Beer gardens across Belfast finally opened today giving many friends the first chance in months to meet up for a pint in the sun.
For pub owners it has been a week of frustration, with widespread confusion over regulations for outside areas meaning some where unable to join the party despite going to great expense.
For those permitted to welcome customers back, there was a definite feeling of excitement on both sides of the bar to see the crowds return and the beer flowing.
At Kelly's Cellars on Bank Street, one passerby watching the tables quickly fill up at noon commented: "That's the first bit of normality I've seen in a long time."
It's a view shared by Kelly's owner Lily Mulholland, who said she was overjoyed to chat to her regulars once again.
"It's been going very well so far, the majority of our tables were booked online and we kept a few spare for walk ins. But so far, so good."
Asked about the headaches some venues have faced, she said: "The council has been round giving people a hard time, but the thing is they didn't make it clear to people.
"A few days before you're ready to open then they tell people they can't because of this, that and the other. They were able to open with the same outdoor space before Christmas, so what's changed now?"
Asked how she felt to be back in business, she said: "It's great to talk to people and welcome them back, there's a great buzz about the place."
Bar workers Eoin Loughlin (33) and Ollie Woodhouse (25) were celebrating both their first Guinness in months, as well as the return of their trade.
Eoin said: "It's very good to get back out in familiar surroundings. It's been a very tough year for everybody and it's going to be really busy for bar staff over the next couple of weeks.
"We were walking around the city centre earlier and we were aware of just how quickly everyone seems to be settling back into their routine. It's almost as if the pandemic didn’t happen which is a really positive thing."
Ollie added: "It's not just the bars you miss, it's the craic you can have with your mates and it's just an absolute joy to be back.
"Most bar staff I know where on furlough, but the money wasn't as big an issue for us as it was knowing we would have a job to come back to at the end of this."
Friends Ben Magee (24), Jessica McDonald (23), Aoife Brennan (24) and Seanna Foster (23) said getting back together was worth the wait,
Ben said: "It feels like the biggest night of the year. I missed my birthday, I missed Paddy's Day and Christmas. Just sitting with mates is what I've missed the most."
Jessica said: "It's just a well deserved break isn't it, to be outside again."
Aoife has a young daughter of two, and said the chance to meet friends socially again was a treat.
Brother and sister Tracey and Oliver McGovern from Carryduff said they couldn't resist a trip into town to mark the day.
Oliver said: "It feels like Christmas morning, you're excited and hopeful. I did feel a bit apprehensive about coming out for the first time but it's been great here today and it feels really safe."
Tracey said it was a joy to see people out enjoying their own city again after so long.
"The sun is shining, what more could you ask for? It's very well organised in here too."
Outside Lavery's Bar in Bradbury Place, a queue of at least 200 people were ready and waiting for their first beer in the sun.
First in the queue from 11.30am were friends Johnny Duncan, Conor Ross, Conor Wilson, Ross Jenkins, Paddy Boyd and Louis Magowan (all aged 24).
Speaking in the wistful tones of someone reunited with a long lost friend, all of them said there was no better place to be.
After setting himself up with a good feed for the day, Johnny said: "We've searched high and low in Belfast and we chose Lavery's today.
"It's been desperate, this is far more important than getting to the shops and gym or anything."
Conor Wilson said life couldn't get much better.
"United won last night, the pubs are open today. It's all looking up."
Conor Ross added: "As soon as the announcement came out I booked the day off work. I've been chomping at the bit for this. Christmas doesn't even come close."
A short walk away at Botanic Inn on the Malone Road, one group of students said they were "back where we belong" and were only just getting to celebrate their A-Level results together for the first time.
Sharing a picnic table in the large beer garden outside was Grace Armstrong, Rory Kennedy, Freya Kerley, Anna O'Neill and Celeste Fitzpatrick.
Celeste said: "I'm so excited to be here. I've finished my A-Levels and I'm free now, it just feels amazing. It's so weird to be in this environment with loads of people."
Summing up the mood, Grace added: "We're not depressed anymore!"