Almost 3000 ‘scooterists’ from around the world laid siege to Carrickfergus Castle as part of the prestigious Vespa World Days event.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, in partnership with the local A2 Aces Scooter Club, played host to visitors from as far away as Italy, Germany and Russia.
The “ride out” to the historic town was the highlight of the four-day festival based at Titanic Slipways in Belfast following a successful bid to host the event by Carrickfergus man, Mark Cooke.
To welcome the hundreds of first time visitors, the council laid on a programme of live music, traditional dances, historical re-enactments and children’s entertainment.
There were also lots of special offers from the local retail and hospitality sectors to boost footfall in the town centre.
A2 Aces Scooter Club hosted an impressive custom show, memorabilia fair and music night within the Town Hall.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar, said: “This has been such a fantastic event and what better backdrop than the Castle on the shores of Belfast Lough. This is the gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route and what better event than one with thousands of road users from around the world to utilise this fantastic asset.
“Well done to Mark Cooke for bringing the show to his home town, and well done to the local scooter club for their hard work. They’ve put on a great show with their local events and also the traders have been great getting involved in the extravaganza. This really emphasis just how suitable Carrickfergus is to host events on the world stage.
“The thousands of Vespa owners from at least 40 different countries have brought around £7 million in economic benefit between hotel nights and hospitality.”
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: “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 fantastic opportunity to promote 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 event was to raise money for two official charities: Air Ambulance Northern Ireland and the East Belfast Mission.