New Cathedral audio guide available in eight languages

Monday August 12th 2019

At the launch of the multi-lingual audio guide in Belfast Cathedral are, from left: Events and Tourism Assistant Lorna Towns; Tourism and Visitor Services Manager Helen Graham; Dean Stephen Forde; Judith Henderson, Tourism NI; and Mike Johnston, Friends of Belfast Cathedral.

Belfast Cathedral has launched a £50,000 state-of-the art audio guide, with tours of the historic building available in eight different languages.

The guide takes visitors on a self-led journey through the Cathedral, revealing the stories behind the stones – and is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish, Mandarin and Italian, with a local Belfast accent providing authenticity to the English language tour.  

The initiative, launched on August 9, means this special building will be more accessible and engaging for local people as well as international visitors.

With the new guides are Dean Stephen Forde with Lisa Johnston, left, and Jim Maguire, both from City Sightseeing Belfast.

This project has been achievable through funding from Tourism NI’s Immersive Technology programme (£25,000). The capital funding programme focuses on supporting projects which have at their core an immersive technology solution that creates compelling reasons for visitors to come to Northern Ireland as well as encouraging them to stay longer and spend more.  

Further funding (£12,500) was provided by the Friends of Belfast Cathedral, who were founded in 1894 with the aim of assisting the Dean and Cathedral Board in promoting interest in the Cathedral and knowledge of its history. The remaining £12,500 was provided by the Board of Belfast Cathedral.

The project will allow visitors of many nationalities to discover the stories of the Cathedral, and fully immerse themselves in its history through words and music, leaving after their visit with a real sense of the important role Belfast Cathedral has played within the city.

The tender for this project was awarded to VOX Group, who have previously worked on high profile tourism projects worldwide, including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and at Stonehenge.

The new audio guide is among a number of improvements to the visitor experience at Belfast Cathedral. Beside one of the new interpretive panels are, from left: Dean Stephen Forde; Angela Lavin, National Lottery Heritage Fund; Helen Graham, Tourism and Visitor Services Manager, Belfast Cathedral, and Lorna Towns, Events and Tourism Assistant.

Belfast Cathedral Tourism and Visitor Services Manager Helen Graham said: “We are delighted to have received the funding for this project, without which it simply wouldn’t have been possible to create this fantastic multilingual guide for our beautiful Cathedral.

“It is fantastic to be able to offer an engaging experience for our visitors, particularly those who are coming from overseas who previously would not have been able to connect with our space in the same way.

“Thank you to both of our funders for supporting this project and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors during the rest of the 2019 season and beyond.”

Caroline Bell, Tourism NI Capital Funding Team Manager, said: “The new multilingual audio guide at Belfast Cathedral is a fantastic addition to the visitor offering in Belfast, providing a unique way for residents of Northern Ireland and international visitors to fully immerse themselves in the history of its walls and uncover the stories behind them.

“We congratulate the team at Belfast Cathedral for their hard work in delivering a compelling new addition to their tourism product.”

Lisa Johnston and Jim Maguire from City Sightseeing Belfast try out the new audio guides, assisted by Cathedral Tourism and Visitor Services Manager Helen Graham.

The audio guide is among a number of improvements to the visitor experience at Belfast Cathedral, including new interpretation throughout the building, the introduction of a Children’s Corner, and the upcoming launch of an innovative trail for both families and schools to enjoy. 

Belfast Cathedral is open to visitors through the year, Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm, and on Sundays 1 – 3pm. There is a small admission fee which includes the audio guide, and this will contribute towards the upkeep of Belfast Cathedral and its ministry as the Cathedral continues to develop as a shared space at the heart of the city.

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