Tall Ships Festival to come to Belfast this summer

Largest event to be staged in the city to date and could attract 500,000 spectators

Three of the Four Tall Ships which Sailed into Dublin last year.  This year the race will travel to Belfast where it will be the largest event to be staged in the city to date. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times.

Three of the Four Tall Ships which Sailed into Dublin last year. This year the race will travel to Belfast where it will be the largest event to be staged in the city to date. Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times.

 

Belfast is set to welcome the Tall Ships Race back for the third time this summer which officials today said could attract 500,000 spectators and deliver a potential £10 million economic boost for the city.

It is officially the largest event to be staged in the city to date and will feature more than 50 vessels including 17 Class A ships.

Launching the event on Tuesday at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, said in terms of events they did not come much bigger than the Tall Ships Races.

“Over the past number of years, we in Belfast have established an internationally-renowned reputation for staging high quality, high profile events, from the MTV EMAs through to last year’s World Police and Fire Games, the figures for the Tall Ships speak for themselves.

“More than 50 of the world’s finest sailing ships, and their crews, from Europe, North and South America and further afield, will be berthed in Belfast for four days, and we are predicting that more than half a million people will visit them while they are here.

“Add to that, the hugely positive national and international media coverage will bring for the city, coupled with the massive economic benefit – estimated to be in the region of £10 million or more – and you can understand why we are so delighted to have the Tall Ships Race return to Belfast so quickly after its last visit just six years ago.”

Belfast City Council is the lead funder and lead partner for the event but a number of other statutory agencies and commercial companies are also involved.

A special not-for-profit company has been set up to organise this year’s event and Newry businessman Dr Gerard O’Hare has been appointed chairman of Belfast Tall Ships Ltd.

The annual Tall Ships Race is owned by the UK based charitable organisation Sail Training International (STI).

Race Director Paul Bishop today paid tribute to Belfast’s enthusiasm for the race.

“We’re delighted to bring the Tall Ships Race fleet back to Belfast following our successful visits in 1991 and 2009. Belfast has a great maritime heritage and is renowned as a ‘sail training friendly port’. The crews are guaranteed a terrific welcome before racing to Aalesund, Norway, in the first leg of The Tall Ships Races 2015.”

The Tall Ships Race will be docked in Belfast from Thursday July 2nd – Sunday July 5th. Access to the event is free.