Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl joined guests today (23 November) at an event to showcase the city’s newest visitor attractions at Colin Glen Forest Park.
In its first four months, over 6,200 people have zoomed through the forest at speeds up to 40km per hour on the Black Bull Run, Ireland’s first and only Alpine coaster, while 2,600 thrill seekers have skimmed the treetops at speeds up to 50km per hour on The Forest Flyover, a 250m zipline.
Perhaps the most exciting of all the new attractions is River Rapid, Ireland’s longest zipline. The 700m zipline with its 100ft high take-off point has just been completed and will allow brave visitors to enjoy spectacular views of the city while zipping across the Colin River at speeds up to 80km per hour.
The attractions are part of a multi-million-pound investment by Belfast City Council, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department for Communities. The new facilities are central to Colin Glen Trust’s wider plans for the 200-acre outdoor adventure park. Other elements include the recent introduction of ‘Landy Train’ to transport visitors around the park, plus future plans to open a new visitor centre, new accommodation facilities and an outdoor café.
The Lord Mayor said: “It is fantastic to visit the stunning Colin Glen Forest Park to get a proper sense of the scale and ambition of this transformative project. From the outset, Belfast City Council got behind Colin Glen Trust’s vision to transform the forest park into a thriving, world class visitor destination. As well as overseeing the delivery of the project, Council’s £2.5 million investment was crucial in getting it off the ground and in helping to secure the additional funding needed from our partners in DAERA and the Department for Communities to make it happen.
“The new attractions represent a major boost for the area. There have already been 13.25 equivalent full-time jobs created since they opened, while the adventure park will significantly expand the local tourism offering and grow the economy in this part of the city. The attractions will also contribute to the city’s wider tourism portfolio, helping us get back to, and hopefully surpass, pre-pandemic visitor numbers to Belfast in the years ahead.”
Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots said: “Through the Rural Tourism Scheme, my department invests in natural and built heritage and it is clear that the creation of visitor experiences showcasing our natural landscape, that are compelling and accessible to all, can offer long term sustainability and growth to tourism in Northern Ireland. This was a substantial Departmental investment of £1.437 million in the Colin area. Tourism is vitally important to our rural economy and I’m delighted that we have funded these world class attractions as well as the trail enhancements, the Landy Train and signage across the site, which were supported through DAERA’s TRPSI programme.
“Colin Glen and its development provides tourists with unique visitor attractions not seen anywhere else in Northern Ireland. It is very important for people’s health and wellbeing to get outside and enjoy the natural environment, Forest Parks provide great venues for people to visit and exercise and the Covid pandemic has increased demand for such opportunities, it is therefore great to see these improved facilities at Colin Glen.”
Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said: “Through working in collaboration with a number of partners, Colin Glen Forest Park has developed into a world class innovative attraction in West Belfast for everyone to enjoy. These impressive new facilities will provide opportunities for a wide range of citizens to participate and engage in educational, social and leisure activities, enabling them to live more active and healthy lives. I’m pleased that the investment in this state-of-the art project meets the objectives of our People and Place Strategy – to invest in neighbourhoods, to develop confident communities and to improve quality of life for all.”
Colin Glen Trust Chief Executive, Colin O’Neill said: “Colin Glen Trust is first and foremost a social enterprise, committed to the conservation of 240 acres of valuable green space in West Belfast. Our innovation and determination to ensure that the people of this area have a sustainable world class facility was something which has been supported by many groups and organisations, none greater than Belfast City Council, DAERA and Department for Communities.
“These new attractions will undoubtedly attract visitors from all over Ireland but it will also create employment and training opportunities for local people and will ensure the future sustainability of the Trust and allow us to protect and enhance Colin Glen Forest Park for the residents of this area and beyond. We are truly grateful for the support from the Belfast City Council project team and of course the funders who conveyed genuine passion and commitment to ensuring that this project was successfully delivered.”
For more information on the new attractions at Colin Glen, visit www.colinglen.org