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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
City hall hosts centenary party
Happy birthday - the special cake is served up
Happy birthday - the special cake is served up
The people of Belfast have joined in a day of fun at the city's biggest birthday party.

A special "picnic on the lawn" has taken place to mark the centenary of the City Hall which opened its doors on 1 August 1906.

Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy said the celebrations also included music, fun and games for everyone.

"The centenary is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate all that is good about Belfast," he said.

"The City Hall belongs to the people of Belfast - all the people of Belfast - and the centenary events have been designed to show the building off to the people who own it.

"Thousands of people are visiting our Century Of Memories exhibition every week, and thousands more have attended the many events which have been held in the City Hall so far this year."

There is a carnival atmosphere in the grounds of the City Hall
There is a carnival atmosphere in the grounds of the City Hall

The programme included live music by local artists ranging from classical to contemporary rock, traditional folk to world music, as well as an entertainment programme reflecting Belfast's cultural diversity, with Irish, Ulster Scots, Chinese, Indian, and Spanish representation.

There were also carnival performances, carnival floats and circus acts including an aerial show and an escapologist act.

Vintage cars still on the road - including the oldest car in Northern Ireland, a Renault dating from 1901 and a 1906 Austin - were on display.

Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria.

Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect Sir Brumwell Thomas and was completed in 1906.

City Hall
The centenary party is being held on the City Hall's lawns

The exterior is built mainly from Portland stone, with towers on each of the four corners and a lantern-crowned 173ft brass dome in the centre.

The interior has a number of notable features including The Porte-Cochère and Grand Entrance, The Grand Staircase, The Reception Room and The Great Hall.

The latter was destroyed during the blitz in WWII and subsequently rebuilt.

The city hall in Durban, South Africa is almost an exact replica of Belfast City Hall.

It was built in 1910 and designed by Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the Belfast design.

See the start of the celebrations

Hear about the history of Belfast City Hall

Hear about the rallies that took place in the grounds

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