Saturday 15 December 2018

Titanic movie turns 20 today, and Belfast is celebrating in style

My heart will go on...

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James Cameron's $200 million account of the world's worst shipping disaster is also a classic tale of doomed love across the social divide.
Titanic Belfast
An exhibit at Titanic Belfast
Titanic-themed afternoon tea
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Ready to feel old? It's hard to believe, but on this day 20 years ago Titanic: The Movie first premiered on cinema screens in the US.

The three-hour-long blockbuster, which set the love story of passengers Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) against the backdrop of the liner's tragic maiden voyage, premiered in the US on December 19, 1997.

It went on to become the top grossing film of all time, bagging some $2 billion worldwide (another James Cameron movie, Avatar, has since surpassed that).

Titanic brought the ill-fated story of the White Star liner to a whole new generation, cementing its status as the world's most famous ship and teeing up a series of global commemorations on the centenary of its sinking, in April 2012.

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast

The cultural phenomenon has also been a boon for Belfast, birthplace of RMS Titanic and today home to the world's largest Titanic visitor experience.

The £100m Titanic Belfast opened in 2012, and has since welcomed over four million visitors, last year being named the World's Leading Visitor Attraction.

Celebrating the milestone anniversary, the visitor experience is hosting a red-carpet, movie-themed afternoon tea by its replica Grand Staircase, including a movie showing in the Titanic Suite. It starts at 7pm and costs £35pp, with a glass of Prosecco.

It has reason to celebrate. In its first three years alone, Titanic Belfast generated some £105m in additional tourism spend for the region, and hosted over 1,500 events ranging from Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee lunch to a G8 Summit Reception.

It has also served as an anchor project for the growth of Titanic Quarter, and a catalyst for development in Belfast - set to continue apace in 2018.

"Titanic Belfast has been transformative for tourism in Northern Ireland," as Tourism NI Chairman Terence Brannigan has put it, "and has helped deliver the impressive levels of hotel growth that we are seeing today across the city."

Checking into Titanic Hotel Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Checking into Titanic Hotel Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Titanic Hotel Belfast: Elevation from Queen's Road
Afternoon tea in the old drawing offices...
The Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices (archive)
Inside Titanic Hotel Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A bedroom in the Titanic Hotel Belfast
A superior suite at the Titanic Hotel Belfast
A White Star Line print at the Titanic Hotel Belfast
Wolff Grill at the Titanic Hotel Belfast
Presentation Room, Titanic Hotel Belfast
Titanic Hotel Belfast. Photo: Press Eye/Darren Kidd
Main Staircase (Ground floor) before restoration
Titanic Hotel, main staircase. Photo: Press Eye/Darren Kidd
Inside the Titanic Hotel Belfast
Suite, Titanic Hotel Belfast
Harland & Wolff Drawing offices, before restoration
Titanic Hotel Belfast, drawing offices during restoration
Pat Doherty of Harcourt Developments with Kerrie Sweeney of Titanic Foundation in Drawing Room 2. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Titanic Hotel Belfast: Bar Lounge in the Drawing Office
Titanic model in Harland Bar. Photo: Press Eye/Darren Kidd
The Harland Bar at Titanic Hotel. Photo: Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Titanic tourism isn't confined to the showpiece itself, of course.

Belfast is also home to the original tender, SS Nomadic, and Titanic-themed experiences range from audio trails to Segway tours.

This September, a €32m Titanic Hotel opened in the former Harland & Wolff Headquarters, incorporating the drawing rooms in which the ship itself was designed.

Its celebration? A special, 20th-anniversary ‘Jack & Rose’ cocktail made with Jack Daniels Honey, banana liquor, honey, lemon juice, sugar syrup and rose liquor.

The rose is served on the side "to keep her out of the water,” it says.

More at titanicbelfast.com and discovernorthernireland.com.

Read more:

Belfast: 12 Titanic attractions

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