The countdown is on for Belfast hosting yet another world-class event!

This time next year, Belfast Harbour will be a spectacular sight as majestic Tall Ships start their 2015 race. Belfast is the starting point for the race, having previously been a host port in 2009.

Up to 80 Tall Ships are expected in the city from 2-5 July, 2015, for four days of maritime festivities including a parade of sail, and around 500,000 visitors are expected along with 1,000 visiting crew from across the world.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Nichola Mallon said: “Here we are again, looking forward to hosting another world-class event in our city. Coming on the back of the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, and the World Police and Fire Games in 2013, it’s exciting news for the city that another sporting event of this calibre is returning to Belfast.

“The Tall Ships Race will once again shine the global spotlight on Belfast and occasions such as this reinforce our ability to host world-class events and will hopefully attract even more. It also gives a boost to the local economy; last time Belfast hosted the Tall Ships we had more than 500,000 visitors and we expect just as many next year, if not more. That also means a knock-on benefit for hotels, restaurants and the city in general so this is a really positive, good news story for the city.”

There will be a particular focus on family fun with street theatre, musical performances and a Continental Market.

The Tall Ships Race summer series is Sail Training Ireland’s flagship event and the largest mass participation sailing event organised annually for young people, with more than 6,000 trainees taking part.

Starting in Belfast, the other host ports are Aalesund and Kristiansand in Norway, and Aalborg in Denmark.

Commenting on the 2015 host ports, Sail Training International’s Head of Race Directorate Paul Bishop said: “The Tall Ships Race 2015 will offer participating crews an exciting race series that combines challenging race legs and a cruise-in-company in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the Norwegian archipelago. All four race ports have successfully hosted the Tall Ships Race before and 2015 promised to be an excellent event.”