Thousands of scooters from around the world are gearing up to head to Mid and East Antrim next month 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 14 – 17 June 2018.
And as part of the celebration, a special cavalcade will travel from the city to Carrickfergus Castle on Saturday 16 June. 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 response to this year’s Vespa World Days has been phenomenal.
He said: “I am delighted by the support for this incredible event which will provide a fantastic boost for tourism and the economy and showcase Mid and East Antrim to an international audience.
“The Vespa scooters are known and adored throughout the world. The thousands of visitors heading for Mid and East Antrim are assured of a wonderful reception.
“Growing our economy and boosting tourism are 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.”
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, on Saturday 16 June.
“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 on 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