Sports Events in Belfast
Down Royal Race Course
Down Royal Racecourse has brought the “Sport of Kings “ to generations in Ulster since the 17th Century and boasts some of the most modern facilities for racing fans. Located 10 miles south of Belfast, this premier racecourse presents 13 exciting, top-class horse races throughout the year, including the Bass Northern Ireland St Patrick's Day meeting, the Mirror May Day meeting, the Anglo Irish Bank Derby meeting, The Specsavers Ulster Derby meeting in June, and the internationally-acclaimed Northern Ireland Festival of Racing in November.
Belfast Giants Ice Hockey
The Belfast Giants where formed in 2000 by businessman Bob Zeller when he put together a plan to start a hockey team in the UK. Belfast was his chosen location and this decision would make the Giants Ireland’s first professional ice hockey team.
The team which were named after the mythological Giant Finn McCool and his Giants causeway on the north coast of the island. They play out of the SSE Arena.
Irish Football Association
Founded in the Queens Hotel, Belfast on 18th November 1880 the Irish Football Association is the fourth oldest governing body in the world behind the other three home associations. It is the body which is used to promote, foster and develop the game throughout Northern Ireland at all levels. International football was organised soon after although a 13-0 defeat at the hands of England at the Knock Ground, Bloomfield in 1882 wasn't quite the start that might have been desired.
Thankfully performances have come a long way since then with three World Cup finals appearances to our credit and a series of legendary players being produced from the likes of Peter Doherty, Danny Blanchflower and Pat Jennings to, arguably, the greatest of them all, a certain George Best.
However, it is off the pitch that the Association has had its greatest impact. A member of the International Football Board - the rule-making body - the IFA sits as an equal with the other British associations and representatives of FIFA itself.
A move to the current headquarters at Windsor Avenue followed in 1960, just a short walk from the hotel along with Windsor Park where home internationals are played. The building is listed being a former residence of Thomas Andrews, designer of the world famous but ill-fated Titanic.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded on November 1st 1884, by a group of spirited Irishmen who had the foresight to realise the importance of establishing a national organisation to revive and nurture traditional, indigenous pastimes.
Until that time all that was Irish was being steadily eroded by emigration, desperate poverty and outside influences. Within six months of that famous first meeting, clubs began to spring up all over Ireland and people began to play the games of Hurling and Gaelic Football and take part in Athletic events with pride. From 1925 the GAA handed over the organisation of Athletics to a separate organisation.
The GAA has over 2,500 clubs in Ireland alone. The playing of Gaelic Games is based on the GAA Club, and each of the 32 Counties in Ireland have their own Club competitions, culminating in County Winners in championship and league.
Ulster Rugby participates in the Heineken Cup and the Magners League and provides the biggest regular supporter numbers for a true “sport for all” in Northern Ireland. Ulster Rugby, with its playing and administrative based at Ravenhill in Belfast, is the only sport running a full-time professional team based in Northern Ireland, with a full game development structure beneath it.
Harry Williams was Ulster's first coach in the professional era and presided over what is arguably the club's greatest acheivement when the side lifted the European Cup in January 1999, defeating French side Colomiers, 21 - 6 in the final which was played at Lansdowne Road.
On a local level, Belfast Harlequins who play out of the Grafton Arena, are located within a few minutes of the hotel, just off the Malone Road.