Thousands of scooters from around the globe will roll into Mid and East Antrim this summer as part of the world’s largest Vespa rally.
The annual Vespa World Days extravaganza, which celebrates the heritage and culture which has grown up around the iconic brand, will take place in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast over the weekend of June 14-17, 2018.
And as part of the celebration, a special cavalcade will travel from the city to Carrickfergus Castle on Saturday June 16. In doing so, the participants are hoping to smash a world record.
Around 3,000 Vespa owners from at least 40 different countries are expected to descend on Northern Ireland, bringing with them an estimated £7.7 million in economic benefit as they fill between 20,000 and 70,000 bed nights.
Carrickfergus-based councillor Noel Jordan said the ride-out to the town will provide a fantastic boost for tourism and the economy, showcasing Mid and East Antrim to an international audience.
He said: “I am really looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic occasion.
“The Vespa scooters are known and adored throughout the world and enthusiasts and owners are assured of an incredible reception in our borough.
“Growing our economy and boosting tourism are the council’s priorities, and events such as these are key to that.
“Our visitors will be given the opportunity to enjoy our many tourism offerings, culture and heritage.
“The Causeway Coastal Route was rightly named as Lonely Planet’s number one region in the world for travellers in 2018 and when our visitors arrive they will see just why.
“Congratulations to the Ulster Vespa Club for their successful bid to host this event in association with Vespa Club of Britain.
“There is a strong Vespa following in Mid and East Antrim, notably the A2 Aces Scooter Club based in Carrickfergus.
“Plans are currently being put in place for the big day in Carrickfergus and more details will be released in due course.
“This will be an occasion to be enjoyed by all the family and I look forward to welcoming all our guests.”
Vespa World Days trace their roots back to 1954, when the first inter-European Vespa Rally was held in Paris.
Rebranded in 2007, this is only the second time that the biggest annual event on the international scootering calendar has been held in the United Kingdom.
Mark Cooke from Vespa World Days said: “We are excited and delighted to bring this event to Belfast but also to my hometown of Carrickfergus.
“Carrickfergus has a lot to offer in the way of culture and heritage, especially with the Castle as the main theme. I want the people of the town to enjoy meeting our visitors from around the world on their doorstep.
“This is a time to enhance the town as a tourist attraction with its castle, history and walls and also the time for the people to be rightly proud of Carrickfergus.”
The Vespa World Days 2018 will centre around a specially constructed ‘Vespa Village’, based at Titanic Belfast.
Over the four days, there will be a wide range of special events, exhibitions and live entertainment as well as ‘ride outs’ and the cavalcade of all the participating scooterists from the Titanic Quarter to Carrickfergus Castle.
The event will have two official charities: Air Ambulance Northern Ireland and the East Belfast Mission.
For more information, visit www.vespaworlddays2018.co.uk.
You can also keep up to date on the event’s official Facebook page @VWDBelfast2018 or Twitter @VWDBelfast2018