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Chart a course for sun and fun at Maritime Festival

By Christine Corrigan

Visitors to Belfast this weekend will be greeted by the sight of a parade of ships ranging from historic vessels to military frigates.

The Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival has brought ships from across the world to our waters, including tall ships The Earl of Pembroke, Kaskelot, the Phoenix and Russian vessel, the Shtandart, as well as Irish Navy ship Le Roisin and HMS Severn.

Visitors can climb aboard many of the visiting vessels, as well as Belfast's very own SS Nomadic, the only white Star Line ship remaining and which is on permanent display here in front of the Titanic centre.

Hillsborough family-of-four Conor Lydon (35), Susie Lydon (35), and their sons, Jack and Tom, were among those at Belfast's quayside yesterday for the first day of the three-day event.

Conor said: "We are watching the Shtandart right now, we're just down viewing the boats today."

"It has been good so far," Susie added.

As well as touring the magnificent ships, families can also enjoy interactive activities, ranging from ropework classes and face painting to pirate speech lessons from Cutlass Kitty herself.

Emma Ross, mum to Lucas (9) and Elias (7), said: "It is great, we have done the face painting, tried the pop-up food market and bought tickets for the Lagan Boat, which takes you around everything in 45 minutes."

Marlene Stockman (53) was also enjoying the sun-soaked festival with daughter Denise (35) and two grandsons, Jacob (7) and Isaac (4). They were so impressed they plan to return today.

Joanne Dougherty (32), mum-of-two from Whiteabbey, and Mary Dripps (39), mum-of-three from Newtownabbey, both had reservations about taking their children to such a large event, but Joanne said: "We were approached by somebody from the events team who gave us an arm band that we could put our names and number on so we can be contacted if that happens (their children became lost) ... that is impressive having only been here two minutes.'

The festival runs from 2-7pm today and tomorrow at Queens Quay, the Arc and Titanic slipways.

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