The waiting is finally over for Pet Expo 2019
Coiff your feathers and shine up your fur - the first ever Belfast Telegraph Pet Expo is upon us!
The furred and feathered pet extravaganza, supported by We Are Vertigo, kicks off at Titanic Exhibition Centre this weekend - it's Northern Ireland's first dedicated pet event of its size and will be the perfect day out for pet lovers and families alike.
With more than 100 exhibitors and family-friendly entertainment planned across Saturday and Sunday, we can promise you one big beast of a weekend, not to mention a vast variety of pets, pet products, live demonstrations, have-a-go activities and organisations that cater to pets.
Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the event, which offers something for everyone, whether they're into domestic pets, exotic reptiles, tantalising tarantulas or birds of prey.
The place to be will be our main arena, offering a mix of pet-focused attractions, including a series of obedience and agility demos with Glencraig Dog Training, the breed parade, a rally demo with Adrian Donford-Smith, and a fun dog show and fun dog training with animal behaviour expert Robin Bates.
Meanwhile, Robin and Adrian will also be hosting demos in the small arena on both days, while pet fans will also be looking forward to grooming demos by Bark 'n' Beauties and Emma Conway.
The small arena will also play host on both days to one of Northern Ireland's most popular literary dogs, with the Adventures of Fitzy Foo, the big-hearted Shih Tzu.
And baffled owners will be able to seek answers to their pet health conundrums with a daily Ask the Vet session, hosted by Dr Tom Fitzsimons.
Meanwhile, feline fans will be flocking to the cat hall on Saturday for the hugely popular Ulster Siamese and All Breed Cat Show, now hosted by the Titanic Exhibition Centre for the first time since it began in 1981.
Shows and timings for all events are subject to change due to the nature of working with animals.
Glen Stewart, operations manager for sponsors We Are Vertigo, says: "We're proud to sponsor the first ever Pet Expo. Partnering with the Belfast Telegraph on this great event that caters for everyone's favourite family pets was a natural fit for We Are Vertigo.
"Within our Titanic Quarter site, we've created a world-class leisure destination, with indoor skydiving, our Ninja Master Course and our new Inflatable Park offering high adrenaline thrills and fun for all the family.
"Our state-of-the-art new Inflatable Park brings 30,000 square feet of inflatable entertainment for the whole family creating endless thrills with extreme drop slides, open bounce areas, mechanical sweeping arms, travelators and Wipeout assault courses, as well as dedicated toddler areas so the whole family can have fun together."
In the run-up to Pet Expo, we ran a survey of our pet-owning readers and discovered, among the nearly 1,000 who responded, almost half (49%) have owned a pet for more than 16 years.
While one in seven Belfast Telegraph pet owners have one or two pets (71%), 17% have three or four and 12% have five or more pets.
And Belfast Telegraph pet owners have revealed that their beloved pets are also a boost to their health and wellbeing. When it comes to the best thing about owning a pet, 64% say the best thing is that it makes you happy, while 19% say it's because it lowers your stress levels, 8% say it's that it keeps you fit and 7% cite the companionship pets provide for their children.
Seventy per cent say their pet has changed their life for the better and 62% find their pet makes them feel physically and mentally healthier.
Anyone planning to visit our pet-packed weekend can pick up their tickets at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/petexpo/tickets this week, but tickets will also be available at the door.
Meanwhile, the first 1,000 people through the doors each day get a free ticket to We Are Vertigo's Inflata Park Open Bounce. (T&Cs apply, visit www.wearevertigo.com/petexpo)