The 12 pubs of Christmas has gained popularity and notoriety in recent years. The basic concept is a Christmas-themed bar crawl with friends where you go to 12 different pubs (obviously).
No better place to do this than in Belfast where you can find many fantastic pubs. We’d recommend doing this bar crawl midweek as it could prove difficult on the weekends as all the bars may be busy. If you’re doing it, remember to eat before you go and to stay hydrated. More advice can be found at the end of this article. Without further ado, here is our suggested route.
First stop, Lavery’s. This is a Belfast classic which is suitable for people of all genres. Downstairs is a traditional pub with Sports on TV and usually acoustic sessions by local musicians.
Whilst upstairs, there is pool tables, a roof terrace and on the weekends it opens into a nightclub venue. We’d recommend a here meal to full you up before you start your bar crawl as this will help absorb all that alcohol and keep you safe. The food in the downstairs bar is great, especially the burgers.
2. The Five Points
Moving on from Laverys, walk down the Dublin Road to The Five Points. This bar is one of Belfast’s newest venues in the city centre but has quickly established itself as an excellent place for a drink. It is an exceptional place to catch a traditional Irish band play while you sip a cold pint of the black stuff.
3. Filthy McNastys
Directly across the road is Filthy McNastys. Filthies is a great venue with one of the best beer gardens in Belfast. Stop here for a drink and take in the live music in the front bar or enjoy the fresh air of the beer garden in the back.
4. The Crown Bar
Head to The Crown Liquor Saloon which is a public-house in Belfast. Located on Great Victoria Street, the bar was refurbished to a high standard in 1885. It is probably Belfast’s most famous bar and is a great place to have a pint!
Just meters away from The Crown, Robinsons Bar is one of Belfast’s longest established bars and provides great choice for your night out with 5 venues under one roof – Saloon, Bistro, Fibbers, Bt1 and Roxy. Five bars in, this is an excellent bar to grab a seat and enjoy a beer.
6. Maddens Bar
Next stop, Maddens. This little off-the-beaten-path bar is quite the find in Belfast. Non-touristy and incredibly local, you’ll see all sorts of local wall decorations.
The atmosphere has just the right amount of grunge and there is live Irish music every night. It has a great range of drinks and has an amazing fireplace to add to the atmosphere. On the next page, we outline the second half of the bar crawl.
7. Kelly’s Cellars
Just round the corner from Maddens, Kellys Cellars. Built in 1720, it is one of the oldest pubs of Belfast and also one of the best. It provides pub food and traditional music sessions. It remains resolutely old-fashioned, with a vaulted ceiling and elbow-worn bar and is crammed with bric-a-brac. It is impossible to like this little gem. Enjoy!
8. Whites Tavern
Another little dander from Kelly’s is this historic 17th-century tavern, Whites Tavern. Whites Tavern proudly lays claim to being the oldest tavern in Belfast. The atmosphere is easy going and friendly, with traditional peat burning fires and many old Belfast artefacts on display.
9. The Northern Whig
Just around the corner and en route to the Cathedral quarter is the Northern Whig. The Whig is a striking designer bar with granite statues, offering a cosmopolitan menu of both food and cocktails. Grab a drink here and before heading to the cathedral quarter.
10. The Duke of York
Nestled along a narrow cobbled alleyway, the Duke of York offers a traditional Belfast welcome of craic, music and humour in contrast to the modern fashionable establishments currently blowing into the surrounding streets. A memorable stop on the latter half of your bar crawl.
11. The Harp Bar
Close to The Duke of York is The Harp Bar, just around the corner. It is a proper public house for the mature drinker selling crisps, dulse, coffees, independent draught beers and extensive whiskies and at all times “Belfast Craic” with a huge heart.
12. The Dirty Onion
End your bar crawl in style at another amazing bar, The Dirty Onion. Although only recently opened, it makes the list for one of the most popular venues in Belfast. The outdoor beer garden here may be cold but the number of heaters will keep you warm while you celebrate your final drink!
On a serious note, be careful, the Twelve Pubs of Christmas is a fairly arduous undertaking; not for the faint-hearted. Ok so it only comes around once a year and it is now becoming a traditional way of letting your hair down and unwinding with workmates, friends, and family after a long year. Take some precautions: Eat well before you start. Pace yourself. Know your route, make a plan and stick to it. Look after yourself and your friends. Drink water during the bar crawl. Have water instead of an alcoholic drink at different points if you have to. Have a designated non-drinker either with your group or readily available by phone. Finally, enjoy yourself.