Remembering the doomed Titanic…
A spectacular open-air concert staged by MTV will headline a three-week festival to mark the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.
The music channel has announced plans to return to Belfast, the home of the ill-fated liner, to host the gig six months after it held its European Music Awards in the city.
The announcement came as plans for a major €1.8 million government refurbishment for the dry dock where the White Star Line vessel was built were revealed.
The Thompson Graving Dock in the east of the city is being given a new lease of life after 100 years.
Titanic Sounds will feature several artists staged against the backdrop of the new Titanic Belfast tourist attraction on April 13.
It is part of the Titanic Festival commemorating the loss of the liner in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage.
Belfast hosted last year’s MTV European Music Awards in November, with top acts including Lady Gaga, Jessie J and Justin Bieber.
An MTV spokesman said more details on the performers booked for the Titanic gig will be announced in the coming weeks.
Organisers of the festival, which will stage 120 events, have also promised the world’s biggest ever digital projection lighting show and a public service marking the unveiling of a Titanic Memorial Garden within the grounds of Belfast City Hall.
Belfast’s Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile said the festival would attract visitors from all over the world.
“This is such an exciting time for our city and this festival reflects the incredible interest in Titanic,” he said.
“While commemorating the past, we are also ensuring that the legacy of this important part of our history is celebrated as an investment in our future.”
He added: “2012 will be a great year for Belfast. I am proud to be First Citizen at such an exciting time – and particularly with all that Titanic Belfast Festival has to offer those who live here and all who will visit.”
The six-storey Titanic visitor centre is close to the slipway where the Titanic was launched a century ago.
The Signature Building could cost €108 million and is the most expensive tourism project built in Northern Ireland.
A church requiem will be held on April 14 to mark the night the liner went down.
The 1,500 lost lives will be remembered with haunting music by composer Philip Hammond at St Anne’s Cathedral.
There will also be a play celebrating the people of the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built.
Stormont Tourism Minister Arlene Foster hailed the festival line-up.
“Belfast is set to host an outstanding programme of events to mark the opening of the multimillion-pound Titanic Belfast attraction,” she said.
“From a breathtaking light show to commemoration services on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, and a range of plays, tours, talks, films and major musical events, all positioning the city as the home of the Titanic.”
She said the festival was a key feature of a host of events planned in Northern Ireland this year.
“Over the next year, Northern Ireland will be showing the rest of the world just what is has to offer visitors,” said the minister.
“As well as the opening of the impressive Giant’s Causeway visitors centre, we will be hosting the Irish Open at Royal Portrush – just two of a host of exciting events planned.
“I would urge everyone from across Northern Ireland not to miss out on this unique opportunity to be part of something very special.”
Northern Ireland Tourist Board chief executive Alan Clarke said: “Belfast City Council has developed a world-class programme of activities for the Titanic Belfast Festival and we have been delighted to work with them and help in its creation. I encourage everyone to embrace the festival and the wider ni2012 campaign.”
Meanwhile, an iPad app has been designed detailing the Titanic’s legacy, following her journey from the docks of Belfast to her sinking. Features include rare archive footage, photographs of the ship’s construction, the sinking timeline and “did you know?” facts.
Tim Davies, marketing director at the History Press, which helped produce it, said: “The Titanic app looks fantastic and we’re confident that both enthusiasts and general consumers alike will enjoy it enormously.”