The five boys were en route to the Odyssey Arena for Sunday night's concert – the third of their sold-out Belfast shows – when over-enthusiastic fans ran at their buses, banging on the sides and screaming their names.
Security staff and police officers had to hold the crowd back when band members Harry Styles and Liam Payne sneaked out a side door and made for their tour bus. But fans managed to smash a cordon and surge forward towards the boys, who were quickly ushered on to their bus.
Police pushed the crowd back to a safe distance, but when Irish member Niall Horan came out of the hotel, they rushed forward again.
One fan who witnessed the scenes of fan frenzy described it as "chaotic".
She said the band members had looked "petrified" by the throng.
"We were all told to stand back and were kept together in quite a small space and everyone was getting worked up about the boys coming out," she said.
"A few cars were parked in the way to block us off from the buses but we could see the boys coming out of a side door.
"When Harry came out, everyone went mad and started running towards him.
"He went back inside but came out again with Liam and got straight on the bus.
"The police moved us back but when Niall came out we all ran forward again. To be honest, he looked petrified.
"Then Zayn came out followed by Louis and they got on the bus. It was crazy.
"There were girls screaming and crying and people shoved up against the buses.
"Thankfully none of the younger kids ran forward."
When the tour buses eventually managed to leave the hotel, the fans ran on to the road after them.
The fan said: "One girl had fallen over in the rush to the buses and had hurt her leg, but when I told her to get it looked at, she said she didn't want to miss the boys leaving.
"We saw them on the buses and they all looked pretty shaken."
A PSNI spokesman said officers were at the scene to "police the situation" and "'assist with traffic". He said no reports of an incident were reported and said One Direction fans were known for being "over-exuberant".
One Direction wrapped up their Odyssey Arena shows on Monday night after an eventful five days in the city, marked by scenes of hysteria.
Youngest member Harry Styles, who chatted up a Belfast girl after spotting her in the audience on Thursday night, returned home to England on Saturday to visit his mum for Mother's Day, while Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson travelled to Dublin to watch the Ireland v England rugby match.
Zayn Malik and Liam Payne stayed in the hotel on their day off.
It is understood the girlfriends of Louis, Zayn and Liam were also in Belfast at the weekend.
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