Botanic Avenue Belfast BT7 1LP
Belfast's Botanic Gardens are spread over 28 acres offering a large slice of calm and tranquility for visitors in amongst the busy streets of the city's University area. They originated as private gardens in the early 1800s but burgeoning financial costs resulted in the gardens being handed over to the council in 1895, since when members of the public have been able to enjoy them for free. Centrepiece is an impressive Palm House made of curved iron and glass, which houses an impressive range of tropical plants and birds of paradise – a popular outing for local school children. The Botanic Gardens also play host to a number of festivals and outdoor events throughout the summer months, including the Belfast Mela or Festival of World Cultures each August, which showcases Northern Ireland's increasing cultural diversity through musical entertainment, dance, craft and food stalls. Events are usually well publicised throughout the city, in the local press and via the Tourist Offices. In the warm weather it's also a popular spot for picnics.