Northern Ireland — Shopping and Leisure
It’s easy to shop anywhere in Northern Ireland, with accessible cities and everything from boutiques and malls to markets right in downtown areas. There is a focus on local produce here, such as Irish linen, pottery, cut-glass ornaments, wool clothes, and beautiful embroidered wall hangings. Carrickmacross lace, as seen on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, is also a local specialty.
Belfast has the pick of the shopping and gets very busy on a Saturday, with droves of Irish coming up for the cheaper prices. There are typical UK and Irish high street chains, such as Dunnes and Marks & Spencer, along with many malls. Castle Street, leading onto Castle Place and High Street, have the best of it, along with the nearby, pedestrianised Ann Street. The latter has interesting side streets running off of it that are well worthy of exploration. Be sure to check out the Victorian interiors of some of the shops and pubs around here.
Of the many Belfast markets, St George’s Market (May St., not far from the main train station) is a must. Friday and Saturday mornings are best, with good deals on clothes and arts and crafts. While haggling is not the norm anywhere in the UK, feel free to do so at a market even if prices are marked.
Shopping elsewhere in Northern Ireland is a similar, smaller affair, with all the action in walkable downtown areas. In Londonderry (Derry), local store Austins is well known, while Guildhall Square has a fun market. Enniskillen is noted for its Buttermarket, where local art and crafts are available, with the Erneside Mall the go-to shopping place. Lisburn boasts the bustling Bow Street Mall, home to the likes of HMV records and Menarys, while Portstewart (near Coleraine) has an inordinate number of art galleries.
Shopping hours in Northern Ireland are typically office hours in the week and on Saturday, with afternoon hours on a Sunday. Late night shopping happens one day of the week; in Belfast on a Thursday, till 9:00 p.m.