5th March 2024

The Purple Flag award celebrates cities committed to providing a vibrant night-time economy. The Three City BIDs are set to introduce the first Belfast Night Czar to enhance night-time strategy.

Belfast city centre has once again received the Purple Flag accreditation, recognising its commitment to a well-run, safe, and thriving night-time economy. Cities and towns awarded the Purple Flag are recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and wellbeing of both visitors and residents.

In a commitment to further enhance the city’s night-time strategy and resolve key issues, the city’s three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – Linen Quarter BID, Belfast One and Destination CQ – are set to introduce a Night Czar to further co-ordinate and advocate for the night-time industry and help it thrive in terms of safety, transport, and business.

Managed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), the Purple Flag accreditation was renewed following an assessment conducted by assessors in November which saw the city BIDs play a crucial role in overseeing and funding the application process, which included research, internal assessment, and gathering stakeholder feedback.

Eimear McCracken, Operations Manager at Belfast One said, “Retaining the city’s Purple Flag status is great news for Belfast and sends out a strong message that we can be proud of our diverse night-time economy, with its great bars and restaurants, a clean and safe environment, and a unique sense of place.

“To strengthen our commitment, we are excited to announce the recruitment of a Night Czar reflecting our dedication to improving coordination and addressing issues promptly. Drawing inspiration from the successful models implemented in cities like London, Manchester and Edinburgh, this position will be instrumental in ensuring that city-related concerns do not go unresolved and will actively help us review the city between 6pm and 6am.”

Alan Crowe, CEO at Belfast One added, “The Purple Flag accreditation is just one example of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to support Belfast’s night-time offering and shows that collaboration and partnership are crucial to the city’s future. This award should assure residents and visitors that we are committed to their safety and making Belfast the number one destination for a memorable night out.”

Successes noted in Belfast’s submission include the non-profit indoor park created in community hub 2 Royal Avenue, outstanding achievements of the Community Rescue Service, and coordination between police, volunteer groups, and businesses. One of the key areas for improvement is late night transport, with the current provision in Belfast lagging behind other comparable cities.

In an additional bid to enhance movement and further contribute to the city’s night-time vitality, the BIDs are considering a support package to assist Translink with the delivery of a regular late-night bus service. The move showcases each BID’s aspiration for the city’s development, and shared hopes that other key city stakeholders will make a commitment to support the proposed change to come into effect.

Chris McCracken, Managing Director of LQ BID said, “We are delighted to be an integral part of Belfast’s renewed Purple Flag status which celebrates the city’s vibrant offering.

We do however acknowledge the challenges facing the city. While the Purple Flag award underscores the progress of our initiatives, it also serves as a useful exercise revealing areas that require attention.

“One such challenge is the need for improved late-night transport services. By actively engaging with stakeholders, including our ongoing collaboration with Translink, we aim to contribute to a support package for an extended late-night service, a crucial element in transforming Belfast’s night-time economy. Now is the time for collective action and collaboration, and rather than pushing our city down we should be building it up and seeking solutions to challenges that will benefit everyone involved.”

ATCM market research indicates that stakeholders believe Purple Flag status brings numerous benefits including a raised profile, improved public image, wider patronage, increased expenditure, lower crime rates, and a more successful mixed-use economy.

Damien Corr, Managing Director of Destination CQ, added, “The attainment of the Purple Flag accreditation is a source of immense pride for us, and we hope it provides reassurance to those who live, work, and visit the city that we are committed to enhancing the vibrancy of Belfast and ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors.

“We recognise that a thriving night-time economy is not only about entertainment but also plays a crucial role in the overall economic landscape of the city. To gain a deeper understanding of the scale, scope, and economic impact of the night-time economy, the three city BIDs will be commissioning new research which will provide valuable insights to guide our future initiatives and contribute to the ongoing success of Belfast as a dynamic city.”