Newest Review: ... it can get very cold in winter, as there's no shelter from the wind. The centre is easy to get to. With close proximity to the bus ... more
Victoria Square (Belfast)
Member Name: euphie
Victoria Square (Belfast)
Advantages: Gorgeous architecturally, some great shops
Disadvantages: Some pricy shops
Victoria Square is the newest shopping complex in Belfast. This shopping centre opened on the 6th March 2008, after taking 6 years to complete. It occupies approx 800,000 ft² in the centre of Belfast. It was a boost for a run down area of the city centre, particularly Ann Street which had a lot of empty shops. The centre is over 4 stories, with 2 basement levels for parking and there are a wide variety of shops and restaurants in the centre. There are also 106 apartments within the complex. Over 17 million people visit the centre annually.
The old Victoria centre, its car park and the neighbouring 19 storey Churchill House were all demolished to make way for the new centre. I remember the Victoria Centre as run down and old, so I was excited to see what would emerge from the rubble. I wasn't disappointed. Victoria Square isn't a shopping centre in the traditional sense, as there are no walls or door to close in the centre; it's more covered walkways, very handy for the Northern Ireland climate! It does mean though that it can get very cold in winter, as there's no shelter from the wind.
The centre is easy to get to. With close proximity to the bus and train stations, it is also easily accessed via car. If you don't want to park in the basement car park, parking is available at the Montgomery Street multi-story car park a few streets away or there is limited on street parking close by as well. I wouldn't recommend parking in the basement car park during the day. The car park owners have recently changed the tariffs for parking and last time I was there, it cost me £8 for around 2.5 hours parking, as I only noticed the new tariffs when I was driving in and had already put my card in to pay.
The current prices for the car park are:
Price per 20 minutes £1.00
Per hour after 4 hours £3.00
Maximum 24 hour charge £25.00
Evening rate (7pm - 8am) £4.50
Victoria Square is architecturally very different and a real contrast to most shopping centres which tend to look the same. There is a lot of wood and glass, and everything still looks new. The centre itself is a V shape, with a covered atrium with the viewing dome in the middle. This is also where the escalators and lifts are.
The anchor tenant of the complex is House of Fraser, whose store spans all 4 stories. Within House of Fraser, there is a Jo Malone standalone shop and also a Paperchase. The shops in the centre tend to be on the 'high end' of the high street. Guess, Calvin Klein and Pepe all have shops here, as well as River Island and Topshop. There is also a Build-a Bear workshop for the kids (or adults in my case!). There are 98 shops in the complex and while some have suffered with the economic downturn, most of the shops are let.
There are also a wide variety of restaurants and café's in the complex. Household names such as Frankie and Benny's, TGI Fridays and Wagamama are all located here, as well as some not so well known restaurants such as Cosmo. Cosmo is a buffet style restaurant, with an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisine available. It does get very busy at weekends though, where you can wait upwards of an hour to get a table. Upstairs also houses an 8 screen Odeon cinema.
There is also a 35m diameter wide, 45m high viewing dome in the centre, which offers amazing views over Belfast. The viewing dome is free and is open the same opening hours as the shopping centre.
Outside the Victoria Street entrance to the square, the restored Jaffé fountain has price of place. This fountain was a gift to the city from the former Lord Mayor Sir Otto Jaffé in the 1870's. The fountain had originally been in Victoria Street, before being moved to the Botanical Gardens in the 1930's. After careful analysis of the paintwork on the fountain, it was sympathetically restored and placed back in its original location in Victoria Street.
The Opening Hours for the shops are:
Monday - Tuesday 9:30am - 6pm
Wednesday - Friday 9:30am - 9pm
Saturday 9am - 6pm
Sunday 1pm - 6pm
The centre is well worth a visit if you are in the area, and the dome is a must see, so long as you're not afraid of heights (I am, but I usually find I am okay so long as I don't look down, looking across seems to be ok for my brain).
http://www.victoriasquare.com/ for further information
Summary: A must see if you're in Belfast
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