Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 12:12 UK

Never on a Sunday? Not any more

Cathedral Quarter
Tourists and locals can now enjoy Sunday activities all over the city

Belfast is marketing itself as a weekend break destination, but how is the city tackling its reputation for dull Sunday mornings?

Head to many other European destinations and you could browse museums and galleries on a Sunday morning but that has not always been the case in Northern Ireland's biggest city.

Until the 60s Belfast had a well-earned reputation of 'Never on a Sunday' - keeping Sunday holy meant restricting most leisure activities.

Parks, playgrounds, cinemas, shops and even pubs were closed and swings were chained-up to prevent children playing on them.

It wasn't until last year that Northern Ireland's main soccer league allowed Sunday fixtures.

Belfast has moved with the times, but with shops still not opening until one o'clock in the afternoon and tourist attractions still few and far between, the 'Never on a Sunday' reputation has remained.

Summer Sundays

But all that is could be about to change with a Belfast City Council campaign, 'Summer Sundays'.

Activities and events will be taking place all over the city on Sundays from May until September.

Mary Jo McCanny from the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau said last year more than seven million tourists visited the city.

With most staying for long weekends, Mrs McCanny said this year they need "to make Sundays as good a day as any other in the city for visitors."

Crumlin Road Goal
A whole variety of tours are now available as part of Summer Sundays.

There will be a line-up of special events and activities in the city's cultural hub, the Cathedral Quarter, including gallery tours and street theatre.

Away from the Cathedral Quarter other activities include tours of Crumlin Road Gaol, walking tours of the Queens University area, a CS Lewis Bus Tour and a Belfast Music Tour.

Artist and guide Susan McKeever runs the Late Night Art tours, on the first Thursday in the month. She said they had been "a total sell out."

"They're fantastic. We leave from the Ormeau Baths gallery and go all around the galleries of the city centre, getting off the bus and checking out the art as we go," she added.

As a result of the continuing interest they have now incorporated the art tours into the Summer Sunday campaign.

She said: "We've done art tours on the past two Sundays and it's been really fabulous.

"You're not just seeing the galleries, you're also seeing the oldest part of Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter with all the little cobbled entries."

Ms McKeever points out that the Summer Sunday campaign is not just for tourists.

"I think local people will love it too and they are very welcome to join us for free every Sunday till the end of September," she said.

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