Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Belfast gridlock fears as festival and match kick off together

Kings Of Leon will take to the stage  at Tennent's Vital
Kings Of Leon will take to the stage at Tennent's Vital

Music and football fans have been warned of traffic chaos with two major events happening less than a mile from each other tomorrow night.

The opening night of Tennent's Vital music festival will clash with Northern Ireland's long-awaited World Cup qualifier with Russia.

Up to 100,000 music fans will descend on the Boucher Road playing fields across the course of three days to watch the likes of Snow Patrol, Kings Of Leon, Avicii and Tinie Tempah.

Meanwhile 10-12,000 football fans will be making their way to Windsor Park to watch the match, which was called off in March due to the extreme weather conditions that swept the province.

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said: "I do realise that while we do try to prevent these things clashing, these two events are happening less than a mile from each other.

"There will be traffic delays but I would urge people to use public transport or walk. People need to use common sense and leave in good time and not come down at the last minute."

SDLP councillor for the area Claire Hanna said: "The traffic will be heavy, but there has been a good degree of notice for residents about this."

To try and relieve the potential congestion, Translink is directing football and festival fans to use two different train stations to avoid overcrowding. Tennent's Vital-goers are being advised to use Balmoral train station, while football fans are being asked to use Adelaide train station to get to the match at Windsor Park.

A spokeswoman for Translink said: "It's going to be a busy evening but we have plans in place for both spectators of the football and those attending Tennent's Vital. We have enhanced capacity on our train services to bring football fans out to Adelaide, and obviously we have our special trains and coaches on for Tennent's Vital."

She added: "If they want a hassle-free journey, use the train services."

Last year there was controversy as Belfast City Council received 100-plus noise complaints from residents in the area surrounding the festival when headlining act Foo Fighters took to the stage.

There were claims that the American rockers led by frontman Dave Grohl could be heard up to 12 miles away in Gilnahirk and Ballygowan in Co Down.

SDLP councillor Bernie Kelly said that Belfast City Council had taken on board the concerns of the residents from last year.

Paul Scott, event controller at Tennent's Vital, said: "We have changed the orientation of the stage and we are also using four delay hangs which should help focus all of the sound on to the body of the arena.

"Each one of the hangs is computer-controlled, so we hope to manage the sound output from the front of house position.

"It is a rock concert, you will certainly know we are here, but we hope to contain the vast majority of the noise within the confines of the arena."

Marketing director for Tennent's Vital Nicola McCleery said: "We have been working very closely with Belfast City Council about noise levels.

"We've changed the orientation of the stage, so hopefully there will be no disruption to the majority of the residents." With the festival expanding to three nights it is set to be the biggest one ever.

Ms McCleery added: "It really is unique, it's the biggest ever. We are delighted to be bringing it to Northern Ireland."

The three-night music extravaganza will kick off in style tomorrow with headlining act Kings Of Leon.

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