Belfast has been recognised with City of Music status by UNESCO, celebrating the city’s “rich musical heritage”.
Following a bid by Belfast City Council, it is the third UK city, and only Northern Irish one, to have received the honour after Liverpool and Glasgow.
Lightbody, said in a press release: “Music is woven into the DNA of Belfast. We have so many incredible bands and artists – and more every single year. I’ve watched in these last 25 years of relative peace the music scene grow and then thrive and now burst at the seams with fearless and limitless talent.
He added that he would label Belfast “without bias (or at least with as little bias as possible)” as one of the great music cities in Europe.
“We have all fought hard for our culture to thrive and the results are so plain to see,” he continued. “Belfast’s heart beats fervidly with music. Being designated as a UNESCO City of Music honours the gargantuan effort that the entire music scene has made to help raise Belfast up and out of the darkest of times.”
Peel added that Belfast is “an alive, vibrant and a musically powerful city”. She continued: “Now is the time to celebrate those that are making a difference in music, in culture. As well as artists like Van Morrison, there is female empowered punk, new wave, Brit nominated EDM, jazz and an abundance of classical music that runs through the veins of this city and yet to the wider world, it is all unheard of, underground, eclipsed by its past, but still supplying a pulse and vibrancy that needs to be lauded for the future.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl added: “Belfast is proud of its music culture. Creativity and resilience are in the very fabric of our city and our people.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s health minister is suing Van Morrison after the singer called him “very dangerous” in relation to his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In June, the singer chanted an anti-lockdown rant at a Belfast event in which he branded Robin Swann as “very dangerous”.
Swann’s solicitor Paul Tweed said proceedings were “at an advanced stage”, according to the BBC, and a hearing is expected in early 2022.