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Last year’s editions of the 15,000-capacity Belsonic Festival at Belfast’s Ormeau Park, and Emerge Music Festival (cap. 20,000) in Belfast City Council-owned Boucher Fields, generated £30.8 million of “additional” economic activity and created 6,000 paid employment opportunities, according to a report by live music industry consultants Chris Carey and Tim Chambers.

The report found that the 2023 editions of the independent festivals, launched and led by veteran promoter, DJ and venue operator Alan Simms, attracted ticket buyers from as far and wide as Australia, USA and mainland Europe. Across nine individual shows last year Belsonic had a ticketed attendance of around 170,000, while Emerge attracted 34,000 across the two days.

With headliners including Lizzo, Tom Jones and George Ezra, the 2023 edition of Belsonic generated £20.4m of additional economic activity, according to the report. Launched in 2022, Emerge Music Festival is one of Ireland’s largest electronic music festivals, and last year hosted acts including Carl Cox, Bicep, Camelphat and Charlotte deWitte.

Simms established dance music club brand Shine Productions in 1995, and aside from the two festivals has launched Belfast events including show series CHSQ (5,000) in the city’s Customs House Square. The director of SD Event Management (SDEM) is also the owner of Belfast music venue Limelight (750).

SDEM said Emerge will be expanded substantially next year with the creation of additional stages, and an enhanced production spec across all the event’s stages.

He said the report was indicative of the broader and hugely positive economic benefit the events have to Belfast: “Hospitality businesses, private transport, public services and many other key areas of the local economy benefit on show nights, and the local tourism industry and hotel occupancy always see a strong boost, not to mention the thousands of staff and local suppliers employed at these and our other events. We are delighted to see our events contribute to the local economy in such a substantial fashion both with the large summer events and the many other concerts and event we produce throughout the rest of the year.”

Northern Ireland economy minister Conor Murphy said, “Events such as Belsonic and Emerge are considerable economic drivers providing a much needed boost for our local tourism and hospitality industry.  Employing thousands of people each year, they also engender a feel-good factor and a sense of pride that shouldn’t be underestimated.”