Dockside Festival set to bring host of family fun to HMS Caroline

A fun-filled festival marking the opening of the new visitor centre at HMS Caroline is set to launch at the end of the month at Alexandra Dock & Wharf in the Titanic Quarter.

The Dockside Festival, running from March 27 to April 20, will give visitors a first look at the newly restored Pump House – adjacent to HMS Caroline – which houses fresh exhibition spaces to complement the experience aboard ship.

Coinciding with the Easter holidays, children can enjoy activity trails, arts and crafts, film screenings, educational family events and an exciting chance to handle replica objects and artefacts on board the ship.

The Festival will also celebrate the completion of Alexandra Dock & Wharf, now comprising the Pump House visitor centre and HMS Caroline, which are connected by a 25-metre steel and timber footbridge installed across the mouth of Alexandra Dock. The bridge, and a newly installed gangway welcoming visitors onto the vessel, further improves access to what is one of the UK’s most accessible historic ships.

Jamie Wilson, General Manager at HMS Caroline, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to host the Dockside Festival, which promises to have something for everyone and for all ages.

“Our new Pump House visitor centre adds to what is already truly a captivating and enjoyable day of maritime adventure.”

Family events during the festival will also have nautical themed activities for everyone to try their hand at, including trails with Blucher the Bunny, one of the ship’s mascots.

Activities throughout the Easter Weekend (March 30 – April 3) include: make your own pom-pom bunny with Woolly Workshops, create a Blucher the Rabbit headdress with artist Bobbi Purdy as well as Punch and Judy shows. Visitors will also get the opportunity to listen to storytelling sessions by Captain the Puppet, and enjoy singing along to sea shanties with Sailor Dan.

Following the family fun over Easter, HMS Caroline’s Drill Hall will host movie fans at special screenings of classic ‘80s adventure, The Goonies (PG) on Friday 13 April and the 1978 comedy-horror, Piranha (18) on Friday 20 April. The impressive setting on board the ship will add  unique atmosphere to these film favourites.

The attraction will also welcome Dr Dónal McAnallen and Dr Eamon Phoenix for specially curated lectures as part of the Festival. The historians will discuss the impact of the First World War on Gaelic Sport in Belfast, Ulster and Ireland, and the political landscape of Northern Ireland in the period leading up to when HMS Caroline came to Belfast, respectively.

A unique museum and education facility, HMS Caroline is operated by The National Museum of the Royal Navy and is the world’s last remaining floating survivor from the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Moored in Belfast since 1924, over the past four years HMS Caroline has been fully restored and fitted out thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland.

To find out more, visit the Dockside Festival website.