Belfast X Factor auditions draw hundreds of hopefuls
Aspiring superstars hoping to prove they have the X Factor flocked to Belfast yesterday as the show's Audition Pod Tour arrived at Victoria Square.
Budding hopefuls travelled from across Northern Ireland and the Republic to sing their hearts out in the first step of the arduous journey to the final of the ITV reality show.
The X Factor team will select the cream of the crop from their Belfast stop, who will then be in with a chance of going in to the televised judges' auditions in the summer.
Dozens queued patiently yesterday in the hope of getting their big break, just like Tyrone performer Janet Devlin, who shot to fame after finishing fifth in the 2011 series of the show.
Among them was Portadown guitarist and singer Warren Attwell, who has already recorded a debut EP.
"I started singing when I was a teenager and just got the bug, then I had the opportunity to go at it full time about four or five years ago," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It's a difficult atmosphere in Victoria Square, because you're out in the cold and your fingers get cold, but I think it went well," said the 26-year-old.
He added: "I've performed at pubs, restaurants and I've played in a couple of wedding bands and made a bit of money at it."
Also taking a shot at the big time was Belfast teenager Gabrielle Henriette, who was down with her parents for her second attempt at making it big on the X Factor.
"I sang last year at an audition in Victoria Square, then I went to two call-backs in Dublin where I got down to the final 100," the 17-year-old said.
"I'm into ballads and I like Beyonce as well. I sing for musical theatre in college where there is a quite a wide variety of songs," explained the Belfast Metropolitan College performing arts student.
Gabrielle swore that international fame and fortune wouldn't spoil her. She joked: "Us Belfast ones are very grounded."
Also among the hopefuls yesterday were mother and daughter Debye Gaskin and Hayley Norton.
The pair are originally from Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, Canada, but they now live in west Belfast. "I'll be performing my own song 'Lucky'," said Debye, while daughter Hayley opted for a "jazz number".
"I've performed before but nothing on this scale, just local competitions," Debye added.
Yesterday wasn't Hayley's first attempt at getting on a TV talent show; the 18-year-old previously auditioned for Britain's Got Talent.
Just who the contestants go on to face is open to speculation after the dramatic departure this week of judge Louis Walsh after 11 years on the panel.
Simon Cowell will return for series 12 along with fellow judges Cheryl Cole and Mel B, with singer Olly Murs set to join Caroline Flack as co-presenter, replacing Dermot O'Leary.
The main auditions kicked off in Manchester on Sunday morning as thousands lined up for a chance to perform in front of the judges.
The X Factor Audition Tour is due to visit 50 cities across the UK and Ireland and will make its next stop in Bangor, Wales.