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About Belfast Lough

Important notice

After an extensive programme of works, the newly refurbished Window on Wildlife (WOW) is opening on 18 February, giving visitors improved views of the reserve and the birds and wildlife which call it home. Find out more about the project here, or, for the latest information, catch up with us on Facebook.

Common tern displaying

Image: Steve Round

Nestled in the heart of the Belfast Harbour Estate, Belfast WOW is home to birds and wildlife from around the world, and you can get up close and personal with them from the comfort of the visitor centre.

There are over 100 species of birds and other wildlife to be found at Belfast WOW throughout the year, but don't worry if you're not an ID expert - trained staff and volunteers are on hand to help you identify what you see.

The birds that make their home at Belfast WOW come and go with the tide. The best time to visit is at high tide each day. To find out when high tide is visit the Belfast Harbour Commissioner's website.

As you look out over the reserve towards the famous Cavehill, you might spot our resident konik ponies which graze the reserve to help keep it in the best condition for wintering wildfowl and ground-nesting birds like lapwings.

Belfast WOW has two new hides which offer great views of nature. They are constructed from shipping containers to tie in with their natural surroundings.

The reserve now also boasts a sand martin bank and swift tower. We hope that they will attract these threatened species and provide cosy hideaways for them to nest in when they arrive on these shores in spring, having travelled thousands of miles from Africa.

With lots more indoor space, including a community room and refreshment area, the visitor centre is now full of interactive interpretation for all the family, including information on the rich history of the harbour and the formation of the reserve back in 1998.

Opening times

Belfast WOW is open every day except Tuesday, from 10 am-4 pm in the winter and 10 am-5 pm in the summer. Access to Holywood Banks and Whitehouse Lagoon is available all year round, but there is no access to the Harbour Meadows.

Entrance charges

As a charity, we're reliant on donations from members and supporters to help run this fantastic site, which is why we will be introducing a small entry charge for non-RSPB members at Belfast WOW. You can easily become a member - just ask the team at Belfast WOW. You can then enjoy free access, as well as all the other benefits that RSPB membership brings. If you are already an RSPB member and have lost your card, email us or call 01767 693680 to get a replacement card sent to you. For non-members, the charge is £3 for adults and £1.50 for children and other concessions.

If you are new to birdwatching...

Don't worry! Belfast WOW's friendly staff and volunteers are here to help improve your identification skills. Come into the visitor centre, borrow a telescope or a pair of binoculars and prepare to be WOWed!

Information for disabled visitors

Disabled toilets available in the visitor centre. There are no steps but there is a slight incline between the car park and the visitor centre. The doors to the centre are manual and open inward. Tiled and carpeted flooring. Seating available. Good lighting. Optics available. Staff available during opening hours. Information in clear print format.

Information for families

We offer an events programme with lots for young and old to get involved in. Click the events tab to the left for more information. In the visitor centre there is a small library to keep little ones entertained, lots of interpretation for them to enjoy, and baby changing facilities should you need them.

Information for dog owners

No dogs allowed, except registered assistance dogs. Unfortunately we can only allow registered assistance dogs in the visitor centre. Dogs can be taken to the hides, but please keep them on a lead at all times.

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 54.62854,-5.87500
  • Grid reference: NW500328
  • Nearest town: Belfast
  • County: Belfast
  • Country: Northern Ireland

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