Unleash your imagination at the Metropolitan Arts Centre, one of Europe's leading art centres and the hub of culture in Belfast. With two theatres, three galleries, a cafe, bar and more, The MAC has seen over 1.5 million visitors (and 90'000 cups of coffee) since it opened in 2012.
Housed in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, the building was designed by architects Hackett Hall McKnight, and has gone on to win a number of building awards including the RIBA National Award with events happened all throughout the year.
MAC was created by architects Hackett Hall McKnight, following a International Open Design Competition. The seven-storey building was designed to interplay with the existing street network, sporting a tall and thin basalt atrium, hedged by exposed red brick and concrete walls.
From the outside, the building appears fairly small, but wandering round its abstract interior, you’ll find two auditoria, workshop and education spaces, dance studios, a large space for visual arts, an eatery, and a main foyer baring the centre’s only permanent artwork; a colourful sculpture made of hundreds of metal wires created by Irish artist Mark Garry. Its interconnecting foyers further channel the industrial vibe of the Merchant City, with tall walls and top lights streaming in from above.
The venue’s design was intended to project Belfast’s bold and brave character. It was built with a sense of pride and excitement; a promising addition to the city’s transformation. Opening in 2012, the centre’s ambassador and Game of Thrones star, Sean Bean, reportedly described the MAC as ”˜putting Belfast and the arts on the world stage’.
### Upstairs and Downstairs
The MAC has two theatres of different sizes. Dubbed ”˜Downstairs and Upstairs’, the lower theatre is the larger of the two, seating up to 350 spectators and offering tiered seating for unrestricted viewing. ”˜Upstairs’ offers a capacity for up to 120 and seating is generally unreserved.
Further drawing on the idea of accessible art for all, ”˜Downstairs’ was deliberately intended to be a democratic space. It has no good or bad seats, nor seats for the rich or poor, breaking down the idea of theatre and elitism and confirming what the MAC is all about.
### Where is it and how can I get there?
The MAC is buried in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, situated in the central, chic Saint Anne’s Square. The building is surrounded by a cosmopolitan cocktail of award-winning restaurants, boutique stores and first-class hotels. Strolling around the historic cobbled streets, visitors to the MAC can easily encounter some of Belfast’s finest architecture, including Saint Anne’s Cathedral and other arts venues.
Car: There is 24-hour parking available at Saint Anne’s Square multi-storey car park, located on Edward Street adjacent to the MAC. It offers a special price of £3,50 for attending shows in the evening, normally costing £1.20 an hour during the day.
Bus: From Belfast centre, take the 218 or 219 bus to Ulster University Belfast Campus, which is a two minute walk away.
Train: The closest railway stations are Yorkgate and Great Victoria Street, a 15 and 18 min walk away, respectively.
### When is The Mac open?
The MAC is open daily from 10am- 6pm, 363 days a year. It sometimes closes later depending on their programme of events.
The MAC and our programme have been designed with accessibility in mind. They have lifts to all levels and the Front of House team is fully trained to provide additional assistance during your visit. It is recommended to sign up to their Access Register to save time on booking - you'll also receive notifications about any upcoming accessible shows in advance.
The MAC has: