26 January 2006

Go behind the scenes at City Hall

Belfast Telegraph

Doors open for special public tours

By Roly Laird
26 January 2006

The Lord Mayor of Belfast will tonight throw open the doors of his parlour to visitors for tea and a chat in a bid to encourage more people to see the role that the City Hall plays in the life of the province's capital.

As part of the City Hall's centenary celebrations, a special behind the scenes tour has been devised to show areas of the building that are not included in the usual daily tour.

The first of the centenary tours, which will take place once a month throughout 2006, will leave the City Hall foyer at 7pm.

Lord Mayor Wallace Browne said: "Normally the tours talk about the history behind the building.

"The centenary tours will demonstrate that this is very much a working building and visitors will have a chance to learn about life behind the facade.

"I am looking forward to welcoming participants to my parlour."

The centenary tour guide Diane Leeman said: "About three-quarters of Belfast people have never been inside their own City Hall.

"It is a wow with foreign visitors from all over the world but local people, including even people who work for the council, do not come into the building."

She is keen to break down what she thinks is a "perception that the building is not open to visitors".

"Belfast people's money built this place and we want them to enjoy it and have a real sense of civic pride about it," Ms Leeman added.

Tour visitors will have a chance to see the civic regalia, including the chains of office for the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Sheriff.

They will also get a chance to chat to the Lord Mayor about the work of the council, see the council chamber and the many wonderful works of art and historic artefacts which belong to the people of Belfast.

"There are limited numbers available on each tour so people should book their free ticket in advance by ringing the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau on 028 9024 6609," said Ms Leeman.

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