Belfast Telegraph

Queen's Baton Relay in 'magical' Belfast visit ahead of 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Queen's Baton Relay picked up some Narnia magic during a visit to Belfast ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia.

It passed through a colourful and activity-filled CS Lewis Square, named after the famous writer and featuring seven bronze sculptures from his landmark Chronicles Of Narnia novel The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

BMX bikers and athletes gathered for a bank holiday carnival of sport as the baton was borne along a greenway at the Connswater River en route to the Gold Coast for next year's competition.

It also toured the nearby Titanic Quarter where the famous doomed liner was built.

Michele Bryans, acting manager for the Connswater Community Greenway, said: "This allows East Belfast to have that bit of recognition and puts us on the map."

CS Lewis was born in East Belfast and spent much of his early childhood in the city. He died in 1963 aged 64.

The square named after him has been built at the intersection of the Connswater and Comber Greenways.

The pedestrian and cycle routes follow the course of city rivers and were opened to provide a space for people to engage in outdoor activities.

On Monday the baton enjoyed a celebratory welcome, with cheerleaders, music and fun fitness setting the holiday crowd bouncing.

Ms Bryans added: "It is very exciting to be able to welcome the baton to East Belfast."

The baton is making a 142,915-mile (230,000km) journey over 388 days ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 event, travelling through Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

It left Buckingham Palace in March carrying a message from the Queen and will arrive in Australia in December and travel through the country, finishing its journey at the Opening Ceremony on April 4.

Designed for each Games by the host nation, the 2018 Queen's Baton has a distinctive loop design and has been made using macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic, sourced from Gold Coast waterways.

It is scheduled to tour Northern Ireland until Friday.

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