Michael Stewart named as Belfast’s new night czar

Michael Stewart named as Belfast’s new night czar

One of Belfast’s best known hospitality figures has been appointed as the city’s new night czar.

Former LCN Lifetime Achievement winner Michael Stewart will take on the new £12,500 per year part-time role and will be tasked with enhancing and leading on the night-time economy.

The former Belfast Chamber president, who has worked in hospitality for 38 years, is currently the director of Common Market Belfast and runs his own consultancy and training business for the hospitality trade, Bar Czar Limited.

“This is a significant appointment and I’m proud to serve as an advocate and voice for Belfast city centre’s night-time economy,” said Mr Stewart.

“This role provides a unique platform working with key partners to address critical issues impacting our city centre, ensuring it remains a vibrant and dynamic destination after hours.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to play a part in shaping the city’s night-time strategy and look forward to collaborating with night-time workers, businesses, and key city centre stakeholders to drive meaningful change that will not only enhance the night-time experience across the city centre but contribute to its ongoing success, charm and appeal for all.”

As Belfast’s night czar, Michael Stewart will be a point of contact for night-time services including hospitality, venues, transport, and policing as well as advocacy and lobbying for statutory agencies.

He will also offer expert insight to inform the development, support, and enhancement of Belfast’s night-time sector.

It’s understood that improved late-night transport services will be high on his agenda.

The part-time role is funded by the Linen Quarter BID, Belfast One, and Destination CQ business bodies, and supported by the Purple Flag steering group, which includes Belfast Chamber, Hospitality Ulster, Belfast City Council, PSNI and Translink.

A 2024 report from the Night Time Industries Association estimates consumer spending in Northern Ireland’s night-time economy is worth around £3.3 billion.

The appointment was hailed by Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill, who said: “As someone with such considerable experience operating within Belfast’s hospitality sector, we are sure that Michael is well aware of these challenges and opportunities and will be a strong voice for operators in the city centre.”