, candles, homemade chutneys, jams, spices and chocolates. It provides a delirious aroma of scents!  

3. The Gifts

For gifts, look no further than St George’s Market. Browse crafts and artworks, plants, photographs, metal work and more.  

4. The clothing 

Like most local markets, St George’s has plenty of stalls selling local T-shirts, hand knitted sweaters, footwear and children’s clothing. Look for bags, hand-loomed scarves and snoods, crafted textiles, hats and Himalayan shawls. 

5. The Jewelry

Several stalls sell handmade and boutique jewelry which makes a nice gift or souvenir of your visit. Steampunk Ireland has unusual cuff links, brooches and bespoke commissioned items. Country Crafts specialises in Celtic designs, beads and shell-craft and Banshee Silver has contemporary silver and gold jewelry inspired by Celtic myths. 

6. The music

A special feature at St George’s Market is the local musicians serenading shoppers as they browse the stalls. They play background music creating a pleasant ambience. There are “quiet hours” on Friday 9-10am and Sunday 10-11am. These times have no music and low noise levels to appeal to those who prefer a quiet shopping experience.

The market hall is regularly used for music concerts. Past performers include Duffy, Newton Faulkner, Deep Purple, Kasabian, Biffy Clyro and Mark Ronson. The market also hosted the World Irish Dancing Championships in 2012. It’s a market like no other!

Things to do near St George’s Market

One of the beauties of St George’s Market is that it’s a short spin away from many of Belfast City’s top attractions.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the market (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Belfast City Hall 

things to see near St George’s Market
Photo by Rob44 (Shutterstock)

Dating back to 1906, Belfast City Hall is one of Belfast’s landmarks. This civil building regularly hosts exhibitions and events and is an architectural gem. Join a free guided tour and learn more about the history of the building. They last about an hour.

2. Titanic Belfast

titanic belfast
Photos via Shutterstock

Titanic Belfast is located next to the slipway and waterfront where this most famous ship was designed, built and launched. Follow her story from conception to launch and the subsequent disastrous sinking on the maiden voyage.

3. Belfast Cathedral Quarter  

belfast cathedral quarter
Photo via Ireland’s Content Pool

The Cathedral Quarter is the historic heart of the city, home to 50 cultural HQS, organisations and galleries. It’s a place to discover events, casual and fine dining and cafés galore. Centred on St Anne’s Cathedral, this former warehouse district has some of Belfast’s oldest listed buildings along with some of the finest street art in Belfast.

4. Food and drink  

where to eat
Photos via House Belfast on Facebook

There’s endless places to eat in Belfast. In our guides to the best vegan restaurants in Belfast, the best brunch in Belfast (and the best bottomless brunch!) and the finest Sunday lunch in Belfast, you’ll find plenty of places to make your belly happy.

FAQs about visiting St George’s Market Belfast

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from when the market’s open to what to see nearby.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What days is St George’s Market on?

The market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year.

Is there parking at St George’s Market in Belfast?

No. However, there is paid parking close-by at Lanyon Place Car Park.

What’s the best place for food at St George’s Market?

The food from the Belfast Bap Co. is hard to beat, especially if you’re after something nice and hearty!

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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