Sail of the century: Tall Ships on their way back to Belfast ... but this time it will be twice the spectacle
Belfast Lough is set to be transformed into a scene from days of old.
More than 80 ships will crowd into the historic waterway next July as it serves as the starting point for the Tall Ships 2015.
Last time the Tall Ships visited Belfast in 2009 there were 40 vessels. Next July the number is estimated to be 80 in what Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon described as the biggest event ever staged in the city.
Ms Mallon announced yesterday that Belfast Tall Ships 2015 has secured backing from Lidl Northern Ireland in an estimated £300,000 deal. "I'm absolutely delighted to see Lidl getting behind the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival which will welcome the Tall Ships Races 2015 to the biggest event ever staged in the city," she said.
"Lidl are not only a committed Belfast employer, they also provide very welcome support for a range of cultural and sporting initiatives in and around Belfast."
The Lidl Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival will be the starting post for the Tall Ships Races 2015 and will take place from July 2 to 5.
The Tall Ships Races are organised by Sail Training International so, as the start port for the 2015 race, Belfast will see ships from across the globe moor in the harbour.
Alongside the vessels, there will be a range of free, family-friendly festival activities on the quayside throughout the four days, before the ships set sail for the Scandinavian cities of Alesund, Kristiansand and Aalborg.
Next year will mark the third time Belfast has hosted the prestigious Tall Ships Races, with the first back in 1991 and the most recent in 2009, when 800,000 visitors were welcomed and the local economy was boosted by £16m.
One of the Royal Navy's newest warships is set to visit Belfast this weekend. HMS Duncan – which is affiliated with the city of Belfast – is the largest and most powerful Destroyer class ever built for the Royal Navy. She is a Type 45 Class and her prime role is Air Defence – protecting UK national and allied/coalition forces against enemy aircraft and missiles. HMS Duncan arrives in Belfast on Saturday and will be open to the public on Sunday from 12-5pm. Free tickets are available from Visit Belfast on 028 9024 6609. A free shuttle bus runs from Chichester Street.
Figure it out... how maritime festival adds up
80: The number of stunning Tall Ships from around the world expected to proudly sail up Belfast Lough next July for the start of the Tall Ships Races 2015. The vessels will be berthed in and around Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter.
16 million pounds was the massive cash injection brought into the local economy the last time the Tall Ships visited Belfast in 2009. On that occasion 40 vessels came – just half of the 80 that expected to come next year.
3: This will be the third time that Belfast has hosted the world-acclaimed Tall Ship Races. The first time the Tall Ships came to Belfast was 15 years ago back in 1999. The Tall Ships visited again in 2009, however next year is expected to be the biggest visit by far by the vessels and is expected to attract huge crowds to the city.
2: July is the hotly anticipated date when the Tall Ships will start arriving in Belfast. The Tall Ships are scheduled to be in Belfast from July 2-5 before sailing on for Aalesund, Norway and later arriving in Aalborg, Denmark .
1,000 is the number of crew members from the 80 vessels expected when the Tall Ships arrive. These crew will be from countries all across the world.
1 million is the number of people who organisers expect to come to see the Tall Ships. In 2009 some 800,000 came to the then four-day event in Belfast.