VIDEO: Busy day at George Best airport amid annual rush of homecomings

There were warm welcomes aplenty on Tuesday as droves of Ulstermen and women flew home for their Yuletide visits.

It was one of the busiest days of the year for George Best City Airport, which typically deals with up to 10,000 passengers per day during the Christmas period.

Danielle and Ciara O'Grady. Danielle was one of many flying in from overseas (in her case Colorado) for Christmas

Danielle and Ciara O'Grady. Danielle was one of many flying in from overseas (in her case Colorado) for Christmas

And yesterday afternoon saw a string of little welcome parties fill the Arrivals area, waiting patiently to greet friends and family flying in from London, Sheffield, Exeter and elsewhere.

Among them was Danielle O’Grady, 35, who had just arrived from Brecken Ridge, Colorado, via a route, which took her through Rejkyavik and London.

Originally from Belfast, she was greeted by sister Ciara (35)

It was something of a red-letter day for her – because she had not been back for over a year and upon touching down she got to see her young niece for the very first time.

Asked what her thoughts were on being back, the ski resort sales worker said: “It’s raining as usual, but I should have expected it.”

Ultimately, she said: “It’s brilliant to be back”.

Meanwhile, married couple Sean and Stacey Smeltzer were flying in from London to visit father and mother Tom and Ollie Smeltzer, from Holywood.

Sean, 50 and working in London, said: “It’s always good to come home. Mum and dad will have something special lined up. I’m not sure what it is yet, but it’ll be a nice surprise.

“It’s always good to see their faces waiting for me when I come through the doors.”

Gearing up for some good times was Aiden Murray from Newcastle, who had just landed on a flight from Exeter.

The beaming 26-year-old council worker was greeted by a trio of friends, and it was the first time home in six months.

“It’s always good to get back no matter what time of year it is.”

He said he wouldn’t miss it for anything and added: “I think there’s something special about Ireland at Christmas – everybody’s away and then they come back, so there’s a real feel-good factor.”

In a statement, Katy Best, commercial and marketing director at the airport, said: “The atmosphere in the terminal has been fantastic; we’ve had choirs from our adopted and neighbouring schools in to entertain the passengers, Santa has paid a visit and there has even been an engagement in the terminal which was very exciting.”