15/12/2006

Belfast marks year of celebrations with a City Hall party

The biggest party Belfast has ever seen is drawing to an end – and it will do so in style.

Over the past 15 months, three million people have taken part in more than 1,000 events in all corners of the city, as part of the ‘Celebrate Belfast 2006’ programme.

It all comes to a climax on New Year’s Eve, when Belfast’s magnificent City Hall hosts a spectacular concert, in conjunction with BBC Radio Two.

Tickets for this superb free concert – appropriately entitled ‘Rock The Hall’ – are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre, and full details of the line-up will be announced in the very near future.

Commenting on the concert, Belfast Lord mayor Pat McCarthy said: “The ‘Celebrate Belfast 2006’ programme celebrated the wealth of cultural excellence existing in Belfast, raising awareness of the diverse cultural product Belfast has to offer domestically, nationally and internationally.

“Celebrate Belfast coincided with the centenary year of Belfast City Hall, welcoming record numbers of visitors through the doors to take part in tours, to see our ‘Century of Memories’ exhibition and take part in lectures and dozens of other arts and cultural events.

“The celebrations encouraged inclusive community involvement at all levels, creating a sense of ownership and pride in our great city.”

The Lord Mayor continued: “This truly has been a great year for Belfast, as we have shown the world the positive side of our city and ourselves, and what we truly can achieve.

“Belfast has turned a corner, and projects such as ‘Celebrate Belfast’ show just how far we have progressed in recent years. We are a city very much in the ascendancy, with more and more opportunities opening before us – and it is up to each and every one of us to make the best of these opportunities to ensure that, with the new year things will get even better in our city.”

‘Celebrate Belfast’ was organised by Belfast City Council, with a total investment of £3.5 million in more than 1,000 events between October 2005 and December 2006. The programme was supported by significant funding of £1.35 million from the Millennium Commission, and also by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, through its ‘Art of Regeneration’ funding.

The annual events calendar, including the Hallowe’en ‘Metro Monster Mash’, the Christmas Lights Switch-on, the ‘Titanic Made in Belfast’ festival and the Lord Mayor’s Carnival were all enhanced with extra funding while ‘Celebrate Belfast’ was also responsible for launching several new flagship events, including the C.S. Lewis Festival and the hugely popular Belfast Maritime Festival. Hundreds of community-based events and festivals also were supported by funding from ‘Celebrate Belfast’.

Initial research shows that, for every £1 spent on the ‘Celebrate Belfast’ programme around £8 was generated for the Belfast economy, resulting in a net income of around £24 million in new money coming into to the city over the 15 period of the programme.

Free tickets for the ‘Rock The Hall’ New Year’s Eve extravaganza, are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegal Place – opening hours Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm (Thurs 7pm) Sun 11am-4pm – by email from info@belfastvisitor.comor by calling (028) 9024 6609.

(EF)

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