Party time for Bridge’s half century

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QUEENSFERRY will take centre stage when celebrations to mark the Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday take place.

The “Forth Bridges Festival” will form a signature event in the programme for the Year of Homecoming Scotland 2014, which was unveiled at Hopetoun House on Wednesday by First Minister Alex Salmond.

It will run from September 4-13 next year and feature a variety of events on and around the Forth Bridge.

Thousands of visitors and locals will be invited onto the bridge on Sunday, September 7, 2014, to witness a parade while a flotilla of boats will gather in the Forth. A special air display will perform overhead and will include a reunion of the Golden Lions Parachute Display Team.

Other highlights include a torchlit procession across the bridge, a Forth Bridges art trail and an attempt to set a world record for the largest ever sit-down lunch.

The festival will conclude on Saturday, September 13, with a major fireworks display promising a unique spectacle for onlookers on both sides of the Forth.

In the weeks leading up to the festival up to 2014 members of the public will be given a one-off opportunity to climb to the top of the bridge’s main towers. Tickets will go on sale later this year with proceeds helping to fund the celebrations.

The Forth Bridges Festival is being delivered by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) in partnership with Queensferry Ambition. The cost of the festival will be met by a combination of ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and public funding.

Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland 2014 director, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Forth Bridges Festival as part of the ever-extending Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme. The plans outlined to celebrate the Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday present a fantastic opportunity for visitors and local people to enjoy what’s set to be a great event.”

FETA convener Tony Martin added: “The Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday is a milestone well worth celebrating.

“FETA is delighted to be working in partnership with local communities, the Scottish Government and public bodies on either side of the Forth – together we are committed to delivering a truly memorable celebration.”

Malcolm Brown, chairman of Queensferry Ambition said: “The Forth Bridges are an iconic symbol of the Queensferry communities. They can be viewed as a gateway to the Highlands, Edinburgh or to literally every other part of Scotland.

“Therefore it is appropriate that the Forth Bridges Festival will form a key element of Homecoming 2014.”

Keith Giblett, chairman of Queensferry and District Community Council, added: “The community council is pleased to be invited by FETA and Queensferry Ambition, event partners, to work with them in the coming months delivering a memorable Forth Bridges Festival.”