Annual Waterfront spectacle for fallen heroes

Standard Bearers take part in the The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Standard Bearers take part in the The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Two thousand people gathered to honour fallen heroes at the 2016 Festival of Remembrance Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront in Belfast on Saturday.

The crowds took part in an evening of song, reflection and remembrance hosted by The Royal British Legion, commemorating all those who sacrificed their lives in defence of freedom through history.

Stellar performs at the Festival of Remembrance. Pic: Press Eye.

Stellar performs at the Festival of Remembrance. Pic: Press Eye.

The annual tradition, which included a moving mixture of concert, spectacle and service, paid special tribute to the men and women who fought in 1916, off Denmark’s Jutland peninsula and at the Battle of the Somme.

George Black, the Legion’s Chairman in Northern Ireland, said: “In the year that marked the centenaries of the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme, this was a very fitting and beautiful evening of reflection, to remember those who gave so much - and on many occasions their lives - for their country.

“Every year we work incredibly hard to make this event special. The Festival of Remembrance is a way of remembering those who fought for their country, as well as a time to commemorate and give thanks for their service. The Festival of Remembrance offers us a time when we, can stop, reflect and remember those brave men and women who sacrificed so much for us.”

This year, the festival welcomed the musical talent of Mark McMullan, who became an internet star after more than 300,000 people watched the moving video of him performing the classic Les Miserables hit ‘Bring Him Home’ to his older brother Declan who suffers from locked-in syndrome.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland  - 12th November 2016Stellar performs at the The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2016Stellar performs at the The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

George added: “It was wonderful to welcome Mark, who added a truly stunning element to the 2016 Festival of Remembrance. The evening can be very emotional and Mark’s outstanding talent brought us all together to experience, as we journeyed through time, a magical and reflective experience.”

In addition to Mark, the audience enjoyed the musical talent Stellar, the award winning Open Arts Community Choir and the heart-warming dance group, Bright Lights, along with the iconic Pipes and Drums and Band of The Royal Irish Regiment.

The evening concluded with a moving Service of Remembrance with the usual very poignant display and a special two-minute silence as thousands of poppy petals fell from the ceiling in memory of the lives lost at war.

“Each poppy petal reminded us that each one represented the selflessness and courage of those who responded to duty in the most extraordinary of ways,” Mr Black added.

Bright Lights Dance Group perform at The Royal British Legion Festival. Pic: Press Eye.

Bright Lights Dance Group perform at The Royal British Legion Festival. Pic: Press Eye.

“This year’s Northern Ireland Festival of Remembrance Festival of Remembrance was certainly once again, an evening to remember.”

The Battle of the Somme began was one of the bloodiest days in history. Almost 20,000 died during the first day, thousands of whom were from across the island of Ireland.

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle of WWI, the British Royal Navy fighting Imperial German Navy from 31 May to 1 June.

Poppy petals fall on members of the public at the festival. Pic: Press Eye.

Poppy petals fall on members of the public at the festival. Pic: Press Eye.

Standard bearers enter the Waterfront Hall. Pic: Press Eye.

Standard bearers enter the Waterfront Hall. Pic: Press Eye.

Royal British Legion President Col Neil Salisbury OBE, Lady Mayoress Eileen Kingston, Lord Mayor Brian Kingston and Chairman George Black. Pic: Press Eye.

Royal British Legion President Col Neil Salisbury OBE, Lady Mayoress Eileen Kingston, Lord Mayor Brian Kingston and Chairman George Black. Pic: Press Eye.