Planning a TRIP UP NORTH? Add these three stops to your ITINERARY …
WHAT: Opening this week is the augmented reality exhibition “The Danger Tree” at the Andrews Gallery in Titanic Belfast. The critically-acclaimed digital art exhibition by Scarlett Raven and Marc Marot has drawn record crowds in London, Manchester and Liverpool and marks the centenary since the end of the World War 1.
Set in an exhibition space of wrecked buildings, representing the destruction wrought by the first World War, visitors watch and listen as paintings are transformed to 3D using hand-held devices and earphones. Poems by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke are narrated by actors including Sean Bean, Christopher Eccleston and Stephen Graham, while a music score for each piece has been composed by Reservoir Dogs film composer Marc Canham. Entry is free, and headphones and iPads are provided. www.titanicbelfast.com.
WHERE: The cool little sister to the Michelin-starred Ox restaurant, Ox Cave is a bar full of interesting wines which often hosts “discovery evenings”. The next event is on Thursday August 9 during which Eastern wines from Lebanon, Turkey and Hungary will be featured. The evening starts at 6.30pm and includes a tasting led by sommelier and co-owner Alain Kerloc’h with an array of cheese and charcuterie. If you’re visiting for a weekend then enjoy the sounds of local musician Justin Barnes whose smooth tunes are the perfect complement to one of the in-house “Irish drinks and food flights” priced at £24. www.oxbelfast.com.
STAY: Where else but the Grand Central which opened in June and is located in Bedford Street in the up and coming Linen Quarter. Cosmopolitan with art deco references, high ceilings and a sense of space, I was impressed by the rooms – 300 in total, of which 10 are suites – which offer views of the cityscape and combine comfort and a contemporary colour palette with a layering of tactile textures. Espa amenities, specially commissioned Cloud beds and easy to manage tech (not always a given) were highlights.
As for dining outlets – executive chef Damian Tumilty presides over the elegant all-day dining Seahorse Bar & Restaurant as well as The Grand Café, where the warmth of the staff is matched by the classic-with-a-twist menus. Breakfast was a particular highlight though I will be back to sample The Observatory which opens later this month. Located on the 23rd floor with impressive views of the city, it will serve Afternoon Tea by day and a tapas-style menu by night.
Do read Paul Muldoon’s poem Belfast Hymn – commissioned by the Hastings group for this opening, lines of which decorate the pavement outside the hotel. One of my favourite poets, Muldoon has captured the renaissance of Belfast perfectly, while giving a sense of its multi-layered history for newcomers. www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com.
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