Sailors will begin making their way to Belfast for the final leg of the impressive Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge next week.
The race will begin from Halifax, Canada, on Monday where competitors will cover 2,350 nautical miles to Northern Ireland.
More than 35 ships will be sailing towards Belfast as part of a spectacular odyssey around the North Atlantic.
The Belfast Maritime Festival will mark the return of the great ‘Tall Ships’ which last visited the city in 1991.
The crews are expected to arrive in time for the grand finale celebrations which run from August 13-16.
The event is set to be the most memorable and exciting in 2009.
The port of Belfast will be transformed to play host to a magnificent ‘armada fleet’ of Tall Ships.
Eighteen years ago when the Tall Ships visited tens of thousands of people packed the lough to watch the spectacular scenes of the majestic fleet leaving and the same is expected next month.
Belfast will welcome crew from far and wide, as well as hundreds and thousands of visitors and residents to see the ships as they line the city’s famous quaysides and provide the backdrop to four days of festivities and fun.
The festival will take place around the port on both sides of the River Lagan — at the Odyssey and from Custom House Square right down through Clarendon Dock to Ballast Quay, York Dock and Pollock Dock.
A number of trainee sailors from Northern Ireland are among the international crews that will be making the journey of a |lifetime back to Belfast.
The race began in Vigo on the northwest corner of Spain at the end of April.
Dr Gerard O’Hare, chairman of the Tall Ships board, said the finale will be a wonderful event for thousands of people.
“The Belfast Maritime Festival 2009 is a fantastic opportunity for Northern Ireland to demonstrate its ability to host an event of this scale that brings together so many different aspects of |maritime and general tourism |interests.
“The festival will offer a fantastic array of activities and entertainment for children, families, sailing enthusiasts and everyone looking for a good day out.”
The Belfast Telegraph is currently producing the Official Tall Ships programme to accompany the event — a 68-page glossy guide that will include site maps, event programmes of what’s happening where and when, details on all the visiting Tall Ships and crew information.
Did you visit the Tall Ships back in 1991? If you have photos or special memories please email them to vo’firstname.lastname@example.org.