Belfast Telegraph

High noon for Titanic tickets

By Patrice Dougan

The countdown is now on. In just five days the new Titanic Belfast visitor attraction will open its doors to the public with a flurry of excitement and a lavish opening ceremony.

After almost two years of construction, the striking building — already a shining landmark on the city’s horizon — will finally welcome its first visitors when the ribbon is cut on Saturday.

And it’s not too late to secure a place for the big day — a select number of tickets will be available.

As the opening day draws near excitement is building, not just here but around the world.

The attraction has been gaining global attention — over 90,000 tickets have already been sold to people in 20 countries around the world. All school tour places have been booked for the rest of the academic year, and 200 events have been booked for the banqueting suite — including 48 weddings, the first in September.

One ticket was sold every 80 seconds on the day they were first released.

The opening day has sold out online, but a number of tickets will be available at the ticket desk when the building opens on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday from midday.

So, the pressure of creating a spectacular opening ceremony and ensuring everything runs smoothly is sure to be weighing on the shoulders of the management this week.

As chief executive of Titanic Belfast Tim Husbands has previously admitted, “the eyes of the world will be on us”.

Two weeks of celebrations have been planned to mark the opening of the building, which coincides with the centenary of the ship’s sinking on April 15 1912, including the MTV Titanic Sounds concert, a light show, the Circuit of Ireland Rally in the Titanic Quarter and a number of arts events.

Kicking off the celebrations on Saturday will be a Titanic Tea Party, in an as yet undisclosed location within the building.

A programme of music from the Belfast Youth Orchestra and the Belfast Community Gospel Choir will entertain guests at the Edwardian-style party.

All tickets to both sittings of the event have already been snapped up by those eager to be part of the opening day celebrations.

“We are thrilled that visitors from all over the world will finally get the chance to see inside Titanic Belfast,” said Mr Husbands.

“It is an iconic building and a world-class attraction that has received phenomenal interest before the doors have even opened.

“Whether you enjoy stepping back into Edwardian Belfast, scaling the heights of the Arrol Gantry in the dark shipyard ride or ‘walking’ Titanic’s first class corridors and navigation deck, this has something for everyone to enjoy.”

Alan Clarke, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said the opening of Titanic Belfast “marks the beginning of a new time of opportunity for the tourism industry here”.

“It is going to be an extremely exciting time and the local economy is set for a big boost in this centenary year as a result of the opening of Titanic Belfast and the unique programme of celebratory events in 2012,” he said.

“It has the capacity to drive significant numbers of new visitors to Belfast and Northern Ireland, increase visitor spend and create new jobs.”

The building plays host to nine galleries, each equipped with state-of-the-art technology — some of which are among the first to be used in a European tourist attraction — promises an interactive visitor experience.

With high-tech galleries and displays visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the story of the Titanic, from its beginnings in the Harland and Wolff shipyard to that fateful night when it struck an iceberg in the freezing Atlantic Ocean.

There’s a ride which takes visitors through the famous shipyard as workers build the Titanic, a CGI 3D imaging room detailing the inside of the liner, holograms of actors in period costumes talking about the ship and re-enacting life on board, not to mention the high-definition footage of the ship on the seabed, and enough iPad information docks to keep the most tech-hungry visitors thoroughly entertained.

Titanic Belfast opens this Saturday at 12pm. Tour spaces will be available from the ticket desk on the day. Tickets are still available for Sunday and into next week.

For bookings and more information contact 028 9024 6609 or visit www.titanicbelfast.com

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