Windsor Park: Northern Ireland

Donegall Avenue, Belfast, BT12 6LU, Northern Ireland
Google

Called the National Stadium at Windsor Park, the home of Northern Ireland’s football team is known to most simply as ‘Windsor Park’. Work building the ground began in 1903, with the venue not opening until two years later. It’s named after the area in Belfast in which it is built, becoming the home of Linfield Football Club as soon as it opened. It’s not clear when exactly Northern Ireland began playing their games at the stadium, with the issue complicated further by the partition of Ireland that occurred in 1920.

What we do know, and will go into more detail about later, is that the stadium in its initial form was best described as ‘basic’. The ground that exists today took its basis from the one that was designed by Archibald Leitch in the 1930s. It has undergone two major renovations, the first occurring in 1996 and the second in 2015. We’ll focus on Northern Ireland mainly here, given that Linfield have an average attendance of around three thousand and you’d therefore be able to get tickets to see them play at Windsor Park without much trouble.

Stats

Windsor Park Stats
Year Opened1905
Capacity18,434
Average Attendance17,811
Record Attendance58,420 (Northern Ireland v England (1956))
Pitch Size100 x 68 (6800)
NicknameWindsor Park
OwnerNorthern Ireland National Football Team
Clubs HostedLinfield F.C., Northern Ireland national football team
First FixtureLinfield v Glentoran (02/09/1905)
Northern Ireland Stats
Year Founded1921
NicknameGreen and White Army, Norn Iron
Club MascotFinlay
RivalsRepublic of Ireland
KitGreen & White (Home) / Light Blue & Dark Blue (Away)
Training GroundVarious
Team OwnerIrish Football Association
Record GoalscorerDavid Healy (36)
Record AppearancesPat Jennings (119)

Windsor Park Photos

Windsor Park Seating Plan & Where to Sit

The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park has four stands, with each one named after their geographical location for national matches. The West and East Stands are located at the end of the pitch behind the goalmouth, respectively, with the latter being considered as the family stand. The North Stand runs along the side of the pitch, as does the South Stand. The difference between the two of them is that the South Stand is the one that would technically be thought of as the Main Stand, thanks to the VIP seating located in the central and wide areas of it.

Northern Ireland Ticket Prices

Prices for tickets to see national sides play vary according to a number of different elements. The likes of who they’re going up against, whether it’s a friendly or competitive match and which competition it is that the side is playing in. As with every other football club, ticket prices can also depend on things like your age and where in the ground you’d like to sit. As an example, when Northern Ireland hosted Germany in a World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park in 2017, tickets were priced between £45 and £85.

How To Get Northern Ireland Tickets

The Irish Football Association’s website is the best place to start if you’re hoping to get tickets, with information readily available on the likes of fixtures and timings. They have an official deal with Ticketmaster, so that’s the company that they use to sell their tickets when they go on sale.

Getting To Windsor Park

Swap Start/End

Northern Ireland is easily accessible from England and the rest of the UK. Here’s a quick look at the various ways that you can get there:

Train - Given the Irish Sea located between England and Northern Ireland, getting the train all the way there isn’t something you’ll be able to do. If you’re already in Ireland, however, then you can get numerous trains to Adelaide Train Station, which is about ten minutes walk away from the stadium.

Bus - There are a number of different bus services that run close to Windsor Park. You can get the 9a, 9b, 9c, 38, 51, 103, 523, 525, 530, 538 and 551, to name but a few. As always, check out the timetables when you arrive in Northern Ireland, with the Europa Bus Station being the best place to start.

Car - The M1 is the closest major road to the stadium, so that’s the one that you’ll be looking for if you’re planning to drive there.

By Air - Belfast is served by two major airports, with the Belfast International Airport located around twenty miles away and the appropriately named George Best Belfast City Airport much closer at six miles.

Taxi - Windsor Park is located about three miles away from Belfast city centre, meaning that the journey will take about fifteen minutes to be completed. You’ll be looking to pay around £7.

Parking Near Windsor Park

There’s a decent sized car park at the rear of the West Stand, with on-street parking also found around the stadium. Be careful if that’s your plan, however, given that there are likely to be parking restrictions in place.

Useful Resources

Windsor Park Hotels

The capital of Northern Ireland has more than a few hotels in its jurisdiction, so you’re unlikely to struggle to find somewhere to stay. Here are our choices of the best ones:

Hampton Inn - £70

Hope Street, Belfast, BT12 7BD
Chain hotels are always good ones to go for if you’re not too sure on where you’re staying or what you’re looking for. This one has just shy of one hundred and eighty rooms, with a bar for people to use if they fancy a drink or a place to relax. It also boasts a business centre and a fitness suite, should you want to either do a bit of work or hit the gym for a burst. There’s a breakfast included in the cost of your stay, with free Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel. More details.

ibis Belfast Queens Quarter - £90

75 University Street, Belfast, BT7 1HL
The ibis in the Queens Quarter area of Belfast is another example of a chain hotel that is well worth considering if you’re heading to the city to watch a football match. It’s close to Queen’s University, so head there at the wrong time and you might find that it’s full of concerned parents bidding their teenagers goodbye. It has more than fifty rooms, a restaurant and a bar area where you can get a bite to eat or a drink depending on your mood. There’s also free Wi-Fi in the hotel, should you wish to get on the internet for any reason whilst you’re out there. As with the Hampton, it’s about a mile from the ground. More details.

Wellington Park Hotel - £100

21 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6RU
About half an hour away from the stadium is this independent hotel, should the idea of staying in a chain hotel not interest you. It’s got seventy-five rooms, a business centre and a hotel and bar area. In the business centre you’ll find a conference room and there’s also free Wi-Fi if you're keen to do some business whilst you’re there. There’s self-parking, meaning that you can leave your car there and walk to the stadium if you’re planning on driving whilst you’re in Ireland.
More details.

Pubs & Bars Near Windsor Park

In the majority of the stadium guides you’ll find on this site, we recommend heading to an Irish pub if you’re looking for somewhere to have a drink and watch some sport. When you’re in Ireland, that becomes much easier to do. Here are some of the best venues close to Windsor Park that we think you’ll enjoy:

Laverys

12-18 Bradbury Place, Belfast, BT7 1RS (028 9087 1106)
Laverys is everything that you could hope for in a sports bar. It’s the oldest family-owned bar in the city, which obviously means the visitors have seen a fair few interesting matches during that time! You’ll be able to watch countless different types of sport there, with the choices as varied as darts, NASCAR and, of course, football. As well as private rooms, should you be looking to host a party, there’s also a pool room for those of you that like to play a game or two. In terms of getting yourself watered and fed, they serve really tasty food from noon until ten at night, plus, there are obviously all of the drinks options that you’d expect from a pub in the heart of Belfast.

The Chester

466 Antrim Road, Belfast, BT15 5GE (028 9077 9612)
The Chester is something of a modern take on a traditional pub. It’s got a bar area and a live lounge where you can watch music and other acts. It’s the public bar that most of you will be keenest to visit, given that that’s the area of the venue that shows live football. There’s a restaurant that serves lunch from noon until 5pm then dinner from 5pm until close. It’s perhaps a little bit less ‘pub food’ than you’d expect, but no less tasty because of that. The drinks are exactly what you’d expect in a pub, though, from good old Guinness through to Jameson whiskey. In short, The Chester is a little bit more highbrow than most of the places you’d think of to head to for football watching but it’s a brilliant venue.

The Botanic Inn

23 - 27 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6RU (028 9050 9740)
The beauty of the Botanic Inn is that it isn’t just one pub - several different bars make up the place. There’s the Traditional Front Bar, which is the quieter and calmer part of the venue. Then there’s The Main Bar, which opens at noon and gets gradually more packed with each passing hour. That’s also where you’d head to if you’re hoping to watch some football. After, The Club opens up for those of you hoping to take your fun into the early hours. The pub is separated from the Wellington Park Hotel by the brilliant beer garden known as The Boho Garden, for those of you staying there. Known as ‘The Home of Sport’, The Bot, as the locals call it, is the place to head if you’re looking for a good laugh.

Facilities

Much like with the hospitality areas of the ground, the facilities at Windsor Park have been much more impressive since the stadium was redeveloped. It’s not exactly the best in the world, but it’s perfectly serviceable and you’ll enjoy yourself.

Hospitality

There are a whole host of various options open to those that might want to use Windsor Park for hospitality purposes. Since the redevelopment, the quality of facilities at the stadium are as impressive as some of the bigger ones on the rest of the UK. They have a dedicated team on hand to make your day a memorable one.

Private Hire

Whether it’s a small meeting of up to ten that you’d like to have or a larger reception for around three hundred, you’ll be able to do it at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. The lounges and executive boxes are all available for those looking for somewhere to welcome people, with anything from weddings to exhibitions hosted here over the years; there are even specific Christmas packages if you want to splash out and celebrate the festive period.

Stadium Tours & Museum

Tours of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 2pm and 4pm, then from 11am until 1pm at weekends; though changes are always possible. As part of your entrance fee you get an hour to have a look around the Education and Heritage Centre, which is a museum of sorts, focusing on the history of football in Northern Ireland. After that, you’ll be taken on a guided tour of the stadium that takes in the likes of the dressing rooms, the players’s tunnel and the press area.

In terms of pricing, it all depends on your age. Adults can be expected to pay £8.50, children between five and fifteen will have to pay £5.50 and concessions tickets are priced at £6.50. If you’re looking to arrange it for a school party then it will be at a cost of £4 per person.

About Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s history is tied up inextricably with the history of the Republic of Ireland, if for no other reason than for the first fifty years or so the football team of the country was known simply as ‘Ireland’. The Irish Football Association was founded in 1880 and was responsible for all of the football played on the emerald isle until 1921. That was the point at which football clubs in the South of Ireland decided that they wanted their own FA, duly forming the Football Association of Ireland. Despite Southern Ireland gaining independence and becoming the Irish Free State in 1922, the national team continued to be seen as being from the entirety of the island of Ireland.

When an Irish team drew 0-0 with the Welsh national team in 1950 with a side that included four players from the Irish Free State, FIFA decided that players would only be allowed to play according to where the were from in relation to the political border. Three years later and, in order to avoid any confusion, it was decided that neither team would be allowed to refer to itself purely as ‘Ireland’. As a result, the national side from north of the border became known as Northern Ireland, whilst the team from its south became the Republic of Ireland. The Irish side played most of its matches in the British Home Championship, with Northern Ireland not enjoying a foray into a major championship until the World Cup of 1958 - and so it has remained pretty much ever since.

Windsor Park History

Whilst the history of the Northern Irish football team might be complex, the history of Windsor Park is much more straightforward. When it underwent its first major changes in the 1930's, only one stand had seating - the Grandstand. That’s the area now known as the South Stand, with the rest of the stadium being terraced. The stand to the west of the stadium, behind the goal, was known as the Spion Kop and was where the majority of the most vociferous supporters spent their time. All told, the ground had a peak capacity of close to sixty thousand during this time. As with most older stadiums, though, it soon began to lose its lustre and in the 1980's the stand to the north of the ground was demolished to make way for an all-seater alternative.

The stadium continued to suffer from a lack of modernity, however, and soon numerous proposals were made to improve things. One such suggestion included the possibility of creating a venue that could act as a multi-purpose one for the football, rugby union and Gaelic games of Northern Ireland. It was an idea that was disliked by most, including the supporters, leading to the IFA announcing that they’d prefer to redevelop Windsor Park. The Northern Ireland Executive allotted £28 million to the task in 2011, with the work finally getting underway in 2014. The work took a couple of years to be completed, thanks in no small part to cracks found in the West Stand in 2015. The redeveloped ground finally opened in October of 2016 with a World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and San Marino.

Future Developments

By Fasach Nua at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Owning to the major redevelopments that have been done to Windsor Park in recent times, there are no major plans to upgrade the stadium in the near future.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.