Eurofest is a celebration held every 5 years at the DMC factory grounds and other local attractions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This year marked the 35th anniversary of the opening of the factory. James and I decided to take some extra time off beforehand to have a small vacation in Belfast before the events unfolded. It is always a very pleasant place with great people and beautiful scenery. We have been to Northern Ireland four times in the last five years for various DeLorean events and personal trips, so it is becoming a second home to us.
The event started on Thursday, May 26th, so we arrived on Saturday, May 21st to settle in and see the sights. There is a +6 hour time difference from Houston, so there is also a jet lag issue to overcome. We basically slept the first day and ate at Little Wing Pizzeria, our favorite local restaurant. We ended up eating there three more times before our trip home. The second day we picked up some brochures at the hotel lobby and ended up visiting the World of Owls, an interesting sanctuary for birds of prey that have been purchased as pets and surrendered once the owners realized it was not a good idea, and visited a local grocery store for some of our UK food favorites.
We also spent time in Dublin, down in the Republic of Ireland. It was my first time to travel south into the Republic, and we chose to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral and eat at a small chain called Wok to Walk that James was dying to have again after eating it during a trip to Amsterdam.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous up until almost the exact hour that Eurofest began. We started the event by driving up to the Stormont Parliament Buildings for a photo op before heading to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Around 80 DeLoreans from 18 countries showed up, and the rest of us followed in a bus. Getting to see the queue of cars lined up on the motorway was an exceptional sight. The Transport Museum houses several DMC relics, including the wooden mockup car showing Giugiaro's design changes as part of the "refresh" it needed, and one of the 50,000 mile test cars that was driven for hours on end to prove the components used on the cars could make the cut.
Friday was the day everyone was waiting for - the trip to the factory grounds, now split between Montupet and Bombardier manufacturing companies, and the famous test track, upon which the DeLoreans would be once again allowed to drive. It is a very emotional experience. Not all of DMC's buildings are still around, and some new ones have come up in their places, but for someone who is familiar with the layout of the factory, the physical presence is still very much real. The test track is owned by Montupet, and they have kept it completely untouched. The Irish weather allowed the once bare field with a few well-manicured saplings to become a forest, and the dead leaves and branches cover the asphalt of the track until it is cleared off ahead of time by Eurofest workers. It is a terrible sight to see, but it really has acted as a protective layer for the track's surface, and it is still in remarkable shape underneath. Attempts have been made to get it recognized as a historical landmark, but for now, it sits unused and underappreciated in-between Eurofests. I know if someone could do more, they would.
On Saturday, we were able to view the local Ulster Aviation Society's aircraft collection, something not open to the general public. There were lots of WWI and II era planes, as well as some modern jets and helicopters. The collection itself is housed in two 70 year old hangars that were used in the war effort for the assembling of bomber aircraft. We then traveled from the airfield to the Titanic museum and memorial that was built in 2012 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage and subsequent sinking. The DeLoreans lined up on the actual slipway used to move Titanic into the water as she was built, allowing for some great photo opportunities and a great melding of Belfast's history.
Dinner Saturday night was bittersweet, as everyone knew that the event was drawing to a close. It is always great to visit with the people I have made friends with, and owning a car like the DeLorean means that so many of them live very far away from me, so I have to cherish events like these. The test track and remaining factory buildings could eventually be torn down as the companies that now operate there expand, so there is a chance every Eurofest could be the last. I think we all go there knowing that. If you have never gone or have always wondered if it is worth the trip, I can only say "GO!!" You will not regret it.
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Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a car nut, bird lover, and musician. I have recently transitioned from music teacher to automotive service manager, and there have been lots of cool stories and crazy characters along the way!