Union Flags and icy blasts at Belfast Proms

Ladies from Comber and Portavogie enjoy a night out at BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast
Ladies from Comber and Portavogie enjoy a night out at BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious but everything about the BBC’s Proms in the Park screams Britishness.

Where else would you get thousands of people huddling together under blankets at the mercy of the weather on an autumn night at Titanic Slipways?

An audience of 11,000 enjoyed a musical spectacular at this year

An audience of 11,000 enjoyed a musical spectacular at this year

Some 11,000 people, armed with the essentials – picnics, fold-up chairs and warm coats – crammed into the venue on Saturday night, but that represented just a fraction of the 70,000 people across Northern Ireland who applied for tickets.

Surely none of those lucky enough to have got their hands on a ticket would have left disappointed.

Noel Thompson, the slickest of BBC veterans, hosted the proceedings with typical panache alongside the glamorous Claire McCollum, introducing an acclaimed line-up of musicians from the Broadway sensation John Owen-Jones to the soprano Lesley Garrett, not to mention our own Ulster Orchestra.

For someone whose last visit to the Titanic venue for a music event was to watch the Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit and the raucous indie quintet Foals at Belsonic, the respectful silence of the crowd, and the more measured music, took a little getting used to.

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 10th September 2016 - Photo by William Cherry

Internationally acclaimed soprano Lesley Garrett performing at this year�"s BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast earlier this evening (Saturday), in front of an audience of 11,000. BBC Two Northern Ireland will broadcast a television highlights programme on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Sunday 18 September at 6pm

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th September 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Internationally acclaimed soprano Lesley Garrett performing at this year�"s BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast earlier this evening (Saturday), in front of an audience of 11,000. BBC Two Northern Ireland will broadcast a television highlights programme on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Sunday 18 September at 6pm

And as the night progressed and an icy wind blew in from Belfast Lough, you were inclined to look on rather enviously as the big screens flicked back and forth to the atmospheric (and rather warmer) Royal Albert Hall, but the none of the other UK venues surely had as beautiful a backdrop as the Titanic Building, lit up in all its fetching glory next to the stage.

As well as beautiful music, the tributes to the Somme dead 100 years on were truly moving.

For those of us desperate for a sing-along and to wave those Union Jacks in the crisp night sky, Land of Hope and Glory, sung simultaneously across the four UK venues, delivered a typically emotional finale.

Back next year? Yes please BBC.