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Events mark 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

The Titanic Belfast Experience is a new £90 million visitor attraction location in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, on the original site of the Harland and Wolff shipyard -- birthplace of RMS Titanic.

For Titanic buffs, life is about to get a whole lot better.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the storied ship is quickly approaching , and cities on both sides of the Atlantic are ramping up efforts to commemorate the April 15 centennial with an extensive array of events and celebrations — from museum openings and special musical and theatrical performances, to recreated meals and graveyard tours. “Anyone with a connection to the Titanic seems to be doing something to mark the anniversary,” said Charles Weeks, professor emeritus of marine transportation at the Maine Maritime Academy and a member of the Titanic International Society.

Here’s a roundup of some of them: 

“Titanic Belfast” is scheduled to open March 31 in a new six-story structure overlooking the slipways where the Titanic was built. The venue will feature nine galleries of interactive exhibition space that explore a range of stories, from the people who built the ship to the technology and science that located the wreck. A few of the exhibits include: recreations of the ship’s decks and cabins; an undersea exploration center; and the Shipyard Ride, which uses special effects, animations and full-scale reconstructions to recreate shipbuilding in the early 1900s. 

“It is the largest Titanic experience in the world,” said Bernard McMullan, a communications and public relations executive for Tourism Ireland. Several weeks of events in Belfast's recently developed Titanic Quarter will be held in conjunction with the attraction’s opening.

Photoblog: Inside Titanic Belfast

Just outiside Belfast is "TITANICa The Exhibition," currently at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, which features more than 500 objects recovered from the Titanic's wreckage. Other Titanic tributes launched in Ireland include a yearlong series of events and activities in Cobh, County Cork, the ship’s last port of call. Only four of the 123 people picked up there survived. “Titanic 100” includes a memorial, Titanic-themed trails and boat tours, exhibitions, concerts and tours of local pubs “where people enjoyed a farewell drink before they boarded the doomed liner,” according to Tourism Ireland. 

The city of Southampton, where the Titanic began its fatal journey, will open the SeaCity Museum on April 10. The disaster had a devastating effect on the people of Southampton, as most of the crew lived there and more than 500 households lost at least one family member, according to the town’s website. Exhibitions will focus on themes such as the hidden history of Titanic's crew and the international fascination with the story of the Titanic, and will feature a “disaster room” and hands-on activities. 

La Cité de la Mer, a center in Cherbourg dedicated to deep-sea adventures, will open a new permanent exhibition on April 10, 100 years to the day the Titanic sailed there to pick up passengers. “Titanic — Return to Cherbourg” aims to recreate life onboard the ship through the testimonies from survivors and witnesses, along with exhibits, concerts, theatrical performances and guided tours. 

Nova Scotia, which boasts some 20 Titanic-related sites, will hold commemorative events on April 14 and 15. “Titanic Eve - Night of the Bells” is an evening walking procession featuring stops at Titanic-related landmarks, interpretative presentations, live performances and a moment of silence at the exact time the Titanic began to sink. Flares will be set off to symbolize the ship's call for help. The Titanic Spiritual Ceremony, an interfaith memorial service, will take place at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, with musical performances and a wreath-laying in honor of the 121 Titanic victims buried there. The Nova Scotia Archives has set up a new “virtual archive” where people can pull up Titanic-related files. Some events, including exhibits at The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, will extend into summer and autumn.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province and the closest to where the ship went down, will host exhibitions, concerts, film showings, re-creations, music events, theatrical performances, lectures, tours with Titanic experts, and visits to Cape Race, where the Titanic’s distress signal was received. Local dishes that the lighthouse keepers and residents dined on in 1912, and music inspired by the Irish immigrants and musicians who perished, will also be featured. 

The St. Regis Atlanta will pay tribute to St. Regis founder Col. John Jacob Astor IV, who died in the sinking along with his butler. Throughout April, the hotel will serve a signature cocktail and afternoon tea menu created for the occasion, and offer a special package in the Empire Suite, for $3,300 a night, the same price in 1912 for the crossing in one of two deluxe parlor suites aboard the Titanic. On April 10, a complimentary cocktail reception will offer guests and the public hors d’oeuvres inspired by the last dinner served on the Titanic, and will feature sabering (a ceremonial opening using a sabre) of 100 bottles of Heidsieck Champagne, a label served on the Titanic.

More than 180 pieces of memorabilia from the maritime tragedy is up for auction, commemorating the 100th anniversary. NECN's Lauren Collins reports.


Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Titanic Museum Attractions will host “A night to remember: An original musical tribute to Titanic,” on Saturday, April 14. Musical performances and appearances by descendants of passengers and crew will highlight the production. Both museums are in the shape of a ship, and boast hundreds of artifacts and exhibits that detail the story of the ship’s history and fate, to let visitors “experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and grand staircase of the Titanic.”

The Molly Brown House Museum, named for the American human-rights activist and philanthropist who survived the sinking, is holding guided tours, musical performances, special teas, lecture series and a special exhibit, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Denver’s Heroine of the Titanic,” which runs through Dec. 31. The “Steerage Class Shindig” will recreate the experience of third-class passengers with “a hearty meal, a rollicking band and a fine pint.” 

Orlando, Fla.
Titanic The Experience” takes visitors back in time through live interactive interpretations by storytellers in period costume, full-scale room re-creations, memorabilia and artifacts recovered from the wreck site, including a 3-ton portion of the ship's hull, the captain's wheel and personal belongings from Titanic passengers and crew.

Springfield, Mass. 
The Titanic Historical Society will host a Titanic Centennial Memorial Weekend (April 20-22) to unveil and dedicate a new memorial. It will also feature guest speakers, visits to the nearby Titanic Museum, a raffle with collectibles, and a gala dinner and costume contest. “We’ve been doing these types of events for many years before the movie,” said Karen Kamuda, vice president of the society. 

St Louis, Mo.
Titanic Centennial Weekend (April 13-15) will include an Edwardian Champagne reception, an exhibit of Titanic-related artifacts, and a screening of the 1958 film "A Night to Remember." The signature event, “The Last Dinner on the Titanic,” will recreate the 11-course meal served on the Titanic’s last night. Between courses, guests will be entertained by live period music, and will receive a boarding pass and an envelope with the name and historical biography of an actual first-class passenger. Guests will experience “the elegance, grandeur and luxury of the R.M.S. Titanic, while enjoying a gastronomical extravaganza from another era,” organizers say.  

New York metro area
A trolley tour on April 7 will take visitors through Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the final resting place of some passengers on the Titanic.

At the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, the world premiere of “Titanic Tales: Stories of Courage and Cowardice” will be performed on April 12 at 8:30 p.m., part of the Center’s Target Free Thursdays series. The original piece weaves together survivors’ recollections, taken from testimony given at the American and British boards of of inquiry, with music of the period, including works performed by the Titanic’s band on that fateful night.

The Jane Hotel in the West Village welcomed surviving crew members from the Titanic by offering care and dry clothes, though in 1912 it was the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute. To commemorate the centennial, the hotel is offering two signature cocktails until April 18 in the Jane Ballroom: the Bourbon- based “Unsinkable Molly Brown," and the Champagne-based "ST-705," named in honor of the 705 passengers who survived. 

NYC Discovery Walking Tours will offer a two-hour “Titanic History Tour” in Greenwich Village, with stops at The Seaman’s Lodge, where survivors took shelter, the Titanic Memorial Arch, and sites associated with passengers John J. Astor, Isidor Straus and others. The public tour is offered on April 14 at 1 p.m. and April 15 at noon for a cost of $20. Call 212-465-3331 for reservations, meeting place and information about private tours.

The Titanic International Society will host a weekend of remembrance April 27-29 in Secaucus, N.J. It includes a candlelight memorial service, with readings and music, and a luncheon cruise around New York Harbor that will pass the intended destination of the Titanic and the pier where the rescue boat Carpathia docked. Charles Haas, the society’s president, said there was a general sense that after the centennial, interest in the Titanic might wane, but he does not concur. “I’m especially optimistic about the number of young people who are fascinated by the Titanic story,” he said.

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