A City Hall party as Belfast marks its 400th birthday
Today marks a special landmark in the history of Belfast as it was on this day four hundred years ago that it was granted a Royal Charter.
Back in 1604, a basic settlement was founded by a penniless soldier called Arthur Chichester, but it wasn't until April 27, 1613, that James I granted the charter, making Belfast a town and laying the foundations for the great city we now know and love.
As Belfast 400 marks four centuries since the beginning of civic governance in our capital city, the city council has been very active in commemorating the occasion with numerous events.
Thousands of people are expected in and around City Hall today for the Belfast Big 400 Festival which includes a packed programme of activities.
As part of the festivities, traders from St George's will set up a special market in the grounds of City Hall selling artisan foods, antiques and collectibles, crafts, jewellery and much more. There will also be live music, a special screening of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, urban sports demonstrations, tours, exhibitions and children's entertainers.
One of the highlights is the T13 Urban Sports Academy displays.
This afternoon, the RampRage Extreme Sports Crew will give two awe-inspiring demos on the TITAN half pipe at 1.30pm and again at 4.30pm. There are also BMX, skating and breakdance exhibitions – performed to hip-hop beats from RampRage resident DJ Koncept – planned.
Outside of the Belfast 400 celebrations, a number of other excellent events are taking place today, including World Tapir Day celebrations at Belfast Zoo, and the penultimate day of the major Andy Warhol exhibition at The Mac.
And at 8pm The ScottishPower Pipe Band takes to the stage at the Waterfront Hall in advance of the first major championship of the 2013 season.
This week the Belfast Telegraph ran a series of Belfast 400 supplements exploring our colourful history plus a free commemorative print of famous landmarks and buildings by Joanna Martin.
And we're continuing the celebrations next week by giving away a series of great free posters (inset, above) for you to collect.
The Royal Charter signed by James I on April 27, 1613, marked the beginning of civic governance in Belfast. It set up the first Belfast Corporation, now the city council, and led to the appointment of the first sovereign, a post now known as Lord Mayor.