Council launches new tourism trails
10 July 2012
Belfast City Council has developed a series of new self-guided walking trails to help residents and visitors alike explore the city and its history.
The themed trails explore the city`s rich industrial, maritime and mercantile heritage, as well as the bustling, modern urban centre it has become. They will be complemented by a new programme of vibrant street performances during weekends over the summer.
Three new trails have been developed:
the `Titanic Trail` takes the traveller on a journey from the City Hall to the Pump House and Thompson Graving Dock, visiting all the major attractions associated with the story of the great ship, including the SS Nomadic, the Drawing Offices and the new `Titanic Belfast` attraction;
the `City of Merchants Trail` also starts at the City Hall and weaves its way through the city centre, from the Reform Club to Cotton Court, Victoria Square to the Lagan Lookout;
the `Lagan Maritime Trail` starts at the Belfast Waterfront and wanders along the banks of the Lagan, visiting the Belfast Harbour Office and Clarendon Dock, before finishing at St Joseph`s Church on the far side of Sailortown.
The trails are augmented by additional tourism information and directional signs which have been erected around the city by the council, with financial support from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, through the Tourism Development Scheme.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, said of the new initiative:
This year is a truly `titanic` one for tourism in Belfast, and it is vital that we do everything in our power to capitalize fully on the opportunities which 2012 presents to us. These new self-guided trails, together with the enhanced signage, provide an easy way for everyone be they a visitor to the city or someone who has lived here all their life to explore our city and its rich heritage. Our support for this project is in part of our recently announced £150 million investment package, and therefore is in keeping with the council`s proud past of investing in major improvements to the city.
Aine Kearney, Director of Product Development with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who part-funded the signage scheme through the Tourism Development Scheme, added:
A vibrant, dynamic city that welcomes visitors and provides them with a quality experience is vital to the overall economic health not just of Belfast but of Northern Ireland as a whole. I firmly believe that the three walking trails will offer both the visitor and locals alike a fantastic opportunity to explore more of Belfast and discover its compelling maritime heritage. Good orientation and signage is essential for any tourism asset and these trails will clearly point visitors towards Belfast`s key maritime heritage assets and encourage them to embark on a journey of discovery along each of the three walking trails.
In addition, the council has commissioned a programme of street performances to help uncover the hidden histories of the city, bringing its architecture and heritage to life, with the help of a cast of merchants, players, scoundrels, sailors, jesters, poets and revolutionaries.
On selected Saturdays and Sundays throughout July and August, John Campbell, the `poet of Sailortown`, and local historian Lee Lavis will lead a walking performance along the new Lagan Maritime trail, bringing the old shipyards back to life in story and verse, while local artist Daniel Jewesbury will introduce the City of Merchants trail with `Talking Heads`, which tells the stories of the sculpted heads on some of Belfast`s historic buildings including the Chinaman of Marlborough Street, the cherubs of the Ropeworks and the Vikings at Tesco and shows what these silent figures tell us about the city`s mercantile heritage.
Among the other attractions over the summer will be performances of `Battle of the Books`, a unique street drama which will bring the city`s rich literary past to the fore, as writers take on the role of combatants to deliver their favourite pieces of poetry and prose, with the audiences acting as judges by cheering for their favourite reading to decide who wins.
To download a map of the new self-guided trails, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/tourismguides. Copies also are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegall Place. For a timetable of the street entertainment, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/culture
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