Thursday 6th sees the opening of Belfast newest shopping emporium - Victoria Square. And it’s also World Book Day! Update - Thu 6 Mar - it's now open.
By Tuesday lunchtime, the scene round Victoria Square was one of teenagers clearing up the family home in the minutes before their parents arrived back from holiday.
Builders were clearing up their scaffolding. The previous attempts to keep vans off the paved streets had been abandoned. Pavements were being hosed down. Empty shops were being disguised behind colourful hoardings. Shelves were being stacked high with clothes. New staff were being trained on tills and store procedures. Window dressers were covering wooden boards with coloured displays to disguise less than glamorous interiors.
The newly-restored Jaffe Fountain was still half under wraps. The skips around the back loading bay were full to overflowing. Huge blue plastic figures had been erected on the pavement outside the main entrances.
Lighting trusses were being rigged for Thursday’s opening. No celebrity-only launch party. No. A 10am start, complete with Tap Dogs (humans from Australia, not canine tap dancers), the Ulster Orchestra, “a hard-hitting group of drummers” better known as
LOL369 Slam! and two aerial acrobats from Cirque du Soleil (unfortunately referred to as Cirque de Soleil on the VS launch literature).
Stores open at 10.30am after the launch show, and remain open on Thursday and Friday until 9pm. (General opening hours: Mon/Tue 9am-7pm; Wed/Thu/Fri 9am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 1pm-6pm.)
The 8-Screen Odeon cinema doesn’t open until June. Neither does Northern Ireland’s first franchise of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen chain. And it will be a few months before the Apple Store opens up a suitably glass-fronted unit in the new Belfast complex.
Away from the opening ceremony and sound of cash tills ringing, a more sedate pursuit will be also be celebrated on Thursday 6th across UK and Ireland - World Book Day.