The 5 most beautiful theatres in Ireland

Theatres across the Emerald Isle provide world-class entertainment, but many are stunning buildings in their own right. Here’s our list of the five most beautiful theatres in Ireland.

The 5 most beautiful theatres in Ireland

Whether you are a fan of the opera or partial to a play, theatres have always held a striking cultural presence in Ireland. With a range of performances in various artistic genres on offer, a night out at the theatre is a pastime enjoyed by all.

As associating the theatre with class and sophistication comes in part from the architecture of the place, we have compiled a list of those that we believe are the most visually stunning.

Here are the five most beautiful theatres in Ireland.    

5. The Waterfront Hall, Belfast – for a more modern flair

Waterfront Hall is one of the 5 most beautiful theatres in Ireland

One of Belfast’s most popular entertainment venues, the Waterfront Hall presents numerous concerts, operas, musicals, plays, and pantomimes annually – alongside business and educational events (such as conferences and graduations).

Designed by practice partner Peter McGuckin from local firm Robinson McIlwaine,the theatre – which opened in 1997 – is comprised of the main auditorium which holds approximately 2,250, and the studio which seats 330. Situated beside Belfast’s famous River Lagan, the building’s dome-shape and glass exterior add a sleek and modern feel to this already picturesque site – making it one of the most beautiful theatres in Ireland.

Address: 2 Lanyon Pl, Belfast BT1 3WH

4. The National Opera House, Wexford – Ireland’s official national opera house

The National Opera House is one of the 5 most beautiful theatres in Ireland
Credit: @NationalOperaHouse / Facebook

Located on the site of the old Theatre Royal, this lavish Irish venue – formerly known as the ‘Wexford Opera House’ – was designed by Keith Williams and has been in operation since 2008.

Ireland’s first custom-built, multi-purpose opera house, this favoured arts attraction boasts two theatres (O’Reilly Theatre with 771 seats and Jerome Hynes Theatre seating 176), meetings rooms, hospitality facilities, bars and dining spaces – all of which are available for private hire.

Despite the subtly of its outward appearance, this world-class venue regularly puts on both Irish and international events, including theatre, comedy, dance, opera, music and family events.

Address: High St, Ferrybank South, Wexford, Y35 FEP3, Ireland

3. The Everyman Palace Theatre, Cork – for a more regal setting

The Everyman Palace is one of the 5 most beautiful theatres in Ireland
Credit: @everymancork / Facebook

Opened in 1897, this non-profit theatre (which receives funds from the Arts Council and Cork City Council) aspires to showcase the best of Irish and international performances: including music, dance, comedy, opera, theatre and light entertainment such as Christmas pantomimes.

With the intimacy and atmosphere produced through its seating of 650 – alongside its relationships with both new and established touring companies – it is no wonder that this theatre is so popular.

Additionally, architect H. Branton’s mesmerising ceiling design and bold colour scheme of red and gold have earned this example of late Victorian architecture the right to be deemed one of the most beautiful theatres in Ireland.  

Address: 15 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork, Ireland

2. The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin – a building with character

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is located in Dublin
Credit: bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

Since opening in 2010, this iconic landmark (designed by famous architect Daniel Libeskind) has welcomed over five million people through its doors. Seating just over 2,000, the theatre prides itself on its diverse programme of world-class entertainment, which includes the best of Broadway and the West End, alongside new and local productions.

Its quirky shape and futuristic-looking glass exterior not only ensure that it stands out, but parallels its stately red interior to offer a rich, regal effect.

Address: Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin, Ireland

1. The Grand Opera House, Belfast – putting the ‘grand’ in Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House in Belfast opened in 1895
Credit: @gohbelfast / Facebook

Designed by Frank Matcham – arguably the most generative theatre architect of his time – the Grand Opera House first opened in Belfast in 1895 and later bought by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1974.

With a capacity of just over 1,000, the theatre is known for hosting musicals, pantomimes, plays, comedy performances, live music and educational events. With its majestic old-fashioned exterior, red and gold oriental interior, and awe-inspiring ceiling design, this theatre is arguably one of – if not the – most beautiful in Ireland.

Address: 2-4 Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7HR   

And there you have them: the five most beautiful theatres in Ireland.

So whether you fancy catching a show somewhere grand and steeped in history, or are in search of a site with a more sleek and modern design – there certainly are plenty of beautiful theatres across the Emerald Isle for you to choose from.

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Rebekah Humphries is a writer and blogger hailing from Carrickfergus, County Antrim. Having graduated from The Open University with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she hopes to utilise her passion for writing to help showcase the best that Ireland has to offer. In her free time, you are likely to find her drinking tea with a book in hand, spending time with her black lab, or cheering on her local ice-hockey team, the Belfast Giants.