Tall Ships set to return in 2015

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The Tall Ships are set to sail into Belfast again in just over three years time.

Belfast city council announced on Thursday that the city will act as the starting point for The Tall Ships Races 2015.

The last time the Tall Ships visited during a four-day Belfast Maritime Festival in 2009 a flotilla of 40 ships berthed along quays in the city.

Organisers said 800,000 people visited the event.

A further 250,000 watched the ships leave Belfast Lough and it is believed the event brought £16m to the local economy.

Belfast Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile said the return of the Tall Ships was "another very real endorsement of Belfast's ability".

He said after the recent MTV awards the city has proved it can deliver world-class events.

"This is just the beginning of the journey, not the final destination. We are now turning Belfast's moment into an unstoppable momentum," he said.

The Tall Ships will be the culmination of a number of events such as an MTV open air concert, the visit of the Olympic flame and the World Police and Fire Games, he added.

It is one of the quickest times the event has returned to a host city.

Sail Training International's head of race directorate, Paul Bishop, said Belfast was chosen once again due to its "excellent reputation".

"Belfast previously hosted The Tall Ships Races in 1991 and 2009 and the city, port authority and council events team have built up an excellent reputation for looking after sail training Tall Ships and their trainees during these events," he said.

The Tall Ship Races 2015 will begin in Belfast before travelling to Norway and Denmark.