Tourists loving NI's weather... yes, you read that right!
As the exceptional weather continued yesterday, the News Letter took to the streets of Belfast to see how tourists were enjoying the summer sunshine.
Many admitted that they’d packed their cases based on Northern Ireland’s reputation for much cooler weather and more than the odd rain shower, but all were enjoying the Ulster heatwave, which again saw temperatures peak at a balmy 29C.
Well used to the warm weather, Marcos Ezquerro from La Rioja in northern Spain is visiting Belfast for his uncle’s wedding tomorrow.
He and several other family members spent yesterday enjoying some of the sights around Belfast city centre.
“The weather has been perfect. We thought that it would rain a lot, but it has been sunny all day,” he said.
“We packed clothes thinking it might be cold and rain, but we haven’t needed the clothes. It’s been perfect. No rain. Beautiful.”
His uncle, Carmelo Lopez, who lives here and runs Tapitas in St George’s Market, is due to tie the knot in Belfast tomorrow and Marcos is hoping the sunny weather will hold for his big day.
Anita and Urs Ruegsegger from St Gallen in north-east Switzerland are in Northern Ireland for 10 days playing golf.
“We weren’t expecting the weather to be this good, but what we really didn’t expect was all the fairways to be brown with no grass. We expected the green island. It’s not the green island,” Anita said.
“We thought there would be more cloud and rain,” Urs added. “We brought rain gear, rain gloves and other clothes that we haven’t had to use so far. It’s great. We love it.”
University graduates Ben Lawson and Matthew Calvert, 21-year-old friends from Durham, are on a four-day “graduation/birthday celebration” break and have been very impressed by many of the tourist spots on the north Antrim coast.
“It’s been gorgeous. It’s been really nice. When we initially booked it I don’t think we were expecting it to be like this, but we’ve loved it,” Ben said.
“I think it’s just sheer luck that there’s been a heatwave in England and you’ve got the same weather here. We’ve just hit it lucky,” Matthew added.
Connie Payne from Ardrossan in Ayrshire was in Belfast yesterday for a day trip with 11 friends.
“We knew it was going to be nice, but not as nice as this. It’s been absolutely lovely all day,” she said.
Christiana Ajla and Jaiy Adelakun were also enjoying a day trip to Belfast yesterday.
The couple checked out Belfast city hall before heading to Titanic Belfast.
“It’s my first time here and it’s beautiful. I love it. It’s really nice,” said Christiana, 24, who lives in Essex.
“I wasn’t expecting the weather to be as nice as this.”
Jaiy, 37, has lived in Dublin for the past four years but is originally from Nigeria.
“The weather is lovely here. I use an app to get a glimpse of what the weather is going to be like in the next couple of days. I knew it was going to be sunny, but I didn’t think it would be as beautiful as this,” he added.
Meanwhile, the good weather has also brought an unexpected bonus for Belfast’s bus tour operators.
“We would be busy in general through June, July and August, but with this good weather we have seen a lot more locals on board the buses,” said Chris Lavery, street manager with City Sightseeing Belfast.
“We’ve seen a lot of people going upstairs and sitting under the shelter as the sun is just too much for them, so that’s pretty surprising for Belfast.”
Chris said many tourists have been surprised by the sunny weather, even asking him and his colleagues why the grass is so brown and when the last time was that it rained.