Maritime weekend

20130523-093111.jpgBelfast`s close links with the sea will once again be celebrated this weekend, when the city hosts the 2013 Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.

The Festival, organised by Belfast City Council and supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Belfast Harbour, takes place from Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May – at Queen`s Quay extending down to Titanic Belfast.

There will be a free Maritime Shuttlebus Service operating during the event opening hours – running every 15 minutes from the City Centre to Queen’s Island. The pick-up point is at Chichester Street with the bus dropping off passengers at Station Street bus stop (beside Queen’s Quay). The return journey for visitors to the Maritime Festival will start at Station Street bus stop, calling at St George’s before dropping off passengers at Donegall Square West (beside the City Hall).

The Odyssey Car Park will be open to the public during the festival weekend. A number of car parks will also be open on the Queen’s Road. Visitors to the festival can also park in the various car parks in the city centre and avail of the free Shuttlebus Service back and forth to Queen’s Quay over the weekend.

Disabled parking is available at the Odyssey to accommodate 70 cars on a first come/first served basis – these spaces cannot be pre-booked.

Taxis will also be operating to and from the Queen’s Quay during the weekend with the Fonacab taxi rank relocated to the area under the M3 Bridge.

For more information on the traffic arrangements in place, you can visit the Belfast City Council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events

Among the ships sailing into Belfast for the 2013 Belfast Maritime Festival will be the Gulden Leeuw, an impressive Dutch tall ship built in the 1930s with a rich history. Returning ships are the Pelican of London, a sail training ship built in 1948 which has served as an Arctic trawler and coastal trading vessel until 1995.

At Titanic Belfast, there will be a series of Titanic-themed talks and an opportunity to join the famous Titanic Walking Tour. This tour will follow in the footsteps of the Titanic Builders on a guided tour of Queen`s Island where Titanic and her two sister ships were designed, built and launched, departing at 11am, 1pm and 3pm each day. The tour is free but tickets are required to be booked in advance from the Belfast Welcome Centre.

There will also be a wide range of land-based activities celebrating the city`s unique maritime history at Queen’s Quay, the Arc, Nomadic Boulevard and Titanic Belfast.

Children can take part in free arts and crafts activities from face painting, balloon modelling and caricature drawing as well as participate in a special 3D Treasure Trail. Trail entry forms and 3D glasses can be collected at the Maritime Market over the festival weekend but returned to the Belfast Continental Market at City Hall or St George`s Market too (Sat and Sun only).

On the Bank Holiday Monday (27 May), families will also get the chance to `go on an adventure` inside a giant inflatable whale – a star attraction of the festival that day. Children can cast off their shoes and squeeze into the lifelike 50ft (18m) inflatable whale. Enclosed in a lobster-net fence, brave swashbucklers will be led into its belly where they will encounter a shipwrecked pirate with a treasure tale to tell and a mermaid with a ‘haunting siren`s song and an intriguing secret`.

There will be street theatre and performers, pirate island dancing and free exhibitions from AFBI Marine (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

All the sea air is sure to generate a healthy appetite and the Maritime Market will be returning to the Queen`s Quay over the weekend where visitors can sample the tastes and traditions of Europe. The free Maritime Shuttle Bus will be operating from the quay to the city centre so visitors can enjoy the added attraction of stopping off at the Belfast Continental Market at the City Hall during the Bank Holiday weekend.

Opening times for the Maritime Market will operate during the festival from 11am- 7pm (Saturday 25 May/Sunday 26 May) and 10am-6pm (Monday 27 May).

The Belfast Continental Market at the City Hall will open on
Friday 24 May from 10am- 10pm;
Saturday 25 May (10am-10pm);
Sunday 26 May (1pm-6pm) and
Monday 27 May (10am-8pm).

For more information on the 2013 Belfast Maritime Festival, you can visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events or contact Belfast Welcome Centre on (028) 9024 6609.

Post Author: Belfast Times

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