Belfast Telegraph

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Tall Ships: Sail of the century as thousands welcome masters of the seas to Belfast

By Ivan Little

Published 03/07/2015

Tall ships on their way to the North Coast for the start of the Race to Norway. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Tall ships on their way to the North Coast for the start of the Race to Norway. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Tall ships on their way to the North Coast for the Race to Norway. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Tall ships on their way to the North Coast for the Race to Norway. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Tall ships on their way to the North Coast for the Race to Norway. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Fireworks at the Tall Ships maritime festival in Belfast Pic Pacemaker
Fireworks at the Tall Ships maritime festival in Belfast Pic Pacemaker
Tall Ships sail away from the City's dock to start the Tall Ships races 2015 from Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A photographer with the Guayas The Tall Ships parade as it leaves Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
The Firework Display on Saturday Night at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
The Firework Display on Saturday Night at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
Hot air balloons during the Tall Ships Maritime festival at the City's dock in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The Firework Display on Saturday Night at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
Fireworks at the Tall Ships maritime festival in Belfast Pic Pacemaker
The Red Arrows at Belfast Harbour for the final day of the 2015 Tall Ships Race at Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
Going out with a bang: Spectacular fireworks on the final night of the Belfast Tall Ships 2015 at Belfast. Pic: McAuley Multimedia.
Tall ships depart Belfast port as they form a parade on route to near Castlerock to start the next leg of their journey to Norway. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia.
Tall ships depart Belfast port as they form a parade on route to near Castlerock to start the next leg of their journey to Norway. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia.
Tall ships depart Belfast port as they form a parade on route to near Castlerock to start the next leg of their journey to Norway. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia.
Tall ships depart Belfast port as they form a parade on route to near Castlerock to start the next leg of their journey to Norway. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia.
The Tall Ships leaving Belfast at the end of the four-day maritime festival. Pic: Matt Mackey/Presseye.
HMS Northumberland leads the parade of sail from Belfast on Sunday as the Tall Ships leave Belfast at the end of the four-day maritime festival. Pic: Matt Mackey/Presseye.
Tall ships depart Belfast port as they form a parade on route to near Castlerock to start the next leg of their journey to Norway. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia.
The Red Arrows fly past Titanic Belfast towards Carrickfergus Castle at the end of theTall Ships maritime festival. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker.
The Red Arrows fly past Titanic Belfast towards Carrickfergus Castle at the end of theTall Ships maritime festival. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker.
The Red Arrows fly past Kilroot Power Station at the end of theTall Ships maritime festival. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker.
The Tall Ships sail away from Belfast port. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker.
The Tall Ships sail away from Belfast port. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker.
The Tall Ships leave Belfast Harbour on the final day of the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye.
The Tall Ships leave Belfast Harbour on the final day of the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye.
The Tall Ships leave Belfast Harbour on the final day of the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye.
The Tall Ships leave Belfast Harbour on the final day of the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye.
The Tall Ships leave Belfast Harbour on the final day of the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Presseye.
The Red Arrows at Belfast Harbour for the final day of the 2015 Tall Ships Race at Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
PSNI helicopter view of the Tall Ships
PSNI helicopter view of the Tall Ships
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 4th July 2015 - Tall Ships - Day 3 Conor and Eoghan McEarlean at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - The Acro-Chaps with Danielle McCrea from Belfast at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 4th July 2015 - Tall Ships - Day 3 Conor and Eoghan McEarlean at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kevin Scott / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - Abi and Jake Hanvey from Portadown at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - Abi Hanvey from Portadown at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - Jackie, Min, Glenn. Abi and Jake Hanvey from Portadown at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - General view of Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - General view of Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - The Acro-Chaps at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th June 2015 - General view of Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Andrew Paton / Press Eye.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Queen's Quay at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Queen's Quay at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
(L-R) Aran and Sophie Bodor from Hungary at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Queen's Quay at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Chris Evans and Alex Jones from BBC One's The One Show visit the BBC Experience, Belfast, at Pollock Dock at the Tall Ships event. Photo: William Cherry / Presseye
Olympic Gold winning sailor Shirley Robertson OBE, BBC Northern Ireland's Gavin Andrews, Claire McCollum and Barra Best. Photo: William Cherry / Presseye
Incredible photo from PSNI airsupport of Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture @PoliceServiceNI
Incredible photo from PSNI airsupport of Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture @PoliceServiceNI
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
(L-R) Jonathan and Rachael Lawrence from Magherafelt at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 - General views of members of the public watching street performers at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3rd July 2015 - General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eddie and Allison Chesnut with Grace, Dan and Ben from Ballymena at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Visitors enjoy the day at the Tall Ships event in Belfast
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Arder Carson pictured with crew from Guayas a tall ship that hails from Ecuador. Photo: Presseye
Photographer ?Matt Mackey - Presseye.com 2nd July 2015 Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Arder Carson pictured with crew from Guayas a tall ship that hails from Ecuador.
Hugh and Ruth Dillon with Haydn and Nicholas Dillon at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Sam and Faith Hamilton. Photo: Presseye
Tall Ships Belfast. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Tall Ships Belfast. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Tall Ships Belfast 2015. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Cisne Branco is a tall ship of the Brazilian Navy. Photograph by Alan Montague
Tall Ships Belfast. Photograph by Alan Montague
Lee Taylor, Riona O'Kane, Stephen Scott, Kayleigh Scott, Chloe Scott, and Keeva Todd at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Tall Ships Belfast. Photograph by Alan Montague
Tall Ships Belfast. Photograph by Alan Montague
Tall Ships Belfast. Photograph by Alan Montague
Panoramic shot of Titanic Quarter Belfast and Cisne Branco tall ship. Photograph by Alan Montague
The new Lagan Weir Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge provides a great view of the Tall Ships Belfast. Photograph by Alan Montague
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Sight seeing at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Leona Strain and Tina Poland of the Belfast Met at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 The Gulden Leeuw from the Netherlands at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Jessica (4) and Jake (8) at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Guarding the Cisne Branco from Brasil at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Sun bathing at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Amelia Wojcik from Poland at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Coffee time on the Gulden Leeuw from the Netherlands at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Saftey First at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Ship shape on the Cisne Branco from Brasil at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Having a break on the Navy Sail Training Ship at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Fryderyk Chopin from Poland berthing at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 The Fryderyk Chopin berthing at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Ellen, Ursula and Catherine Cross at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd July 2015 Little Jessica Johnston (4) at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye
Pictured is a tall ship arriving in the Belfast Lough on Wednesday Morning amid a sunrise. Picture - Joyce Craig
Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
Carter Dorrian (7) from Lagmore loves the Tall Ships.
Marion QWalsh, Kay Smyth and Lorna Bolster.
Tom O'Connor, David Homes, Keela Homes and Sophie O'Connor at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye..
Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
The Rupel, one of the 50 tall ships taking part in the 2015 tall ships race arrives in Belfast harbour.
Crew members on Rupel, one of the 50 tall ships taking part in the 2015 tall ships race arriving in Belfast harbour.
The Brazilian Cisne Branco (white swan), one of the 50 tall ships taking part in the 2015 tall ships race docked in Belfast harbour.
The Brazilian Cisne Branco (white swan), one of the 50 tall ships taking part in the 2015 tall ships race docked in Belfast harbour.
Crewmen Anna Larsson from Sweden on board a 48 metre Brig, Morgenster Den Helder 1919 , which takes a crew of 36, at the quayside ahead of the Belfast Tall Ship Festival.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
John Morton Harbour Master Causeway Coast and Glens Council with Marvi Kashkoush and the Fist Mate of Europa at Ballycastle Bay.
The captain of Europa with Chris McCaughan Aine McAuley and David McAuley. PICTURE MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Steven McAuley on board Europa anchored at Ballycastle Bay. PICTURE MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
John Morton and Caroline Carey from Causeway Coast and Glens Council present a Giants Causeway Clock to crew of Europa at Ballycastle Harbour. PICTURE MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Lee Taylor and Riona O' Kane of the Belfast Telegraph are (L-R) Matthew and Amy Smyth from Dundonald at at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.
Chris McCaughan presents teh captain of Europa with Whiskey from the Worlds oldest Distillery at Bushmills. Picture McAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Carter Dorrian (7) from Lagmore loves the Tall Ships.
Tim Harding, Jillian Rea, Patricia McDonald, Eoin Rea and Isobella Rea at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast. Crew of the Cisne Branco from Brasil.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast. Crew of the Cisne from Brasil
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast. Crew of the Cisne Branco from Brasil.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast. Crew of the Cisne Branco from Brasil.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ? Wednesday 1st July 2015 Tall Ships have arrivied in Belfast. Crew of the Cisne Branco from Brasil.
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. A sailor from the Brazilian Navy works on the rigging onboard Brazil Naval vessel The Cisne Branco. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. Some ships have already docked in Belfast and set up for the weekend ahead. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. Some ships have already docked in Belfast and set up for the weekend ahead. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. A sailor from the Brazilian Navy works on the rigging onboard Brazil Naval vessel The Cisne Branco. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. A tourist poses beside the Brazil Naval vessel The Cisne Branco. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. A Sailor from the Brazilian Navy onboard Brazil Naval vessel The Cisne Branco. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. Colin Crooks(8) pictured at Seamark in Co. Down looking for the Tall Ships as they enter Belfast Lough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
1st July 2015 Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. Sailors from the Brazilian Navy onboard Brazil Naval vessel The Cisne Branco. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
1st July 2015 Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. As the cruise ship Royal Princess leaves Belfast Lough a Tall Ship makes its way towards Belfast harbour to dock. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
1st July 2015 Belfast Harbour gears up for the arrival of the Tall Ships ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships festival. Harvey Thompson(5) pictured at Seamark in Co. Down looking for the Tall Ships as they enter Belfast Lough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
30th June 2015 Belfast Telegraph promotion for its Tall Ships 2015 programme ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships Festival. Left to right. Jamie(6) and Carson Jamieson with Regan(8) and Reuben Hanna(6) Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 30/06/2015 Blue Sky at the Odyssey on tuesday as the sunshine expected across Northern Ireland ahead of the tall ships coming to Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
PACEMAKER BELFAST 30/06/2015 Blue Sky at the Odyssey on tuesday as the sunshine expected across Northern Ireland ahead of the tall ships coming to Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Ballycastle Sea Captain Chris McCaughan and his dog biscuit with Tall ship Europa at Ballycastle Harbour ahead of the Tall Ships visit to Belfast. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
PRESS RELEASE IMAGE NO FEE Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Photographer - Darren Kidd Press Eye Lidl Northern Ireland Invites You To The Belfast Tall Ships Races 2015 With less than a week to go, Rebekah Shirley is inviting everyone to experience the Tall ShipsÕ Races from 02 Ð 05 July when Lidl Northern Ireland will be the host port sponsor at the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival. As well as capturing the sights of up to 50 traditionally rigged sailing vessels which will dock in the city, visitors can enjoy numerous fun family activities throughout the 4-day festival. The Lidl marquee will host cookery demonstrations by chefs Dean Coppard and Ian Orr and children can enjoy storytelling and magic tricks. While over in Barrow Square, dozens of wooden Victorian games will be set up for those with a competitive side. Talented local artists discovered through a Lidl social media competition will also feature on the main stage in the Odyssey Arena. The highlight of the entertainment will be on Saturday when BritainÕs Got Talent sensation, Jesse-Jane McParland, will perform her famous martial arts routine. Since opening their first store in Northern Ireland in 1999, Lidl have been deep-rooted and fully engaged in their local communities and are delighted to be involved in such an iconic event. The Tall Ships will bring visitors from near and far to experience the very best that Belfast can offer and there is huge enthusiasm within Lidl to be at the helm of a festival that will bring a real sense of vibrancy to the province. Visit www.tallshipsbelfast.com for more information about the festival. // ENDS // ? Hannah Irwin // Senior Account Executive // Smarts Communicate E. hannah.irwin@smartscommunicate.com W. www.smartscommunicate.com T. +44 (028) 9039 5500 M. +44(0) 7
The Dreaded Captain No Beard AKA Ross O'Brien from Greystones Wicklow on the Liffey during the Tall Ships Festival. Pic Steve Humphreys 31st May 2015.
29th June 2015 The Tall Ship Morgenster arrives in Belfast ahead of the Tall Ships festival starting this Thursday through to Sunday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st April 2015 - Tall Ships return for biggest event ever staged in Belfast The biggest ever event to be staged in this part of the world takes place this summer, when the magnificent Tall Ships Race sails back into Belfast. The city will act as the home port before the start of the 2015 Race, with dozens of the worldÄôs finest sailing vessels berthed in Belfast over the weekend of July 2 Äì 5. More than 500,000 people are expected to attend the event, bringing with them an economic windfall of at least ¬£10 million for the city. Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson is pictured with Dr Gerard OÄôHare, Chairman of Belfast Tall Ships Ltd and ship trainee Aine Wills. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Lord Mayor Arder Carson and Gerard O'Hare, Chairman of Tall Ships Ltd, begin the final countdown to the biggest spectator event ever staged in Belfast, as 50 of the world's finest sailing ships prepare to make Belfast their home port from July 2-5, before the first leg of this year's Tall Ships Race. For more information on what is happening over the weekend, visit www.tallshipsbelfast.com Pic Brian Thompson
(L-R) Suzanna and Zsolt with their children Aran and Sophie Bodor from Hungary at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Ballycastle Sea Captain Chris McCaughan and his dog biscuit with Tall ship Europa at Ballycastle Harbour ahead of the Tall Ships visit to Belfast. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
30th June 2015 Belfast Telegraph promotion for its Tall Ships 2015 programme ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships Festival. Left to right. Vicki Stewart with her son Alex(7) and Belfast Telegraph seller Bobby Morrison. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
30th June 2015 Belfast Telegraph promotion for its Tall Ships 2015 programme ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships Festival. Belfast Telegraph seller Bobby Morrison. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
30th June 2015 Belfast Telegraph promotion for its Tall Ships 2015 programme ahead of this weekend's Tall Ships Festival. Jack McAteer with his mum Louise Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Monday 29th June 2015 Tall Ships
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Monday 29th June 2015 Tall Ships The Crew of the Morgenster.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Monday 29th June 2015 Tall Ships Paul Bishop Race Director and Paul Thompson Commericial Director.
19th June 2015 Tall Ship The Lord Nelson docks beside the Odyssey Arena in Belfast harbour ahead of the Tall Ships festival in July. The Lord Nelson has a able and disabled crew with local disabled people getting onboard to experience life on the ship. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
With up to 500,000 visitors like little Olly and Lucy McKay (pictured) expected at The Tall Ships Races 2015, Translink has announced special transport arrangements for everyone heading to the spectacular maritime event in Belfasts dockland, July 2 5. Visitors are encouraged to use bus, coach, train and park & ride services to enjoy hassle-free journeys to the main event sites. A must-have Translink Smartmoves to the Tall Ships Travel Guide featuring handy map and discount travel ticket options is now available to download online at www.translink.co.uk/tallships/ or pick-up from local bus or rail stations and Visit Belfast. Picture by Brian Morrison.
Tall Ship The Lord Nelson docks beside the Odyssey Arena in Belfast harbour ahead of the Tall Ships festival in July.
19th June 2015 Tall Ship The Lord Nelson docks beside the Odyssey Arena in Belfast harbour ahead of the Tall Ships festival in July. The Lord Nelson has a able and disabled crew with local disabled people getting onboard to experience life on the ship. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
29th June 2015 The Tall Ship Morgenster arrives in Belfast ahead of the Tall Ships festival starting this Thursday through to Sunday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Ciara and Mickey Donelly with their children Blanid and Dearbhla from Ahnacloy at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 30/06/2015 Blue Sky at the Odyssey on tuesday as the sunshine expected across Northern Ireland ahead of the tall ships coming to Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. The BBC's Hugo Duncan preforms at the event. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Presenter Ryan Hand helps officially launch the event. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson helps officially launch the event. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Lee Taylor and Riona O' Kane of the Belfast Telegraph with (L-R) Davy and Liz Laurence with Rachael and Jonathan Lawrence from Magherafelt at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. People enjoy the festival beside the Odyssey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. People enjoy the festival beside the Odyssey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. People enjoy the festival beside the Odyssey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. People enjoy the festival beside the Odyssey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. People enjoy the festival beside the Odyssey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Belfast Harbour hosts the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Sailors from the Royal Netherlands Navy scrub the decks onboard the sailing ship Urania. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Judith Gilchrist Templeton Robinson,Mark Reilly Belfast Telegraph, Emma Brennan Templeton Robinson and Tommy Nolan Belfast Telegraph
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Stacey Fletcher and Ciara Crawford both from Simon Bryan Residential
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Mark Reilly Belfast Telegraph, Ciara Crawford Simon Bryan Residential, Tommy Nolana Belfast Telegraph and Stacey Fletcher Simon Bryan Residential
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Jackie Reid and Jackeline Hithcen Belfast Telegraph
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Jamie Harris and Mark Mc Allister, Harvey Norman and Janet Blades
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Clare Irvine SERE, Anna Gibson BRG Gibson Auctions and Victoria Lyle
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Joanne McKendry ICAN and Sarah Little Belfast Telegraph
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Jacinta Parkill, Morrow Communications, David Mackey RLA Group and Siobhan Lavery ICAN
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Julie McCartney RLA, Kieran McNicholl ASG and Joanne McKendry ICAN
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Julie Hastings, Hastings Hotels, Karen MCGarvey, Sarah Little, Belfast Telegraph, and Joanne McNeill Nc Neill Communications.
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Jacinta Parkill Morrow Communications, Michell Chambers and Lucy Dougan Belfast Telegraph
Eamon and Pauline Havlin with their children Ethan and Cohan from Belfast at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race. Pic: Declan Roughan/Press Eye.
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Mark Mc Allister Sales Manager Harvey, Norman and Kevin Toland Glenhill Merchants
De Gallanat tall Ship - 2nd July 2015 Presseye Declan Roughan (L-R) Mark Reilly Belfast Telegraph, Tommy Nolan Belfast Telegraph, Nicholas Gibson BRG Gibson Auctions
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
General views at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Crew members on board the tall ship Cisne Branco stand for a minutes silence one week on from the massacre in Tunisia to remember those who died in the attack. The sailors were pictured at Belfast Harbour for the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
(L-R) Suzanna and Zsolt with their children Aran and Sophie Bodor from Hungary at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
With Lee Taylor and Riona O' Kane of the Belfast Telegraph are (L-R) Davy and Liz Laurence with Rachael and Jonathan Lawrence from Magherafelt at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
With Lee Taylor and Riona O' Kane of the Belfast Telegraph are (L-R) (L-R) Matthew and Amy Smyth from Dundonald at at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Eamon and Pauline Havlin with their children Ethan and Cohan from Belfast at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Eddie and Allison Chesnut with Grace, Dan and Ben from Ballymena at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Ciara and Mickey Donelly with their children Blanid and Dearbhla from Ahnacloy at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Amelia Wojcik from Poland at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl.Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Hugh and Ruth Dillon with Haydn and Nicholas Dillon at Belfast Harbour during the 2015 Belfast Tall Ships Race organised by Sail Training International and welcomed by Lidl. Picture by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.

Organisers of Belfast's Tall Ships Festival were yesterday hailing it as the biggest show that Northern Ireland had ever hosted, with predictions that upwards of one million people will eventually see the majestic masters of the seas.

And from the moment that the carnival officially laid anchor in Belfast at noon yesterday it was clear that the guesstimates about the pulling power of the Tall Ships probably won't turn out to be a tall story.

Send us your pics - email images to digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

"If this is a quiet Thursday then God help us when Saturday and Sunday roll around," said one policeman as tens of thousands surged like a huge tide of humanity around the Odyssey Arena and the Pollock Dock across the way.

And the buzz they created was the perfect illustration that this weekend Belfast really is in for the maritime of its life.

Down the lough in Holywood at breakfast time it was very much the calm before the storm in the port as curious early-birds caught sight of the last of the 50 Tall Ships easing their way through sleepy waters which were like a millpond under a sunny sky.

Pensioners Mary and Denis Pollock from east Belfast tucked into brunch on their picnic table complete with a gingham tablecloth in a loughside park.

"We thought we might have got to watch more ships but we've seen a few. We didn't fancy pushing our way through the crowds in Belfast," said Denis.

Another man had travelled down on the train from Belfast to marvel at the ships travelling up Belfast Lough "I wish they had their sails up but it's still an amazing sight," said John Turner from Ballysillan.

Just hours earlier, some of the Tall Ships were dwarfed as they swept past the gigantic Royal Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Belfast Harbour.

In a bizarrely surreal scenario, one of the few passengers still on board the cruise liner ignored the elegant craft below him and instead continued to play a violin on his balcony, one of the only occasions when the Tall Ships have played second fiddle to anyone or anything.

Everywhere else Belfast opened its harbour and its welcoming arms to the Tall Ships for the third time in 24 years.

But how different it all was to that first ground-breaking - or wave-making - visit in 1991

Bangor woman Marlene Rainey was in Belfast nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago.

"There were only a few Tall Ships here back then. And they were all able to be accommodated in the Pollock Dock," she said as she joined her friends Sharon McCartney and Vera Milling on a free shuttle bus between the two main Tall Ships venues. "It's a wee bit bigger now."

Indeed it is. And even the festival of 2009 was much smaller than this year's event in which twice as many class A ships and twice as many vessels overall are now lining virtually every available inch of space on the quaysides.

"Having more Tall Ships attracts a plethora of other boats and small ships, so it's quite a spectacle. It's actually like theatre for four days. And Belfast really unites like it rarely gets the chance to do," said one official as the city braces itself for a swift return to the same old tensions over the Twelfth of July.

But it just isn't the scale of the festival that has changed.

The chairman of Belfast Tall Ships 2015 Dr Gerard O'Hare said: "The whole Belfast urban-scape is dramatically different. Back in 1991 there was no Titanic Belfast, no Odyssey, no Obel building and few of the other commercial developments had arrived yet along the docks."

And of course 24 years ago there was no peace and no one would have imagined that a republican would be the Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Yesterday, however, it was Sinn Fein's Arder Carson who declared the Tall Ships Festival open, but at one point there were fears that the conflict of the past had come back to haunt us as a man squared up to the first citizen at the Pollock Dock.

"Are you the Lord Mayor?" he asked him. "Yes," replied Mr Carson and the man said: "Thanks for laying a wreath at the Cenotaph yesterday for the Somme soldiers. Both my grandfathers fought in the First World War. Good on you." Mr Carson told me the sea was in his blood thanks to his father's background in the Merchant Navy.

He said: "I'm not claiming to be Popeye but I do have a wee bit of maritime history in me. And I am really chuffed to see what has been going on in Belfast today and the vibes are really fantastic."

The Lord Mayor had just stepped off an Ecuadorian naval ship, the Bucque Escuela Guayas, which was by far the most popular of all the vessels in Belfast with hundreds of people queuing up for tours.

And if there were any doubts that all the nice girls really do love a sailor, they were well and truly shattered by the near hysterical female response to nine Brazilian sailors from their ship the Cisne Branco who went walkabout around the Odyssey.

"They're really clean and well-turned out. They're gorgeous," said one mature Belfast woman who really ought to have known better.

Captain Denilson Noga, the Brazilian naval attache in London, was impressed by the atmosphere in Belfast. "The people here have been wonderful, very friendly," he said. And the crew said the reaction had made their tiring two month trip across the Atlantic worthwhile.

The Dutch sailors on board their naval ship the Urania also turned the ladies' heads both literally and emotionally. But the Tall Ships and their handsome crew weren't the only attractions.

Everywhere you turned, if you could turn, there were beer tents, food stalls and merchandising outlets and in one huge marquee, TV personality Pamela Ballantine was hosting cookery demonstrations.

Alternating on the stage with her and the province's top chefs like Dean Coppard from Armagh and Ian Orr from Londonderry was a children's storyteller, whose first audiences amounted to just one ice cream scoffing tot in a buggy, but happily the crowds did increase.

Actor Gerard Jordan-Quinn, who starred as a policeman in the hit TV series The Fall, entertained more mature audiences with a theatrical piece about Thomas Patrick Dillon, a crewman who survived the Titanic sinking and another actor from the Kabosh theatre company, Stephen Beggs, performed a short play about the Harland and Wolff vessel's sister ship the Olympic.

One of the first arrivals at the Odyssey to see the Tall Ships was Hazel Burrows from north Belfast. "I was here six years ago in 2009 but there seem to be even more ships this time and I will be back again over the weekend to visit them," she said.

But not everyone was on board with getting on board. Stanley Allister from Carnmoney said: "It's very interesting to see so many of these towering ships. But I haven't gone on any of them. To me they're a bit like the Giant's Causeway, they're worth seeing but not worthy going to see. I would rather walk around them than to go up the gangway."

Joy Craig and her children Paige, James and Alex were much more enthusiastic. "The ships are awesome," said a breathless Paige. "I can't believe they are so big and so beautiful."

Joy said: "It is tremendous that they have so much for the children this year. They are really happy but tired."

At the opening ceremony yesterday afternoon, Dr O'Hare echoed claims from Stormont that the Tall Ships could generate up to £5m for the Northern Irish economy.

Others, however, have estimated that the overall benefit could be three times higher with 40,000 visitors scheduled to come to Belfast.

Dr O'Hare said that as well as the half-million local visitors expected at Belfast Harbour during the festival it's anticipated that a similar number will see the Tall Ships as they journey to the north coast for the start of the race proper from Portrush to Norway.

Knutt Weston, the Norwegian chairman of Sea Training International, who are in charge of the Tall Ship races, made a passionate speech about how well Belfast had risen to the challenge of staging the maritime festival this year and in the past.

But ironically his words about the welcome on and off the water were drowned out from the air - by a PSNI helicopter hovering overhead.

He later told me that Belfast's reputation as a host city in previous years was second to none. "And I can already sense that the festival is going well and that people are having a great time," he said.

Mr Weston said the most important thing about the Tall Ships race for him was its ethos and how it helped to transform the lives of the young people who joined the vessels to learn seafaring skills.

Looking to the future, Mr Weston said there was every chance that the Tall Ships could come back to Belfast. "There is a four-year cycle in these waters," he said. "If people here are interested in the ships returning they are welcome to bid, but I can't promise anything of course."

Given the size of yesterday's crowds and the enthusiasm, it would seem inevitable that Belfast will try to tempt the Tall Ships on a return voyage.

Dr O'Hare said: " I think it is something we will want again. The one thing that Northern Ireland in general and Belfast in particular have proved is that we can run events to a European and indeed global standard.

"We are sending out great pictures across the world and this is about Belfast becoming the modern European city that we want it to be."

Dr O'Hare revealed that he and his predecessor Lord Glentoran, who will visit the festival over the weekend, are hopeful there will be a Tall Ship here on a more permanent basis before too long.

"Both of us are on a campaign to have a sail training Tall Ship for Ireland north and south because we don't have one at the moment," he said.

Race director Paul Bishop said he believed Belfast's maritime heritage had played a pivotal role in making the city so welcoming to the Tall Ships.

"All the ships' crews and the trainees really love Belfast," he added.

Yesterday it was patently obvious that the feeling was mutual.

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