THE first ever Queen’s GAA Festival is set to bring thousands of visitors to Belfast to experience what the City has to offer, according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), tourism partner of the landmark event.
The intervarsity GAA Festival is the first time a university or college has ever hosted all four of the major higher education Gaelic Games tournaments in the same year, with more than 2,250 top players from all over Ireland converging at Queen’s University Belfast’s Upper Malone facilities over four weekends until March 22.
Pauline Gormley, Destination PR Officer, NITB said that the Festival, which incorporates the prestigious Sigerson, O’Connor, Fitzgibbon and Ashbourne Cups, will provide a significant boost to local tourism.
“The Queen’s GAA Festival is one of the biggest sporting events in Northern Ireland this year with more than 2000 university and college Gaelic football, ladies football, Hurling and Camogie players flocking to Belfast during February and March in the hope of being crowned champions of their respective sports,” said Pauline.
“And of course they will be accompanied by officials, supporters and friends and family numbering many more thousands who will have a chance to experience what Belfast, and indeed the rest of Northern Ireland, has to offer.
“Visitors to the city will be spoilt for choice with lots of fun things to see and do – some of it right on Queen’s University’s doorstep – so we would encourage all our guests to make the most of this opportunity to explore Belfast’s many exciting attractions as well as enjoy the wonderful social scene.
“In less than a minute you could be in Botanic Gardens, one of Belfast’s loveliest parks, or the Ulster Museum, a must-visit treasure house of the past and present, while the trendy coffee shops, restaurants and quirky fashion boutiques of the Lisburn Road are just a short walk away.
“Belfast is packed with lively bars and fantastic restaurants to cater for all pallets and of course the City is brimming with world class attractions for those who like their history, including the Titanic Quarter, home to Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction, the Titanic Dock and Pumphouse, and sister ship the SS Nomadic.
“Crumlin Road Gaol in the north of the City has developed into an unforgettable tourism experience while Belfast City Hall is a beautiful example of Alfred Brumwell Thomas’ architecture.
“We are sure that all visitors to the Queens GAA Festival will enjoy their tourism experience of Belfast and with the world famous Giro d’Italia getting underway in the City this May, we hope that they will go back home and encourage their friends to join them on their next visit,” concluded Pauline.
Queen’s University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “Queen’s is delighted that its commitment to delivering world-class sporting facilities for its students has helped bring these four high profile sporting events to the University and to Belfast.
“Queen’s GAA Festival is delighted to have the Northern Ireland Tourist Board onboard, as the event gets underway it’s great to have the support of the tourist board as we prepare to welcome the large number of players and fans to the city,” he continued.