With less than a month before the Giro d’Italia hits Northern Ireland, details of a raft of festival events connected to it have been announced – plus some of the disruption which the event will bring.
At a media briefing in Belfast City Hall yesterday, organisers hailed the three-day racing event as one of the biggest opportunities the Province has ever had to promote itself, and said there will also be dozens of linked events from Newry to Ballycastle.
Details of some of the events are now on the internet, with more to be added soon.
Among the planned activities is a bid to bring the world’s largest open-air pizza oven to Armagh on May 10, and use it to make a vast apple pie.
Other events include BMX lessons in Victoria Park from 6pm to 8pm on May 6 to 8, a screening of The Italian Job in Crumlin Road Gaol at 4pm on May 11, an Italian-themed day in Carrickfergus from 11am on May 10, and more.
In addition to 100,000 Northern Irish spectators along the route, the NI Tourist Board estimates that 40,000 more will come to the Province from the outside to watch the roughly 200 participants zoom along the roads at up to 60kmph (37mph).
But the massive size means there will inevitably be disruption during the race, with rolling road closures throughout the three days the event is in Northern Ireland, details of which are now online too.
An opening ceremony attended by the participants is to be held in the grounds of City Hall on May 8, with gates opening at 5.30pm. Tickets are free, but should be booked.
Meanwhile, a number of landmarks such as the Albert Clock will be bathed in pink light (the colour of the Giro) for the duration of the race days.
May 9 is the first day of cycling, with a team time trial on a 21km (13-mile) circuit in Belfast.
May 10 will see riders compete individually on a 218km (135-mile) course from Belfast to the north coast and back.
May 11 will see a roughly 180km (more than 110 miles) ride from Armagh to Dublin.
More than 170 countries will show live footage of the race, and up to 500 journalists will be in the Province.
Among those at the briefing yesterday was Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, who was asked if there was any indication dissident or loyalist groups could use the high-profile event to create disruption.
He said: “I share the hope of the vast majority of people in this country; that the Giro d’Italia will be a success for Northern Ireland, that it’ll attract people to come to this country and promote the economy of this country.
“That’s my sincere hope, that’s the assumption we’re working on.
“But we plan, as you’d expect, for all eventualities.”
For details of the planned road closures, see: trafficwatchni.com/giro.
Translink have laid on special timetables, go to: www.translink.co.uk/giro.
Some events are listed at: www.belfastcity.gov.uk/ giro2014.