#BelfastTALLships - Excitement is building in the air as Belfast City has just one week to go before the biggest spectator event is ever staged in Northern Ireland.
The city will act as the home port before the start of the 2015 Tall Ships Race, with dozens of the world's finest sailing vessels berthed in Belfast over the weekend of July 2 - 5.
This is the third time that Belfast has welcomed the Tall Ships Race, having previously staged the event in 1991 and 2009. However, with the city acting as the staging post for the first leg of the race, even more ships will be taking part this year, with some 50 vessels – including 18 massive Class A ships – making the port their home for four days before setting off on their annual challenge.
More than 500,000 people are expected to attend the free event, bringing with them an economic windfall of at least £10 million for the city. The same number are expected to line the shores of Belfast Lough on the Sunday (July 5) to watch the magnificent Parade of Ships as they leave en masse for the first leg of this year's race, which starts off Portrush the following morning.
As well as the ships – many of which will be open to the public (subject to occasional operational restrictions) – there will be plenty to do and see on land, with a packed entertainments programme, headed by teenage pop sensations Bailey McConnell and Emma Horan, as well as a host of local talent.
There'll also be fun fairs, street theatre, interactive activities, food markets, a fireworks display on the Saturday night and a fly past by the Royal Arrows on the Sunday morning.
Translink are laying on special services to get people safely to and from the Tall Ships. There will be Park and Ride facilities at Sprucefield, Cairnshill, Dundonald and a new site at Ballymartin, just off the M2 at the junction for the International Airport.
There also will be bus services from Belfast City Council Park and Ride sites at Holywood Exchange travelling to Queen's Quay and from Boucher Road Playing Fields to Pollock Dock.
A free shuttle bus will help ferry visitors from Wellington Place in the city centre to Pollock Dock, and another between there and Queen's Quay.
For details of these, and all Translink's special services and offers, visit www.translink.co.uk/tallships/ or call the Translink contact centre on 9066 6630
For further information on the events taking place over the weekend, the ships and where they will be berthed, the ancillary entertainments' programme, the best vantage points for the Parade of Sail, and much more, visit www.tallshipsbelfast.com
You can also keep up to date with news at www.facebook.com/tallshipsbelfast and www.twitter.com/tallships2015
For tourist information, contact Visit Belfast on +44(0)28 9024 6609 or click www.visit-belfast.com